Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Books of Liturgical Interest from Os Justi Press

About ten years ago, I had been searching for a suitable “intermediate” missal that I could give to my children — something between a 24-page “See Father Go Up to the Altar” type of book and a 2,000-page Baronius Missal. At the time, as far as I could tell, there was nothing like this available, so I decided to create one. Once I had self-published copies for my own family, some friends saw them and asked for copies, too. It was at this point that I realized other families might find this intermediate missal helpful. That was when Os Justi Press was born, and its first product was A Missal for Young Catholics, which has been quite popular.

In the intervening years, I have brought out thirty volumes, mostly reprints of older works, falling broadly into the categories of theology, catechesis, devotions, and literature. A listing of all the titles, with descriptions, photographs, and reviews, can be found here, the closest thing to a website that this modest press can boast. I am terrible about advertising, so practically nobody knows Os Justi exists. That is why I thought it would be helpful to share with NLM readers the titles that are of particular liturgical interest. Each title is hyperlinked either to, where most Os Justi books are sold (available as well at Amazon affiliates around the world), or to

John Henry Newman on Worship, Reverence, and Ritual, ed. Peter Kwasniewski

The life and thought of John Henry Newman were permeated with the ceremonies and hallowed texts of Christian liturgies, which he celebrated for over six decades. The “ordinances” of the Church, her rich panoply of rites handed down through the centuries, are, for Newman, doors or windows into the heavenly society for which we were created. As Newman says in a number of places, we are given our time on earth to begin to live, through personal prayer and corporate worship, the life of the blessed in heaven. This volume gathers over seventy texts from all periods of Newman’s long career. Forty-four of Newman’s incomparably great sermons are included in full. That Newman deserves his reputation as one of the finest spiritual writers of modern times and the greatest prose stylist of nineteenth-century England is abundantly demonstrated in these spirited and subtle reflections on the duty of reverence, the benefits of ritual, and the privilege of divine worship. (Read Jeremy Priest’s review in the Adoremus Bulletin of November 2020: “The Heart of John Henry Newman: Beating with the Spirit of the Liturgy.”)

The Mass: A Liturgical Commentary by Canon A. Croegaert (1958)

Vol. 1: The Mass of the Catechumens
Vol. 2: The Mass of the Faithful

In this two-volume work from the 1940s, Rev. Auguste Croegaert expounds the parts, ceremonies, and prayers of the Mass. His prefatory note explains the rationale: “Many priests express a desire for a deeper knowledge of the meaning and history of the rites and prayers of the holy sacrifice they celebrate every day, but have neither the leisure for research nor the sources, which are scattered through a great number of books, pamphlets and reviews. It has been our aim to provide a methodical and practical book for the clergy — one which will be useful both for their own instruction and in their apostolate. The order of the parts of the traditional Latin Mass has been followed throughout and each of the ceremonies is described separately. Each of the chapters provides a general intfoduction to its subject, a summary of the history of its origins and development and a description (where applicable) of the rite itself. The emphasis throughout is on the practical: on doctrine, history, liturgy and ascetic theology.”Although one may quibble with this or that point — especially the author’s gushing enthusiasm for versus populum as the truly ancient way of offering Mass, which more recent scholarship has refuted — Croegaert’s is nevertheless an excellent, thorough, and insightful commentary. The first volume is devoted to the Mass of the Catechumens, the second to the Mass of the Faithful.
The Breviary Explained by Pius Parsch (1952)

One of the most eminent members of the original Liturgical Movement, Parsch furnishes us in this book with an unmatched guide to the riches of the preconciliar Breviary of the Catholic Church. Quoting from Fr. Parsch himself will give one a sense of his appreciation of the Divine Office: “The Breviary is the official prayerbook of the Church. The Holy Ghost and the Church have been working on it for more than 3,000 years, and it has become the basic book of prayer, a precious common fund to which the great men of prayer from every age have contributed their thoughts and sentiments. The two chief objectives which the breviary fulfills are: 1. it is the prayer of the Church as a body and, 2. it is a guide to genuine spiritual growth for the individual soul…. The Church is praying through my mouth, I offer her my tongue to pray with her for all the great objectives of redemption, and for God’s honour and glory. We weep, too, or rather the Church weeps through our tears, together with those who weep, rejoices through our joys together with those who rejoice, does penance with the repentant. All the sentiments of Holy Mother Church find their echo in our heart. This gives a deeper content to our prayer; we spread out far beyond our own selves…. The individual, too, must grow; that is the subjective side of liturgical prayer. For the man who prays, the breviary needs to be staff and guide and way to heaven. ... But the most prominent feature of the breviary’s benefit lies in its wonderful arrangement of prayer in the sequence of canonical hours. Each day we are to make some further progress in building up the temple of grace within our soul…. One more thought: Breviary and Mass belong together; they form a unity, the liturgical day. We might compare the relationship to the sun and the planets. The Mass is the sun about which the planets, that is, the canonical hours, gravitate. The canonical hours prepare for the Mass, they surround the Mass, they try to realize and retain the fruits of the Mass, and spread them over the day.”

