Monday, December 23, 2013

The Mass (Image Books)

Back in May, I had the pleasure of reviewing Cardinal Wuerl's and Mike Aquilina's book The Church. (Click here if you're interested in reading the review.) In my reading of this work, I learned that it was actually a follow-up to the book The Mass. I desperately wanted to read this book, and I told myself that if the book became available to review again, I would jump at the chance. Luckily for me, Image Books recently re-released The Mass in a more affordable trade paperback format, so I saw my chance to review this book and seized the opportunity!

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.

This book was provided to me for free by Image Books. If you found this review helpful, please click the link and hit Yes!