All right then, now that I have vented, some reading. And perhaps the reading will make more sense having read the venting and knowing that these writers have a common reference point: the Scripture readings for Quinguasesima Sunday, which are 1 Corinthians 13 on love and Jesus’ speaking of his coming passion and healing of a blind man.

Of course, you can check out this post for some links to readings I dug up last year.

Here, as per usual, is an excerpt from my favorite vintage Catholic text book, published in 1947 for 7th graders:

Then this, from a book of meditations tied to the Sunday Scripture readings, published in 1904. It’s called The Inner Life of the Soul, and it really is quite a nice book. Not all older spiritual writing is helpful to us – the writing can be florid or dense in other ways, it can reflect concerns that perhaps we don’t share. This isn’t like this, and the reason, I think, is that the chapters were originally published as columns in a periodical called Sacred Heart Review.  The author is one S.L. Emery, and contemporary reviews of the book indicate that many readers assumed that the author was male, but a bit more research shows that this is not true. Susan L. Emery was, obviously a woman, and is cited in other contemporary journals for her work in translating Therese of Liseux’s poetry. 

Anyway, Emery’s reflections, which tie together Scripture readings, the liturgy, the lives and wisdom of the saints and the concerns of ordinary experience, are worth bookmarking and returning to, and, if I might suggest to any publishers out there…reprinting.

What I think is important to see from this short reading, as well as the Ash Wednesday reflection that follows, is how mistaken our assumptions and stereotypes of the “bad old days” before Vatican II are. Tempted to characterize the spirituality of these years as nothing but cold-hearted rigidity distant from the complexities of human life, we might be surprised at the tone of these passages. The call to penance is strong. The guidelines are certainly stricter and more serious than what is suggested today. But take an honest look – it is not about the law at the expense of the spirit or the heart. Intention is at the core, and there are always qualifications and suggestions for those who cannot or are not required to follow the strictest reading of the guidelines: those who are young, old, or sick, or, if you notice, the laborer who must keep his or her strength up.

The season of Lent is at hand; in three days Ash 
Wednesday will be here; our Mother the Church calls 
upon us to fast, and pray, and to do penance for our sins. 
Each one who cannot fast should ask for some practical 
and methodical work of piety to do instead ; and perhaps 
few better could be found than ten minutes' serious medi- 
tation, every day, upon the Passion of our Lord. This 
practice can be varied in many ways, some of them being 
so simple that a child might learn them ; and God alone 
knows of what immense value to us this practice, faith- 
fully continued through one Lent, would be. Let us con- 
sider, then, by His assisting grace, that most helpful spiritual 
devotion called meditation. 
In our day the necessity is really extreme of keeping 
the minds of Christians filled and permeated with an abid- 
ing sense of the love and care of Almighty God for each 
individual soul. The ceaseless hurry and worry prevalent 
amongst us, to become rich, to be counted intellectual, to 
know or to have as much as our neighbor, tends to destroy 
that overruling sense of spiritual things which would give 
ballast and leisure to our souls. Then, when earthly props 
fail us, and loiieliness, sickness, or great trouble of any kind 
confronts us, the utter shallowness of our ordinary pursuits 
opens out in its desert waste before us, and our aching eyes 
see nothing to fill the void. The ambition dies out of life. 
If we have means, people begin to talk of change of scene 
and climate for tired souls who know but too well that they 
cannot run away from the terrible burden, self ; though their 
constant craving is, nevertheless, to escape somehow from 
their “ waste life and unavailing days.” The unfortunate, 
introspective and emotional reading of our era fosters the 
depression, and suicide has become a horribly common 
thing. 

Even a Christian mind becomes tainted with this pre- 
vailing evil of despondency, which needs to be most forc- 
ibly and promptly met. Two weapons are at hand, — the 
old and never to be discarded ones of the love of God and 
the love of our neighbor. ...

....
Oh, if in our dark, dark days we could only forget our- 
selves ! God, Who knows our trials, knows well how 
almost impossible to us that forgetfulness sometimes seems ; 
perhaps He ordains that it literally is impossible for a while, 
and that it shall be our hardest cross just then. But at 
least, as much as we can, let us forget ourselves in Him 
and in our suffering brothers; and He will remember us.

I did a search for “Quinquagesima” on Archive.org and came up with lots of Anglican results, but here’s a bit of an interesting Catholic offering – an 1882 pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Westminster to his Archdiocese. The first couple of pages deal specifically with Lent, and the rest with Catholic education, which is interesting enough. But for today, I’ll focus on the Quinquagesima part. He begins by lamenting a decline in faith – pointing out the collapse of Christian culture. And then turns to Lent:

We are once more upon the threshold of this 
sacred time. Let us use it well. It may be our last Lent, our 
last time of preparation and purification before we stand in the 
light of the Great White Throne. Let us, therefore, not ask 
how much liberty may we indulge without positive sin, but how 
much liberty we may offer to Him who gave Himself for us. 
" All things to me are lawful, but all things edify not ; " and 
surely in Lent it is well to forego many lawful things which 
belong to times of joy, not to times of penance. 

