May 24, 2011

A Biblical Walk through the Mass


The coming changes to the liturgy this November are going to be very important for our life of prayer.   There are profound connections between liturgical worship and contemplation - in fact liturgical worship is both the source and summit of our personal prayer.  The following review is of a book by a longtime friend of mine here in the Archdiocese of Denver who teaches at the Augustine Institute:

Edward Sri, A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding what we Say and Do in the Liturgy, West Chester, PA: Ascension Press (2011)

Have you ever sat in an airplane and found yourself engaged in a conversation about the Mass?  For many non-Catholics and Catholics alike, the Liturgy can seem like a lot of standing up and sitting down with no rhyme or reason.  Yet the rituals are ancient and biblical with deep and profound meaning.   How can something so profound be explained in a simple to understand way?   Although I have never had this experience, while waiting for take-off, Dr. Sri met someone who, seeing his enthusiasm for the liturgy, acknowledged that “there are was something deeper going on there, in that there Mass.” 

In many ways, his book is an exploration about what that “something deeper” is.  Starting with the introductory rites and marching straight through each part all the way to the dismissal, he takes time for short but informing catechetical explanations of the reasons behind the individual rites so that the reader gains a sense of the overall beauty of the liturgy as a whole.  His method is to tie the parts of the Mass to thoughtful Biblical reflection.  Often, he puts the reader in touch with very Scriptural foundations of the Eucharistic Liturgy.  He focuses especially on the changes in language coming in the responses for the assembly.  He offers good explanation as to why these better translations were needed.  The reader gains an appreciation for how these new responses will help us all better connect our Eucharistic worship with the Scriptural traditions out of which it comes.   

Dr. Sri successfully provides a nice biblical overview of the Mass and its parts while informing us about the coming changes to the liturgy.  I recommend this book to anyone wanting to prepare for these changes and understand the liturgy from a biblical perspective - because in all our standing and kneeling, silent attentiveness and responses: there really is "something deeper going on there." 

For this and related materials by Dr. Sri go to: http://tinyurl.com/3txsfmp