Thursday, March 03, 2022

A New Deluxe Congregational Booklet for Pre-55 Holy Week and Pentecost Vigil

As the pre-55 Holy Week continues to be rediscovered and brought to more churches, and as the pre-55 Pentecost Vigil is likewise reclaimed, clergy and laity have been hoping to find adequate resources to help the laity follow along with the ceremonies, particularly in light of the fact that most of the daily missals in print feature the "restored" (but in reality deformed) Holy Week of 1955/1962. It is true that a few of the daily missals in print contain all of these texts (such as the Fr. Lasance and the St. Andrew's), but not everyone has a copy of these missals, and they are bulky and pricey. Other attempts in recent years at making booklets for the Triduum have been acceptable as temporary steps but not yet at the level of readability, aesthetics, and user-friendliness we would hope for.

I am therefore extremely pleased to announce that the ultimate pre-55 congregational aid has now been released from Roman Seraphic Books: Hebdomada Sancta: The Rites and Ceremonies for Use by the Laity. Although individual copies are somewhat spendy ($28.97), bulk discounts of up to 35% are available. It would be difficult to exaggerate how beautiful these full-color books are, and once again I must apologize that my little old handheld camera will not do justice to the crispness of the print and the color plates.

Over 250 pages in length but convenient enough in size and weight (as the photo indicates), the book contains the following:

1. A Foreword by Fr. Fortescue: "The Rites of Holy Week"
2. An Introduction with further information
3. Palm Sunday
4. Holy Monday
5. Holy Tuesday
6. Holy Wednesday
7. Maundy Thursday
8. Good Friday
9. Holy Saturday
10. Easter Sunday
Appendix I: Traditional Prayers and Devotions, including: Prayers before Mass; Devout and Fruitful Method of Assisting at Holy Mass; Prayers for Holy Communion; Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows; the Stations of the Cross according to the method of St. Francis of Assisi
Appendix II: The Pre-55 Vigil of Pentecost
Appendix III: The Ordinary of the Mass

I will share some photos and make brief comments as we go along.
From the Preface

From the Introduction (for a better PDF see the publisher's page)

 It goes without saying that all of the rich ceremonies of Palm Sunday and of the Triduum are laid out in full, with the Latin texts and English translation, and a handsome use of red and black lettering. The periodic rubrical and exegetical notes are an especially thoughtful addition and would make this a superb resource for all who wish to meditate beforehand or afterwards on the profound meaning of the ceremonies. If I were to teach a course on Holy Week, I would certainly use this as our central point of reference.

The artwork and accompanying verses are tastefully and appropriately chosen.

An example of the running commentary:

The publisher has made a segment of the Good Friday liturgy available as a PDF, if you'd like a closer and more digitally accurate look.

An unexpected surprise was the inclusion of two beloved Passiontide devotions, namely, the Dolor Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, and a fully illustrated Stations of the Cross with prayers according to the method of St. Francis.

Most fittingly, the booklet contains at the back the entire pre-55 liturgy for Whitsun-Eve (the Vigil of Pentecost), which, as I have written elsewhere, is also ripe for restoration along with the Holy Week, and is making a comeback as well. It fits hand-in-glove with the Tridentine Holy Week.

Lastly, the book is rounded off with the Ordo Missae, so that anyone who wishes to consult it would not need to have access to any other missal or booklet.

Altogether, Hebdomada Sancta is the most complete, handy, and beautiful congregational aid for the pre-55 ceremonies that has yet been published, and it is likely to be the gold standard for quite some time to come. If I had any desiderata for the future, it would be simply these: first, to find a way to bring the price-point down; second, for those who wish to invest personally or for a parish, to make a hardcover edition available that will last longer than a paperback. These are not complaints so much as wish-list items. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself, if you will be attending the pre-55 rites; and if you are a priest or anyone (like an MC) involved in running a pre-55 Holy Week, I urge you to get an examination copy, as this may very well be "just what you've been looking for."

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