The Catholic University of America Press is proud to present the third volume in its Sayings of the Fathers of the Church series. Featuring esteemed scholars and writers compiling material from our acclaimed Fathers of the Church volumes, each title is devoted to select areas of theology. The inaugural volumes covered the Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, and now we turn to The Holy Mass.
The documents of early Christianity are rich in mentions of the Mass and its component parts. Sometimes they’re detailed descriptions, sometimes quick allusions. In this volume Mike Aquilina, a popular author on early Christianity, takes readers step by step through the Mass, from the Sign of the Cross through the Dismissal, illuminating the way with the words of the Fathers. Along the way readers encounter familiar rites, words, and gestures, but also familiar complaints ― about long homilies, bad singing, liturgical abuses, and distracted congregations.
The Holy Mass is divided into chapters based on the parts of the Mass known to modern Catholics of the Roman Rite. The Mass did not follow this sequence through the entirety of the era of the Fathers. Gregory the Great moved the position of the Lord’s Prayer. There were geographic variants for the placement of the Sign of Peace. Some ancient liturgies lacked a specific penitential rite ― though all the liturgies had a penitential dimension to their prayers.
Mike Aquilina’s introduction provides historical context and describes the rich development of the liturgy through the Church’s first few centuries. A foreword by Thomas Weinandy, a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, speaks of the relevance of this material for worshipers today.