Cyril of Jerusalem wrote about "holy things." He thereby reflected the communion invitation used in his fourth-century liturgy to call people to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Mystagogical Catecheses).
The present times call for strong and healthy symbols that hold people into hope. The Christian communities need a reintroduction into the ways in which liturgical symbols respond to human need. Indeed, Lathrop argues, Christian communities continually need to reconsider the meaning of their liturgies and reform those liturgies toward authentic clarity.
In its three parts, this book (1) proposes that an ecumenical pattern or ordo of worship can be discerned which is also a pattern of meaning, (2) discusses the ways in which meaning occurs in the meeting for worship itself, and (3) draws practical conclusions about the organization of that meeting and its importance to current human need.
Throughout, Lathrop undertakes to do theology, that is, to say what the liturgy actually says about God.