Review: New Catholic Bible Giant-Type, Saint Joseph Edition

One of my most favourite Catholic publishing houses is Catholic Book Publishing Corporation (CBPC). The thing with CBPC is that with over 100 years in Catholic publishing, their publications have consistently remained dignified, high-quality and affordable for Catholics. Their publishing team have published a wide variety of publications ranging from ritual books, bibles, catechisms and other spiritual works, a number of which have been reviewed on this blog.

Their latest initiative was the publishing of the New Catholic Bible (NCB) – a new translation of the Bible under the direction of Fr. Jude Winkler, OFM. If you recall, in 2018, my sister reviewed a handsome copy of the New Testament and Psalms of the NCB as part of the first ever 12-Days of Catholic Christmas Gifts series in 2018 which also for me is a beautiful New Testament volume to have on hand, especially when travelling.

Now, the full Bible is out, currently in giant type editions with several different types of bindings. A look on their site gives one a comprehensive view of all of the bindings available at the moment:

https://catholicbookpublishing.com/new-catholic-bible

Now for this review, I am not going to go into the bindings – all I can say is that publications from CBPC are dignified and beautiful. I have reviewed Bibles from CBPC in the past and you can go through this blog to see them, including other publications published CBPC. Also note, I will not be giving any critiques of the translations of the NCB – I am not a Biblical scholar, thus I am not able to speak much about the translation… there are other bloggers that do that.

In this review, what I will be speaking about is its content, its practicality for everyday Catholics like myself and the significance of a large-print Bible in the first ever published edition of the NCB by CBPC.

Is this edition a Catholic study Bible? Not exactly – if you really want a study Bible, I would recommend a copy of Oxford’s Catholic Study Bible Third Edition. What about for travelling? With the giant type size and overall size of the Bible, I would not recommend it for travelling. I would recommend CBPC’s New American Bible Personal Size Gift Edition. But what if I just want to have a copy of the Bible on hand at home for… let’s say prayer and spiritual reading? Then I think this Bible is the one you would want to get! Now I like to have a copy of the Bible for study, one for note taking, one for travelling, one on my desk for reference… but I never really had one for prayer and spritual reading. Ok… it may seem like I am being too extra here – but I believe there is a Catholic Bible for every situation. Some are more suitable for different moments of life than others, either because of the size or binding itself, or the content. I have found the content of the NCB more suitable for praying with the Word of God – to be used in private or group prayer for several reasons.

First, this edition contains notes at the end of each book. There are “extensive notes” at the beginning of each book of the Bible and also at the end, in which an asterisk in the text indicates a note corresponding to the end of the respective book. While I have criticized this fact in some other Bibles reviewed on this blog, if I were to use this Bible in prayer, I personally would not want to have the notes below. The reason for this is sometimes, we need to read the text as it is when praying with Scripture. We want to see what the Word of God speaks to me at a certain moment of prayer. While certainly we don’t want to interpret the Bible on our own accord like some other Christian denominations, but in light of the official teachings and tradition of the Church, keep in mind that the act of praying of the Scriptures is not a time to create a Catechetical lesson or a seminar for a class or Bible group… those times must be separate from Scriptural prayer time. When praying with the Scriptures, I want to read the text as it is, meaning without footnotes, without commentary – just sinking into the moment of Biblical history. That allows one to go into an encounter with God in His Word. However, if one wants to get some clarification of a specific Scripture passage before or after praying with the text, there are great notes in here – the only exception is that for the notes within the Scriptural text, they are endnotes rather than footnotes so that may mean some flipping back and forth.

Second, the giant type is a big factor why this Bible is ideal for prayer. Some may think that giant type prints are for “older people”. While the giant type edition was published “with the needs of an aging population and those with limited vision,” I do like large type Bibles for prayer. This is the first giant type print I now have, but not the first one I’ve seen. I know the Archbishop of Toronto, Thomas Cardinal Collins uses a large print Ignatius Bible, and sometimes, you can see it during his Lectio Divina meditations. The words pop-out at you in this giant type Bible and for me, that emphasizes that the Word of God is made the protagonist without the distractions of commentary or notes. All you have to focus on is the Word of God in front of you.

However, that said, there are some wonderful resources that I find useful. Beside the family record pages which in this edition have been printed in matte paper for easy writing, I love the glossy colour inserts which is found in some of their editions of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). However, things seemed to have been “revamped” in this NCB. It is nice that the coloured pages no longer contain merely renderings of Biblical events (which are beautiful), but more practical, this edition contains not only maps, along with the Mysteries of the Rosary and Stations of the Cross, but pages with the following useful charts and tables, namely:

  • Fascinating Bible statistics
  • How the Bible is Organized
  • Bible means of writing
  • Old Testament and New Testament Timelines
  • Some coloured photographs, depictions and explanations of places of the Old Testament and New Testament
  • Parables of Jesus Easy Finder
  • Miracles of Jesus Easy Finder
  • Events of Jesus’ last week
  • Lists of the Gospels, including the Seven Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross, Appearances after the Resurrection and the I Ams of John’s Gospel
  • A list of people on the New Testament
  • Seven churches of Revelation
  • Key Ideas in the Bible
  • Fifty Very Important Passages

As you may sense, these resource pages are not only lively, but presents information in very simple means.

At the back of the Bible, there are some helpful resources, including: Books of the Bible by Religious Tradition, comparing the books included in the Jewish Old Testament, Protestant Old Testament and Catholic Old Testament – which I found to be fairly interesting. Included also is a List of Popes up to our current Pope, Pope Francis with the recently canonized Popes including Pope John Paul II, Paul VI and John XXIII with the title of “Saint” in front of their names. Closing off the NCB is a Doctrinal Bible Index – fairly useful if you want to search up a doctrinal concept in the Bible.

Something I am a bit disappointed is that unlike the NABRE editions, there are no Lectionary Readings tables – tables that indicate a specific passage of a Mass. I think that would make praying with this Bible a better experience – sometime you might want to pray with the Scripture passages of the upcoming Sunday. Another feature that I would like to see would be one to two pages of common Catholic prayers – a feature I have seen in some Bibles, particular those compact editions from Oxford University Press such as the NABRE Black Zipper Duradera Compact Edition previously reviewed on this blog. I am surprised to find that the Prayer to the Holy Spirit before reading Scripture is not included alongside the copyright page in this edition – I did recall seeing that in the NABRE editions by CBPC and unfortunately I don’t see it in this NCB which is such a pity… a feature I would love to see in every Bible. I think these additions will make this Bible better suited for praying with the Scripture.

(Click on images to enlarge)

That said, another job well done by CBPC in bringing the Word of God to Catholics from all walks of life. I believe this New Catholic Bible Giant Type Edition will be of great aid to help one in reading and praying the Scriptures. Note, it will also make a great gift as well! It comes in a nice presentation box. Mine came with a small rip at the top of the box lid, likely during the shipping process – but not a big deal for me.

Again, thank you CBPC for offering me the chance to review another one of your publications. I look forward to reviewing and showcasing more on our blog!

You may purchase a copy of the reviewed NCB Red Imitation Leather here.
You can also check out some sample pages here.
To learn more about the NCB and explore its other bindings, click here.

Review: Encountering Jesus – A Holy Land Experience by Vincenzo Peroni

Well COVID-19 restrictions have loosened up a bit throughout the world but international travel, unless essential, is not on the radar for a lot of people now I would think – at least for me. I do not picture myself travelling anywhere internationally in the next year two and unfortunately, pilgrimages fall in the same category, being a Canadian and Rome or Jerusalem is not a couple walks away.

