Monday 7 March 2016

Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers - Mike Aquilina

Understanding the Mass:
100 Questions, 100 Answers
Mike Aquilina
Servant Books 
St. Anthony Messenger Press
Franciscan Media
ISBN 9780867169492
eISBN 9781616361884

I have read a few books by Mike Aquilina and have a few in my two be read pile. This one got bumped to the top of the list when my oldest decided that she wanted to become an alter server. I wanted a quick refresher in case she has questions as she did her three weeks of alter serving training and started to help serve at mass. To be honest I was unaware of this book by Mike Aquilina, until an email from The Dynamic Catholic Institute promoted it. It was perfect timing.

The book is exactly what you would expect from the title. It is 100 questions with 100 answers and a lot of references back and forth between different questions. The sections in the book are:

The First Mass
Basics of the Mass
1. Why do we call our worship "the Mass"?
2. What other names does the Mass go by?
3. What happens at a Catholic Mass?
4. Why do we need this ritual? Can't I worship God just as well using my own words?
5. Why does the Mass refer to Jesus as a "victim" and a "lamb"?
6. Why is the Mass a sacrifice?
7. Why is the Mass the same sacrifice that Christ made on the cross?
8. Is every Catholic worship service a Mass? 
The Eucharist: The Real Presence of Christ
9. What is the Eucharist?
10. What is the real presence?
11. If God is everywhere, what's special about the real presence in the Eucharist?
12. Why do Catholics believe in the real presence, instead of just saying that the bread and wine are symbols?
13. What is transubstantiation?
14. When does transubstantiation happen?
15. Why does the priest mix water with the wine?
16. If the Body of Christ is in every Catholic church, does that mean Jesus has lots of bodies all over the world?
17. How can we teach children about the real presence?
Scriptural and Historic Roots
18. Where does the Mass appear in the Bible?
19. How can the Mass appear in the Old Testament if Jesus instituted it in the New?
20. What are the Jewish roots of the Christian ritual?
21. Where does the Mass appear in the New Testament?
22. How did Jesus prepare his followers for the institution of the Mass?
23. Why do the accounts of the first Mass differ from book to book?
24. How do we know that Jesus intended the Church to continue offering the Mass?
25. Did the early Church-the persecuted, "underground" Church-celebrate the Mass? If so, how?
The Celebrant
26. Who may offer the Mass?
27. How did Jesus give our priests the power to change bread and wine into his body and blood?
28. What is a pontifical Mass?
29. Is Mass with the pope or bishop "worth more" than Mass in my parish?
30. Does there have to be a congregation for there to be a Mass?
31. What are the vestments the priest wears?
32. Why does the priest wear vestments?
33. What do the colors of the vestments mean? 
Obligation and Opportunity
34. How often must I go to Mass?
35. Why does the Church require us to go to Mass on Sunday?
36. Can I satisfy the Sunday obligation by going to Vespers instead of Mass?
37. What does it mean to offer the Mass for a particular "intention"?
38. Why do Catholics offer Masses for the dead?
39. How does the Mass relate to the other sacraments?
40. What is the relationship between the Mass and social 
41. How is the Mass like heaven? 
42. Why do some Catholic churches celebrate the Eucharist in ways that are far different from the way I know?
43. What is the Latin Mass?
44. What is the Tridentine Mass or Extraordinary Form?
45. Why do some Catholics like the Latin Mass so much?
46. Why is Latin still the official language of the Mass in the Catholic Church?
47. Do non-Catholic churches also celebrate the Mass?
Properly Equipped
48. Why does the Church use unleavened bread?
49. May the priest use other types of bread?
50. May a priest use gluten-free wheat bread for the sake of people who have celiac disease?
51. What if my body can't take any wheat at all?
52. What are the vessels used in the Mass?
53. What's special about altar candles?
54. What are rubrics?
55. What's hidden in the compartment in or under many altars?
56. Why does the Church honor the relics of the saints?
Receiving Communion
57. Who may receive Holy Communion?
58. How should I prepare to go to Mass and receive Communion?
59. What is the Communion fast?
60. What if I forget and break the Communion fast?
61. What happens if I receive Communion in a state of mortal sin?
62. How should I receive Communion?
63. Why do some people receive Communion on the hand and others on the tongue?
64. Is it better to receive Communion under both species? Do I receive "more" if I do?
65. What is viaticum?
66. Can the Church deny Communion to particular individuals? If so, when and how?
67. Why are certain politicians allowed to take Communion even when they vote against Church teachings?
68. What is excommunication?
69. How often may I go to Communion?
70. How often must I go to Communion?
71. What should I do after taking Communion?
72. What should I do if I attend Mass but cannot go, or choose not to go, to Communion?
73. Are Catholics allowed to take Communion in a non-Catholic church?
74. Are non-Catholics allowed to take Communion in a Catholic church? 
The Parts of the Mass
75. How is the Mass divided?
76. Why does the Mass begin with the Sign of the Cross?
77. What is the Penitential Rite?
78. Why do we pray to Mary and the saints?
79. What is the Gloria?
80. How does the Church pick the Bible readings for each Mass?
81. What is the Alleluia?
82. What is the gesture people make before the reading of the Gospel?
83. What is a sermon supposed to be?
84. What is the Creed?
85. What is the Universal Prayer?
86. Why does the Church collect money at Mass?
87. What is the Offertory?
88. What is the Eucharistic Prayer?
89. What is the Canon of the Mass?
90. What is the Preface?
91. What is the "Holy, Holy, Holy"?
92. What is the institution narrative?
93. Why does the Church call upon the Holy Spirit at this point in the Mass?
94. What is the "mystery of faith"?
95. What is the Communion Rite?
96. Why do we pray the Lord's Prayer at this part of the Mass?
97. What is the "Lord, I am not worthy" prayer?
98. What is Holy Communion?
99. Why does the Mass end so abruptly after Communion?
100. What should I do after Mass? 

