From the Pastor: More About Missals and Prayer Books
Last week I wrote about three Missals which are still being published today and used for the Traditional Latin Mass (the 1962 Missals from Angelus Press and Baronius Press and the Fr. Lasance 1945 Missal) plus one very simple-to-use English-only Missal (the 1963 or earlier St. Joseph Continuous Sunday Missal) that is not currently in print but can be found used online. There are other Missals available, though. I have on my shelf several small, pocket-sized Sunday Missals (that means that they don’t include any prayers or Scripture readings for the weekday Masses) that some of you might find handy. The first is titled, “My Sunday Missal explained by Father Stedman.” I actually have two different copies/versions of this small Missal. One is new and says on the cover “Larger type edition with new complete pulpit text of Epistles and Gospels.” Inside it claims to be “Two complete books in one. Complete Sunday Missal, all the Masses; Complete Novena Manual of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, all the novenas.” This is a reprint of the original 1938 Missal put out by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood but it doesn’t indicate who reprinted it and I don’t remember where I purchased it. I have a second, used, copy of the same Missal, which, though it doesn’t claim to be large print, has slightly larger print than the first one I just mentioned which makes that claim! This one claims to include “A simplified method of following the Mass” and also “A dialogue Mass.” Both books are basically the same. The “simplified” part means that they put numbers next to parts of the text where you have to flip to a different part of the book for the proper prayers and readings of the day. The “dialogue Mass” has an explanation that some people, like school children, want to do “Christian Action” so they are encouraged to say the parts of the Mass which are normally reserved for the altar boys. They put those responses in italics, assuming that the people who want to say words they don’t know wouldn’t know what words to say if not shown explicitly! Beyond that, it explains that “Sometimes another priest, or a public reader leads these responses in English, without any distraction to the Priest at the altar”! But it says that after stating that “The Dialogue Mass will keep you about three minutes longer than the regular Mass” which means that the “public leader” must be reading the responses more slowly than the priest and servers, so how that will not be a “distraction” is anyone’s guess. Without marketing it, the first book has the same italics and explanations as this one. They both have nearly identical prayers and novenas in the back pages of the book, too. I mention this because, if you are looking for one online, you probably cannot see it before buying it. Now that you know that they are basically interchangeable, if you want a tiny Missal you can just get the one in the best condition at the best price.
Although in describing Missals I mentioned my preference for Missals which include a good selection of prayers along with the actual Mass prayers, you may wish, instead, to get a prayer book with a Missal included. Nearly every old (pre-1964) prayer book includes a section for following the Mass. They only have the prayers and readings for Sundays and Holy Days, but if you cannot ever make it to daily Mass, one of these might be a good option for you. One big one which is still in print is titled, “Blessed be God.” I have a nice reprint of the 1925 version which, unfortunately again, does not include information on who reprinted it. But I do see that Preserving Christian Publications has a brand new version of this book which has a leather cover, which I find preferable to a hardcover for a Missal or prayerbook. Another great prayerbook is “A Manual of Prayers for the use of the Catholic Laity” which I have in the form of a great reprint from Roman Catholic Books (not currently available) under the title of “The Baltimore Book of Prayers.” This is an excellent prayer book and contains the Mass from 1889! You will find very few differences in the Missals of 1889, 1925, 1945, and 1962, so feel free to use any of the old Missals or prayer books you can find!
Cardinal Spellmans Prayerbook (1951, revised in 1955) is also a great prayerbook with a Sunday Missal. My copy is still very usable even though it was probably used regularly many decades ago. My version of the Catholic Extensionist Manual of Devotions (1931) is a pocket-sized and very worn book but is still quite a great prayer book for such a little thing. Lastly, I have a well-worn copy of the 1928 “Hail Holy Queen: A book of prayer and counsel for Catholic Girls and Women; the Roman Missal for Sundays” which, again, is an incredible prayer book plus Missal. Of course, the “counsel” this book gives to girls and women is far from politically correct today. Just one example: “A masculine woman is no less disgusting and repelling than a feminine man. Nobody wants to marry his own sex[!]”
These old prayer books (and there are countless others) put all the new ones to shame. Being used, most are fairly inexpensive when compared to a new Missal. So take your pick: A stand-alone Missal, a Missal/Prayerbook, or a Prayerbook/Missal. Whichever one works best for you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka