Review: In These or Similar Words: Praying and Crafting the Language of the Liturgy

In These or Similar Words: Praying and Crafting the Language of the LiturgyIn These or Similar Words: Praying and Crafting the Language of the Liturgy by Paul Turner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like every book by Paul Turner that I have read, this book does not disappoint. Written in clear, understandable language, yet clearly drawing on the author’s superior knowledge and insight in this field, this book is a must for anyone who presides over the liturgy of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, particularly those celebrated according to the third edition of the Roman Missal.

In the first two of the three distinct sections, Turner looks at the permitted opportunities for the presiding celebrant to use his own words in various points in the liturgy, places that previously were designated by the phrase “in these or similar words”. In doing so, Turner makes clear that there are some places during the celebration of the liturgy that have never been subject to this permission, even though some presiders have thought it existed. From the standpoint of a presider, it is helpful to have these opportunities clarified so that I might better carry out my function appropriately.

It should be noted, however, that Turner repeatedly warns against changes words where permitted just for the sake of doing so: to do so judiciously and for the right kind of reasons is more important than doing so just because one can. After all, as Turner rightly cautions, “The Mass already has a lot of words. Less is more.” (p 26)

The other major section looks at the ‘new’ words that have found their way into the revised English translation of the Roman Missal, and includes a most helpful glossary of some of these words that is helpful in understanding the context in which they are used, and thus enhancing the praying of these words during the liturgy. This section alone makes this book worthy of addition to a bookshelf.

From the back cover:

This book is an indispensable guide to discovering and understanding the directives in the revised translation of The Roman Missal that allow the celebrant either to follow the prescribed text or to use similar words of his own. Father Paul Turner, pastor and scholar, offers practical ways to craft that personalized language in a way that can enhance the liturgical celebration for all. A glossary is included to help celebrants and all who plan liturgies to better comprehend some of the more challenging or unfamiliar words in the new English translation of the missal. A bonus chapter quizzes readers about their knowledge about the rubrics of the Mass: when to bow, when to genuflect, when to make the sign of the cross, and so on.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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