Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest Post: books on the "new" Mass

Sister Anne (from "Nunblog") has spent the past year talking and studying about the new translation of the Mass, so she is providing a guest post on the books that can help you understand the what and wherefore of the changes in the Mass.

The new translation of the Missal (which went into effect on Nov. 27) provides a perfect opportunity for getting to know the Mass better, and Catholic publishers have been more than happy to provide the resources. While there are a number of new titles specifically on what's "new" in the Missal, the books that will have the longest "shelf life" are those that simply incorporate the changes into a solid presentation of the Mass itself.

One of those books is by Dr Edward Sri of the Augustine Institute (where just last Saturday our Sr Irene received her Master's in Biblical Theology). I was given a review copy of Sri's "A Biblical Walk through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy" (my copy came with a handy laminated folder with the new translation of the unchanging parts of the Liturgy).

At first I thought I would just zip through the book and gather some interesting bits of knowledge to add to my liturgical information collection. Simply opening the book to leaf through its pages quickly disabused me of that idea. To casually flip through Sri's book seems almost sacrilegious. I realized that this is a book that deserves to be read in calm, not only without haste, but also without an agenda. It offers a deeply contemplative "walk" through the Mass, Bible in hand, in the company of Fathers and Doctors and Saints of the Church. The Confiteor alone takes up 5 pages of the book, and the Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy) is another 5! Every so often, Sri will pause, so to speak, and go behind the biblical and liturgical texts to the mysteries they express, inviting us to renew our whole participation at Mass, and not just learn stuff about it. Although there is a great amount of "stuff" here to learn, too.

I see that Ascension Press has also prepared a program for groups (with a student workbook and leader's guide): an ideal way to help prepare people not just for "changes ahead," but for the kind of profound reform that Pope Benedict has said always coincides with a renewal of Eucharistic faith.

The Diocese of Duluth, MN is offering a free e-book, entitled "Praying the Mass Anew." It gives an overview of the Mass in general as well as explaining the new translation. You can download it and print it as-is, or save it to your favorite e-reader! I have only scanned it so far, but it looks like a fine presentation of the Mass for adults; if you haven't really had any instruction on the Mass since your First Communion, you'd probably do well to download this one.
On the website, you'll also find the individual parts of the book, so you can read it online if you prefer. The Director of the diocesan Office of Worship even shared his PowerPoint presentations and notes, so you can study on your own--and a printable version of a "pew card" with the people's parts that you can take with you to Mass.
What a service! (Thanks, Father Hastings!)

As a presenter on the new missal, I have spent the past year immersed in the texts and in texts about the texts. Today I just finished yet another book about the Roman Missal, this one by a Chicago priest (and consultant for Cardinal George). Of all the titles I have read this year, this is the book I would most highly recommend, both for the more sophisticated members of the "daily Mass crowd" and for parish staff members, especially those on liturgy committees.

Father Tuzik doesn't just give the background to the new translation of the Mass prayers or the lengthy process of the translation and its approval.  As the subtitle says, he really offers "pastoral reflections" on the prayers themselves, highlighting texts that the earlier translation had not really delivered (with a kind of "before" and "after" treatment in columns, so you can see the precise word changes and appreciate the difference). He also (and this is where the book is truly unique and useful) goes into the less-frequented parts of the Roman Missal: not just the various votive Masses, but the abundant ritual masses (Baptism, Confirmation, etc.) which are now included in the altar book, and the other optional masses--and they are many! (Each category has its own chapter.) Within the treatment, he will give a few examples of specific prayers, and then offer suggestions about when that particular set of mass prayers would be best used in a parish setting. As Tuzik observed, most of the time priests use the Sunday prayer texts, when there are so many optional prayers that match the readings for the day and put into relief a dimension of faith that deserves a bit more attention.
Among the Masses for various needs and occasions, there is the Mass "for the Progress of Peoples"; one "for Refugees and Exiles"; "In thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life." There is one Mass of thanksgiving whose prayers are suitable when people have been rescued from peril, and another Mass of thanksgiving where the prayers reflect more a sense of gratitude for successful endeavors. There are Masses for seedtime and Masses for harvest; Mass prayers for public officials (prayer may not be the most spontaneous thing that would occur to people when thinking of elected leaders!). There are Masses for the sick, and a Mass "for the Grace of a Happy Death" (which, Tuzik points out in that ever-present pastoral spirit, can be really suitable in the case of the terminally ill, acknowledging that they may even be longing for the Lord to come for them soon.) There's even a (how appropriate to our times!) Mass "for Chastity" whose prayers remind me of Ronald Knox's observation that virginity is not something slight and fragile, but something bold and grand, like a parade coming down the street: "Through the Sacraments we have received, O Lord, may our heart and our body flourish anew..."

His style is consistently pastoral and personal: refreshing in the field of liturgy! So, if you enjoy hearty reading of a theological bent, and haven't heard enough yet about the Roman Missal, or (above all) if you serve on your parish staff and assist the priests with liturgy planning, this is a book for you!

Regarding personal-sized "hand" missals, subscription missalettes and missal apps, see a post I did for my own blog. The Pauline edition of the Sunday and Daily Missals should be out early in the new year; maybe Sr Julia will invite me to do a post about them then!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Up and Coming

I actually haven't seen this book yet, but we should have it in a week or two fresh and new from the publishing house...and the topic couldn't be more appropriate for our age. Doesn't it seem to you like we're either expected to hurry up and forgive rather thoughtlessly, almost reactively, or else go to war when someone wrongs us? And yet either approach short-circuits real forgiveness...

