Special Issue "Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Theologies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2021) | Viewed by 12043

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Christina M. Gschwandtner
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458, USA
Interests: phenomenology; hermeneutics; liturgical theology; religious experience

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Liturgical and ritual practice is at the heart of religious experience in many traditions. It shows that religion is not something abstract we believe or to which we simply assent, but rather an embodied experience that is expressed in our practices and actions. Phenomenology, as the study of human experience, is an especially appropriate tool for the description of such practices and for examining their meaning and significance more closely. Yet, very little study of religious practices or specifically liturgical experience has been undertaken in philosophy. And while liturgical theology and liturgical studies are certainly important fields of theological investigation, they are often relegated to the realm of “practical theology” or focus narrowly on the study of historical texts (or now obsolete rites) without exploring the significance of contemporary liturgical practice more fully. When such examination occurs in anthropological or psychological studies of ritual, the theological dimensions are not always taken sufficiently seriously or the study of particular rites is not necessarily connected to broader questions about the meaning and significance of liturgical practice for human religious experience.

The present issue will thus focus squarely on the issue of the meaning of liturgical practice in its various dimensions. Questions addressed might include: How can phenomenology be employed to analyze liturgical practices and rites, such as baptism, confession, eucharist, ordinations, prayer, fasting, etc.? How can it illuminate the embodied nature of worship, its sensory impact, or its relation to affect and emotion? What does it have to say about our experience of festal liturgies? Does festal practice constitute a special lens for investigating liturgical experience? What about the various “things” we employ for liturgical practice: candles, icons, vestments, water, oil, bread, wine, etc.? What role do they play in our experience of liturgy? What is the function of music or images in the experience of liturgy? How do personal devotional practices or individual prayer interact with or inform communal forms of worship? How is the “plural” or communal dimension of liturgy significant? What is liturgy ultimately supposed to do: to our minds and spirits, our affect and emotions, our senses and our bodies, our lives as a whole, to the world or our culture? How might phenomenology enable us to say something about concrete liturgical practices or the meaning of liturgical experience more broadly? Would an analysis of ritual practices illuminate what philosophy and religious studies can say about religion and its significance for human life?

Contributors are invited to investigate any dimension of the topic of interest to them: a phenomenological analysis of particular rites or practices; concrete depictions of the affective, corporeal, spatial, temporal, or communal dimensions of worship; or other questions at the intersection of phenomenology and liturgical practice. Phenomenology can be employed as a tool for the analysis of liturgy or be itself the question under investigation in light of liturgical practice. The use of a variety of phenomenological traditions or thinkers is perfectly acceptable. Contributors are invited to draw on phenomenological resources and thinkers for investigating liturgical practices or to engage in such analysis themselves without explicit recourse to particular thinkers or texts. The conversation between phenomenology and liturgical theology is only beginning, so new approaches and experimental investigations are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Christina M. Gschwandtner
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • liturgy
  • phenomenology
  • ritual practice
  • religious experience
  • rite
  • feast

Published Papers (13 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research

Editorial
Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice: Introduction to the Special Issue
Religions 2022, 13(3), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030207 - 01 Mar 2022
Viewed by 520
Abstract
What do people do when they worship together [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Article
Relational Priesthood in the Body of Christ: A Scriptural, Liturgical, and Trinitarian Approach
Religions 2021, 12(10), 799; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100799 - 24 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 700
Abstract
A liturgical phenomenology of Roman Catholic priesthood based on the experience of images of priests and people in scripture and liturgy lends itself to a renewed appropriation of Vatican II and post-conciliar approaches to priesthood. The authors interpret the relational dynamics of Christ’s [...] Read more.
A liturgical phenomenology of Roman Catholic priesthood based on the experience of images of priests and people in scripture and liturgy lends itself to a renewed appropriation of Vatican II and post-conciliar approaches to priesthood. The authors interpret the relational dynamics of Christ’s own priesthood using the pericope of Christ’s anointing at Bethany (Mark 14:1–9), followed by a phenomenological examination of the dialogical introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer or anaphora in the Roman and Byzantine Eucharistic rites. The way ordained ministry is exercised in dialogical and symbolic fashions then provides the impetus for a new look at the significance of prostration in the context of Good Friday and of the Roman Catholic ordination rite. The trinitarian implications of the unified but differentiated priesthood of the Church are the theme of the final section. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Called by Beauty: Paul Ricoeur’s (Late) Liturgical Turn
Religions 2021, 12(10), 796; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100796 - 24 Sep 2021
Viewed by 541
Abstract
We are now witnessing a great renewal of philosophical interest in the material aspects of religiosity. In this article I show that we have resources for this work in the very late philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, resources that are equally unexpected and deeply [...] Read more.