However, no fear! While you can do virtual pilgrimages, Msgr. Vincenzo Peroni, a Papal Master of Ceremonies since 2012 and leader of “numerous pilgrimages in the Holy Land seems to understand this very well. In his book, Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience, with its English translation by Marsha Daigle-Williamson, published by Franciscan Media, one can become a pilgrim, walking along the roads that Jesus once walked.

The book is fairly simple – only 150 pages but upon reading it, really leads you to the Holy Land. It is an ideal tool to use while in the Holy Land, but for those who like myself, never stepped foot their, the reflections in here will allow you to close your eyes and “teleport” you, giving you and new perspective on what may seem to be a common Gospel story that you may know by heart.

There are 18 chapters in the book that leads the pilgrim through Nazareth, Ein Karem, Bethelehem, Capernaum, Mount of the Beatitudes, the Lake of Tiberias, The Church of St. Anne, Mount Tabor, Jericho, Bethany, Dominus Flevit, the Cenacle, Gethsemane, the Grotto of the Arrest, St. Peter in Gallicantu, the Holy Sepulchre, Tabgah and finally Emmaus.

While Franciscan Media books often consisted of a coloured cover and black and white printed textblock, I was amazed to find beautiful watercolour art marking the beginning of each chapter. The watercolour sketches are those of Alessandro Alghisi. While I think photographs could have been used for this book, there is something about watercolour art thatr really brings the book together – probably the simplicity of the text and the art brings Encountering Jesus into harmony.

Each chapter bears the same outline: The Gospel story of the place in which the Biblical event occurred, a meditation, personal reflection questions and a prayer. Now don’t be tricked thinking that this book is a guide book – no it is not. It is rather, perhaps, a spiritual guide book. You will not be told any of the historical facts of the places, nor the histories of the churches which are located on these holy grounds. However, this book call one to be in the moment and disregard all of that and instead, encounter the person of Jesus.

I think the purpose of a pilgrimage is defeated if one merely sees it as a vacation opportunity, a historical research opportunity. I remember how since I was only a couple months old, our family, along with thousands of other Vietnamese people in the Archdiocese of Toronto made a pilgrimage to Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario and every year, our family made that pilgrimage (unfortunately not this year). There was something about making a pilgrimage which I loved. Maybe a part of it might be the beautiful scenery which people like to pull out their phones to take a picture of. However, for me, the moments that really stuck with me were the ones when I put my camera aside and be absorbed in the moment. I remember vividly a pilgrimage I made to the Shrine, the only time I’ve stepped foot there on a weekday without pilgrims. It was raining but I disregarded it and too a walk on the grounds where the Canadian Jesuit Martyrs once walked – this time, with nature all around and all the outdoor statuary and statues enveloping me as I walked in silence.

Another moment I remember was last March, when I went in St. Peter’s Basilica. I remember standing near the Papal High Altar, the Baldachino and made my Profession of Faith by the stairs leading to the Confessio – as close as I could to the tomb of St. Peter… again no camera but simply immersing myself in the moment and have an encounter with St. Peter and eventually, I realized, an encounter with Christ.

That is what Msgr. Peroni does so well with his book. Though I have never stepped foot to the Holy Land before, I can imagine grand and beautiful churches and we might find ourselves in awe of the beauty… but to dive deep into that moment from Biblical times from 2000 years ago, that is something we must strive to do. Msgr. Peroni presents this simple book to pilgrims and virtual pilgrims from the comfort of home with the goal that pilgrims will be “Encountering Jesus” who continues to journey with us as a pilgrimage companion every moment throughout history.

Review: Pocket Guide to Adoration by Fr. Josh Johnson

Have you ever been to a perpetual adoration chapel motivated to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament but in the end, you did not know what to do? That is totally okay – being in the presence of our Lord in total silence is very fruitful. However, have you ever been in Adoration but distracted? I remember taking part in a High School Men’s Retreat at St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto. It was my first time ever stepping foot into the seminary and I fell in love with its spaces, especially its main chapel. However, when we had Eucharistic Adoration in the form of a silent Holy Hour, and honestly, I founded it a little difficult. I had my Handbook of Prayers, Student Edition which I tucked inside there a copy of a reflection leaflet for use in Adoration. I didn’t even reach the end of the leaflet until I fell asleep… “shame on me” you would say – but yeah, Eucharistic Adoration in total silence is sometimes difficult.

Now a university student, I take frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament whenever I pass by St. Thomas Aquinas Church at the Newman Centre, sometimes while moving in between classes. Those visits aren’t long – just 2-3 minutes of kneeling or sitting in the pews just to be in the presence of Our Lord. I wish I could spend more time in the peace and quiet, just being in front of the tabernacle, and it is honestly not as easy as said.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 “shutdown” in the province, I was blessed to receive a copy of Fr. Josh Groban’s Pocket Guide to Adoration, published by Ascension. Upon opening it, I just fell in love with it and upon sharing it on our Instagram page, it became one of the most liked posts and I have been asked countless times when the review for it was going to released.

Physical Qualities

I want to speak first about the physical qualities of the book. Now, I know the content of the book is the main thing, but I also care about the physical beauty of books because the beauty elevates the contents of the book. This Pocket Guide to Adoration does that. Holding the book, you are greeted with a dark brown Alpha Cowhide (synthetic leather material), that looks very handsome and has a nice texture. The design on the front is gold stamped… simple but beautiful. The book is complete with a gold satin ribbon bookmark.

With dimensions of approximately 4.5″ x 6.75″ x 0.5″, it is what I would classify as fair size for a prayer book. It will not fit inside most pants pockets, but certainly be very convenient to slip in a purse or pilgrim backpack. So is it really a “pocket” sized book? I would not say so, but slim size to fit inside a school backpack. A truly pocket sized prayer book, I would say, is Fulton Sheen’s Wartime Prayer Book which measures at 3″ x 4.5″ x 0.5″. However, I am quite content with the size of the Pocket Guide to Adoration.

The pages themselves are of a readable font, with black and gold fonts and images – very elegant and easy on the eyes to read.

Contents

The second part of the review will be about the content. What is inside this Pocket Guide? In only 144 pages, Fr. Johnson gives a wide variety of resources for prayerful and active Adoration. The book is divided into five chapters:

  1. An invitation to Adoration
  2. Adoration with the Sacred Scriptures
  3. Adoration with the Rosary
  4. Adoration with the Catechism
  5. Adoration with the Lives of the Saints

An Appendix is included at the end with Litanies and Devotionals. I will go through the sections giving my thoughts on each.

Chapter 1: An Invitation to Adoration – Want to do Eucharistic Adoration but don’t know where to start? Fr. Johnson’s first section provides inspiration and maybe a nudge for you to want to go and adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the first chapter, the user is given a brief overview of what resources are included throughout the guide.

Chapter 2: Adoration with the Sacred Scriptures – Now I have seen Scripture used many times in communal Eucharistic Adoration, but Fr. Johnson guides one to pray the Sacred Scriptures using lectio divina or divine reading, with the steps: read, meditate, pray, contemplate, and resolve. Fr. Johnson gives four Gospel passages of The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary, and the Feeding of the Five Thousand in which he goes through all five lectio divina steps he laid out at the beginning of the chapter. However, one should not stop there – one can repeat these steps with a small copy of the Gospels or the Bible accompanying this guide.

