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Resources For New Mass Translation

As mentioned on today’s radio program, here are some resources that will help you to better understand the changes taking place at Mass beginning on November 27, 2011 in the Unites States:

Welcoming The Roman Missal by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (online resources)

A Biblical Walk Through The Mass by Dr. Edward Sri

A Guide To The New Translation of the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri

Mass Revision by Jimmy Akin

Know of any other good material?  Send me an email ( or post a comment.

Upcoming Mass Changes…Are You Ready?

While the actual Mass is not changing, beginning on Sunday, November 27th, what we say and hear at Mass (in the United States) will sound a bit different.  In order to help you prepare, I’ll be devoting 3 of  my Following The Truth BlogTalkRadio programs to a discussion of what’s changing.  We’ll review the differences in what the people say, what the priest says and discuss some of the reasons for the changes.  Understanding these modifications can definitely help you better appreciate what is taking place at Mass, so don’t miss out! 

Listen to Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio beginning Monday, November 7th  thru Wednesday, November 9th at 8 PM Eastern time or download the podcast from the BlogTalkRadio archives or iTunes.

Confused About The Mass? Have I Got A Book For You!

One of the most common problems among Catholics is a lack of understanding of the Mass.  A large number of Catholics believe that we go to Mass because “it’s what Catholics do” or for fellowship and preaching.  Without the proper background, most of the prayers heard at Mass don’t really help us to understand what is taking place.  What’s with all the sitting, standing and mysterious wording?  In reality, what goes on at every Mass is an incomprehensible miracle.  We are mystically transported 2,000 years in the past to Our Lord’s crucifixion at Calvary.  Even more astonishing is the fact that we not only get to witness Jesus’ sacrifice to the Father for our salvation, but we get to offer ourselves along with Him.  If that’s not enough, at Mass we receive the grace we need to one day get to Heaven!

Unfortunately, unless you already know what I just said, it’s hard to figure that out from the prayers of the Mass.  In reality, however, just about every prayer said at Mass has a Biblical origin.  Knowledge of this fact can go a long way in understanding what takes place at Mass.  Still the question remains…how can we understand the wording and the Biblical references?  One positive development is that, beginning in Advent of this year, some of the prayers of the Mass will be changing to more appropriately reflect the original Latin wording.  This is a good thing because, with proper explanation, this wording will help us to see the Biblical connection and to better understand what is taking place at Mass.

Still not excited?  Fortunately, I have some even better news!  I’ve recently run across one of the best and easiest to understand books on the Mass that I’ve ever seen.  A Biblical Walk Through The Mass by Dr. Edward Sri (2011, Ascension Press) not only explains the parts of the Mass in layman’s terms, but illustrates the Biblical origin of the prayers.  Those of you who are familiar with Dr. Sri’s work will find the same simple, but substantial, approach used in his other writings.  Divided into 24 short chapters (each corresponding to one part of the Mass), you’ll find this to be a difficult book to put down.  Time and time again, you’ll find yourself saying, “So that’s why we do that”! 

Even better is the fact that this book is part of a parish education series, which includes DVDs, CDs, student and leader guides.  It would be a perfect resource for parish study groups and will not only address the new Mass translation, but the entire liturgy.  There is a great need for a package such as this and it couldn’t be released at a better time.  With many parishes looking for resources that explain the new translation, this is the perfect answer.

I have stated before (and I still believe) that the only reason people leave the Catholic Church is due to a lack of understanding of what we believe, especially the Mass.  I hear a lot of talk about miracles and the desire to witness one.  Sadly, a miracle takes place each day on the altar of every Catholic church but is often unnoticed.  Do yourself a favor and check out this book (and all of the materials) so that you’ll have a better understanding for the greatest event that takes place on earth – the Mass!

Why Mass Is Boring

“Mass is Boring!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that familiar phrase.  Sadly, I have to admit that I’ve even used it myself.  As a Catholic apologist, I obviously need to have a response for this complaint – and I do.  The answer is actually very simple.  My answer to anyone who claims that Mass is boring is this…

You don’t understand it!

Make no mistake about it, this is a very common and serious problem among Catholics.  At the very least, it could cause us to miss out on the many graces that are available for the taking.  At worst, it can cause Catholics to leave the Church, putting their salvation in jeopardy, because they found another church service that had better music, preaching or entertainment. 

I recently was given an old missal that belonged to my wife’s grandmother.  At the beginning of the section on Holy Mass is the following simple, but powerful, explanation:

Holy Mass is the highest act of Divine Worship.  It is the renewal of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary which merited the infinite grace of Redemption.  In measure as you unite with the Victim Jesus in offering this Sacrifice to God and nourish your soul with His Sacred Body and Blood in Holy Communion, to that extent you apply to yourself the graces of the Redemption. (Mary My Hope Missal, Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1961)

None of us reading this were present at Calvary when Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins.  Every time we attend Holy Mass, however, we are mystically transported to that event, not as a spectators, but as participants.  We are invited to offer ourselves to the Father, along with Jesus.  The more sincere our offering, the more grace we will receive.  Why is grace important, you might ask?  Very simple – it’s what we need to get to Heaven!