We are now witnessing a great renewal of philosophical interest in the material aspects of religiosity. In this article I show that we have resources for this work in the very late philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, resources that are equally unexpected and deeply moving. In particular, in Ricoeur’s late turn we see the promising beginnings of a sacramental philosophy that links Baptism and the Song of Songs to show how liturgical practice is fundamentally tied to the beauty and sacredness of the natural world. The result is the realization that an ethics of hope is only truly completed in a philosophy of praise, eschatology pointing toward doxology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
“All of Us” before God: Phenomenological Contours of the Liturgical Assembly according to Franz Rosenzweig and Jean-Yves Lacoste
Religions 2021, 12(9), 783; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090783 - 17 Sep 2021
Viewed by 611
Abstract
This article treats the notion of liturgical experience that was introduced into contemporary philosophy by Franz Rosenzweig at the start of the twentieth century. His original and deep thinking in the Star of Redemption describes, among other things, the liturgical feasts of Judaism [...] Read more.
This article treats the notion of liturgical experience that was introduced into contemporary philosophy by Franz Rosenzweig at the start of the twentieth century. His original and deep thinking in the Star of Redemption describes, among other things, the liturgical feasts of Judaism and Christianity as ramparts against finitude and as openings onto the ultimate. The article will bring together his descriptions of the liturgical assembly as a dialogical and choral “we” or “all of us” with the work of Jean-Yves Lacoste who has made liturgy the very heart of his magisterial phenomenological work. Putting these two authors into conversation allows us to uncover some salient traits of what makes for a liturgical community, such as the link between the liturgical assembly and the notion of communion. Drawing on both Rosenzweig and Lacoste, we can see, first, that this community is not simply cultural or ideological, but that its core lies in the concrete experience of exposing oneself before God. Next, I take up the idea of eschatological presentiment in Lacoste and the choral response-structure in Rosenzweig and suggest that this eschatological anticipation is manifested in the flesh of the assembly, endowing it with a dimension of responsibility. Finally, the liturgical assembly becomes a concrete body in which the kingdom is able to come near in the density of presence as fraternity within an aura of love. By doing so, a “thinking otherwise” may prove capable of illuminating philosophical understandings of human community more broadly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
Liturgy and Apophaticism
Religions 2021, 12(9), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090721 - 03 Sep 2021
Viewed by 1502
Abstract
The Orthodox liturgy is a religious phenomenon that can be analyzed phenomenologically and theologically alike, given the emphasis that both phenomenology and Orthodox theology place on experience. By proposing the Kingdom of God instead of the natural world without being able to annihilate [...] Read more.
The Orthodox liturgy is a religious phenomenon that can be analyzed phenomenologically and theologically alike, given the emphasis that both phenomenology and Orthodox theology place on experience. By proposing the Kingdom of God instead of the natural world without being able to annihilate the latter in the name of the former, the liturgy seeks divine-human communion. Through the dialogue of prayer, through symbolic and iconic openings, as well as through apophatic theology, the liturgy emphasizes the horizon of mystery as a horizon essential to the way man positions himself before God. The present text attempts to demonstrate that apophaticism, understood as an experience of the mysterious presence of God, is one of the crucial dimensions of the Orthodox liturgy; and that this apophatic presence of God reveals a way of thinking which does not become onto-theology, not even when using concepts borrowed from metaphysics. The overcoming of onto-theology is achieved here not by abandoning concepts such as “being” and “cause” but by placing the language game in the field of prayer and apophatic theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
“Being-Placed before God”: Reading the Early Heidegger’s Phenomenology of Liturgy with Jean-Yves Lacoste
Religions 2021, 12(9), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090716 - 02 Sep 2021
Viewed by 930
Abstract
This article aims to demonstrate, by means of a comparison with Lacoste’s proposal, that we can find a particular phenomenology of liturgy in the early Heidegger’s phenomenology of religion, centered in the structure of “being-placed before God”. His examination of this structure manages [...] Read more.
