Book review: A Devotional Journey into the Mass – How Mass Can Become A Time of Grace, Nourishment, and Devotion, by Christopher Carstens (pub Sophia Institute Press).
In this book, (buy here) the author, Christopher Carstens (who is the editor of Adoremus Bulletin,) takes us through each key element of the Mass (from how to enter the church through to how to respond to the dismissal). Grounding his discussion on the sacramental thought of Romano Guardini, he takes us on a journey into the heart of the liturgy. The principles he articulates are general and so are applicable to the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form, and the Anglican Ordinariate form of the Roman Rite. (If you want a printable summary of the eight principles, Sophia also very kindly provides a free printable summary in two pages, here.) Furthermore,
‘If you’re unhappy because the Mass has become for your routine – or even boring and tedious – these pages are for you. They teach you eight simple ways to make your every Mass a joyful time of piety and intense devotion.’ This is how the publisher, Sophia Institute Press, quite legitimately describes the appeal of this book. I would add to this that Carsten’s approach is the basis for a mystagogical catechesis that will allow us to participate so that the Sacred Liturgy as a whole itself becomes the primary force for continual mystagogy. As such I would see it as a natural complement to any authentic Catholic education, such as described in the book on children’s education I reviewed recently – Educating in Christ.
By emphasizing the sacramental nature of the Mass so profoundly and in such simple and clear language, and by showing its deep connection to scripture and salvation history it is, in my opinion, a foundational text for an approach to the Mass that could reap rewards for a lifetime.
I appreciated particularly, for example, his emphasis also on lectio divina as a preparation for the scripture that is proclaimed in the readings at Mass. Firstly, he de-mystifies it with simple and clear instructions on the method. Secondly, and just as importantly, he highlights how this exercise in meditation and contemplative prayer is consummated in the worship of God. It is not a higher activity, but one like all others that is not actually liturgical, which derives its power and effectiveness from the liturgy, and so, (Read More)