Let It Shine!: The Emergence of African American Catholic Worship

Let It Shine!: The Emergence of African American Catholic Worship

Mary E. McGann
Eva Marie Lumas
Ronald D. Harbor
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Let It Shine!: The Emergence of African American Catholic Worship
    Book Description:

    Let It Shine! probes the distinctive contribution of black Catholics to the life of the American church, and to the unfolding of lived Christianity in the United States. This important book explores the powerful spiritual renaissance that has marked African American life and selfunderstanding over the last several decades by examining one critical dimension: the forging of new expressions of Catholic worship rooted in the larger Catholic tradition, yet shaped in unique ways by African American religious culture.Starting with the 1960s, the book traces the dynamic interplay of social change, cultural awakening, and charismatic leadership that have sparked the emergence of distinctive styles of black Catholic worship. In their historical overview, McGann and Eva Marie Lumas chronicle the liturgical and pastoral issues of a black Catholic liturgical movement that has transformed the larger American church. McGann then examines the foundational vision of Rev. Clarence R. J. Rivers, who promoted forms of black worship, music, preaching, and prayer that have enabled African American Catholics to reclaim the fullness of their religious identity.Finally, Harbor constructs a black Catholic aesthetic based on the theological, ethical, and liturgical insights of four African American scholars, expressed through twenty-three performative values. This liturgical aesthetic illuminates the distinctive gift of black Catholics to the multicultural tapestry of lived faith in the American church and can also serve as a pastoral model for other cultural communities.Blending history, theology, and liturgy, Let It Shine! is a valuable resource for scholars, teachers, and students and a practical pastoral guide to bringing African American spirituality more firmly into the sacramental life of American parishes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4707-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xviii)

    This song pays homage to the ongoing strivings of the African American Catholic community to articulate its distinctive ethno-religiosity as a people who are at once Black and Catholic. Within that process, no pastoral interest has received the density of reflection, innovation, and debate as the topic of worship. This volume chronicles the forty-year apex of that journey. It probes the distinctive contribution Black Catholics have made to the worship life of the American Church and thus to the historical unfolding of lived Christianity in the United States.

    Beginning with the 1960s—akairostime for Black Catholics brought about...

    • The Emergence of African American Catholic Worship
      (pp. 3-52)
      Mary E. McGann and Eva Marie Lumas

      The religious and social ferment created in the 1960s by Vatican II and the African American Civil Rights movement set the stage for momentous change for Black Catholics in the United States. In the years following these events, the American Church has witnessed the emergence of distinctively African American patterns of celebrating Catholic worship. This chapter will trace the process by which these new expressions of Catholic liturgy have been forged over the past four and a half decades. It will identify the historical forces that served as catalysts; the leadership that has guided the process; the issues, both liturgical...

    • Clarence R. J. Rivers’ Vision of Effective African American Worship
      (pp. 55-84)
      Mary E. McGann

      Within the social ferment and religious redefinition of African American Catholic life and worship that we have just explored, one figure stands out: that of Father Clarence R. J. Rivers. Best known as a musician and composer, Rivers was likewise a liturgist, poet, dramatist, scholar, and priest of the diocese of Cincinnati whose charismatic leadership fueled the renaissance of Black Catholic worship during the 1970s and 1980s. Having introduced Rivers’ work in Part One of this volume, this chapter probes more deeply into his vision of a revitalized and effective worship for African American Catholics and asks what salience it...

    • Constructing an African American Catholic Liturgical Aesthetic
      (pp. 87-132)
      Ronald D. Harbor

      The purpose of this chapter is to identify the characteristic features of an African American Catholic liturgical aesthetic—that is, understandings of what is beautiful, sacred, praiseworthy, profoundly expressive, and life-giving—that might guide the lived practice of worshiping communities now and into the future.¹ This liturgical aesthetic, mediated through a lexicon of performative values, draws on the pastoral and theological ferment of Black scholarship over the past several decades, and most particularly the generative work of the first Black Catholic Theological Symposium in 1978.

      As demonstrated in the preceding chapter, the vision of Father Clarence R. J. Rivers has...

  7. A FINAL TRIBUTE Clarence R. J. Rivers, 1931–2004
    (pp. 133-136)

    Father Rivers’ booksThe Spirit in WorshipandSoulfull Worshipchallenged and inspired parishioners and pastoral liturgists alike to examine Catholic worship through the lens of African American soul. Never before had there been such a serious consideration of the value of the spirituality of this particular and peculiar people. “Black and Catholic” in the larger Black community was considered an anomaly; in the broader Catholic academic halls of learning such a consideration was a curiosity at best.

    Clarence Rivers wrote the seminal text for African American Catholic liturgical rites and rituals. Though it was not his express intention to...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 137-164)
    (pp. 165-172)
    (pp. 173-174)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 175-182)