Nearly everything that theologians write on liturgy, Father Kavanagh notes, is often called liturgical theology, although on closer examination such works appear to be either dogmatic theologies about the liturgy or systematic theologies making use of liturgical data. None truly reflects how liturgy shapes theology or is theology or even relates to theology.
This work is Father Kavanagh's effort to substantiate the existence of a truly liturgical theology. It will raise almost as many questions as it answers, but it will also further insight into theology and liturgy as it assays their relationship.
Keeping in mind two pastoral considerations - the liturgy itself and the assembly that worships - Father Kavanagh looks not beyond rubrics but deep into their historical and pastoral existence in order to develop rules of style which articulate this existence in current Roman liturgical usage. From this research has come a pastoral manual for clergy who preside at liturgical celebrations.
After revealing the genesis of the Roman tradition of initiation, Kavanagh moves on to the tensions between traditional practice and the need for change. He stresses the Church's ongoing need to focus its efforts on its main concern - the initiation of new members.