This article aims to demonstrate, by means of a comparison with Lacoste’s proposal, that we can find a particular phenomenology of liturgy in the early Heidegger’s phenomenology of religion, centered in the structure of “being-placed before God”. His examination of this structure manages to go deeper than Lacoste in order to account for the essence of human existence. With this purpose in mind, in the first section of the article I will the present the basic features of the liturgical experience, as it is introduced in Experience and the Absolute. In the second section, I will analyze the early Heidegger’s phenomenology of religion and its interpretation of Christian factical life experience. Finally, in the third section, I will bring the insights from both sections together to establish the particularities of Heidegger’s phenomenology of liturgy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
Givenness, Saturation, and the Self: A Phenomenology of Christian Initiation
Religions 2021, 12(8), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080642 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 985
Abstract
Phenomenology holds great promise yet underdeveloped potential for ritual studies and liturgical theology. As phenomenology has indeed taken a “theological turn” and the contentiousness of such an approach abates, questions remain as to what insights, concepts, and language phenomenology can offer to deepen [...] Read more.
Phenomenology holds great promise yet underdeveloped potential for ritual studies and liturgical theology. As phenomenology has indeed taken a “theological turn” and the contentiousness of such an approach abates, questions remain as to what insights, concepts, and language phenomenology can offer to deepen our understanding of Christian ritual practices. Specifically with respect to rituals of initiation, does phenomenology open new avenues of appreciation for the sacrament of baptism, to enrich and to deepen the faithful’s experience of these rituals? This article considers insights afforded by a phenomenological approach to the sacrament, in particular with regard to adult baptism and the catechumenate in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), the rite of reception and sacramental initiation into the Roman Catholic Church. Considered through such lenses, a phenomenology of baptism promises to open new avenues of ritual understanding, theological appreciation, and depth of prayer. Drawing primarily from the work of Jean-Luc Marion, this article also considers prominent critiques of his work to articulate a phenomenology of baptism as an experience of givenness and reception, of identity formation within and through an ecclesial community, and of prayerful preparation for Christian neophytes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
The Everyday Power of Liturgy: On the Significance of the Transcendental for a Phenomenology of Liturgy
Religions 2021, 12(8), 633; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080633 - 11 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 751
Abstract
The task of this article is to articulate the everyday power of liturgy by clarifying the transcendental significance of ritual action. The paper makes three major claims: first, that liturgical practices function transcendentally, and therefore alter how we experience the world; second, that [...] Read more.
The task of this article is to articulate the everyday power of liturgy by clarifying the transcendental significance of ritual action. The paper makes three major claims: first, that liturgical practices function transcendentally, and therefore alter how we experience the world; second, that liturgical practices therefore exercise an immense formative power in our everyday living, including the power to open up or close down the possibility of encountering the sacred in our everyday lives; third, that this power of liturgy can be articulated theoretically through a transcendental phenomenological approach, thereby suggesting that a rigorous phenomenology of liturgy must necessarily include a transcendental element. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
A Phenomenology of the Liturgy of Maundy Thursday
Religions 2021, 12(8), 608; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080608 - 05 Aug 2021
Viewed by 648
Abstract
In this article, I propose a phenomenological analysis of the liturgy of Maundy Thursday, as it is celebrated in the contemporary Anglican Church of Canada. As an example of liturgy, Maundy Thursday is particularly generative for phenomenological description because of its affective range [...] Read more.
In this article, I propose a phenomenological analysis of the liturgy of Maundy Thursday, as it is celebrated in the contemporary Anglican Church of Canada. As an example of liturgy, Maundy Thursday is particularly generative for phenomenological description because of its affective range and drama. A participant in the liturgy is given the opportunity to experience a combination of grief, lament, remorse, joy, thanksgiving, kindness and compassion, care for the body, vulnerability and humility, as well as fear and confusion. Situated on the threshold between Lent and Easter, it is a richly complex moment in the liturgical year and combines, in a creative and affective tension, celebration with mourning, order with chaos, and love and service with betrayal and repentance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
Latter-Day Saint Liturgy: The Administration of the Body and Blood of Jesus
Religions 2021, 12(6), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060431 - 10 Jun 2021
Viewed by 915
Abstract
Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”) liturgy opens its participants to a world undefined by a stark border between the transcendent and immanent, with an emphasis on embodiment and relationality. The formal rites of the temple, and in particular that part of the rite called “the [...] Read more.
