on February 2, 2011
The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition, is on the way to our home but my Kindle is playing in my iPad - as that download is immediate!
I read so much of this amazing book last night. It is so well done! This beautiful book, so well organized, has a great purpose for anyone going into the Catholic Church, as well as those who are already in the Church. In my humble opinion, if anti-Catholics read this, they would have such deep respect for the Mass. There is not a question that is not answered! I can see The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition being used in every RCIA class in the country and even for adult studies. If there is one thing missing from Catholicism, it is that we often don't know why we do, what we do. Sadly, often when we are asked the "whys" we stare like a deer into the lights of an oncoming car.
Although the pictures are on the Kindle, I am anxious to see the ones in the book. The pictures will be helpful to those who are new to the Mass. I plan to come back and edit this review but I want to say - as in all good things - it was "worth waiting for!" Getting books from Amazon on a 'wait list' seems to have a touch of Christmas morning - anticipation is great but the arrival is even greater!
Do order the book. You can't be disappointed. Buy it for anyone who is new to the Church and for those who are just planning on coming in. I will have my book on the coffee table at all times to attract those friends and guests who come to visit.
Those of you who know Mike Aquilina, my favorite writer of Early Church Fathers, Love in the Little Things, A Year with the Church Fathers and Angels of GOD - know he just can't write anything but great things and then to have him teamed up with the much loved Archbishop Donald w. Wuerl who is now Cardinal Wuerl - who could ask for anything more. Our faith is so rich.
on February 8, 2011
In "The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition," Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina collaborate on a daunting task: to give the reader "a 'panoramic' view of the central act of Christian worship" (as stated in "A Note from the Authors"). So much could be said (and has been said) about the Mass regarding its form, history, spirituality, and importance. The authors do an excellent job of condensing, synthesizing, highlighting and weaving together these aspects in a way that is accessible and interesting to any reader regardless of his level of familiarity with Catholic liturgy.
The Foreword of the book is provided by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia who helpfully highlights the authors' use of the present pope's method for mystagogical teaching. If the Mass seems commonplace it can be treated as unimportant. By explaining and unveiling the mysteries of the Mass, the authors help to ensure that the Mass's significance will not be questioned.
Cardinal Francis George, in the Preface, sees as the goal of the book the active participation of the faithful at Mass. It follows then that, in the Introduction, the authors state that their reason for the book is to "understand the Mass as we pray it"; to do this they will provide a "slow walk through the Mass."
Part One, entitled, "What Makes the Mass: People, Places, Words, and Things," begins by exploring the Mass's roots in Scripture and its history, leading the reader to appreciate the Mass today in continuity with its celebration throughout the Christian era. This is followed by chapters that focus on the elements of the Mass: bread and wine, the participants, the furnishings, etc. In addition, the importance of proper preparation for Mass and a Catholic's obligation to attend are emphasized. This first half of the book is particularly rich in clearly explaining Mass-related terminology. Several photographs throughout are useful to bring some of these objects and actions to life. This is especially helpful to those unfamiliar with the Mass, or to those who have been away for awhile.
The second part of the book, "The Mass as It Is: A Closer Look", steps through the Mass from the entrance procession until the dismissal. This section is divided into over thirty bite-sized chapters that deal with every part of the Mass individually. One comes away appreciating the elements of the Mass (e.g., the sign of the cross, the cleansing of vessels) in a new way. This section, like the first part, is enhanced by photographs of the actions of the Mass. The use of photos in this way is in the venerable tradition of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's classic volume, "This is the Mass."
This work is excellent for study and reflection by both individuals and groups. While there are neither discussion questions in the book, nor is there a study guide accompanying the book (hopefully both will be considered for future editions), there is plenty here with which to work. An individual could make his way through the book at his own pace (consider a Lenten devotion: a happy coincidence is that the two parts of the book contain between them forty-six chapters - one for each day from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday). A dedicated group leader or leaders could easily divide the book into parts depending on the number and length of sessions they wished to hold. Supplementary texts listed in the back of the book could be incorporated as well. Particularly helpful would be a discussion leader who is familiar with the upcoming changes (Advent 2011) to the Missal (the changes are the "immediate occasion" for the book, but they are simply stated and not explained). This would be useful for sessions parishes may want to conduct to ease the transition to the new Missal, as well as to revive interest in, excitement for, and understanding of, the Mass.
