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Dr. Walter Ray

Dr. Ray is available to speak on: Worship, Eucharistic Spirituality, Sacraments, and more »


Dr. Walter RayA graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary with a Ph. D. in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame, Walter Ray brings together insights from liturgy, Bible and the Orthodox theological tradition to give inspiration and pointers for Orthodox living. He taught five years at the University of St. Thomas before accepting his current position at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Walter is the author of Tasting Heaven on Earth: Worship in Sixth-Century Constantinople (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Press, 2012), an exploration of what it might have been like to worship in Hagia Sophia in the era of Justinian the Great using documents of the period with study helps, suggestions for personal devotions, and discussion questions for small groups. Read a post about the book from Dr. Ray on the publisher’s blog.

Dr. Ray’s other publications include:

  • A study of how baptism helps us join our personal story to the story of Christ and the Church, with a particular focus on the image of marriage in baptism:
    Baptismal Images, Baptismal Narratives,” in David A. Pitt, et al., eds., A Living Tradition: On the Intersection of Liturgical History and Pastoral Practice (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2012)
  • Several studies showing how an early Christian prayer pattern of Praise, Offering, and Petitions developed into the Anaphoras we know today:
    • The Barcelona Papyrus and the Early Egyptian Eucharistic Prayer,” in Studia Liturgica 41 (2011)
    • Rome and Alexandria: Two Cities, One Anaphoral Tradition,” in Maxwell E. Johnson, ed., Issues in Eucharistic Praying in East and West: Essays in Liturgical and Theological Analysis (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2010)
    • The Strasbourg Papyrus and the Roman Canon: Thoughts on Chapter Seven of Enrico Mazza’s The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer,” in Studia Liturgica 39 (2009)
    • The Strasbourg Papyrus,” in Paul F. Bradshaw, ed., Essays on Early Eastern Eucharistic Prayers (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1997)
  • An appreciation and critique of an evangelical Christian’s sympathetic attempt to understand Eastern Orthodoxy:
    “‘Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes’ through Eastern Eyes: An Eastern Reflection on Donald Fairbairn’s Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes,” Religion in Eastern Europe 24/4 (August 2004): 47-55 (available online).

Dr. Ray has been invited several times to present Eastern Orthodox theology and liturgy to western Christian theologians:

  • “Theosis in Contemporary Orthodox Thought,” Evangelical Theological Society, New Projects in Systematic Theology Study Group, Valley Forge, PA, November 17, 2005
  • “Eucharistic Sacrifice and Consecration in East and West,” Christian Theological Research Fellowship Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 22, 2003
  • “Journeys through the Eastern Christian Liturgical Years,” St. Joseph Education Center, Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 7, 2002

While Dr. Ray enjoys presenting the Orthodox faith to western Christians, he especially enjoys helping Orthodox Christians gain a deeper appreciation of their own tradition.


  • What We Can Learn from the Worship of Constantinople
    In the sixth century, Constantinople experienced warfare, civil strife, devastating earthquakes, the plague, and religious divisions. But the people managed to project a sense of confidence and peace. How did they do it? The answer lies in their faith and their experience of the Kingdom of God through liturgy
  • Eucharistic Spirituality in the Early Church
    By reading a number of early Eucharistic prayers, and placing ourselves imaginatively in the communities that prayed them, we can deepen our own experience of the Divine Liturgy.
  • The Idea of Sacraments in East and West
    From the Middle Ages on Eastern and Western Christianity followed very different paths, especially in their understanding of what happens in church. Learning about these developments is important for Orthodox Christians living in the West in order to understand the sources of tension between Orthodoxy and Western culture.
  • God’s Purpose for the Church, Marriage, the Family
    God’s Kingdom, humanity renewed in Christ, is revealed in a special way in two places: Church and the family. It is in the Church, above all, that through love for one another, we become one in Christ and share in divine life through grace and participation. The family, and especially the married couple, is an icon of and for the Church.

Praise for Tasting Heaven on Earth:

A splendid introduction to Eastern Orthodox worship. Amply illustrated and documented, Tasting Heaven on Earth makes the ancient and mysterious Byzantine liturgy come alive for modern Western readers.
Paul Meyendorff, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

We have histories of Byzantium and Byzantine worship, but nothing quite like this beautiful volume that invites the reader to explore the world of Byzantium through its worship. This is a rich and luxuriously illustrated anthology, a kind of museum in print that makes tangible to readers the lived faith of this ancient Christian culture through its music, poetry, hymnody, iconography, and architecture.
Vigen Guroian, University of Virginia

I cannot imagine a more vivid way to introduce this great Christian worship tradition, ancient yet ever new. This is a wonderful book in an astonishingly fresh and exciting new series; I am flattered to find my fingerprints all over it. Bravo, Walter Ray!
Robert F. Taft, S.J., Pontifical Oriental Institute; author of the multivolume History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

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