Amazingly, the Facebook page for this yet-unpublished book is really active. If you like quotes (I've been collecting them for years), you'll find some really good ones on the Facebook page; when the book is released, I'm sure the quotes will come to life even more!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Guest Post: Helping kids deal with death

I invited Sr Anne to reprint her blog post about a new Pauline book that she had more than a little to do with...

This November my family will mark the fifth anniversary of Dad's death--and the fifth wedding anniversary for my sister Jane and her heaven-sent Jim. If you haven't been following me quite that long, it's a great story. Anyway, at Dad's wake (the morning of the wedding rehearsal), I noticed my seven-year-old niece sitting on the funeral parlor sofa, engrossed in a Harry Potter book. I felt frustrated that at a time when it is so fitting to speak of life after death, the meaning of life, the Body of Christ...there wasn't anything age appropriate for Claudia (who had lost her other grandfather a few months before).

A few months later, I was taking a 1 credit course to complete the requirements for a Certificate in Spiritual Formation. It was one of those situations where I would have taken anything they offered just to get that one last credit. As it turned out, the course was on bereavement ministry. And we had to do a project.

I turned in a sample "activity book" for a grieving child; something that would help a child process the experience of grief in the light of the Catholic faith. The professor liked the idea, so I submitted it to our publishing house. There my humble project took on dimensions far beyond what my 1-credit course equipped me for, so the editors entrusted its development to Kimberly Schuler, a school counselor, and to our own Sr. Mary Joseph Peterson (for the artwork). The result is a keepsake volume for children in primary or middle school; a kind of hybrid puzzle book,  one-year journal and catechism.

So it looks as though my experience of loss has borne fruit for others in their time of loss. Isn't that how God tends to do things?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Just one!

A whole video about just one book? You know it's a good one.

Please pray for Mom, who is recovering from heart surgery. Thanks.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Countdown to Volume 2!

The Holy Father's new book is going to hit the bookstores soon. Do you have a copy on order yet? It would be hard to come up with a better book for your spiritual reading this Lent. After all, volume 2 of "Jesus of Nazareth" focuses entirely on Holy Week and Easter!
If you pre-order with one of the PBM bookstores, you can not only reserve a copy, but get it at a discount. Meanwhile, a few sections have been made public ahead of time.

Sister Anne was in New Orleans during February and followed me around with her video camera, so before long you may get a few more book selections from me "viva voce"!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest Post: Holding on to Hope

I'm importing this post from because it is a review of a fellow Pauline's most recent title (a helpful title, too, for difficult times).

By Anne Bender • Nov 13th, 2010 • 
Holding on to Hope: The Journey Beyond Darkness by Sister Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP

I have been a fan of Sister Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP, ever since I read her books Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach and Making Peace with Yourself. Her words in these books brought me comfort and a sense of community in my darkness, helping me to realize that depression can happen to anybody, but it doesn’t have to define who we are or lead to restrictions in our lives.
In Holding on to Hope I found the same sense of comfort and support that I have come to acquaint with Sr. Hermes. The book is set up with sections on images, scripture, reflection questions, contemplative exercises, resting and inner healing exercises (written by Sr. Helene Cote, PM, MTS.) Throughout each chapter, the reader is lead into a spiritual healing experience based on the life of Christ.
Some passages that I found to be especially helpful for me were those that dealt with the realization that God is always present, holding us as we heal, and supporting us in those moments when we fall back into darkness, such as:
“This is the way it is. We cannot escape the waves of consolation and desolation that wash through our souls…we need to be able to dip back into the darkness here and there with graciousness and without fear in order to learn to relax there, where God is also present.” (p. 74)
But perhaps, the most hopeful and helpful section of all was Appendix Two: A Process for Putting on Christ in Seven Stages. This section dealt with the letters of St. Paul that show his transformation as he “put on Christ.” We, too, are called to put on Christ and can accomplish this by following the example of this great saint. I plan to follow Sr. Hermes’ lead here by praying with her hopeful and serene words: “I want only Jesus, not my perfection or security or happiness. Knowing Jesus is more important to me than any of this. To share His sufferings is my greatest joy because I know He will let me share His resurrection.” (p. 142)
As a wife and mother who has fallen in and out of depression many times in the past few years, I found that Sr. Hermes book, Holding on to Hope, will be a great resource for me to use whenever life becomes difficult and despair seems so near. In those dark times, I will reach for this book and hold on to hope.

Many thanks to Sally Feller at Pauline Books and Media for this opportunity to review Holding on to HopeOrder Holding on to Hope and support with your purchase

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mailbox time!

From Michael:

Subject: I want a good life changing book.

Hi, I stumbed led upon your blog when I googled "Catholic books that can change your life."

I am not a rapacious reader as I get bored quickly.  But when I find a good book, I will read it through like a hungry kid eats popcorn.  Most of the Catholic books I have read failed to capture my attention this way.    I have had "epiphanies" when reading books before that have motivated me to change some aspect of my life, but I have yet to find a genuinely modern Catholic book that has been successful in pushing me to the next level spiritually. 

I am a Catholic husband and father of a one-year old, and I work as a professional.  I am trying to build a stronger prayer life as I receive spiritual direction and pray with my wife regularly.  But I am seeking grace anywhere I can get it, even if it means it is in a book (something besides your standard prayer books or the Bible).  So if you know of something that will appeal to someone in my state of life and keep my attention, by all means, please recommend it.

Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Interactive ChristologyAnd my answer: 

There are a lot of books, but the first one that comes to mind is "Fully Human, Fully Divine" by Michael Casey.  I've read it at least five times, underlined, hi-lighted, it's definitely worth reading if you have a chance.  Say a prayer before you go book-hunting.  There are so many books, a little Divine inspiration couldn't hurt!