Chapter 3: Adoration of the Rosary – Now, this is somewhat new to me. I have heard the Rosary recited in the context of Adoration before, but not with the beautiful reflections provided by Fr. Johnson. What I find fascinating is that Fr. Johnson uses lectio divina to guide one in meditating on certain mysteries of the rosary – something new I learned in this guide but Fr. says that, “practicing lectio divina with the Rosary will help deepen your experience in Adoration.” The guide does not go through every mystery of the Rosary with lectio divina, but again, once you get a hang of the format, you can of course apply it to the mysteries not listed in the guide.

Chapter 4: Adoration with the Catechism – This is something I am not familiar with and a good learning curve. For a long time, I thought the Catechism was more of a “textbook” of the Catholic faith but never thought of it as a tool for prayer before. Again, using lectio divina steps, Fr. Johnson guides one through reading a sample of Catechism passages. The reflections for each step of the passages are very beautiful and certainly a format I will use with other Catechism passages during prayer time.

Chapter 5: Adoration with the Lives of the Saints – I know that you can use the Lives of the Saints for prayer, and it is an encouraged practice (check out Lives of the Saints Two-Volume Boxed Set if you would like to start incorporating the Lives of the Saints in daily life). However, I have never thought about using them in the context of Eucharistic Adoration. Once again, Fr. Johnson leads one through this act in the Lectio Divina format and providing some beautiful examples.

Appendix – the appendix contains everything you need for what I usually call the “commons” of Adoration and Benediction… the basic prayers and hymns used, including O Saving Victim, Down in Adoration Falling, The Divine Praises, Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even the popular “I Thirst” Reflection by Fr. Joseph Langford and one of my favourite litanies, the Litany of Trust by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia of the Sisters of Life. Also included is a page of quotes from the saints about the Eucharist. I wish though, this appendix contained the common hymns not only in their English translation but their original Latin, such as the O Salutaris Hostia, and Tantum Ergo. Another hymn that I think should have been added is Holy God, We Praise Thy Name which is commonly sung at the end of Benediction.

A feature that I like is that in between each chapter, there is a recount of a Eucharistic Miracle. I like reading about Eucharistic Miracles, and having some in here serves as a reminder of the ever constant presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Last Remarks

Once churches are open again in the Archdiocese of Toronto for private prayer and devotion in its first re-opening stage after Covid-19, I will be making a visit to a church with this guide in hand.

This guide I believe, is a must-have for any Catholic who wants to deepen their relationship with Jesus through Eucharistic Adoration. As of the time of this review, the guide has sold out twice! Grab a copy from Ascension Press here.

The Catholic Man’s Top 10 Catholic Reads for Quarantine

While many of us might be complaining about having to stay indoors with some bored out of their minds, I think it is important to take time to look at bright side of things because life is not all about negativity. One of those bright sides is that with university classes now completed, and my workplace still closed, the spare time on hand have been devoted to reading. Today, I am recommending the following 10 Catholic Reads during this quarantine time, some of which I have reviewed on here and some not.

1. The Miracle of Hope: Francis Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận; Political Prisoner, Prophet Of Peace

The late-Cardinal Francis Xavier Thuận Văn Nguyễn persevered through the darkest nights – thirteen-years in a communist prison in Vietnam, nine of which spent in solitary confinement. However, even in those dark nights, he kept the flame of faith alive. Some people have commented about how restless they are during this lockdown – but it is nothing compared to what the Venerable Văn Thuận went through during his days in Vietnam. This book opens one’s eyes to the injustices Cardinal Văn Thuận’s family had to endure, and his own personal trials and liberation. This biography of the late Cardinal by Andre Châu sheds light on a life of man who suffered much, but within his suffering, he was a source of hope and light for those around him.

2. Sinner: The Catholic Guy’s Funny, Feeble Attempts to Be a Faithful Catholic

Have you ever heard of “a man with a large nose” named Lino Rulli? One of the funniest Catholics of all time, Rulli is a radio host of The Catholic Guy Show on SiriusXM 129. To someone who is a first time listener of The Catholic Guy Show, his show may seem a little weird, but the more you listen to him, the more you get to know who Rulli is and how he sees Catholicism. Sinner speaks to Rulli’s attempts “to be a faithful Catholic”. He starts right off the bat understanding that his is not a perfect Catholic, but yet he still tries in every way to be the ideal Catholic. He does so not in a biographical way, but with a sense of humour. Pair a listening of The Catholic Guy Show and Sinner, and you will have yourself a happy day. (Note: SiriusXM is free to listen to till May 15!)

3. Saint: Why I Should Be Canonized Right Away

A sequel to Sinner, Lino Rulli speaks ironically not of his triumphant saintly ways, but rather attempts to achieve sainthood – the vocation in which every Catholic should be striving for. We can all relate to the stories of these attempts to achieve sainthood. Yet do you ever feel like sainthood is too hard? Rulli points out that sainthood is in now way easy, but we have to keep trying over and over again. It takes virtue – and what virtues really are, are good habits and in order to form habits, we need to something and practice it over and over again. So don’t give up on sainthood!

4. Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomenon in the Lives of the Saints

Eucharistic Miracles by [Joan Carroll Cruz]

Are you thirsting for the day we come again to celebrate the Eucharist together again? I certainly am – livestream Masses is no way the same as physical and communal celebration of the Eucharist. While Eucharistic Miracles and Marian Apparitions are not doctrine, they may, in a sense be concrete confirmations of the doctrines of the Church that cannot be explained scientifically – they are divine signs. Maybe prior to this pandemic, you may have found yourself partaking in the Mass and other acts of piety out of a sense of routine. However, I hope that after a “fast” from the Sacramental reception of the Eucharist, once these restrictions have been lifted, we will have a greater love and devotion for the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

5. A History of the Church in 100 Objects

Have you ever wanted to learn about the rich history of the Catholic Church but found a thick history book full of text to be daunting? Well this book is for you. Colourful with high quality pictures of 100 artifacts from the time of Christ to the current times of the Church, this book takes you through the Church’s history in a way that is appealing to every Catholic. If you want to do a crash course of Church History, only scratching its surface, then start reading this title!

6. Breakthrough: A Journey from Desperation to Hope

People have had many opportunities throughout the past weeks to choose from a variety of priests and bishops to “attend” Mass virtually. One of those many priests is Fr. Rob Galea – now a popular Catholic speaker and singer. However, he did have his past. His story of true conversion of heart that turned his life around and eventually lead him to the priesthood… like a modern day St. Augustine conversion. Feeling lost? Especially during these times? This book is for you.

7. Encountering Jesus: A Holy Land Experience

I know some people were expected to be in the Holy Land this Holy Week for the grand celebrations of Catholicism. The thing with books is that it can take you to various places. Msgr. Vincenzo Peroni brings pilgrims back or to the Holy Land in his new book, Encountering Jesus. With Biblical passages, meditations, reflection questions and prayers, Msgr. Peroni is able to capture the events and atmosphere the Biblical sites brought up within this short book. There will be an in-depth review coming in a couple of week on this blog, but for now… I know this book is going to be in my carry-on the day I get to go the Holy Land. For the time being, I’m on “reading” pilgrimage.

8. Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship

Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by [Casey Cole]

Some have said that quarantine period has made this year’s Lent seems like an “authentic” Lent. However, with Lent comes Easter and to prepare ourselves anew, once this pandemic is over, I highly recommend using this time in discernment. For months or years, we may have followed Jesus in a routine matter, or maybe out of obligation. However, Franciscan Fr. Casey Cole’s book Let Go allows one the chance to do a deep examination of conscience. To truly be “liberated” and follow Jesus with out whole hearts, there are seven things that Fr. Casey says you need to “let go” from yourself in order to open yourself up to Christ.

9. When in Rome: A Journal of Life in the Vatican City

Rome and Vatican City – the centre of Roman Catholicism… I have such vivid memories of my time there in March 2019. I always wondered what it would be like to actually live in the eternal city. This journal of Robert J. Hutchinson’s life in Rome with his family gave a simple, authentic account which I really loved. Allow yourself to step into Hutchinson’s shoes and take some days of “normal” life in Rome, going through the city of saints and relics.

10. Laudato Si’ (Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home)

Laudato Si’ is probably one of the highlight encyclicals of Pope Francis’ pontificate. The call for the care for our “common home” by our Holy Father still continues to echo throughout the world even five years later after the encyclical was published. The thing is, with Papal Documents, Catholics or people in general seem to get tidbits here and there, but fail to read the documents in its entirety or spend devoting time to study them. As we approach the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, it is fitting that we spend time to read to re-read this Papal Document. Let us arise out of pandemic not only with a new self, but a new world, a new and clean environment.

Disclaimer.

Review: MTF’s Roman Missal, Third Edition (Classic Edition) – Part 2

This is a continuation of a two-part review of Midwest Theological Forum’s (MTF) Third Edition of the Roman Missal, Classic Edition. Throughout the review, The Catholic Man compares this missal with the Roman Missal published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Before reading Part 2 of this review, I suggest you read Part 1 here.
*Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I do not have access to a new copy of the Canadian Roman Missal. Therefore, pictures included here in are those of my edition of the missal which has shown signs of wear and tear – it is not representative of a new condition Canadian missal.

The Tabs

A common feature in any Roman Missal are the tabs. The tabs are found in the Order of Mass to help the priest easily go to commonly used sections in the Roman Missal. Another practical feature is that the tabs should help facilitate the flipping of pages during the Eucharistic Prayer – the most important part of the celebration of Mass.

Midwest Theological Forum’s Roman Missal tabs (Click image to enlarge)

The MTF Classic Edition has 24 bonded-leather tabs which marks:

  • The Introductory Rites (1 large red tab)
  • The Penitential Act (1 large red tab)
  • The Gloria (1 large red tab)
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist (1 large red tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer I (1 small green tab, 4 small red tabs)
  • Eucharistic Prayer II (1 small green tab, 2 small red tabs)
  • Eucharistic Prayer III (1 small green tab, 2 small red tabs)
  • Eucharistic Prayer IV (1 small green tab, 2 small red tabs )
  • The Communion Rite (1 small green tab, 3 large red tabs )
  • The Concluding Rites (2 large tabs)

The way I determine the place the tab leads to is ultimately the page in which the section leads to. For example, to lead me to the Introductory Rites, which starts on a page on the right, the tab should be placed on the left. page so when I life the tab to lead me to the Introduction Rites, I would land on the Introductory Rites. If the tab were on the Introductory Rites page, I would pick up the tab, then turn it back a page… it’s hard to explain, but I hope the pictures will be helpful. Overall, a very practical selection of tabs.

Overall, I like the MTF tabs – very helpful for practical usage. However, I would forgo the tabs of the Communion Rite – it is the only missal so far that I’ve seen that has tabs for all pages of the Communion Rite. There is often one that marks the start of the Communion Rite… but maybe other publishers have it on all the Communion Rite pages but I simply have not encountered those missals (yet).

The Canadian missal used of tabs is fairly interesting. The tabs are made of the synthetic leather material as the cover, and therefore after constant use, experiencing disintegration. There are 11 tabs in total in the Canadian edition which marks (unlike MTF, the tabs on this one are all the same size in red):

CCCB’s Roman Missal tabs (Click image to enlarge)
  • The Introductory Rites (1 tab)
  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer I (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer II (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer III (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer IV (1 tab)
  • The Communion Rite (1 tab)
  • The Concluding Rites (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II (1 tab)
  • Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs (1 tab)

Okay, let’s look on the good side: There is a tab for the Introductory Rites, The Liturgy of the Eucharist, something to mark the Eucharistic Prayers (even the less commonly used ones!) the Communion Rite and the Concluding Rites. Good. None for the Penitential Act? Fair enough, though one there would be useful.

But the biggest issue for me would be the lack of tabs throughout the Eucharistic Prayers. The tabs are there to mark the places of the Eucharistic Prayer, but besides, none are there to facilitate the page turning which is such a pity.

It is interesting how there are tabs to mark the less used Eucharistic Prayers: the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs. Something which I still ponder on is why there is one to mark the place of each of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation but only one to generally mark the four Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs? Some inconsistency there in my opinion. Though these Eucharistic Prayers are not used as often as the four “main” ones, I do have to say, MTF should consider adding tabs for these less commonly used ones. I have been to Masses were the Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation are used, especially during Lent. I have never seen the Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs used in my life yet, but hopefully I will encounter a priest who uses them.

The Art

Art has always been important in the life of the Church and art in the Liturgical Books elevate the content of what is contained in these books. Scrolling through online, I have seen magnificent examples of art used in Liturgical Books. For me, I much prefer classic Christian art to be used in missals and MTF suits my tastes for that.

The MTF edition does not use one source of art, but a variety of classic Christian art to adorn their missal, reproducing these pieces in full colour. Unlike some missals I have seen, the art is printed on the same paper as the rest of the missal. Nevertheless, the art printed is beautiful. A feature I like is the Index of Illustrations featured at the end of their missal because it shows how much art is embedded within their missal – approximately 50 pieces of art in here.

Midwest Theological Forum’s Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer I page with art (Click image to enlarge)

While most pre-Vatican II Missale Romanum may not contain coloured art, most often, the Canon Missae page is coloured with a depiction of the crucifixion. A commonly used depiction is the Christ on the Cross by Velaquez. MTF brings one back to missals of that era by using that depiction of the crucifixion. The MTF uses various colour plates to introduce various feast days and seasons… very beautiful and impressive. I also like how there is a gold colour border which accents each art piece. I just love the selection of art in this missal.

Faith of the Fathers: Some Good Friday Art By James Tissot ...
The Crucifixion by James Tissot (original colour)

The Canadian missal has some interesting tastes in terms of art. Their art comes from a singular source of French painter James Tissot (1836-1902) “adapted for use in The Roman Missal” the copyright page says. Honestly, I am not a big fan of the art used in the Canadian missal. While James Tissot has produced magnificent pieces, the Canadian missal in my opinion have reduced the beauty of his art. Take for example The Crucifxion as used in the Roman Canon. The original coloured image has a sense of depth to it, meaningful indeed. Unfortunately, the images reproduced in the Canadian Missal have reduced it to red and black toned prints. All the images are printed in two-colour which to me is a let down. Images such as this rendition of The Crucifixion is beautiful in colour but loses something when reproduced merely in red and black ink and even cropped. I believe the Canadian missal’s art, if they really wanted to use Tissot’s art, should have reproduced it in full colour like the MTF missal. It would be more striking and more beautiful. Another critique in terms of the Canadian art is the use of embellishing text scattered throughout. In fact, the advertisement states, “Beautiful artwork and calligraphy throughout…” First of all, why do I need a bible verse in fancy text below an image? I think the image speaks for itself… no need for a bible verse beneath it… no need for any biblical commentary throughout the missal. Second, I dislike seeing the “calligraphic” blurbs of text throughout – I think they are unnecessary. A missal is not a newspaper where you will see excerpts of people’s quotes throughout. The art should serve the text and elevate the content of the text. The art of a missal should not be wordy, or have additional commentary added to them. Unfortunately, the Canadian missal has not been able to to achieve this as well as some American missals.

