Celebrating Initiation: a guide for priests by Paul Turner does what it says on the cover. As he says in the Introduction:

I have written this book for my brother priests. Deacons may benefit from it because they also preside for many of these rites. Lay ministers may enjoy reading over my shoulder. But I am writing primarily for priests to explain the many rites we need to know, and to help integrate them into the particular work we do as pastors, presiders, and preachers.

Celebrating InitiationThe book covers all of Initiation, so not only the rites of the RCIA in detail but also the Rite of Baptism of Children, Confirmation and First Communion. If you have questions about how the rites are celebrated they are probably answered here. This is not, however, a dry collection of rubrics. The purpose of the rite is explained, what needs to be done prior to celebration and then a step by step guide to the rites. Where there are options they are covered and, often, an opinion is offered about what is the author’s practice and why. Paul Turner, unsurprisingly for those familiar with his other books, saves his strongest opinions for the ‘combined rites’ — the provision in the US rites for common rites for the unbaptised and baptised. He is neither convinced that they work or are a good idea from both a theological and liturgical point of view. He does offer a commentary on these rites which is drawn from personal experience.

In some ways this book is a sign of that inability, one sometimes comes across, for those who are responsible for presiding at the rites to take responsibility for their part in the rite — this can mean, as an extreme, not even being aware of the ritual book. Paul Turner provides a good travel guide but you still need to get out the map, and look at the rite, and then actually walk the streets, and celebrate the rite.

One small criticism is that this is not a book for bishops. Given its comprehensive coverage it is a pity that the Rite of Election is not included.

It may be helpful to give an overview of a section to show what is offered. Even if you are one of those who is reading over the author’s shoulder. In the sections on the Presentations there is first a historical and theological overview, then a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of celebrating the Presentation during or before Lent and what it means to present something which is already known. There are ideas about how and when to celebrate the liturgies within the life of the parish; comments on the different options for the readings. Turner offers an interesting idea for celebrating the liturgy (which would be on a weekday) of rather than inviting the elect to come forward he suggest inviting the faithful to come onto the sanctuary to recite the creed to the elect who remain in their places. There is a strong comment on the use of printed texts:

The liturgy does not ask you to get a nicely framed parchment of the creed inscribed in calligraphy … Following the ancient tradition, the creed is not something you write down. It is not something you pass from hand to hand. You pass it from mouth to ear, and from heart to heart. It is part of a Christian’s being, not an accessory on the wall of one’s spiritual life.

Celebrating Initiation is published by World Library Publications which is distributed in the UK by Decani.