The Indult of the Holy See has so tempered the rule of 
fasting that only the aged, or feeble, or laborious, are unable to 
observe it. If fasting be too severe for any, they may be dis- 
pensed by those who have authority. But, if dispensed, they are . 
bound so to use their liberty as to keep in mind the reason and 
the measure of their dispensation. A dispensation does not 
exempt us from the penitential season of Lent. They who use 
a dispensation beyond its motives and its measures, lose all 
merit of abstinence, temperance, and self-chastisement. If you 
cannot fast, at least abstain. If you cannot abstain, use your 
dispensation as sparingly as can be, and only as your need re- 
quires. If in fasting and abstinence you cannot keep Lent, 
keep it by prayer, and Sacraments, and alms, and spiritual 
mortifications. Chastise the faults of temper, resentment, ani- 
mosity, vanity, self-love, and pride, which, in some degree and 
in divers ways, beset and bias if they do not reign in all our 
hearts. In these forty days let the world, its works and ways, 
be shut out as far as can be from your homes and hearts. Go 
out of the world into the desert with our Divine Redeemer. 
Fast with Him, at least from doing your own will ; from the 
care and indulgence of self which naturally besets us. Examine 
th^ habits of your life, your prayers, your confessions, your 
communions, your amusements, your friendships, the books 
you read, the money you spend upon yourselves, the alms you 
give to the poor, the offerings you have laid upon the Altar, and 
the efforts you have made for the salvation of souls. Make a 
review of the year that is past ; cast up the reckoning of these 
things ; resolve for the year to come on some onward effort, 
and begin without delay. To-day is set apart for a test of your 
charity and love of souls. We may call it the commemoration 
of our poor children, and the day of intercession for the orphans 
and the destitute.

Finally…do you want to be correct? Well, here you go.

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The How-To Book of the Mass

Mass (mãs) n. 1. The Liturgy of the Eucharist. 2. The Breaking of the Bread. 3. To send forth with blessing.
Perhaps you know a lot about the Mass, or maybe you are just learning, but there are things that confuse you—like when should you genuflect and when should you bow? When should you stand and when should you sit? What are the different books that are used at Mass and what do they contain? What do words like Amen, Alleluia and Hosanna mean? Help is here!

The How-To Book of the Mass is the only book that not only provides the who, what, where, when, and why of the How To Book of the Mass Dubruielmost time-honored tradition of the Catholic Church but also the how.

In this complete guide you get:

  • step-by-step guidelines to walk you through the Mass
  • the Biblical roots of the various parts of the Mass and the very prayers themselves
  • helpful hints and insights from the Tradition of the Church
  • aids in overcoming distractions at Mass
  • ways to make every Mass a way to grow in your relationship with Jesus

If you want to learn what the Mass means to a truly Catholic life—and share this practice with others—you can’t be without The How-To Book of the Mass.

Discover how to:

  • Bless yourself
  • Make the Sign of the Cross
  • Genuflect
  • Pray before Mass
  • Join in Singing the Opening Hymn
  • Be penitential
  • Listen to the Scriptures
  • Hear a Great Homily Everytime
  • Intercede for others
  • Be a Good Steward
  • Give Thanks to God
  • Give the Sign of Peace
  • Receive the Eucharist
  • Receive a Blessing
  • Evangelize Others
  • Get something Out of Every Mass You Attend

“Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with them at table ‘he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”
1347, Catechism of the Catholic Church


Michael Dubruiel wrote two editions of The How-To Book of the Mass, the most recent 2007, reflecting the proposed changes in the English translation of the Mass.

(If you go to the Amazon page for the book and search the book for “preface” you can read most or all of the preface in which he introduces the new edition)

With the approval of this translation comes an excellent “teaching moment.”  Pastors and catechetists will be introducing the new translation, and as they do so, will be engaging in a broader catechesis on the Mass.  Michael’s book has been an OSV best-seller for years and is used in many RCIA programs around the country.  Since he was able to reflect many of the translation changes in his text, the book will remain a valuable resource.

For example,  the new translation is a more literal translation of the Latin text, changing “and also with you” to “and with your spirit” in the people’s responses. Michael took this into account and explained:

Next, in the words of Saint Paul the Apostle, the priest greets us. If a bishop presides, he will use the words of Jesus to greet us…Both of these were standard greetings in Jesus’ day, very much like ‘Good Morning’ or “Hello” is for us today. Our reply to the priest or bishop also comes from Scripture. Both in 2 Timoth 4:22, ‘The Lord be with your spirit,’ and in Galatians 6:18, ‘The grafe of our Lord Jedsus Christ be with you spirit, brethren,’ we have the origin of how we respond to the greeting of the celebrant….(54)


If you would like to order this book, there are many options.

Your local Catholic bookstore should carry it.

You can buy it through the excellent online Catholic bookstore, Aquinas and More, here.

If you would like to place a bulk order for an institution, it is best to do that through Our Sunday Visitor.

The Amazon page is here.

Including a Kindle edition.

You can order copies through me by going to my bookstore.


You might also be interested in How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist.

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist gives you nine concrete steps to help you join your own sacrifice to the sacrifice of Christ as you:

  • Serve: Obey the command that Jesus gave to his disciples at the first Eucharist.
  • Adore: Put aside anything that seems to rival God in importance.
  • Confess: Believe in God’s power to make up for your weaknesses.
  • Respond” Answer in gesture, word, and song in unity with the Body of Christ.
  • Incline: Listen with your whole being to the Word of God.
  • Fast: Bring your appetites and desires to the Eucharist.
  • Invite: Open yourself to an encounter with Jesus.
  • Commune: Accept the gift of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • Evangelize :Take him and share the Lord with others.

Filled with true examples, solid prayer-helps, and sound advice, How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist shows you how to properly balance the Mass as a holy banquet with the Mass as a holy sacrifice. With its references to Scripture, quotations from the writings and prayers of the saints, and practical aids for overcoming distractions one can encounter at Mass, this book guides readers to embrace the Mass as if they were attending the Last Supper itself.

(You can listen to an 8-part interview about this book that  Michael did with KVSS in Omaha here.)

And A Pocket Guide to the Mass.