CCCB’s Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer I page with art (Click image to enlarge)

The Price

It is not a surprise that printed copies of the Roman Missal are not cheap, but they are a necessity for the celebration of Mass – iPads and tablets are not dignified for the celebration of Mass. Let’s take a look at the price tag of the MTF Missal (both are altar-sizes – MTF does not seem to have a Chapel edition of the English missal):

Now take a look at the Canadian missal

I can let you draw your own conclusion on these prices. But for your insight, with the money used to purchase a Canadian edition, I can purchase and invest on other beautiful editions from other American publishers and even the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) in the UK.

Closing Remarks

Tired of listening to me moan and groan about the Canadian edition of the Roman Missal and instead praising an American edition of the Roman Missal by MTF? Some may say that I am showing disobedience to the bishops of Canada. Well no. As I affirmed in the beginning, I have complete respect and submit my obedience to the bishops of Canada. I am in no way promoting Canadians to use an American missal – that seems to be forbidden by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as it states in the Decree of Publication embedded within the Canadian missal:

This present edition, published by the authority of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is the sole English translation and version of the Roman Missal that is approved for us in the Dioceses of Canada, beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, 27 November 2011.

Decree of Publication of the Roman Missal, emphasis added

I wanted to feature MTF’s missal here to showcase something that I believe is a beautiful and dignified example of a missal that publishers should strive to have. I will feature more as part of The Liturgy Series.

The truth is, I agree with Fr. Raymond De Souza’s opinion on the Canadian Roman Missal and an Shawn Tribe’s view of the Canadian missal in comparison with other editions out there. The Canadian missal is honestly underwhelming. Editions like that of MTF are beautiful and its external features truly elevate you in the sacred mysteries, whether it be with colours used in the art plates, the colour of ribbons, or the aesthetics of the book itself. While some may argue that the texts of the missal are the “stars”, not the aesthetics of the missal. While true, but the aesthetics must serve the text the missal holds. Beauty elevates one’s mind to the Creator of beauty – God himself. Therefore, beautiful art serves the people of God well. I end with Fr. De Souza’s words, “Parishes should not buy American. Or British. Or Canadian. They should buy beautiful.”

Thank you again to Midwest Theological Forum for allowing me the opportunity to review their Classic Edition of the Roman Missal. Their publications are superior and are great investments. I hope to review other publications of theirs in the future and perhaps even feature more of their publications on this blog including their Latin Missale Romanum, Chapel Edition, The Didache Bible or the Rituale Parvum… that is another chapter to write on The Catholic Man Reviews.

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by Antonin Scalia

On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer: Scalia, Antonin ...

While there are many cons that comes with this time in history, being stuck inside, going through Lent and Easter without the celebration of Mass and Holy Week, one of the pros is that now that my University exams are completed, I am able to dedicate a lot of more time to reading. There is a title that I have been reading on and off for over a year now – that is On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

I did not know much about Justice Scalia prior to reading this book. The only instance I learned of Justice Scalia was a coincidence: I was surfing the web one day in early 2016 and bumped into a livestream of the Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia. What lingered with me the most from the funeral Mass was Fr. Paul Scalia’s (the late Justice’s son) homily for his father’s Mass.

As a Canadian, why read a book by an “American Believer”? I honestly don’t know why… but I was attracted this title. “On Faith” – such a bold statement in today’s society. The reason why this book took some time to read for me – more than a year – is that I did not spend time reading it in one sitting. Rather, I read it in segments and pondered upon what Justice Scalia said in his speeches. His speeches in my opinion is a mouthful to take in but it really gives you some food for thought.

It was interesting to read such bold Catholic speeches from not a bishop, priest, deacon, not even a religious brother or sister, but from a regular lay Catholic who happens to be a Justice working at the Supreme Court. However, as a lawyer and a Justice working with the law, it is evident throughout the book (and Fr. Scalia also affirmed this) that Justice Scalia always distinguished his identity as a Catholic and as a Justice. He did not let his religious beliefs affect the way he interpreted the law. But outside of his day-to-day job with the law, he was a devout Catholic and when he had the opportunity to give witness to his faith, he did so – and his speeches contained this book is a testament to that.

However, this book has also showed me a Catholic who was a sinner, but strived his best to seek “the best”. He loved traditional Catholic liturgy, and upon reading, that picture Justice Scalia clutching that missal that was mentioned in this text really captivated me – he treasured the Catholic liturgy. While Justice Scalia had his own ways, there was something about the role of faith in Justice Scalia that made a positive impression on people and the testimonies located at the end of each section of the book were really helpful in doing that.

The book consisted of mainly Justice Scalia’s speeches and testimonies from people who knew him well is crowned with his son, Fr. Scalia’s homily from the Funeral Mass on February 20, 2016 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. No eulogy – the Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia was summed up well in the homily his son gave, as everything pointed to Jesus Christ, the one whom Justice Scalia longed to imitate. However, like everyone of us, the late Justice is a sinner as he recognized indirectly in his speeches, “We are here, then, as he would want, to pray for God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner; to this sinner, Antonin Scalia. Let us not show him a false love and allow our admiration to deprive him of our prayers.”

I found reading the homily and this interview on EWTN between Fr. Scalia and Raymond Arroyo really gave me a better understanding of Justice Scalia’s life and legacy.

Overall, this was a very interesting read. It comes to show how even lay Catholics holding high positions in an American society understand and live their faith, especially those in the legal field where yes – there are major challenges and obstacles to leap over. At the end of the day though, like Justice Scalia recognized, we are all sinners but knowing that, how are we striving to live our faith in Jesus Christ?

You can purchase a hard copy of this title here.
Or, you can also order an e-copy here.

Disclaimer

Review: MTF’s Roman Missal, Third Edition (Classic Edition) – Part 1

As part of The Catholic Man Reviews’ The Liturgy Series, besides reviewing books about the liturgy, or providing articles about the liturgy, why not review some products used in the Sacred Liturgy? Well to tell you the truth, in Canada, we only have one publisher of the Roman Missal from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. While I do have deep respect for the Bishops of Canada, I do have to say that the edition of the Canadian Roman Missal is honestly underwhelming compared to American editions of the Roman Missal. (I will be making frequent comparisons with the Canadian edition.) I have been into the DiCarlo showroom in Toronto that have an American editions from Catholic Book Publishing Corporation which are less expensive than the Canadian edition and honestly much more aesthetically and dignified in a sense. However, today I want to review an edition of the Roman Missal that I think is a model that Canada should have.

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The Canadian Roman Missal (Credit: CCCB Publications)

Before I dive in, let me be clear… I am not the only one to be criticizing the Canadian edition of the Roman Missal. Fr. Raymond De Souza, a well known Catholic Columnist on various publications, notably the Canadian National Post and The Catholic Register, wrote about the Canadian Roman Missal aesthetics and expressed his expectations and his disappointment in two columns in 2011, when the new Missal was implemented. I remember I read a follow up column of his about the Missal in 2017, but I cannot seem to locate it now. However, the Canadian Roman Missal was also featured in the New Liturgical Movement blog which again mentioned its lack of aestheticism.

