Inject Some New Life into your Faith in the New Year
by Andy Milam
(Most of the content of this article was taken from here.)
Since the allowance of the vernacular in the Mass following Vatican II, the idea of people having their own Roman Missal or hand missal has fallen into relative obscurity. The erroneous thinking that the Roman Missal was simply there to help one follow the Latin has, sadly, resulted in a temporal and eternal disconnect with the liturgical and spiritual heartbeat of the Church. The liturgical year of the Catholic Church is far more than an arbitrary collection of feasts and seasons. It is a profound and soul-altering spiritual rhythm that provides a veracity as real as cosmic time. The hand missal provides us with a vital navigational tool for the spiritual reality of our Catholic faith.
Praying the Mass
“The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer.” – Pope Bl. Paul VI
When most Catholics call to mind a Roman Missal, we think of the Order of the Mass (ordo), which presents the basic liturgical structures and rhythm of worship. The ordo grants us the foundation for understanding the Holy Sacrifice of Christ and the timeless participation in His death and resurrection. When the Catholic assists at Holy Mass, he is entering into a moment where time and eternity meet. Reception of the Eucharist is a real and complete participation in Christ’s historic Sacrifice, and that deeply intimate experience with Christ in the Eucharist orients the faithful toward the glory of His eternal kingdom. It is past, present and future all coming together in the Eucharistic Banquet, which is then wrapped in prayers, Scriptures and the solemnity proper to it. In this understanding, the hand missal aids the Catholic in engaging heart and soul in the most perfect prayer more perfectly.
A Treasury of Catholic Prayers
Beyond Sunday, the Roman Missal is a wealth of wisdom that offers the individual Catholic a myriad of sacred prayers. Life is turbulent — at times a challenging path where feelings of being lost or overwhelmed are all too common. Other times, life is a resounding joy and a blessed event filled with miracles, daily needs, friends, family and the charity of Christ. For all of these circumstances, our forefathers of the faith have composed prayers to help Catholics communicate with God and express their hearts in wondrous lucidity. The Roman Missal is a tome of these wise expressions and should be an at-hand resource for any Catholic and their family.
Hopefully, most Catholics are well aware that their Catholicism cannot be isolated to one day a week — that the faith must be a habitual and daily event that colors the very expression of our lives. However, the daily discipline necessary and the proper actions to accomplish this spiritual necessity can be very difficult. The Roman Missal (hand missal) presents the structure of the liturgical year for every day of the week, offering the readings and prayers to help the individual Catholic participate in the daily expression of the divine reality of his own faith.
The Missal and the Home Altar
Home altars are important focal points for any Catholic family striving for holiness. Often set aside in bedrooms or even closets, home altars are domestic sanctuaries that provide Catholics with a quiet place of prayer and meditation. Among the crucifix, the icons and the candles, the Roman Missal is a vital part of the home altar, as it brings into a place of family prayer the liturgical guide gifted to all Catholics by the Church.
A Personal Bond
Catholics dedicated to praying the Rosary can witness to the intimate bonds they develop with their own rosaries. Each bead in each mystery is a witness to God’s faithfulness, whether it is an answered prayer or a comfort in mourning. Each decade of the Rosary comes to be a memorial for the divine events in Christian lives. The Roman Missal is no different. Holding it in one’s hand each week at Mass, turning to its prayers in times of need, and having it serve as a spiritual guide is likewise a divine bonding experience. In time, as with the rosary, the pages and prayers begin to call to mind the divine actions the Christian has witnessed, and grant him the endurance and joy to live the good life.
Proper of Saints
The People of God in this age are not the first — or last — ones to strive after a life of holiness. The hand missal can be a constant source of spiritual direction, and the proper of the saints serves to reinforce that reality through brief accounts of their lives and enriching prayers related to each. The study of Catholic forefathers, the celebration of their fidelity, and the acceptance of their present reality and intercession all serve to bind together the family of God. As the Church militant, the faithful must look back to the lives of the Church triumphant and look forward to receiving the eternal prize they now embrace.
Ritual, Votive and Requiem Masses
The Roman Missal also includes special Masses and rituals for various occasions. Votive Masses and Masses for the dead are unique circumstances in the Catholic life, circumstances that can be difficult for many families. Again, like the rosary, having in one’s hand the Roman Missal that has consistently been a source of guidance and comfort is invaluable in the most arduous of times.
Are you looking to draw closer to the heartbeat of the Church? The Roman Missal or hand missal will provide you with blessings for decades to come. If you have never owned one, the new year provides a great opportunity to make a purchase. And if you have an old one, it’s a perfect time to update. Which one? The first, I own, which is from Angelus Press. The second is a very faithful expression from Baronius Press.
Regardless of what you choose, the ownership of a hand missal is a wonderful way to grow closer to the Sacrifice of Calvary re-presented at the altar. Practically, once you make the decision and get used to praying along with the priest, you will always have a way to follow the ordinaries and the propers of the Mass, regardless of whether a church has permanent hymnals or uses missalettes.