It took me the better part of 2 months to get through this book because of a busy schedule, but it was worth it.
It wasn’t what I expected- I was really thinking it would be a how-to guide for the mass, similar to Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper, which I also enjoyed. As a new Catholic, I am always looking for more information about *why* we do what we do, even though I had a great RCIA class, and of course if I had not felt that I understood the Mass on a basic level, I would not have joined the church…Anyway, the structure of this book focused on the Eucharist- as it should, since that is at the center of the Mass. It was more of a “behind the scenes” history of why we celebrate the Eucharist and how it relates to the major celebrations of the church liturgical year- Christmas and Easter.
The book was very informative and well-written, particularly for lay people like myself. One caution is that, I think you need a pretty good familiarity with the order of the Mass to follow this book- if I had read it during my RCIA days I don’t think it would have had the same impact that it did today.
Speaking of impact, this book did what I imagine all authors want their works to do- it made me think, and it actually made me change something about my life. Before reading this book, I always hesitated to take the Precious Blood in addition to the Host during communion. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times I did- two. Once at my confirmation, and another at my wedding. I kept rationalizing, “I don’t want to share germs with people, it’s gross, and I don’t need it anyway because the church says I can get all the same benefits in one species.” While the latter part is true, the author makes a simple point that really changed my outlook. Since we should look at the Eucharist as not only a sacrifice but a meal, would you go to someone’s house for dinner and only eat, not drink?
This simple question changed my outlook and now I regularly receive both species if they are offered, with no qualms on my part. A neat experience for me, and it really meshes with the theme of another favorite ministry of mine, Grace Before Meals, the brainchild of a local priest in my former diocese, Fr. Leo Patalinghug.
So, the upshot of all this rambling is that a) I liked the book, and hope you check it out if you’re interested, but b) don’t expect it to be a step-by-step Mass guidebook.
*Note: This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Mass: A Guided Tour. The book was made available free in exchange for an honest review.