Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review :: Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass

Last month I shared a link to the brand new Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass from St. Augustine Academy Press in my Preparing for Christmas :: Seven Fun Finds for Advent post. My husband and I were each given a review copy before it was released and, since he is much more familiar and knowledgeable about the Traditional Latin Mass (and also such a gifted writer and better able to do this beautiful book justice!), I asked him if he would write the review to share here at Shower of Roses. Thank you, Sean! 

Treasure and Tradition: The Ultimate Guide to the Latin Mass by Lisa Bergman
St. Augustine Academy Press, 2014

How do you put to words the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist? How does one explain the source and summit of the Christian life, the most holy and sublime of mysteries? How can anybody describe the liturgical expression that the Universal Church has officially promulgated in the Traditional Latin Mass, now commonly referred to as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite?

No words can adequately explain the sublime mystery of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Lisa Bergman’s book Treasure and Tradition attains to man’s ability to put to words an explanation of the Sacred Liturgical Form of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Three words come to mind about the Latin Mass upon exploring it from using this Guide: Illumination, Appreciation, and Admiration.

Illumination. Treasure and Tradition acts as a beacon of light.  By definition a beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location.  Indeed, it must be repeated that the mass is the source and summit of the Christian life.  Synthesizing Sacred Scripture, catechetical publications, historical and encyclopedic background, Bergman presents an illuminating and thoroughly researched resource for anyone old enough to read who would benefit to learn about the Roman Catholic Mass. In the book, the left hand pages are devoted to explanations of particular mass parts while the prayers that accompany those parts are included on the right side in both Latin and English. Bergman’s ability to incorporate images of sacred art and architecture reinforces the reader’s appreciation for the Church’s longstanding record of producing the most glorious artistic masterpieces in God’s honor. The images accompany explanations of the parts of the mass. Save for the short Bibliography and Devotionals sections, each and every page contains an illustration of some kind. Practically all of them are in full color. In the Guide, the reader will learn what is referred to as the Ordinaries and Propers of the Mass.  The reader will discover, with clarity and conciseness, the different forms of celebrating the Latin Mass, the Ecclesiastical Year, historical background of the mass, its sacrificial nature, and much, much more. The presentation and format is particularly well suited for teens, though adults without question will find the material in this guide exceptional.  Children and youth would likewise benefit, as the author walks the reader from the very basic understanding of worship to the most intricate detail.  The book truly is a guide - a beacon of light drawing interest to the Mystery of the Eucharist.  Like the mass itself, the guide is suitable for illuminating the widest possible reading audience on any level, including newcomers to the mass, non-Catholics, children, the poor, the advanced, and the indifferent.

Appreciation. The Latin Mass, on its own merit, evokes sentiments of gratitude and reverence. Treasure and Tradition dispels the apprehensions that an individual experiencing timidity or those harboring outright hostility may have towards this liturgical expression approved by the Church. Those witnessing a Latin Mass for the first time may first be struck by the silence and orderliness before them in both the sanctuary and the congregation. These characteristics are mere outcomes of a deeper affection: an endearing closeness to our Lord where the congregant both speaks to God from his heart and ardently listens to his tender promptings within him in the silence of the liturgy. The author explains the silence, the chants, and the order and reverence that this mass of the ages embodies.  This recalls the third discovered attribute of admiration.

Admiration. Through this book, the reader, whether a non-Catholic, newcomer to the Latin Mass, or experienced devotee will identify and realize a newfound recognition of the mass of the ages. The descriptions included in the Guide that explain the rituals and ceremonies prescribed in the mass reveal that the Church operates by the action of the Holy Spirit. The prayers, rituals and ceremonies weave an intricate thread, tying together the reality of Christ fulfilling the old covenant with the new. The reader, regardless of their denomination or spirituality will gain the understanding that the sacrificial aspect of the mass, both the priest's and ours, is not only very important, but necessary in our worship of the Almighty.

You can also find additional information about the Extraordinary Form in the archives: