By MITCH FINLEY, Catholic News Service | Published August 24, 2017
“Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Life” by Timothy P. O’Malley. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2017). 192 pp., $14.95.
It’s been a long, dry stretch since someone published a book on the Mass that is captivating, informative, inspirational and challenging.
Rooted in solid, intellectually honest, balanced scholarship, yet written in language that the average person will follow easily and enjoy, “Bored Again Catholic” is a book that will renew just about anyone’s appreciation for the Mass. Indeed, it should be required reading for Catholics in general and priests in particular.
Timothy P. O’Malley is director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and teaches theology at the University of Notre Dame. What’s the point of the title of his book? Sometimes it seems as if what we want from the Mass is entertainment, O’Malley writes. “Yet in this desire for entertainment we distract ourselves from the contemplative encounter that each celebration of the Mass offers.”
When it comes to the Mass there is, O’Malley continues, good boredom and bad boredom.
“This book invites readers to learn to pray through the good boredom, as well as to avoid the bad boredom that distracts us from the heart of the personal and communal encounter with Christ that takes place at every Mass,” O’Malley explains.
Logically enough, the book “unpacks” the meanings inherent in each part of the Mass. O’Malley doesn’t just comment on what the Liturgy of the Word is all about or what the Liturgy of the Eucharist is all about. Not at all.
Rather, he looks closely at each smaller part of the Mass including reverencing the altar and greeting the people, the penitential act, “Gloria in Excelsis,” the word and silence, acclaiming the Gospel, the homily, the profession of faith, the Roman canon, the eucharistic prayer, the Communion rite and concluding prayers.
No matter how well you think you understand the Mass, from this book you will learn more. It also is ideal for group study purposes as each chapter concludes with questions for discussion.
In the final chapter, appropriately on the Mass’ concluding rites, O’Malley begins: “At a wedding I attended some years ago, a homeless woman entered the parish church just as the bride and groom were preparing to serve as eucharistic ministers. She came in through the back of the church and approached the altar. The whole assembly stopped and stared for a moment. What was going to happen?”
You’ll have to get the book to find out what happened, but when you do you’ll gain new insights into the meaning of the Mass and into the spirit of this wonderful book. Let it be.
Finley is the author of more than 30 books on Catholic themes, including “What Faith is Not” (Sheed & Ward) and “The Rosary Handbook: A Guide for Newcomers, Old-Timers, and Those In Between” (The Word Among Us Press).