Revelation and the Church: Vatican II in the Twenty-first Century is the book that Bishop Raymond A. Lucker hoped to write when he retired as Bishop of the Diocese of New Elm, Minnesota. In the spring of 1999, however, Lucker was diagnosed with the return of a malignant melanoma. By June 2001, knowing he was dying, Lucker invited William McDonough, assistant professor of theology at the College of St. Catherine, to help him complete the work he had begun on his book. The collaboration was short lived as early in July of 2001 Lucker moved into Our Lady of Good Counsel Cancer Home in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he died peacefully on September 19th of that same year (Preface).
Before he died, Lucker and William McDonough decided that the book would be organized "around the four great constitutions of the Council" (x) and that it would be rooted in Lucker's faith in and commitment to the dynamic understanding of revelation promulgated by Vatican II in Dei Verbum (xi). The completed work stands as a tribute to the life and ministry of Bishop Lucker from fifteen professors and educators, all of whom are teaching "in Catholic colleges, universities, or seminaries in Minnesota" (xii). Although the book is not the one that Lucker would have written, McDonough hopes that Lucker "would like what [they] have done" (xii).
The Introduction of the book, "The Beauty and Challenge of Revelation," is an essay produced by William McDonough from recorded conversations with Lucker. Although it is not a smoothly written piece, the Introduction helps one to meet both Lucker the pastor and Lucker the theologian who, in Lucker's own words, is committed to finding out how we can be a "good church," "a renewed church." and one that is "attentive and responsive to revelation" (10). The entire essay is filled with profound statements from a dying man of great faith.
The book contains twelve essays arranged under four headings: "On Revelation,' "On Being the Church," "Celebrating the Mystery of All Life," and "Guarding Human Dignity." These four sections of the book correspond to the following four documents of Vatican II: Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and Gaudium et Spes. The twelve essays cover a wide range of current theological topics with something of interest for readers from various areas of theology and pastoral ministry, e.g., revelation and scripture in the life of the church; universal-local church relationship; papal apologies; eucharist and a renewed understanding of the sacrament of penance; conciliar roots of a consistent ethic of life; Gaudium et Spes on marriage; and peace and justifiable war.
All essays in this work are well documented and the book contains a comprehensive list of all abbreviations cited parenthetically in the text. These features and the conciliar themes of the text make the work one that would be particularly helpful in an undergraduate or graduate class in ecclesiology. In addition, individual essays would be excellent for use in adult education courses in scripture, church history, sacramental theology, ethics, or peace studies. The essay, "Revelation and Evolution: The Journey of Creation Into God" by Terence Nichols would be most helpful to anyone with unresolved questions about evolution and the dialogue of faith and science today. "Communio As the Context for Memory: On the Universal-Local Church Relationship" by J. Michael Byron, and "The Bishop as Teacher: Proclaiming the Word of God in the Church" by Susan Wood, SCL, would be excellent essays for use in a course on contemporary issues in ecclesiology. The article, "Peace and Justifiable War: Catholic Social Thought and Its Call to Us Today" by Amata Miller, IHM, is both a timely and highly important resource work in the field of American Catholic social thought.
While there is a good gender balance of authors in the text, greater attention could have been given by the authors to the perspectives and needs of women in the church today. Similarly, the book concludes with almost thirty pages of "Some Notes by Bishop Lucker On Change In the Church" (235-261). It would have been helpful if the book had included essays dealing more directly with some of the significant issues regarding change outlined by Lucker himself.