QUAERITUR: books to help seminarians understand the Novus Ordo by learning the TLM

From a priest reader who works in a seminary and is involved with helping seminarians learn how to say Mass (edited):

… I find it helpful to know the historic reasons behind even small gestures at Mass.  […]
Thus, I would like to prepare to pass along this wisdom by studying the Mass and absorbing, as much as I can, the reasons that we do what we do up there – so that the men are competent in, and devoted to saying the black/doing the red because they understand whence they come – and I find that if one wants to understand the parts/gestures/prayers/sequence of the novus ordo, he must study the TLM.
I read recently The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Nicholas Gihr, which was superb.  Might you have other book suggestions, either for me in preparation, or for the students, so as to understand the NO by understanding the TLM?

I haven’t read Gihr, but I have heard of it.

I am pleased that Father is taking this approach.  As young men learn the older forms or learn about them, they will have a better grasp of who they are as priests and what they do at the altar.

I think they could benefit from access to Jungmann’s The Mass of the Roman Rite, which will be in the library, but should be on all of their shelves without question.  It is a scholar’s approach.   More accessible is, perhaps, Romano Guardini’s little book Meditations before Mass. 

Also, have them look at the works of Klaus Gamber about ad orientem worship.


Perhaps some readers will offer other titles.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Nicholas Gihr is indeed a great book. I bought it used for $5 long ago, and it really helped me find beauty even in the Ordinary Form (yes, you read that right!).

  2. ecclesiae says:

    Father Z, several months ago there was an announcement that the PCED had published an instructional DVD regarding the TLM. Do you have any information as how one can obtain it in the U.S.?

  3. mr. crouchback says:

    Fr. Adrian Fortescue’s The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy is an excellent introduction & easy to obtain, being in print.

    Dom Cabrol’s The Mass of the Western Rites is also good and discusses the various Latin liturgical families. It can be downloaded for free here: http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/spirituality/the-mass-of-the-western-rites.html

    Fr. Jungmann’s The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great is obviously a less comprehensive history than his magisterial Mass of the Roman Rite, but it is easier to get and a lot cheaper.

    Fr. Louis Bouyer’s The Eucharist focuses on the history of the Eucharistic prayers. Some traditionalists have critiqued the book, but I frankly have found it to be one of the most spiritually enriching treatises written on the history of the mass.

    Hope this helps!

  4. jbas says:

    One would expect that in the age of “full, conscious and active participation”, a serious work on this topic, such as “The Mass of the Roman Rite”, could be found still in print in English.

  5. Fr. John Mary says:

    A very basic, but excellent book, “The Latin Mass Explained” by Msgr. George Moorman, is reprinted by TAN Book Publishers with a forward by Msgr.R. Michael Schmitz of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. We’re using this for our lay formation in our association of the faithful to continue the study of the Sacred Liturgy after going through Pope Benedict’s “The Spirit of the Liturgy” last year.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z, several months ago there was an announcement that the PCED had published an instructional DVD regarding the TLM.

    You can view it right now in the form of YouTube videos:


  7. pseudomodo says:

    I had a fabulous find in a thrift store recently. An immaculate copy of “This is the Mass” as descibed by Henri Daniel-Rops with photographs by Yousuf Karsh, and shows Bishop Fulton Sheen celebrating the EF mass. $4 CDN! WOW!


  8. I have this book. I found it about a year and a half ago and like it so much, I purchased a couple of copies and gave them to some priests at my parish, and one extra one for the lending library we are building.

    I have accumulated many books by the greats: Jungman, O’Connell, Reid, Fortescue among others. Gihr compliments these books commonly found today, yet it is less known. There is considerable detail in it and at just under 800 pages, it is packing loads of good info (footnotes are always worth “mining” for treasures, as well).

    Get Gihr’s book – you won’t be disappointed.

  9. BLC says:

    A simpler one but I’m really enjoying it as a supplement to my other books (I’m a Theology undergrad) is The Mass & the Saints by Fr Thomas Crean OP (Ignatius Press, 2008).

    It’s about the EF Mass and goes through each part in detail with writings of the saints and great Church writers concerning each element of the Mass.

    Here’s the back cover summary:

    “The Mass and the Saints is a work both of deep spirituality and of profound insight into the glories of the Church’s liturgy. It brings together passages from great spiritual writers throughout the centuries during which the Mass has been offered. Every aspect of the Mass is addressed, the quotations forming a continuous commentary on the central action of the Church’s worship.

    Fr Thomas Crean has selected and freshly translated all of these quotations, mainly from canonized saints of the Church, including Doctors of the Church. Included are Church Fathers such as St Augustine, St Jerome and St Gregory the Great; great scholars of the Middle Ages such as St Anselm, St Albert the Great and St Thomas Aquinas, and more modern figures such as Dom Prosper Gueranger and Bl Pope John XXIII.

    This book will nourish an understanding and appreciation of the Mass and also aid prayer and contemplation.”

  10. Thomas in MD says:

    This is the eccelsiastical equivalent of the very handy tome “English Grammar for Students of Latin”!

  11. ssoldie says:

    My Catholic Faith
    Bp. Louis LaRavoire Morrow
    STK# 3006

    Click to enlarge
    The classic 1954 edition of this fabulous catechism is available again.

    193 chapters in three sections: What to Believe, What to Do, and Means of Grace.

    Abundant Scriptural quotations (excellent for proving Catholic Doctrine to “Bible-Believing” Protestants). It’s also an excellent tool for dealing with liberal Catholics because two subjects of utmost importance are thoroughly treated: the true nature of the Catholic Church (today denied by false ecumenism) and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (today obscured by the New Mass).

    This catechism is known and loved by Catholics because of its timeless texts, charts, lists and graphs. Profusely and beautifully illustrated!

    While the durable burgundy and gold-embossed hardcover makes it a family heirloom. 415 pp.

    Full and beautiful explanation on T.L.M. ‘Gregorian Rite Mass’

  12. Agellius says:

    I too have the Gihr book — in a 100-year-old leatherbound edition(!). My aunt’s parish was clearing out its library and this was among the discards(!). It’s in nearly perfect condition too.

    I have only read about a third of it but it’s superb without a doubt. In its day it was apparently quite successful, having been printed in multiple editions, and of course it was translated into English from the original German; yet before this post I had not encountered any mention of it, nor met anyone who had read it. What a kick!

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