To be honest this is not a hard read, but it is a very informative read. Even as someone who has attended mass most of my life, and having a religious studies degree with a focus on the Raman Catholic Faith I still got a lot out of this book. It was hard to put down once I got going. Mike writes in an easy engaging style. Some authors especially theologians are a struggle to read, but Mike's writing especially in this book is not that way at all. I read this book in three short sittings, and found it very useful. 

I can highly recommend it even for seasoned Catholics. There is a lot of benefit to be had from reading this little volume.

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Books by Mike Aquilina:
A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God
A Year With The Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living
Angels of God: The Bible, the Church and the Heavenly Hosts
Companion Guide to Pope Benedict's 'The Fathers' 
Faith of Our Fathers: Why the Early Christians Still Matter and Always Will
Fire of God's Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist
Good Pope, Bad Pope: Their Lives, Our Lessons 
Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life
Ministers & Martyrs: The Ultimate Catholic Guide to the Apostolic Age
Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: With St. Thomas Aquinas
Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You
Sharing Christ's Priesthood: A Bible Study for Catholics
Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
Sweet Gridlock: Selected Love Poems 
Terms and Conditions: Assorted Poems
The Apostles and Their Times
The Church and the Roman Empire
The Fathers of the Church Bible
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers
The Mass of the Early Christians
The Resilient Church: The Glory, the Shame, & the Hope for Tomorrow
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church
The Way of the Fathers: Praying With the Early Christians
The Witness of Early Christian Women: Mothers of the Church
Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers
Why Me? When Bad Things Happen
Yours Is the Church: How Catholicism Shapes Our World

Books co-written by Mike Aquilina:
A Pocket Catechism for Kids - Fr. Kris Stubna
Dion: The Wanderer Talks Truth - Dion DiMucci
Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady through the Ages - Fr. Frederick Gruber
Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians - Scott Hahn
Praying the Psalms the Early Christians - Christopher Bailey
Saint Monica and the Power of Persistent Prayer - Mark W. Sullivan
Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again - James Papandrea
Something More Pastoral: The Mission of Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl - Ann Rodgers
Take Five: Meditations John Henry Newman - Fr. Juan Velez
Take Five: Meditations Pope Benedict XVI - Fr. Kris Stubna
Take Five: On the Job Meditations With St. Ignatius - Fr. Kris Stubna
Talking to Youth About Sexuality: A Parents' Guide - Fr. Kris Stubna
The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today - John Michael Talbot
The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Home - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Doubter's Novena: Nine Steps to Trust the Apostle Thomas - Christopher Bailey
The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence - Christopher Bailey
The Great Life: Essays on Doctrine and Holiness in Honor of Father Ronald Lawler, O.F.M. Cap. - Kenneth Ogorek
The Holy Land: A Guide for Pilgrims - Fr. Dave Halaiko
The How-To Book of Catholic Devotions - Regis J. Flaherty
The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition - Cardinal Donald Wuerl
The World's First Christmas: Jubilee 2000 - Regis J. Flaherty
Weapons of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Father John Hugo - David Scott
What Catholics Believe: A Pocket Catechism - Fr. Kris Stubna

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