Monday, September 7, 2009

Excellent Resources

In this post, I hope to lay out some works which I have been using, and which I believe ought to belong in every Catholic family's library.

First, of course, we must consider having a Bible. Despite the rather loose translation (anyone familiar with Greek or Hebrew can readily attest), I often use the New American Translation just for the sake that it is, for the most part, the current language of the American Catholic liturgy.

After this, I would include The Catechism of the Catholic Church. When I was a teenager, I saw this text primarily as the official proof-text manual of the Church. To the contrary, if you ever take the time to read it straight through, it is a well presented argument for the contents of the faith. The smaller Compendium of the Catechism is certainly not without value. It can be a quick reminder for those already familiar with Catholic doctrine. with the traditional question/answer format, it is excellent for work with children, and can certainly be used in evangelization as the bare synthesis of the faith. This was the first resource my fiancee used when she was deciding to convert. The only problem with using this volume for evangelization is the unfortunate dearth of Scripture references (they have them, I just want more).

In regard to the liturgy, One would certainly need a Daily Roman Missal. At the very least, one would need a Sunday Missal, which would also include the texts for the Holy Days of Obligation and Major Feasts. Of course, it is understandable if one might want to hold off on getting a new missal for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as the new, improved translation is not yet available, but soon on the way. For those who have the opportunity, a Daily Roman Missal (1962) for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite would be an excellent investment. I currently do not have one (nor do I have easy access to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass). Nevertheless, for those who have the opporutunity to attend this beautiful expression of our faith, it would greatly benefit them.

The liturgy is not merely confined to the Mass itself. As such, I would strongly recommend the use of the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours, as it is the only version published in the United States to include all the hours. These hours are the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer (including Midmorning, Midday, and Midafternoon), Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer. These might be better recognized by their traditional names of Matins (or Vigils), Lauds, Terce, Sexte, None, Vespers, and Compline.

Most of our liturgy ought to be sung. Indeed, all of the texts of the Liturgy of the Hours may be set to music, in keeping with the tradition of our Rite. The one-volume Mundelein Psalter includes music for all the principle hours of the Roman Rite (Lauds and Vespers, along with settings for Compline). Further, the Mundelein Psalter website .mp3 recordings for all the major psalm-tones used, as well as verses for the hymns. I would recommend it over the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours, particularly for beginners. While the more musically-inclined might groan at the lack of set antiphons for the the psalms, beginners like me are ecstatic to finally have some vehicle toward the re-enchantment of our sacred liturgy.

Finally, I would like to give a brief shout-out to the Manual of Prayers, compiled by Rev. James Watkins for the Pontifical North American College in Rome. It is beautifully bound, and makes liberal use of the traditional prayers and devotions of our liturgy. A nearly full expression of the post Vatican II Rite of Reconciliation for Individual Penitents is included, as well as St. Alphonsus Liguori's Stations of the Cross, a setting of the Seven Sorrows, the Seven Last Words, etc. It includes many prayers in Latin, Spanish, and Italian, given that it is intended primarily for American Seminarians in Rome. Therein lies its only problem for my purposes: I (and I believe many others) are in desperate need of a prayer book drawing on the best of our tradition. Moreover, we are in need of texts inspired by the intentions of the Servant of God John Paul II, infusing Scripture more deeply into our devotions. I owe much to this last volume, but I hope to give it a complement. It certainly serves as an excellent model.

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