James Spencer, writer, Latinist, original writer for this blog returns with two book reviews. Thank you Jim, it is always a pleasure.
This diminutive but truly do-all Catholic prayer book has appropriate prayers for
every occasion you can think of and for several others you probably can’t think of right
off-hand: Prayers for every Church ceremony; prayers before and after just about every
human activity, religious or secular; private prayers for every imaginable intention; and
whatever other sort of prayer there might be.
It has, in both Latin and English: the Ordinary of the Traditional Latin Mass; the
complete daily Mass for the Dead; the Proper of the Wedding Mass; Sunday Vespers; and
Benediction. In English only, it has the Propers for Sundays and Holy Days.
It has excellent sets of before-and-after prayers for Mass, Holy Communion, and
Confession. It has special devotions for various feast days and Church seasons, for Forty
Hours, for each day of the week and each month of the year. It has special devotions to
each Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, and several saints. It
has litanies of all sorts. It has the St. Alphonsus Liguouri Stations of the Cross.
It has a brief summary of Catholic Doctrine, and a Church calendar of moveable
feasts that covers each year from 2010 through 2041. This calendar was updated
specifically for this reprint. The calendar in the original 1960 edition didn’t reach to
2010, much less to 2041.
Two “outdated” things have not been updated, and frankly I’m glad they haven’t
been. First, this book contains the old rules for fast and abstinence, which have been
learning the new rules. Besides, anyone who follows the stricter 1960 rules will also
fulfill the current, more relaxed “penitential” rules. Second, this book contains the 1960
indulgence scheme (“nnn days”). Whenever you see this, simply change it in your
upward, your choice) to the most recent of the Church’s many “Golden” Ages.
This book will slip into a man’s jacket pocket or woman’s smallest purse.
Because of this portability, combined with such extensive contents, this book has been nicknamed
“the Swiss Army knife.”
On a purely personal note, I must say that reading in this tiny volume the
complete Pre-Vatican II prayers and hymns of Benediction brought back cherished
memories of the days when this was the standard and universal form for Benediction:
O Salutaris Hostia . . . Tantum Ergo . . . the Blessing . . . the Divine Praises (led by the
priest, repeated by the congregation) . . . Holy God, We Praise Thy Name. Henceforth
I will carry this little volume whenever I go to our now-rare and multi-formatted
Benedictions. That way I’ll be ready on the off-chance that I encounter Benediction in
this most beautiful format. (Such thinking reminds me of a song that was popular during
WWII: “I can dream, can’t I?”)
However, I won’t have to dream to make this book valuable to me on many
other occasions. For example, I’m sure I’ll find the prayers before and after Confession
especially helpful. Ditto for the many litanies, and on and on.
This little book can help any Catholic wishing to advance in the life of prayer and
devotion. It would also make a nice gift for such a person on any gift-giving occasion.
Since it appears to be as tough as a Marine Drill Instructor., it should last a long time,
even in the mitts of the heaviest-handed prayer.
This is the missal with which most of us old-gaffers and gafferettes learned to
follow the Traditional Latin Mass on Sunday, then called simply “Sunday Mass.” It’s
paint-by-numbers simple to use. You put one marker ribbon at #1 in the Ordinary and
the other at #2 in the Proper for the Mass of the particular Sunday. When the priest starts
the Mass with the prayers at the foot of the altar, you follow along at and beyond #1 in
the Ordinary. When he goes to the altar, and you run out of reading material, you flip to
#2 in the Proper, and so on, back and forth between the Ordinary and Proper, right up to
the last Gospel and the prayers after Mass.
Only later did we learn to follow “daily Mass” with the thicker, more imposing,
and less helpful missals of Fr, Lasance, St. Andrew, and so on.
This is also the ideal missal for those who were so unfortunate as to miss those
delightful, enriching “bad ole days” to learn to follow Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary
Form. Once they have mastered this basic skill, they too can graduate to less user-
friendly daily Missals for both Sunday and weekday E.F. Masses.
In addition to the above features, this little shirt-pocket missal has one feature our
oh-so-undisciplined modern congregations needs desperately, namely, an explanation
of the 1935 papal (Pius XI) directives for a “Dialogue Mass.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t
necessary back then to go into what such a Mass isn’t. It wasn’t necessary to tell the
folks of those bad ole days that a Mass doesn’t become a Dialogue Mass when stray folks
here and there in the congregation belt out an occasional “Et cum spiritu tuo” or “Deo
gratias” to wow those around them with their profound knowledge of Latin and the
proper (more or less) pronunciation thereof. No, according to Pope Pius XI, a Dialogue
Mass is a Mass in which the entire congregation joined the altar boys in each and every
one of their responses all through the Mass, and in which the congregation also recite the
Gloria and Credo along with the priest. Clearly, this could happen only at a low Mass,
with no choir to drown out the altar boys’ responses and the priest’s recitation of the
Gloria and Credo.
This little Missal is a treasure, from which any newbie at Sunday Traditional
Latin Masses can benefit, even without the assistance of others (although it works even
better with such help). It would also make a wonderful gift to anyone thinking about
taking the plunge into such Masses.
by James B. Spencer.
First Serial Rights
We're thinking of you this Christmas Father Lies.
The rule was: no fresh food was accepted, with the exception of potatoes, because spuds could last through the long winter in the interior Pacific Northwest. Other than that, nothing that looked like it came from a farm, or a cow, or the sea. The more unrecognizable as an actual product of nature, the better.
The entire liturgy of Christmas Eve is consecrated to the anticipation of the certain and sure arrival of the Savior: "Today you shall know that the Lord shall come and tomorrow you shall see His glory" (Invitatory of Matins for the Vigil of the Nativity). Throughout Advent we have seen how the preparation for Jesus' coming became more and more precise. Isaiah, John the Baptist and the Virgin Mother appeared throughout the season announcing and foretelling the coming of the King. We learn today that Christ according to His human nature is born at Bethlehem of the House of David of the Virgin Mary, and that according to His divine nature He is conceived of the Spirit of holiness, the Son of God and the Second Person of the Trinity.
Lift up your gates, O princes,
Open wide, eternal gates,That the King of Glory may enter in. . . .