Also, considering that the Mass is the source and summit of the Catholic faith, this is an excellent resource for RCIA use. The ample use of Scripture (Old and New Testament), the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the documents of Vatican II, and the Church Fathers (notes in the back give references to their quotes) is valuable to all readers, but in a special way to those preparing to be received into the Church or contemplating such a journey.
Considering the extensive use of Church-related terminology, having a glossary would have been a nice feature. This book could well be used as a reference; a glossary would have made it more helpful for that purpose. Nevertheless, this volume's usefulness as a means to understand and appreciate the Mass not only helps the reader personally but prepares him to evangelize and, if necessary, to defend the Mass.
Cardinal Wuerl has a special gift for catechesis and his ability to weave the spiritual dimension into his instruction is evident throughout the book. The latest edition of his classic work, "The Teaching of Christ," is referenced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and would be a great companion volume to "The Mass." Anyone who is familiar with "The Teaching of Christ" or has been privileged to see his television series of the same name knows firsthand his gift for teaching the Faith.
Mike Aquilina has an impressive corpus but is best known for his work on the Church Fathers. His excellent "The Mass of the Early Christians" is a must read for anyone who wants to go further in understanding the roots of the Christian liturgy. In the present volume, the extensive use of quotations from the Fathers shows his obvious influence on the text.
In an interview just days before receiving the red hat, Archbishop Wuerl hoped that "now [...] there may be those who would be persuaded to listen more carefully" to his proclaiming the Gospel, teaching, and passing on the faith. This partnership with Mike Aquilina is an excellent beginning.
on March 2, 2011
Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Aquilina, two popular and prolific catechists, have written a comprehensive short introduction to the Mass. Therein lies its strength and weakness. They cover a lot of ground in 200 or so pages, but never really "dig in." For example, the fascinating history of the Mass is covered in a scant five pages! It could prove useful for RCIA candidates and those unfamiliar with the Mass, but probably not for Catholics who already know the basics. Moreover, I'm not a big fan of the authors' catchphrase "The Mass is what we do," which might lead people in our individualistic culture to think the liturgy is more about them doing things than worshiping God. In the Mass, we join our prayers to the Son and send them to the Father; it's more about what His grace does to us than "what we do" per se.
on March 7, 2011
The Mass by Cardinal Wehrle and M. Aquilina is an insightful explanation of the various parts of the Catholic Mass. It combines the evolutionary history of the various prayers and selection of Old and New Testament passages with the essence of the Mass which is the real presence of Christ on the altar in the form of bread and wine.
As a catholic, the entire book reminded me of the uniqueness of the Catholic Mass; that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ; that the Holy Spirit is present and changes the substance of bread and wine (transubstanciation); that the priest has received the sacrament of Holy Orders and serves as a vessel of this change.
Throughout the various parts of the Mass detailed in this book, the reader's attention is called to numerous biblical passages (Old and New Testament) which reinforce the coming of the New Covenant as well as an etymological interpretation of many words used in the Mass (Eucharistica, Amen,Aleluia, Sanctus).
From an explanation of the Sign of the Cross, to the Credo, and most importantly, the Eucharist, This book has called the attention of this cradle catholic to the true and insightful meaning of the words used in each prayer and the uniqueness of the Catholic Mass.
I thank the authors for writing a book that is clear, concise and easy to understand. I now participate in Mass with a renewed attention and reverence.
on August 19, 2014
This book is good as an INTRODUCTION into Catholic Worship, specifically the Mass. However, that's really all this book is good for. If you are already Catholic, I would suggest something a little more advanced; a little more spiritual, or scholarly. This book would be great for RCIA groups, or those men and women who were never taught what the Mass is...or maybe even for our Protestant brothers and sister who are looking for a simple introduction into Catholic worship. But like I said, if you already have a basis I would suggest something more.
