Daily Archives: January 27, 2011

Review: The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition

Guess what I found in the mail tonight?

The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, The Tradition is a collaboration between Cardinal Donald Wuerl (the current archbishop of Washington DC) and Mike Aquilina. The cover shows a beautiful carving of the Last Supper. It’s a nice sturdy book; it’s small and physically easy to read. The book itself (without the forewords and back matter) is less than 200 pages long. It focuses on the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite, but many other forms and Rites are mentioned as examples.

The book gives a basic but deep explanation of what we do at Mass and why. It consists of very short chapters (which often helps the reader to concentrate). First you get a brief rundown of beliefs and practices related to Mass, and then there’s a step-by-step explanation of each part of Mass. The new translation is used, and some of the new wording is explained. There are a fair number of photo illustrations. There are also many quotes from the Fathers of the Church and other historical sources.

But this is not a book trying to be hard to understand. Each chapter is just the right length for a short moment of reflection, if you want to use this as a devotional book. It doesn’t explain too much or too little. It also doesn’t soften the obligations of a Catholic, or hide the importance of things which American priests and parishes often don’t do. It’s apolitical and sticks to the truth. Finally, it provides many good suggestions for further reading.

The only real complaint I have is a passage conflating responsive singing with antiphonal singing. I don’t know if that was by mistake or on purpose. (Some recent scholars like to argue that antiphonal singing didn’t come about until the fourth or fifth century, or something like that.) Anyway, that’s just one passage in one chapter.

Kids could probably get a lot out of this, but it’s written towards adults. I recommend it.

I’d also like to thank Mr. Aquilina and Doubleday for sending me a review copy. The book comes out February 1 (St. Brigid’s Day).

(That’s also the feast of Ss. Pionius, Asclepiades and companions. During Decius’ persecutions in 250, the parishioners in Smyrna heard they were going to be arrested on St. Polycarp’s Day. So the night before, St. Asclepiades (a layman) headed to church with fifteen likeminded Christians and started an all-night prayer vigil. Sure enough, after Mass early on Sunday morning, they were arrested. But they’d already donned chains and shackles that they’d thoughtfully brought along, to show the pagans that they didn’t intend to abandon Christ. They were put on the rack and torn with hooks, but still refused to sacrifice to the Emperor. After a couple of weeks, they put them in the games and they died martyrs. Here’s a slightly different account with more names of companions.)


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Good News Post for Sailorette

Via Instapundit, a UK engineer develops a new kind of heart implant — and has it tested on himself. Amazing story of crossover tech applications.

John Carter of Mars is actually no-kidding coming to a theater near you, in March 2012.

If you’re feeling bored, there are 42 (!) new “urban fantasy” and “paranormal romance” books coming out in February. That’s FEBRUARY ALONE. That’s the power of romance-reader voraciousness.

Anyway, the bizarre mind of the Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch is behind one of them, as he tells the tale of a cop whose star witness is a ghost. Other February authors include Tom Holt, Mary Stanton, Sheryl Nantus (formerly of Canadian X-Files fanfic fame), and an urban Roman Empire fantasy called The Curse-Maker which sounds like tons of fun. (Nantus’ Blaze of Glory has a great premise: What if superhero battles were scripted shows, like professional wrestling? And then, what if the superpowered showmen had to fight a real and overwhelming enemy?)

Ain’t It Cool News was founded by Harry Knowles, who spent a lot of time on the Internet because he’d become unable to walk. Just in the last month, he underwent spinal surgery to remove pressure on his spine — and after all these years, he’s beginning to walk again. Read the continuing saga on Twitter.

YouTube premieres a new documentary on its website at 8 PM EST (5 PM PST) today (Thursday). It’s the story of one day on Earth, created by user-submitted videos edited together. Just go to youtube.com this evening, and doc’s u mentary. 🙂

An ice skater has overcome a bizarre muscle condition to aim for the Olympics.

Father Z’s latest “post your good news” thread.


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Lang Lang: Fawning over Mao

About Lang Lang’s little “prank” of playing the themesong of a Chinese propaganda flick about the Korean War in the White House – here’s the real kicker. Lang Lang is a classical pianist.

Who killed more classical pianists and other musicians than anybody else in history, including Stalin? Who killed hundreds of millions of his own people? Oh, yeah. That’d be Mao, who was behind the Korean War.

Whom our Lang Lang apparently holds in fond memory. Sorta like if Jews loved Hitler so much, that they often would do a little singalong of the “Horst Wessel Song”. Mmm, mmm, mmm. You just keep walking on the corpses of your murdered relatives and fellow artists, Lang Lang. Steppingstones to success, yuppers.

Of course, the Korean War’s not exactly a shining Chinese patriotic moment in many other ways. The Chinese peasant conscripts being sent out as nothing but waves of cannon fodder. The fact that there was only a war because the North Koreans and Chinese could hide behind the USSR’s nuclear skirts. The way China did nothing but provide itself with crazy military-heavy nuke-happy neighbors by propping up North Korea. Oh, yeah, nothing but good memories there. Way to show us!

Of course, if Lang Lang were really trying to make a point that the current Chinese expansionism, imperialism, and military ambitions would inevitably lead to more disasters for the Chinese people, he ought to man up and admit that’s his game.

Here’s a Chinese art tradition that was totally stamped out in the Cultural Revolution: Shanghai animation.


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