Since the author calls this work a ""very personal book,"" it is well to keep his background and experience in mind. He was born of Indian parents in a family converted to Catholicism by Portuguese missionaries: he later had contact with other Catholics in India, was educated in many parts of the West, served as a delegate of India to the U.N., and now resides in Rome. Proximity to the Vatican Councils has added the dimension of ecumenism to his vision of the Church. At the same time his account of the development of the Church in history is governed by basic Catholic dogmatic positions, such as the founding of the Church by Christ in hierarchical form with Peter as his successor as its head. The author identifies four main periods in which changes of cultural environment have required the Church to reflect upon, and redefine, her stand vis-a-vis a new situation: the emergence of the Church into the Graeco-Roman world, the rise of Europe, the period of Reform, and the expansion of the world-view of the Church to include Asia, Africa and the Americas. His interpretation of the interaction of the Church with these cultures is confined mainly to such matters as liturgy, the sense of ""mystery,"" and the cultural interpenetrations of Church and environment in literature and the arts. Political and sociological aspects of this interaction are not treated in any detail. The result is an incomplete account of the subject, but an illuminative instance of the way one person, rising through diverse cultural influences, accepts and applies a view of the Church to the modern world. Imprimatur.