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Mystagogy for the Masses

I cannot count the number of times I’ve recommended The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You, by Michael Dubruiel. I’ve lost count of how many copies I’ve given away. I recommend it to Catholics who want to know why they do the things they do every Sunday. I recommend it to Protestants who are just dropping in, or who are dating Catholics and bewildered by the unfamiliar round of sit-stand-kneel.

The book does for modern Christians what Cyril and Ambrose did for our ancient forebears. It’s a modern-day mystagogy — an easy-to-follow step-by-step walk through the ritual, revealing the meaning of all the words, gestures, postures, furniture, and vestments. Dubruiel also gives you the history and doctrinal significance of the various parts of the Mass. He draws testimony from the abundance of patristic material on the liturgy — the Didache, St. Justin Martyr, the Apostolic Constitutions, Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan. He’s also careful to lay the scriptural foundation for all the important prayers and actions.

And now Dubruiel has followed up with a pocket version — one you can carry to Mass with you. A Pocket Guide to the Mass doesn’t have anywhere near the detail available in The How-To Book of the Mass, but it’s a handy little cheat-sheet that can be carried in the pocket or pocketbook.

Both books are highly recommended for Catholics, the significant others of Catholics, seekers, and the merely curious.