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Book Review: The Latin Mass Explained

Overall: I cannot recommend this book enough! It’s fantastic! A great explanation of the Latin Mass, plus, major practicality points for including a list of when to stand, sit, and kneel during the Mass.

Msgr. Moorman’s explanation of the Latin Mass in this small book is great! This is the most detailed explanation of the Latin Mass, without being overbearing on the details, that I’ve found . Msgr. Moorman’s writing style is very direct and easy to read. Before even beginning to explain the bits and pieces of the Latin Mass, Msgr. Moorman explains precisely what the Mass is and what that means for us. This little book was also immensely helpful in better appreciating not only what takes place at Mass, but entering into a deeper (and active) interior participation, and appreciating the Tridentine liturgy as something that must be preserved.

Msgr. Moorman clearly and succinctly explains everything about the Latin Mass– what the Mass is, why particular actions are performed, what is used for the Latin Mass and why it’s used, the vestments worn by the clergy, and what the prayers mean. Msgr. Moorman also gives a short, but effective, defense for Latin as the language of the liturgy. The last half of the book is the actual texts of the Latin Mass using the readings and prayers from Trinity Sunday alongside Msgr. Moorman’s very helpful explanations and commentary. I only wish I’d found this little book before attending my first Tridentine Mass!

For anyone wishing to attend a Latin Mass, I also recommend this book as a practical point; there’s a list of when to stand, sit, and kneel during the liturgy–so no worries about feeling lost! It’s a great size book to take along when without a 1962 Missal (keeping in mind that the prayers and readings are set for Trinity Sunday), especially as an introduction to the Latin Mass.

An excerpt explaining the “Munda cor meum”:

The priest goes to the center of the altar, bows down and prays.
Cleanse my heart and my lips, O Almighty God, Who didst cleanse the lips of the prophet Isaias with a burning coal: and vouchsafe, through Thy gracious mercy, so to purify me that I may worthily proclaim Thy holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be pleased, O Lord, to give Thy blessing.
The Lord be in my heart and on my lips, that I may worthily, and in a becoming manner, announce His holy Gospel.
While the missal is being transferred, the priest proceeds to the middle of the altar, where he makes a profound bow and asks God to purify his heart and lips, as He once did those of the Prophet Isaias with a burning coal, and enable him worthily to annouce the Gospel to the people. The people, in the meantime, pray that they may listen to the word of God attentively and with benefit.
The allusion to Isaias in this prayer recalls to mind the Prophet’s wonderful vision. He had been granted a vision of the glories of Heaven. He is overcome with humily at the thought of his unworthiness and exclaims: “Woe is me… because I am a man of unclean lips… and I have seen with my eyes the King of the Lord of hosts.” In answer to his prayer he was purified by the grace of God: “And one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a live coal, which he had taken with tongs off the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: Behold this hath touched thy lips, and they iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed.” (Is. 6:5-7).
When the priest proceeds to the Missal to read the Gospel, the people arise. By this they signify their readiness to stand up for and defend Christ’s teaching. This practice also reminds the faithful that through the Gospel of Christ, man is raised up from sin to newness of life.

An excerpt from part 3, chapter 5 titled “After Mass”:

It is all over now, and you may go back into the busy street and into your own homes. Nothing has changed since you left it all an hour or so ago. Only this has happened: You have stood in the presence of the living God; you have shared in the most sacred and solemn action that it is possible to conceive as taking place on this earth. “He was in the world, and the world knew Him not.” Perhaps until today you were among the number of those who knew Him not. You know Him now. Pray that God may give you grace and courage to follow Him Whom you know to have the words of everlasting life, so that one day you may be numbered among the “sons of God.”

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.


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