I am grateful to Midwest Theological Forum (MTF) for allowing me the opportunity to review their Classic Edition of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. Some things to note is that first of all, I will not be reviewing the longevity of the Missal in comparison with the Canadian one because it is simply not fair to review a missal that has endured some use and one that has undergone not as vigorous use. (The Canadian edition I have at home is an altar-size edition that was once used at a church but was put out of use due to its cover slowly disintegrating after a year or two of use.) Second, I will not be reviewing the translations of these two missals because as Fr. De Souza said in his column, the main differences are the changes in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, some rubrics, Lectionary translation for the Palm Sunday readings and the Common of Saints in which the Canadian edition has some of their own saints and the American edition has their own saints included. What is will be reviewing are mainly the aesthetics and practicality, namely (1) the external features, (2) the paper and layout, (3) the ribbons, (4) the tabs, (5) the art, (6) the price and I will wrap up all of this in a Conclusion. All of this will be done in comparison with the Canadian edition of the Roman Missal.
*Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, I do not have access to a new copy of the Canadian Roman Missal. Therefore, pictures included here in are those of my edition of the missal which has shown signs of wear and tear – it is not representative of a new condition Canadian missal.

A bit about MTF and The Catholic Man Reviews

The Catholic Man Reviews have reviewed three publications from MTF and all have been positive reviews. The second ever review done on The Catholic Man Reviews was the Manual of Prayers published in conjunction with the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The second MTF reviewed on this blog was the Daily Roman Missal, 7th Edition published with Our Sunday Visitor which to this day, is one of our most read reviews. The latest MTF publication reviewed was the Student edition of the Manual of Prayer which is my most used prayer book since I purchased it some years ago. All three publications have some superior quality as opposed to some other publications I have reviewed on this blog. The time and quality put into MTF’s publications really dignify what is contained within the books. Not to say, recently, I published a copy of The Didache Bible at a used book sale at the University of Toronto – I don’t know yet if I will review it on here, but again, the quality is superior.

The External Features

When I took out MTF’s Roman Missal out of the box, I was attracted by the cover depicting Christ the Pantocrator in all his majesty, surrounded by a simple, elegant border on this seemingly high-quality synthetic leather. The spine is simply stamped with the words “Roman Missal” with a Chi-Rho beneath it. Notably, the spine is ribbed – bringing me back to some pre-Vatican II missals. The back contains the same border as the front with an enlarged Chi-Rho like the one on the spine. I have found that MTF likes to reuse their art for various publications. The Christ the Pantocrator image is the same rendition used in their The Didache Bible hardcover edition, and their Chi-Rho is the same style as the one used on the cover of the Daily Roman Missal, 7th Edition. However, their noble simplicity of the art used cannot evoke complaints in my opinion.

The Canadian edition is in my opinion too much – Eucharistic depiction with a stylized cross, debossed with some vines around the cross. The spine contains the words “Roman Missal” with some debossing with some more vines. The back of the Canadian edition is in my opinion more dignified, with a stylized cross with IHS. If that were used on the front, with gold stamping, it would have made more sense… but some may say otherwise.

Both editions of the Roman Missal have sewn binding. I have to say that the good thing with the Canadian edition is that even though the cover is slowly disintegrating, the binding – the text block itself is still very good, well sewn. My home parish has a copy in which the spine which is part of the cover almost ripped apart, but the pages themselves have remained in fair condition – none of them have fallen out.

It is disappointing that with only one edition of the Roman Missal in Canada, published by the Bishop’s conference, that edition contains no gilding at all. I think gilding adds solemnity to a liturgical book. In MTF’s not only are the page edges gilded, but according to their website, the “gilded edges are struck with red and then gold to preserve their beauty even when the book is laid open.” In other words, you know when a book is gilded, the gilding does not shine at a certain angle. By striking the edges in red and then gold, the gold can still shine at various angles.

MTF’s endpages are of much higher quality than the Canadian edition. While the Canadian edition uses a thicker paper something like thin cardstock, MTF’s edition used a very thick paper. It is paper texture on the back, but the red part feels like a synthetic leather texture. Also to note, with the MTF edition, the endpages are reinforced at the spine with some cloth while the Canadian edition has none of that reinforcement. MTF’s endpages are plain red, while the Canadian edition are printed endpages with the front cover Eucharistic Cross reproduced… I would have much preferred them plain.

The Paper, Layout and Fonts

Now let’s take a look at the paper. The MTF chose interesting paper combinations. Unlike the Canadian edition which is consisted of one type of paper throughout, MTF has a 60gsm paper for a majority of the missal with the exception of the Order of Mass which is used much more frequently, with 100gsm paper. I found the 60gsm paper lighter, but maybe too thin and rapid page turning can result in accidental The MTF has a cream colour paper which is aesthetically pleasing.

The Canadian edition, as mentioned, uses the same type of paper throughout the missal, but feels thicker than the 60gsm paper in the MTF but not as thick as 100gsm. This is good for most of the missal… except for the Order of Mas pages which after a year’s use of the same missal would see some rips and even much staining from grubby fingers of many priests (if a missal is shared among different priests), especially for the Introductory Rites and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The paper is not white, but a lighter cream shade than that used by MTF. One thing to note though is the opacity of the pages. I can see through the other side more with the the MTF pages on the 60gsm pages. While I can still see through a bit with the 100gsm paper, it is not as bad. However, the darker cream of the MTF missal allows the texts to be more easily read even with the opacity. While the Canadian missal does have see through, it is not as bad as the 60gsm pages with the MTF missal. However, the trade off are the fonts used in the MTF. While lighter paper is used, allowing one to see more on the other side, the fonts of the black text is darker and bolder than that of the Canadian missal which “pops” out at the reader more.

I do appreciate the consistency of fonts used in the MTF edition – the same font is used in the text, and notation. I do have to note though, the font used in the notation is smaller than that used in the regular text. The Canadian edition has one type of font for the regular text, but uses Palatino Linotype for the notation, and even a calligraphic font with the versicle and responsory symbols… all of which I dislike. I much prefer consistent use of fonts throughout. One or two fonts are fine. I know the Liturgical Press edition uses Palatino Linotype for their regular black and red texts, and uses some sans-serif for the headings which is a simple and pleasing combination.

Now to the layout there are certainly pros and cons to each of the edition. It is worth noting the dimensions, that the MTF missal is 8.5″ x 11″, while the Canadian missal is 8.6″ x 12.4″… slightly larger (these are both altar missal editions, not chapel editions).

The thing that really stands out between the layout is the use of drop-capitals in the missals. For one thing, I applaud the Canadian edition for using drop caps for the Collect, Prayer Over the Offerings, the Prefaces, and the Prayer after Communion which I think are convenient for the priest to easily locate the prayer they need. The MTF edition only uses drop-capitals for their prefaces and at the start of the each Eucharistic Prayer (including the Sanctus). The Canadian edition uses it sparingly throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, but not for the Sanctus interestingly. I think the use of drop-capitals is important for the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses with concelebrants. Not every parish uses those small Eucharistic Prayers for Concelebrants (which in my opinion, the Canadian edition is cheaply made like a student’s spiral-bound school exercise book… I don’t know about the updated edition which is said to be saddle-stitched) so the concelebrant would approach the missal and read from there.

