One of the great desires of the Second Vatican Council was to increase knowledge of liturgy among the faithful. In our archdiocese, thanks to liturgical giants such as Msgr. Martin Hellriegel, former pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Baden, a great love of the liturgy has been instilled in both the clergy and the laity. This legacy is manifested in beautiful liturgies at Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, vibrant liturgies in our local parishes and a clergy invested in faithfully celebrating the liturgy of the Church.
Reading the first section of the second part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives an overview of liturgy in general. To better understand the Mass, I suggest “Understanding the Mass” by Charles Belmonte. This work is as spiritually deep as it is informative. Also, Edward Sri’s “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass” is an excellent book on the Mass. I would also recommend for private or group study the works on the Mass and liturgy by Scott Hahn (“The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth” and “Catholic for a Reason III: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mass”) or Brant Pitre (“Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist,” among other books), who are excellent scholars and present in a thoughtful yet engaging way.
Also, there is the opportunity to learn about liturgy on the parish level. One way is by joining the liturgy committee at your local parish. Many committees have an ongoing study of a book on liturgy. This helps to form the committee and to instill a deeper love for the liturgy. While the primary work of this committee is to plan liturgies at the parish, many times there is an opportunity to ask why certain things are done in the liturgy. This helps all to gain a greater insight into the beauty of liturgy.
I also encourage making an appointment with one of the priests or deacons at your parish. Clergy tend to have a love for liturgy as our lives intersect with it frequently. They may also suggest talks or books to explain more about liturgies as well.
This column appeared in a previous edition of the Review.
Father Mayo is pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in St. Louis.