If you're reading this review and think I'm being a little unfair, you're probably right, I am a seminarian studying to be a priest and I wanted some spiritual reading on the Eucharist and the Holy Mass but was somewhat disappointed with this book for that reason. I have since purchased The Spirit of the Liturgy by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn and I finished The Lambs Supper and am half way through The Spirit of the Liturgy, I highly recommend both books. Sorry...I'm ranting. If you want The Mass by Cardinal Wuerl, please get it, you may like it IF you are looking for an introduction into the theology and symbolism behind the Holy Mass.
Good Luck and God Bless :)
on March 8, 2011
I think the previous reviewers have fairly described what this book is and is not. It is a comprehensive survey of the Mass and how it is celebrated, with brief chapters (and all the chapters in this book are brief) covering the history of the Mass, vestments, sacred vessels, etc. It is very appropriate for an RCIA class or those who attend Mass but have never really thought about it and what it means. It does not "dig deep," as another reviewer put it, but that it not what the authors intended. For what it is, it is well-written, clear, and concise.
One reviewer objected to the catch-phrase, "The Mass is what we do." There is some merit in this complaint, inasmuch as the Mass "is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church." CCC 1070. But inasmuch as the Mass is the defining act of any practicing Catholic, the phrase is well-chosen.
Ite, lecta est.
on August 24, 2011
The book is fine as far as the explanation of the different parts of the Mass is concerned, but I wished it would have delved more deeply into its biblical and theological implications. The style is simple and easy to understand, so it will probably be a good start for those who are in the process of getting acquainted with this awesome and Holiest Sacrament of sacraments! God bless! +
The Mass is the first in a series of books by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina which highlight key aspects of what make Catholics, well, Catholic. The book begins with a brief introduction on the Mass as being something we do. It is not merely some event we show up to observe but an active prayer we participate in fully. The book is divided into two parts. Part One highlights origins, history, and items used at Mass. Part Two walks us through the entire Mass part by part from the Procession to the Dismissal.
What I found the most fascinating in Part One was the history of the Mass. We all know that this Eucharistic celebration has its origins at the Last Supper. Historical aspects the normal Catholic doesn't know, e.g., the standardization during the Middle Ages, are BRIEFLY covered in this chapter. I wish there had been more pages devoted to the history of the Mass. However, I appreciate the authors acknowledging that it is impossible to cover the history in a few pages, let alone a few volumes, but I wish they would have suggested some further reading on this matter.
As opposed to picking a favorite chapter in Part Two, I picked a slew of them. To b e more specific, I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which starts with the Offertory and ends with Holy Communion. This part of the Mass was one that I always wanted to understand and appreciate more, and this book definitely helped me grow in understanding. I got to read some of the prayers the priest says quietly over the chalice and when washing his hands. It was also interesting to note that when priest mixes the wine and water, it used to serve a purpose but now has several symbolic meanings, including the union of divine and human and the water and blood pouring forth from Christ's wounds.
This book is the perfect introduction to learning about the Mass and would make the perfect gift for people in RCIA or reverts looking to rediscover their Catholic faith. It is also a good read for faithful cradle Catholics just looking to deepen their love and understanding for the Mass. I believe it would also make a great gift for seminarians or new priests, though I'm sure veteran priests would enjoy it too. Basically, what I'm saying is that this book is a benefit to everyone. Once you get done reading this one, you should check out the sequel The Church. Hopefully, there will be a third book in this series in the near future.
on February 2, 2011
First I must say I am a fan of Donald Cardinal Wuerl. He offers Mass and shares his homilies with a welcoming smile on his face that is contagious. After hearing about this book on Relevant Radio when its co-author Mike Aquilina was interviewed; I was very excite; especially with the timing of the Roman Missal, Third Edition's enactment this coming Advent. I bought a copy for my home and for my sister's. It is worthy of high praise. I highly recommend it to all Catholic families. One disappointment, however, the photography was all in black and white. I would have paid twice the price for this book with color photography; especially as a teaching tool for children. Color is so much more engaging. My family Bible growing up, printed in the 1970s, had full color photos of the Mass. Come on this is 2011!
on February 28, 2011
Whether you are new to Catholicism and Just learning, a "Cradle Catholic", or just someone who wants to know what it is that Catholics do, this a great book! The authors break down the Mass into its component parts and explain in exacting detail and plain language the beauty of the Holy Sacrifice.