The Fullness of Sacrifice: Doctrinal and Devotional Synthesis on the Mass — Its Foretelling, Foreshadowing, and Fulfilling by A. M. Crofts, O.P. (1953)

We are witnesses of a growing desire to participate more devoutly in the traditional Latin Mass. The venerable prayers in the Missal, the dignity of the ceremonies, the concerted movement of priests and worshippers in supplication and love, have stirred the heart of the Catholic world. Many aspects of our act of worship — its setting, foreseen in prophecy and fashioned reverently in the course of time; the heart of it, the Eternal Priest offering Himself as Victim; the memorial in His daily return, as real as when He walked to death; our sharing in that ceaseless Eucharistic action whereby the Church offers herself in Christ to God; the inexhaustible riches of the Redeemer’s presence; the food of the soul on earth, with a pledge of eternal life — these are lucidly explained by Fr. Croft in this commentary, at once scriptural, devotional, and liturgical.

Holy Mass: Approaches to the Mystery by A.-M. Roguet (1951)

This fine little book studies the Mass, not from its origins or from theories about it, but from its fully-developed ritual acts. The Mass is a simple reality, yet at the same time rich and complex, as are all things that are concrete and alive. In order to understand it we must go around the mystery, see it from different angles, complete and correct one idea that one ceremony, or group of ceremonies suggests, by other ceremonies or by the same ones seen from another point of view. The Mass is an action, a movement, the work of a whole people gathered unto the altar; the Mass is also and always a mystery, that is to say, a reality that is infinitely beyond us and that our intellectual reasoning could never reduce to a convenient schedule. To get a glimpse of the mystery, to present it under various lights, to bring the Christian soul into contact with it, leaving him the possibility of penetrating further by his own efforts, such has been the author’s ambition.

Sacred Signs by Romano Guardini (1911; English, 1956)

In this profound little work, Fr. Romano Guardini speaks with poetic wisdom about the fundamental language of symbols out of which the Sacred Liturgy is woven. When we speak this language fluently, we can offer ourselves, body and soul, more completely to the Lord. Once I had discovered this book, I’ve given it to every student and indeed every Catholic who wants to understand the liturgy. It’s one of the half-dozen or so indispensable readings.

The Life of Worship: Grace, Prayer, Sacraments, and the Sacred Liturgy by a Seminary Professor

After a robust preliminary section on grace, this comprehensive treatise on Christian worship, humbly attributed to “a seminary professor” of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in France in the late nineteenth century and first published in English in 1920, is divided into three sections. Section 1 treats of prayer, with commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation. Section 2 treats of the sacraments — first in general, then one by one — and sacramentals. Section 3 treats of the liturgy as well as all that is connected with it: churches, liturgical objects, vestments, ceremonies, the divine office, feasts, and devotions. Logically organized into questions and answers, rounded out with summaries, and ornamented with scholastic charts, the present book is a thorough and trustworthy guide to traditional Catholic doctrine on the most sublime mysteries of the Faith.

Fundamentals of Gregorian Chant by Dominic Keller, O.S.B. (1955)

This short and succinct guide to the Solesmes method of singing Gregorian chant is especially commendable as a pedagogical tool and a resource for choirs and scholas. Its principal virtues are the clarity of explanation, the excellent examples, and the exercises. 

Roman Martyrology: Pocket Edition (1962)

The Roman Martyrology commemorates all the saints officially recognized for public cultus by the Catholic Church. This edition is the preconciliar Martyrology, current through the pontificate of Pope Pius XII; it is therefore ideal for use with the traditional Latin Mass and Roman Breviary. This handy pocket edition, which I created for the purpose of traveling with the ingredients necessary for the Office of Prime — this was after having accidentally smashed my Kindle and deciding that I was better off without it — omits the prefatory material and the lengthy index of names and simply provides the daily readings, in English, from January 1st to December 31st.

Benedictine Martyrology (1922)

OJP’s newest release, announced here at NLM last week. This impressive volume, published in 1922 and long out of print, contains an English translation, augmented with new material, of Rev. Peter Lechner’s Ausführliches Martyrologium des Benedictiner-Ordens und Seiner Verzweigungen of 1855. The purpose is to gather in one place all Benedictine men and women with a reputation for heroic virtue and holiness, whether officially canonized or not, as a supplement to the Roman Martyrology. Unlike the latter, however, the Benedictine Martyrology offers a succinct biography of each figure. It is an impressive and moving testament to the enormous sanctity of the spiritual family of Benedict and Scholastica.

