Sunday, April 02, 2006

Book Review: The Holy Mass, Dom Prosper Gueranger

The Holy Mass
by Dom Prosper Gueranger
Baronius Press: 2005
246 pp.

Dom Prosper Gueranger needs little introduction. He is of course the father of the liturgical movement and is best known for his voluminous collection, The Liturgical Year. What Dom Gueranger did for the liturgical year, he does for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this, much more manageable volume.

Those familiar with the legion of old Catholic books which make a commentary on the different parts of the Mass, according to the ancient Roman liturgical books. This is precisely what Dom Gueranger does in The Holy Mass. In a sense, this work can be summarized as one which gives a summary of the ceremony and history of the liturgical books, and gives a devotional commentary and meditation upon the particular actions and prayers of the ancient Roman liturgy.

As suggested, there have been various books and authors whom have set out to accomplish this same task. However, of all those worthy efforts, it seems that if there where to be any one in particular to have in a Catholic library, it would be this particular one.

Two reasons come to mind in such an assessment. The first of course pertains to the author. The works and liturgical commentaries of Dom Gueranger are considered classics, especially to those who appreciate our liturgical tradition. Particularly as a devotional work, one can do little better than this French Benedictine whose love of the ancient Roman liturgy still reaches us today.

The second reason relates to the beauty and quality of the binding – a beauty and quality well representative of its subject matter. Baronius Press makes it a goal to produce high quality books; books with artistic flair. The Holy Mass includes a deep green hardcover with gold, decorative designs on the front cover and spine. As well, the volume includes a golden ribbon and marbled endpapers.

All in all, it is a wonderfully produced book and would in particular make a nice gift for a friend, priest or seminarian – not to mention a wonderful addition to your family's Catholic library.

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