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There are hundreds of books written on the Mass. How do you know which is right for you?

The Eucharistic celebration is the source and summit of our faith. This fact has inspired many to put pen to paper in order to write down their thoughts, observations and reflections on the Roman Catholic Mass.

But with literally hundreds of titles available, how does one go about finding a book on the Mass the resonates with his or her spirit? That is the aim of this page.

Many of these titles were first published before the reforms of Vatican II. Those who never attended a Latin (Tridentine) Mass and read one of these books may find the contents confusing. It would refer to instances in the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy in which they have little or no reference.

Most titles available today, however, were written after Vatican II and focus on the Novus Ordo Mass (also known as The Mass of Pope Paul VI) which presently is the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This is the Mass with which the majority of Roman Catholics around the world today are familiar.

There are many ways to categorize the books written on the Roman Catholic Mass. It may be done by content—those titles that cover the Tridentine Mass vs. those that focus on the Novus Ordo Mass. They can be divided by the author’s vocation—lay authors vs. religious ones. It may even be by length—some titles are not so much books as they are pamphlets, while others span several volumes. I prefer to categorize them by audience:

  • The Pastoral Approach
  • The Academic Approach
  • The Centrist Approach

The Pastoral Approach

Some authors of Liturgical titles choose to take a pastoral approach and write books on the Liturgy that provoke introspection. They are written for those wanting to nurture the relationship between the Mass and their daily lives. Typically, these types of books have reflection questions at the end of each chapter in order to help the reader more easily find a connection between the Mass and their daily lives. These authors are not overly concerned with the historical development of the Catholic liturgy and rarely cite Ecumenical Councils, the Catechism or the Church Fathers. They are written with the people in the pews in mind rather than specialists in liturgy.

The Academic Approach

Others write from a more scholarly point of view. These books are written for those who have a more academic bent and are interested in the history of the liturgy. They are more concerned with how the Catholic Mass evolved over time. These types of books often have copious footnotes and citations that prove their author’s assertions. At times, these authors may quote in Greek, Latin or Hebrew and provide no English translation assuming the reader is well versed in these languages. A theology degree would be helpful in order for these works to be fully appreciated.

The Centrist Approach

Sill other authors aim to strike a balance and have some historical data without forsaking practical application.

The ultimate goal of some authors (regardless of whether they take a scholarly or more pastoral approach) is that their books be used for group instruction. They may have study questions at the end of each chapter or may even be accompanied with a separate workbook, DVD and supplemental material.

Below are some of the books I’ve read in order to create the MassExplained online book and app. These books are available from several online retailers. Most titles allow you to read a few pages online. I suggest doing so to see if it resonates with you. 

Some of these titles are out-of-print and can only be found through used bookstores. For that reason, no links are provided since a link will become invalid once the book is sold.

Ceremonies

Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite: The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours

Emminghaue2

The Eucharist: Essence, Form, Celebration: Second Revised Edition

MassRomanRite

The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development

Moroney

The Mass Explained-Revised and Expanded Edition

Belmonte

Understanding the Mass

Hart

Behold the Mystery: A Deeper Understanding of the Catholic Mass

Dubruiel

The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

dummies

Catholic Mass For Dummies

Update

Catholic Update Guide to the Mass

pocket

A Pocket Guide to the Mass

WeWorship

We Worship: A Guide to the Catholic Mass

Hahn

The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth

Pitre

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper

hahn word

Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church

cochem

The Incredible Catholic Mass: An Explanation of the Catholic Mass

Latin Mass

The Latin Mass Explained: Everything needed to understand and appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass

Organic

The Organic Development of the Liturgy: The Principles of Liturgical Reform and Their Relation to the Twentieth-Century Liturgical Movement Prior to the Second Vatican Council

spirit

The Spirit of the Liturgy

near

God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life

worthy

Worthy Is The Lamb: The Biblical Roots of the Mass

clark

Catholics and the Eucharist: A Scriptural Introduction

let us

Let Us Pray: A Guide to the Rubrics of Sunday Mass

Children’s books on the Mass

children

The Mass Book for Children

Child Guide

Child’s Guide to the Mass 

board

Celebrating Mass (St. Joseph Board Books)

letsgo

Let’s Go to Mass (Rattle Book) (St. Joseph Rattle Board Books)