The Catholic University of America Press is proud to present the third volume in its Sayings of the Fathers of the Church series. Featuring esteemed scholars and writers compiling material from our acclaimed Fathers of the Church volumes, each title is devoted to select areas of theology. The inaugural volumes covered the Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, and now we turn to The Holy Mass.
The documents of early Christianity are rich in mentions of the Mass and its component parts. Sometimes they’re detailed descriptions, sometimes quick allusions. In this volume Mike Aquilina, a popular author on early Christianity, takes readers step by step through the Mass, from the Sign of the Cross through the Dismissal, illuminating the way with the words of the Fathers. Along the way readers encounter familiar rites, words, and gestures, but also familiar complaints — about long homilies, bad singing, liturgical abuses, and distracted congregations.
The Holy Mass is divided into chapters based on the parts of the Mass known to modern Catholics of the Roman Rite. The Mass did not follow this sequence through the entirety of the era of the Fathers. Gregory the Great moved the position of the Lord’s Prayer. There were geographic variants for the placement of the Sign of Peace. Some ancient liturgies lacked a specific penitential rite — though all the liturgies had a penitential dimension to their prayers.
Mike Aquilina’s introduction provides historical context and describes the rich development of the liturgy through the Church’s first few centuries. A foreword by Thomas Weinandy, a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, speaks of the relevance of this material for worshipers today.
"This book is such that one can read through it as a whole, and I would encourage the reader to do so. However, since one is reading patristic excerpts on various aspects of the Sacred Liturgy, I would also suggest that you slowly meditate and ponder the quotations within each chapter…By pondering the words of the Fathers as contained here, you will perceive how much they loved the Eucharist, and, in turn, you too will, along with them, grow in love of this sacred mystery. – from the foreword by Thomas G. Weinandy"
"There is nothing like this little book, which is drawn from the rich treasury of our spiritual tradition. Mike Aquilina, one of our finest early church historians, illuminates each part of the Mass with beautiful reflections and insights from the church’s first leaders and martyrs. I pray that this book will help all of us to enter into the sacred mysteries in a deeper way, that we might all renew our love for our Lord in the Holy Eucharist."~Most Reverend José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles
"Each time we gather for Holy Mass, we have the opportunity for an encounter with Beauty that St. Augustine describes as ‘ever ancient, ever new.’ In drawing on his familiarity with the fathers of the church and his study of early Christianity, Mike Aquilina expertly leads the reader through the elements of the Mass in a way that can deepen appreciation for the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life. We are blessed that he successfully approaches this subject not only as a scholar but as a person of deep faith. The Holy Mass is a worthy addition to the Sayings of the Fathers of the Church series."~Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda, Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
"Since the Mass is the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary in an unbloody manner, it is as if time stands still at every Mass, and the living Christian actively participating in the Mass is immersed in two millennia of the Communion of Saints. Mike Aquilina understands this, and so he offers us this gem: a reflection on the various parts of the Mass from the very words of the fathers of the church, ancient but ever new. Mike Aquilina draws on his unparalleled knowledge of the fathers of the church as well as his daily practice of holy communion, to offer us piety and doctrine, the real building blocks of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church."~Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, JCD, Executive Director/CEO, Relevant Radio
"Mike Aquilina has done it again! Adding a new volume to his series of books based on patristic sources, Mike has once again brought the wisdom of the ancient church to the forefront to help contemporary readers understand the riches of the Catholic faith, this time in reference to the holy Mass. The book is concise and eminently readable. Catholics who already love the Mass will find these historic insights to be a source of faith development and personal spiritual growth. For other readers, not yet familiar with Catholic liturgy, this collection of historic references will illustrate how and why the Mass has been at the center of Catholic life from the very beginning."~Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence