Mark G. BOYER, The Liturgical Environment: What the Documents Say. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2004. pp. 188 with Bibliography. $17.95 pb. ISBN 0-8146-3927-8.
Reviewed by Jill RAITT, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211

The Liturgical Environment should probably be in the hands of every liturgical minister. The book provides excellent documentary answers to most of the questions that might arise in the parish about what to do liturgically and how to do it. The chapters discuss: the gathering space, the altar, the table, Eucharistic reservation, the use of candles, appropriate apparel, holy oils, reconciliation space, shrines and stations of the cross, and under "Other Things," cups, plates, doors, bells, sacristies, and organ.

The chapters contain sections on the regulating documents, the theology of the object or objects under discussion and appropriate use or praxis. For example, Chapter 2: "The Altar is Christ," begins with the three documents that guide Boyer in his explanations: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), (2) Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship, and (3) the rite for the Dedication of a Church and an Altar. Of the three, by far the most frequently used throughout the book is GIRM. Under the section head "Theology of the Altar," Boyer includes such subjects as "A Holy Table," "The Altar Table and the Cross," the position, size, and shape of the altar, the use of relics, the baptism of the altar through its dedication and anointing, etc. Boyer includes as well brief sections (a page or so) on the celebration of the Eucharist and on the Christian as an altar. Before his conclusion, Boyer has a few pages on praxis.

While the information is valuable, especially the documentary references, the style is heavy and could use the help of a skilled editor. But given the nature of the book, the brevity of its chapters, and its purpose, the style does not interfere with its usefulness as a reference or handbook that would be appropriately kept in the sacristy for use by all ministers, clerical and lay.

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