Meditations before Mass is a classic in the Catholic realm. Written by Romano Guardini, one of the 20th centuries greatest theologians, this work as well as several others by him gained popularity in the 1990s and were translated from German to English. The Introduction of this book states that the purpose of the discourses in this book were "simply to reveal what the Mass demands of us and how those demands may be properly met." Part One aims for total concentration of mind and heart to God in the Mass, and Part Two discusses the essence of the Mass and what it means to us as Catholics.
It was interesting to learn both about aspects of the Mass such as its institution and liturgical form. However, the chapters that spoke to me the most dealt with hindrances we encounter when participating in the Mass as we should. Guardini notes three specific hindrances - 1. Habit, 2. Sentimentality, and 3. Human Nature. I learned several important points from these chapters. For starters, any boredom or monotony we experience at Mass comes from us and not the Mass. The Mass is inexhaustible. Sentimentality is a desire to be moved and can be dangerous when it comes to the Mass. To put it in simple terms, you shouldn't go into Mass looking to see what you can get out of it, but what you can put into it. Lastly, celebration of Mass depends on human people, because it is a living thing.
If you are looking to deepen your understanding and appreciation of the Mass, I highly recommend this book. It not only educates you, but it invites you to examine both the Mass and yourself. I am extremely pleased that more and more titles of Guardini are being translated into English. This man was a mentor to both Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), so any book you can read of his I'd highly recommend. In fact, after you get done reading and reflecting on this book, check out another book by Guardini entitled Jesus Christus, which is a series of sermons on the life of Christ.
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