I applause the Canadian edition again for indenting the Collect, Prayer Over the Offerings, the Prefaces, and the Prayer after Communion, again, easier to locate the prayers. However, I think if the identations of the prayer are done, then there is not need for drop-capitals. With the MTF, without the use of drop-capitals, I wish they indented the prayer after their respective subheadings for easy location.

The next thing about the layout that I think is important is the use of white space – the MTF uses the space sparingly. I like how for certain feast days, the feast day title is put on a separate page with accompanying art. Even when one page is not enough to fit a prayer, it is put on a separate page leaving the white space… that I think is good. I hate seeing text squished onto a page. That is something that the Canadian edition does for some Masses which is aesthetically unpleasant to the eye. If there is no space, go to a new page.

A final thing about the layout I wish to speak about is the placement of page numbers. The MTF missal placed their page numbers at the top of the page with headings, while the Canadian placed their page numbers at the bottom of the page with headings. With my personal taste, I prefer page numbers at the bottom of the page rather than the top because when I flip the pages, I tend to flip from the bottom corners rather than the top… but that is merely personal preference.

The Ribbons

A Roman Missal without ribbons? Never seen that before (except for Liturgical Press’ The Roman Missal Study Edition… but that’s a different story). Ribbons are used to mark various places in the missal. The worst though is when you use the ribbons and it starts damaging the pages of your missal. Both the MTF and Canadian missals have six ribbons that start with a narrow ribbon at the top with a larger “body”. That’s what I see with a lot of Missals. The Canadian edition has butterfly ends to prevent fraying. However, I have seen some parishes with their “wings” having become undone. This Classic Edition of the MTF missal does not have butterfly wings but are burnt at the end very cleanly – I assume they were cut with a hot knife. This could be a let down – but the Regal Edition by MTF do have butterfly ends.

The biggest difference between the ribbons of these two editions is ultimately the colours. The MTF missal has six distinct colour ribbons while the Canadian edition only has six ribbons of either red or gold. Honestly, if there were only two colours – might as well make all of them one colour like the travel Missale Romanum (apparently a new reprint has ribbons of different colours… but I will review an edition sent to me in the very near future). However, the strange thing is, other Canadian ritual books including the Roman Missal were printed and bound in Canada by the same printer: St. Joseph’s Communications, contain ribbons of other colours including blue, silver and green. Why were those colour ribbons not used in this edition of the Roman Missal?

Stay tuned next Thursday for Part 2 of the MTF Roman Missal review.

Book Review: Let Go – Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship by Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M.

I began Lent reading Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship written by Catholic YouTuber Evangelist, Fr. Casey Cole, O.F.M. and published by Franciscan Media. (If you are not yet familiar with Fr. Casey’s work, I suggest you visit Breaking in the Habit YouTube Channel.)

Fr. Casey previously wrote a book, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God published in 2018. With Let Go and Called, Fr. Casey wants to convey to people the steps it takes to truly become a follower of Jesus.

Let Go was personally for me a book that I needed. As someone involved in youth ministry at my parish, and other parish ministries, it is easy for me to get caught up with things but fail to spend time to receive spiritual nourishment. This book was one that came to me at the right place, at the right time and I just simply could not put it down since I began reading.

There was something about Let Go that spoke to me that I kept wanting to read on and on and on, even late into the night. While I have read interesting novels or biographical Catholic titles, this book was different. The book spoke to me because honestly, I have a lot of flaws. Sometimes, I fail to “let go” of the things that Fr. Casey laid out in his book. I felt a personal connection with every chapter… it was sort of like an Examination of Conscience or rather, an “Examination of my Ministry Life”.

While reading Let Go, one may be tempted to think of others within the parish or even in your own family who fail to “let go” and stumble upon the seven blocks explained in the book. However, the point of Let Go is not for you to (mentally) point fingers at people. It is a call for each Christian to look at oneself, and determine, “What do I need to ‘let go’ of in order to live up to my vocation as a follower of Jesus?” That is what Let Go was effective at – it prompted me to think about my spiritual life, my relationship with Jesus. Sometimes one may think, “I am pious and have a strong relationship with Jesus.” But when we think that, that is when we fail to grow in our relationship and strengthen our vocation as Jesus’ followers.

Let Go was a nudge for me, or rather a “wake-up” call for my spiritual life. Sometimes, especially those in ministry are constantly on the go, go, go, and busy serving others but fail to reassess ourselves. For some, this can go to the point where we are completely depleted of spiritual resources, or worse, we abandon our vocation to follow Jesus. That is why I find it important to read books like Let Go that allows us for a reassessment of our spiritual lives so to better serve the People of God.

On a personal level, as a Youth-Leader candidate in the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement, Let Go was and still continues to be a helpful tool in my discernment as I asked myself questions, “Am I serving because I want X, Y, Z,? Do I want to serve to please a friend? Or do I serve for the greater glory of God?” The reflection questions Fr. Casey poses at the end of each chapter are very helpful in any process of vocational discernment. It would even be more effective if you were to reflect on the questions and record your answers in your Spiritual Journal.

Are you a youth minister? Are you discerning a vocation? Are you someone the Church and need some time of retreat? Are you a Christian who wants to reassess your spiritual life? Then Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship is the book for you.

Purchase a paperback hard copy here from Franciscan Media.

During this COVID-19 Pandemic, and need a spiritual read to end off this Lent on a strong note, but worried your book will take forever to arrive? Franciscan Media got your back with e-copies and even audiobook copies of Fr. Casey Cole’s Let Go.

Note: Disclaimer here.

6 Tips to Help You Understand and Participate More Actively at Mass

Preface: This article was posted on my personal blog on May 20, 2016. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I noticed a spike in the number of reads in this article. During this time, as many Catholics around the world are facing unprecedented times of cancelled public Masses in their dioceses, it seems to me that people are thirsting for the celebration of Mass and finding ways to partake in it in most cases, virtually. Therefore, as part of The Liturgy Series this month, I will not be reviewing any new book or product, but presenting a revised version of this article with the hope that as we participate in live-streamed Masses, and anticipate the hope of the restoration of publicly celebrated Masses soon, we will find a sense of renewal in the way we understand and participate in the Sacred Liturgy.

It is the truth that Sunday Mass is boring to many Catholics, right? Often, since it is boring, many Catholics do not even go to Mass any more. Sometimes, excuses are made, “Oh, the Father A’s homily was too long”, or “Father B keeps asking for money at every Mass!”. To some Catholics, Mass attendance is an hour wasted or even an hour of dread. However, Mass attendance should be something all Catholics should look forward to at the fresh start of each week and active participation in the Mass is encouraged by the Church. This is evident after Vatican II, especially in its Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.” (SC, 14). Throughout my years and service at Parish Masses, I have found the following 6 tips helpful before and during the celebration of the Mass.

1. Come to the church 10-20 minutes early 

Many people come to church just minutes before the Opening Hymn. Personally, I feel uncomfortable when I come to church right before the start of Mass or late. I feel that preparation is important in order to attentively celebrate Mass. I often like to arrive 10-20 minutes before Mass to pray and familiarize with the readings and hymns of the Mass. Coming early just gives me a much more calm and prayerful feeling. Therefore, I strongly recommend an early arrival to the Church!