So, the next time you hear someone complain that Mass is boring (or you’re tempted to say it yourself), I recommend that you think about this simple explanation buried in an old Missal.  I also encourage you to read as much as you can about the Mass, in order to increase your appreciation of this great event.  My Recommended Resources page lists some books that will also point you in the right direction.

“To me, nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass.  It is not a mere form of words – it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth.” (Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

What’s The Best Way To Handle Liturgical Abuse?

For the record, I don’t like holding hands during the Our Father, participating in a “love fest” during the sign of peace, and talking in Church before/after Mass.  I don’t appreciate it when there are more extraordinary ministers than parishioners or when a large number of musicians perform in the sanctuary.  I cringe when priests ad-lib during the Mass, especially during the Eucharistic prayer.  And why do I dislike these things, you may ask?  Simple – Because we’re not supposed to do them!

Now that I got my personal feelings out of the way, let’s discuss how we should handle the liturgical abuses/annoyances we run across.  Here are a few suggestions that I’ve found to be effective, some of which may surprise you:

Question your motives – The first question we should ask  is “Why is this bothering me so much”?  I know from personal experience that our annoyance sometimes results from excessive pride.  One of the unfortunate by-products of studying the Catholic Faith is that we sometimes start to feel smarter than our fellow parishioners (or priests).  We’ve read the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) from cover to cover and know that Father is definitely not supposed to be doing “this or that” and we’re going to tell him.  Why?  Is it because there is really harm being done or is it because we think that we’re smarter than him?  Some prayerful meditation on this question may provide a surprising answer.  Sometimes recognizing our true motives can be difficult, but it should be the first step in dealing with these situations. 

Set a good example – One of the most frustrating things about liturgical abuses or a lack of reverence at Mass is that it is often outside of our control.  However, while I can’t control the behavior of the priest or other parishioners, I can control my own actions.  If you’re annoyed that people are talking before and after Mass, try setting a good example by closing your eyes and praying.  While it’s often difficult to concentrate, it does have an effect on others and discourages them from interrupting your prayers.  In addition to discouraging others from interrupting your prayers, this action provides a good example of reverent behavior.  

Ignore it – It’s important to differentiate between severe liturgical abuses and mere annoyances.  If the priest is saying “this REPRESENTS my Body” instead of “this IS my Body” when consecrating the Host, you’ve got a big problem on your hands.  This could very well invalidate the consecration and should be brought to the attention of your pastor or bishop.  If, on the other hand, he is not elevating the host high enough or people are holding hands during the Our Father, it would probably be better to “look the other way” and concentrate on the Mass.  Satan uses many tricks to distract us at Mass and this is one of his favorites.  Don’t fall for it!

Take action– After prayer and analysis, you may determine that the abuse is so serious that you must take action.  If you choose to write a letter to your pastor or bishop, make sure it’s signed.  An anonymous letter will be thrown in the trash.  If you speak to them in person, always remember to be charitable.  Aside from being ineffective, having an “attitude” could very well cause you to sin, which is the last thing you want.

Once you’ve made the decision to either ignore the situation or pursue it, let it go and move on.  At this point, it’s out of your hands and you should not let it become a distraction.  While I don’t recommend switching parishes in haste, sometimes it’s necessary.  Before you decide to pursue a new parish, however, make sure you take the matter to prayer.  Whatever you do, keep your focus on the Lord.  Losing sight of Him is worse than any liturgical abuse that you’ll ever encounter!

Hand Holding During The Our Father?

I am often frustrated with some of the things that I see taking place during the Mass.   Rather than blame people for intentionally trying to sabotage the Mass, I honestly believe that these practices arise out of a genuine desire to get closer to the Lord and exhibit Christian charity.  Unfortunately, the end result is a lack of appreciation for what is taking place at Mass and, ultimately, a diminished respect for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

As a lukewarm and clueless Catholic for many years, I understand what it’s like to be “in the dark”.  Now that I’m a little less “clueless” (depending on who you ask 🙂 ), I understand the need for educating Catholics about the teachings of the Faith, so that they can come to know Christ as a person and share the Faith with others!

While written in a “tongue in cheek” style, here’s a blog post that touches on some of the more common issues that occur in Catholic congregations.  What’s the answer?  In my opinion it involves education.  If Catholics understood that at every Holy Mass, Our Lord’s sacrifice at Calvary is made present  and that the fruits of that sacrifice are made present for each of us… then some of these behaviors would go away.

One word of caution – Before anyone runs out and starts accusing and criticizing anyone who is known to partake in any of these behaviors at Mass…

Be Nice…We ALWAYS must remember to be charitable!