Review: Whose Mass Is It?: Why People Care So Much about the Catholic Liturgy

Whose Mass Is It?: Why People Care So Much about the Catholic LiturgyWhose Mass Is It?: Why People Care So Much about the Catholic Liturgy by Paul Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like many books by Paul Turner, this one is a well-written, informative and accessible volume. The title of the book and the main question that is examined throughout the course of this short narrative reminds us that, ultimately, the Roman Catholic Mass belongs to everyone in general and no-one in particular.

In looking at the development of the post-conciliar liturgy, Turner examines the wide range of legitimate stakeholders, all of whom have some legitimate claim to answer the question “whose Mass is it?” by saying “It belongs to me/us”. And therein lies the difficulty. This multiple sense of ownership brings with it a great degree of tension when the interests of one group of stakeholders are caught up in perceived conflict with that of another group of stakeholders.

And yet, this is as it should be perhaps, and could legitimately be seen as evidence of the great respect and love that these stakeholders have for what is the central act, the source and summit, of the Christian life. The ongoing “cultural wars” surrounding liturgical practice, while quite possibly a source of scandal to the world, are at the same time evidence of a shared and common appreciation of what the Catholic Mass means for those who believe.

This book is well worth reading for anyone who wishes to understand more of the significance attached to the Catholic Mass, particularly in light of the advent of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal and its subsequent English translation.

From the blurb:

When changes happen to the Catholic Mass, opinions are strong and diverse. Everyone feels in some way that the Mass is theirs. It is. Or is it? Whose Mass is it? And what should people do to claim it?

Whether or not adult Catholics attend Mass regularly, they strongly bond with it. Within a single generation, English-speaking Catholics experienced the Second Vatican Council’s authorization for the first overhaul of the liturgy in four hundred years, and then, in 2011, they prepared for and implemented a revised vernacular translation. Each of these two events awakened strong feelings as people gradually became aware that someone else’s decision was going to affect the cornerstone of their spiritual life.

In Whose Mass Is It? Paul Turner examines the impact of the Mass, the connections it makes, and its purpose in the lives of believers.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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