Vocations by Fr. William Doyle, S.J. (1913)

Fr. Willie Doyle’s brilliant little book for vocational questions has helped countless souls to follow God’s will. First published in 1913 despite few supporters, Fr. Willie hopped that it would encourage youth in need of assistance in following the religious vocation. By the time of his death, in 1917, the 9th edition (90,000 copies) was nearly exhausted, and by 1943, 160,000 copies in ten languages had been distributed. A few days before his death, Fr. Willie wrote to his father concerning Vocations: “It is consoling from time to time to receive letters from convents and religious houses, saying that some novice had come to them chiefly through reading Vocations; for undoubtedly, there are many splendid soldiers lost to Christ’s army for the want of a little help and encouragement…” 

A Missal for Young Catholics, ed. Peter Kwasniewski (2014)

This booklet is a Missal for the traditional Latin Mass (also known as the Extraordinary Form or the Tridentine Mass), intended for young Catholics who are ready for something more substantial than the tiny child missals (“See Father go to the altar: he is praying for us”) but not yet quite ready for a 2,000-page adult daily missal like the Baronius or Angelus Press. The book contains, in easy-to-read print, the full Ordinary of the Mass (the prayers that generally do not change from day to day) as well as clear indications of when the proper prayers and readings take place, so that young people can consult a parent or sibling next to them for the proper if they wish. Full color reproductions of over 40 beautiful works of art help a wandering mind focus on and ponder the mysteries of the Faith. The “Mass of the Ages” is a sign of order, beauty, sacredness, and holiness to children in the midst of our confused world. This booklet will help children to begin their quest of understanding the mysteries that the Church offers to them in her sacred rites. (An edition with thicker, glossier paper and a different cover is available from Lulu.)

The Sacrifice of the Mass Worthily Celebrated by Rev. Pierre Chaignon, S.J. (1951)

Very much has been written in more recent times about the Mass and the cooperation of the laity in it; comparatively little, however, has been written concerning the attitude of the priest towards this Holy Sacrifice. And yet, if St. Thomas Aquinas is right to say “every time we celebrate the memory of his Host, we exercise the work of our redemption” (Summa III.83.1), then so mighty a work requires the best preparation. Father Pierre Chaignon, S.J. (1791–1883) was a French Jesuit priest and spiritual writer who devoted his life to the spiritual direction of other priests, giving an estimated three hundred retreats to French clergy over the course of thirty years. His deep love for the clergy and his concern for their sanctification shines forth in this beautiful book, which helps the priest to prepare well for Mass, celebrate it well, and then make a good thanksgiving afterwards. To stress the importance of his theme, “the worthy celebration of Mass by the priest,” the author incorporates in his work the mind of St. Thomas Aquinas, the fervor of St. Alphonsus de Liguori, the spirit of St. Charles Borromeo, and the zeal of St. Ignatius. Since its appearance, this work has been found very serviceable for meditation and spiritual reading. Father Chaignon’s clarity of thought and exactness of reasoning make the book well adapted to modern conditions under which priests also find themselves compelled to do things in a hurry.

Latin in Church: The History of Its Pronunciation by F. Brittain (1954)

A fascinating, obscure, and slightly eccentric book about the many different ways in which Latin has been pronounced and spelled over the centuries as it traveled from its ancient seat to far-flung regions of Europe and beyond. The author makes the case that we should not be too fussy or insistent on a “correct” way of pronouncing the language, given that every context has its own justification, and that even scholars are not always sure about their own theories. An entertaining read for Latin lovers.

Cantus Mariales quos e fontibus antiquis eruit aut opere novo veterum instar concinnavit, ed. Dom Joseph Pothier, O.S.B. (1903)

A color facsimile edition of the exceptionally rare Cantus Mariales, containing a delightful selection of medieval and modern Gregorian chants in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prepared by the famous chant maestro Dom Joseph Pothier, abbot of Wandrille, and published in Paris in 1903. A friend of mine, visiting Jerusalem, happened to explore the choir loft of a monastery called Saint-Pierre de Sion. There he found a stash of dusty old chant books and asked the proprietor if he could buy any of them. The proprietor said: “Go ahead and take the books, they’d probably just get thrown away otherwise.” This friend gave them to me in Austria. Once I began to sing the chants inside, I knew that I had stumbled on a goldmine. (The same book is also available with a different cover.)

Other Os Justi titles include dogmatic theology from Scheeben and Pohle, Thomistic papers edited by Cuthbert Lattey, a catechetical work on sanctifying grace by Fr. Swizdor, Fr. Leen’s The True Vine and Its Branches, a lavishly illustrated edition of selected Fioretti or Little Flowers of St. Francis, reprints of Benson’s The King’s Achievement and By What Authority?, and two anthologies of Catholic poetry. See this page for more information and links.

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