Book Review

The order of Christian initiation has proven its usefulness throughout the world. Translated into the world's languages, the book is being implemented by countries in various ways.

The story of the utilization of the rite in Germany can be found in a fine book: Erwachsene auf dem Weg zur Taufe: Werkbuch Erwachsenenkatechumenat (München: Kösel-Verlag GmbH & Co., 1997). Co-authored by several great names in the study of the catechumenate -- Matthias Ball, Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst, Artur Waibel, and Ernst Werner -- the book outlines several interesting features of the restoration in Germany.

It opens with a history of the development of the catechumenate in Germany over the past few decades, including the influence of preconciliar French practice. It then treats several important themes regarding implementation: the dynamics of initial conversion -- where people come from and who should greet them; the catechumenate group -- the importance of forming a prebaptismal community; the celebration of the various rituals and the application of principles for the periods which separate them. The book concludes with some theological perspectives and an interesting appendix of statistical numbers, an explanation of terminology, and a survey of the catechumenal situation in Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.

American readers will find themselves in a familiar environment. We share many goals and processes in common with our German sisters and brothers. Contrasts are few. They've retained an anointing of catechumens on Holy Saturday morning, while in the United States it is recommended between acceptance and election. The difference in terms will provoke more discussion. The Germans replaced some ancient expressions with more user-friendly terms: catechumens are candidates. Catechumenate is preparation time. Election is registration. Purification and enlightenment is proximate preparation. Initiation is incorporation.

The book clearly presents the state of the catechumenate in Germany today, and the resulting report will inspire the reader.

"Book Review: Erwachsene auf dem Weg zur Taufe, ed. Matthias Ball, Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst, Artur Waibel, Ernst Werner." Forum Newsletter, 17/2 (Fall, 2000):13.

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