Monday, September 26, 2011

The Mass is What Catholics Do


“The Mass is What Catholics Do.”  These first words of the book, The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition” by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina remind us that celebrating the Mass is the source and summit of the Catholic faith and the most recognizable element of that faith.  But how deeply do we understand the history and reasons behind the individual parts, actions and words of the Mass? 

Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Aquilina in this new book magnificently illustrate the innate beauty behind the Mass by breaking it down into various pieces to explain each section in glorious detail.

“When the Church celebrates the Mass, she commemorates Christ’s Passover and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.  The Church calls us not jut to a commemoration of long-ago events, as great as that might be, but also to enter the mystery itself- today. We are not bystanders, but participants.”

The first part of the book connects the actions, prayers and liturgies in our modern mass to the mass as celebrated almost 2,000 years ago by the first Christians.  We are reminded in a very direct way that Christ instructed at the Last Supper to “do this in remembrance of me,” and so we continue to “do this” as faithful Catholics in a modern age. 

The authors continue throughout the first section of the book to walk the reader through the mechanics of the mass; how we prepare ourselves, the parts of the mass, the roles of participants, the sacramentals used in the mass and even the distinct areas and furnishings of the physical church.  This section of the book explained and defined many attributes of the mass or the church that I routinely see, but never fully understood its function or even its name. 

The second section of the book explores details and explanations of the mass that even many Catholics might not know.  Through our personal experience, events and actions within the mass seem familiar or common. The authors describe how each action, each prayer and even the very words we use are designed to draw us into real communion with Christ, so that our participation takes on a new importance in our experience.

If you think attending Mass has become too routine, pick up this excellent, informative book to provide a fresh look at the most familiar type of Catholic worship from both a priest and layperson perspective.  By providing a deeper understanding of the parts and whole of the mass, you will be inspired to view the Mass in a more reverent and passionate way, leading it to become a more necessary desire in your Catholic life.

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