Recommended titles:

2. Familiarize yourself with the church hymns

I know, some will say “I cannot sing! Why bother?”. Monsignor Guido Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies said, “Although Mass is held in a large place, it’s never a show.” The choir and cantors at Mass are not singing to show off their talent or to entertain the congregation. Their main purpose is to help assist the congregation in bringing up their voice to God. Musicam Sacram, the Vatican II Instruction on Music in the Liturgy strongly encourages the participation of the faithful in song, not only the choir (see paragraphs 16-19).Consider coming early to the Church, look at the Hymn Board and preview the hymns to be used during that Mass. If possible, look at the songs before hand and find the songs meaning. No worries if you are not a good singer! No one will judge you as you are singing to praise God, not to please anyone.

 3. Purchase a missal or subscribe to a Missalette

A missal is a great instrument for use during Mass. It contains all the prayers and readings for Mass. Many missals even provide extra prayers for daily and/or weekly use. There are many types of missals out there. However, you should do some research on a missal’s content. Many missals are made only for Canadians as Canadians use the NRSV Bible Lectionary while Americans use the NABRE Bible Lectionary. The readings should be the same but the wording may be different. Each bishops’ conference may have their own Lectionary translation. However, the prayers used during the Mass (such as the Collect and Prayer Over the Offerings) should be the same as all English-speaking countries use the same Mass texts from the Roman Missal. There are annual missals (a new missal is published at the start of each new Liturgical Cycle). There are missal subscriptions (monthly missals, like a magazine subscription. Sometimes referred to as a “missalette”). However, there are, what I call, “fixed missals” that often comes in a set of a Sunday and a 2-volume Weekday Mass set or all three in one volume called the Daily Roman Missal (contains NABRE Lectionary texts). These missals can be easily brought to Church so you can follow the prayers and readings. Sometimes, parishes purchase missals or missalettes to aid the faithful. Missals are great to help you prepare for the Mass, celebrate the Mass and live the Mass.

4. Read the Lectionary Readings of the Mass you are attending before hand

Reading the Lectionary Readings may help you understand the readings more deeply when they are read at Mass. Perhaps reading them beforehand may help you understand the priest’s homily better. “But where can I get a Lectionary?” you may ask. No fear! As mentioned in tip #6, Missals provide the Lectionary readings. Or now, with the advanced technology, there are even apps that contain the readings! Consider downloading the Living with Christ app (Canadian Readings) or Laudate (a Catholic app with USA Readings) which are both available for Apple and Android systems. The Living with Christ webpage also provides the Canadian Readings online. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also provide Daily Readings to serve American Catholics. As you can see, the Mass Lectionary readings are easily accessible now than it was many years ago, making Mass preparations a little bit easier!

5. Understand the Priest’s gestures and the Order of Mass

Many complain that they do not understand what is happening at Mass. I totally understand that. There are so many books and online resources that can help. CatholicCulture.org also has a simple article about the gestures at Mass. There are also so many articles online that can help you understand the symbols of the Mass better.
There are also more advanced resources for those who would like to go deeper into the Mass. Lift Up Your Hearts: A Pastoral, Theological, and Historical Survey of The Roman Missal
edited by Robert L. Tuzik is a very good book for deeper understanding about the Mass. Another great read I would recommend for those who would like to learn more about the rites of Holy Week is Glory in the Cross by Fr. Paul Turner.

Other recommended titles:

6. Consider joining a Parish ministry

Have you ever looked at the choir, Altar Servers or Eucharistic Ministers and wanted to do their job? Feel free to ask! Find the ministry’s leader and ask them for details. Some Parishes also have Altar Guilds or Mass preparation teams. They often help set the Altar and bring the Altar linens home to carefully wash them (many of the Altar linens must be washed in a specific manner). Contributing something of yourself to any Parish ministry is something very valuable! Do not be afraid to try. After some time, you may find yourself closer to our Lord in some way; through prayer, through singing or through preparation of the Mass. You may not know but joining a Parish ministry may be fun too! You do not know until you try it!

Recommended titles:

What if I cannot attend Mass or public Masses have been cancelled in my diocese (especially during this COVID-19 Pandemic)?

There are Masses live-streamed and/or broadcasted all over the internet and on Catholic media networks! Here are a few links to get you started:

Inspire Catholic Journaling Bible – NLT Translation

Hello everyone! Ivy returns with a journaling Bible from Tyndale. Some may remember that I have previously reviewed a journaling Bible from Zondervan, which I will be referencing in this review as a comparison point. If you are looking for options, I suggest taking a look at that review as well.

Time to jump right in!

The design team chose to call this Bible Inspire. I suppose it’s common practice to give journaling Bibles a more whimsical name; Zondervan did the same. I’m glad that on the cover, it still says Catholic Bible, because 1. I appreciate that the main purpose and contents of the book is still clearly shown, and 2. It’s nice to know that you’re getting a Catholic translation, because people of different denominations are going to want a Bible that is used within their denomination. The cover is a hard cover wrapped in rose gold, faux leather-esque material. I think the website photos make the cover look more pink than it is in real life. There is a bookmarking ribbon in a matching shade of rose gold. The text and designs on the cover is etched in a metallic finish. There is an elastic to hold the book shut which I think is useful for shelving because it keeps all the pages together as you slide it onto the shelf, but I think it is worth noting that since the cover is a softer, slightly squishy material, the elastic does leave impressions in the cover. At certain angles, I can see the lines outlining the spot where the elastic sat during shipping and the ribbing on the elastic. It is not obvious, and doesn’t really take away from the look of the Bible overall, but it is something to consider. (Please note that I had to edit the photos a little because my fluorescent lighting changed the book’s colour. I really did try to make them as close to the real thing as possible, but please excuse any minor inconsistencies)

A lot of books have metallic gilding the outer edges of the pages, or it’s left plain. This Bible has a pattern with butterflies and flowers instead; very appropriate for the overall feminine aesthetic. That being said, it is a little “busy” for my taste, and the pink, I think, is a bit too bright and cool tone for the rose gold cover. I like them better as separate components rather than how they look together. That being said, my mom loves it, so it really does come down to personal preference. +Note that there is a color difference here as well. I found this part of the book to look much more cool toned. The web photos look like they’ve been tinged yellow or something. Also, be gentle the first couple times you flip through the pages; the ink that creates the design sticks the pages together, so if you’re too rough you might tear the pages.

The pages are VERY thin. If you wanted to do some journaling in marker, paint and maybe even gel pen, this is not the journalling Bible for you. The drawings are beautiful. I really like that the book names can be coloured, which is different from the Zondervan Bible. If there is a big space at the end of a book, there is art there too; another detail I really like. You can colour the end pages as well, and they are among my favourite pages. This Bible doesn’t have any art pieces that take up two pages, a feature that sets it apart from the Zondervan Bible.

I like that there is an index of pages with designs at the back of the Bible. It makes it easy to see if your favourite verses have designs. There is a Table of Contents at the front as well. I wish there was a page that listed all the artists (assuming there was more than one) and which pages contain their designs.

Overall, if you were eyeing this journaling Bible, I don’t think you would be disappointed. It’s feminine, sleek and the illustrations are stunning. It would make a great gift if you know someone that would enjoy this.

If you would like to purchase your own copy, you can do so here.

Disclaimer: The Catholic Man Reviews may earn a small commission from Amazon URLs and Holy Art affiliate links. Your purchase helps support The Catholic Man Reviews’ mission and work of evangelization.
Please note that all the products received by Vincent or Ivy, unless explicitly stated, have been provided free-of-charge in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my our own and not influenced by the publishers or business owners, and/or its affiliates, in any way.