Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Review: The Mass: A Guided Tour

My latest foray into reading has been The Mass: A Guided Tour written by Thomas Richstatter. I have to say that while I felt some points soared over my head while reading the book, I came to the startling realization at Mass this past Sunday that, in fact, many of them had not. Reading this book can certainly deepen your understanding of the Mass, and quite frankly that shocked me given that I've already been subjected to several poignant explanations of the Mass. Will I ever completely wrap my head around it all? Maybe not. (I still don't understand how telephones and the internet actually work--I'm serious.) But I can tell you that the explanation put forth in this book has certainly stuck with me, and I'm fairly certain that it has transformed my view.

So you're probably wondering what the deal is with this book, right? We'll, the book is broken down into two parts. Part one looks at the "Four Mysteries". There is a chapter for each mystery. They are Christmas, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I have to say it was within part one of this book that I came to the realization that perhaps this book isn't what I was expecting as I came to wonder why some of the explanations seemed like they were just beyond my grasp of understanding. I'm sure a lot of my confusion has to do with the fact that the author's method of explaining the Mass is different from how it has been explained to me in the past. Part two of this book is called "A Symphony in Four Movements". This part jived better with my own understanding of the Mass and as a result, I enjoyed this portion of the book the best. The chapters in this section discuss essentially what we are doing when we go to Mass.

In the introduction for this book it is explained that in many ways this book is more of a pilgrimage than a tour. It's a pilgrimage because this book will transform your view of the Mass. When I first read this, I was thinking to myself "Oh sure, this book is really going to change my view." (insert skeptical "I'll believe it when I see it" tone here). So when I realized at Mass this past Saturday that apparently reading this book had changed my perspective a bit, I found myself eating my words. I'm fairly certain that my difficulty in understanding certain portions of the first part of this book has to do with me and not the author. He really does do a good job at explaining all the components of Mass. I'm confident that I was simply thrown off by his approach which as I have already mentioned is different from how the Mass had previously been explained to me.

This book review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program for the The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Mass: A Guided Tour. As a reviewer for The Catholic Company, I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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