Forty or fifty years ago, there was a preponderance of devotional books that sought to teach people about the meaning of the Mass. Such books of meditations still exist, no doubt, I would like to introduce my readers to a set of books that can radically change your life.
The five volume set is entitled The Church’s Year of Grace and was written in the 1940s and 1950s by Dr. Pius Parsch, a renowned German theologian and Canon Regular of Saint AUgustine. It is divided into five parts: Advent to Candlemas, Septuagesima to Holy Saturday, Easter to Pentecost, and then a book on the remaining six months of year (June, July, August; September, October, November).
Each of the volumes is divded between the Temporal Cycle and the Sanctoral Cycle of the Church Year. For each of the important liturgical seasons, Dr. Parsch provides daily meditations on the readings of the Mass as well as on various aspects of the Faith. For example, Dr. Parsch writes in the volume that includes the month of November on the practices of the Church with regard to the dying. On the feast days of important saints, Dr. Parsch provides a short Life of the saint in question and then offers an application based on the readings at Mass. In terms of quality and quantity, Sundays and important feast days tend to receive the most pages.
Where does Dr. Parsch get his meditations? Actually, most of them come from the Roman Missal and the Breviary. Sometimes, he will summarize the reading or give them verbatim. Also, his book is designed to be used as a preparation for Mass because of its devotional nature.
Many people that I know have told me that Dom Prosper Gueranger’s The Liturgical Year is a priceless set of 18 volumes. I don’t doubt that, but Dr. Parsch’s books are not to be overlooked either. Perhaps, the reason why Parsch appeals more to me is because of the beauty of his style as well as his learnedness. His thoroughness and thoughtfulness are something to be admired.
Alas, the complete five volume set of books is extremely hard to come by. Sometimes, I’ve seen it on ebay or amazon.com. Since the books use the liturgical calendar before Vatican II, it is to be hoped that somebody will reprint for those that attend MP Masses.
EDIT: Thanks to one of my readers, Mike, I would like to provide you with a link if you would like to buy the books reviewed above: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=The+Church%27s+Year+of+Grace&x=0&y=0