Latter-day Saint (“Mormon”) liturgy opens its participants to a world undefined by a stark border between the transcendent and immanent, with an emphasis on embodiment and relationality. The formal rites of the temple, and in particular that part of the rite called “the endowment”, act as a frame that erases the immanent–transcendent border. Within that frame, the more informal liturgy of the weekly administration of the blood and body of Christ, known as “the sacrament”, transforms otherwise mundane acts of living into acts of worship that sanctify life as a whole. I take a phenomenological approach, hoping that doing so will deepen interpretations that a more textually based approach might miss. Drawing on the works of Robert Orsi, Edward S. Casey, Paul Moyaert, and Nicola King, I argue that the Latter-day Saint sacrament is not merely a ritualized sign of Christ’s sacrifice. Instead, through the sacrament, Christ perdures with its participants in an act of communal memorialization by which church members incarnate the coming of the divine community of love and fellow suffering. Participants inhabit a hermeneutically transformed world as covenant children born again into the family of God. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
How Can Phenomenology Address Classic Objections to Liturgy?
Religions 2021, 12(4), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040236 - 25 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1008
Abstract
Liturgical worship has at times been controversial within parts of the Christian tradition. This article uses phenomenology—especially the thought of Paul Ricœur, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Gabriel Marcel—to analyse, evaluate, and respond to five common objections to liturgy by those who reject it: (1) [...] Read more.
Liturgical worship has at times been controversial within parts of the Christian tradition. This article uses phenomenology—especially the thought of Paul Ricœur, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Gabriel Marcel—to analyse, evaluate, and respond to five common objections to liturgy by those who reject it: (1) the absence of freedom and spontaneity, (2) the absence of authenticity, (3) the use of symbols to mediate the divine, (4) the use of the liturgical calendar, and (5) liturgy’s repetitive nature. This article concludes that those who practice liturgy have something to learn from each objection, but that none of the objections invalidates liturgy. On the contrary, what phenomenology teaches us about the human condition suggests that liturgy is more suitable than forms of worship that try to do without it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
Is Liturgy Ludic? Distinguishing between the Phenomena of Play and Ritual
Religions 2021, 12(4), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12040232 - 25 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 699
Abstract
What is the nature (or “Wesen”) of the liturgical phenomenon? It has become immensely popular to describe liturgical or ritual practice as a kind of “holy play,” whether as metaphor, as productive analogy for pragmatic or theological purposes, or even as making an [...] Read more.
What is the nature (or “Wesen”) of the liturgical phenomenon? It has become immensely popular to describe liturgical or ritual practice as a kind of “holy play,” whether as metaphor, as productive analogy for pragmatic or theological purposes, or even as making an ontological claim about what liturgy “is” in its essence. The present article seeks to complicate the association of the phenomena of liturgy and of play. The first part traces the origins of the notion of play and the development of its application to ritual in the most influential sources from Kant to Gadamer. The second part highlights its prevalence in the contemporary discussion and elucidates how it is being used. The third part provides a phenomenological analysis to demonstrate important differences between the two phenomena and to question the contention that liturgy is a form of play. The final part tries to ascertain the broader practical and theological aims being served by the association of the two phenomena and—via a return to the question of the nature of the liturgical phenomenon in a more theological mode—suggests that these aims might be accomplished more productively in ways that avoid the downsides of identifying ritual or liturgy with play. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Article
The Weight of Bodily Presence in Art and Liturgy
Religions 2021, 12(3), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030164 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 800
Abstract
This essay addresses the question of virtual church, particularly on whether or not liturgy can be done virtually. We will approach our subject from a somewhat unusual perspective by looking to types of aesthetic experiences which we have been doing “virtually” for a [...] Read more.
This essay addresses the question of virtual church, particularly on whether or not liturgy can be done virtually. We will approach our subject from a somewhat unusual perspective by looking to types of aesthetic experiences which we have been doing “virtually” for a long time. By exploring how we experience art in virtual and physical contexts, we gain insight into the corresponding experiences in liturgical practices. Drawing on Mikel Dufrenne, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gabriel Marcel, I first examine the importance of the body when we experience “presence” in aesthetic environments. Next, I consider the weight of the body in experiences of presence in liturgical practices, both in person and virtual, guided again by Gabriel Marcel as well as Bruce Ellis Benson, Emmanuel Falque, Christina Gschwandtner and Éric Palazzo. Through these reflections, I argue that what art teaches us about the significance of the physical closeness of the human applies to the practice of liturgy and that, while unexpected benefits will surface in virtual settings, nothing replaces the powerful experiences that arise when the body is physically present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phenomenology and Liturgical Practice)
Back to TopTop