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Book: Preparing Yourself For Mass
Author: Romano Guardini
Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, NH



Excerpt from Introduction:

[This book] does not try to show how the Mass should be celebrated or how, within the prescribed limits of ecclesiastical law, the organic structure of the sacred ceremony could be brought out more clearly or even how closer participation of the faithful is to be achieved. That is the task of a religious manual.

What is needed here is personal preparation for Holy Mass. This requires not only Mass preparation in the usual sense of the individual believer strengthening his faith, purifying his heart, arranging and directing his intentions, but also that fundamental, vital attitude absolutely necessary to transform a collection of individuals into a congregation, and a restless crowd into a holy people in the sight of God.

Only from such central preparedness can the gaze lifted to the altar grow inwardly quiet and receptive to holiness; only then can hearing and speaking in church differ from the give and take of words in the street, the home, or office.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Sacred Bearing

1. Stillness

2. Silence and the Word

3. Silence and Hearing

4. Composure

5. Composure and Action

6. Composure and Participation

7. The Holy Place

8. The Altar as Threshold

9. The Altar as Table

10. Holy Day

11. The Holy Day and the Sacred Hour

12. The Sacred Act

13. The Revelatory Word

14. The Executory Word

15. The Word of Praise

16. The Word of Entreaty

17. The Congregation and Injustice Rectified

18. The Congregation and the Church

19. Habit as a Hindrance

20. Sentimentality as a Hindrance

21. Human Nature as Hindrance

Part II: The Essence of the Mass

22. The Mass as Institution

23. The Mass as Memorial

24. The Memorial of the New Covenant

25. Reality

26. Time and Eternity

27. Mimicry or Liturgical Form

28. Christís Offering of Self

29. Encounter and Feast

30. Truth and the Eucharist

31. The Mass and the New Covenant

32. The Mass and Christís Return

Excerpt from Book:

What then do we mean by composure? As a rule, a manís attention is broken into a thousand fragments by the variety of things and persons about him. His mind is restless; his feelings seek objects that are constantly changing; his desires reach out for one thing after another; his will is captured by a thousand intentions, often conflicting. His is harried, torn, self-contradictory.

Composure works in the opposite direction, rescuing manís attention from the sundry objects holding it captive and restoring unity to his spirit.

It frees his mind from its many tempting claims and focuses it on one, the all-important. It calls the soul that is dispersed over myriad thoughts and desires, plans and intentions back to itself, re-establishing its depth.

. . . To a large extent man lives without depth, without a center, in superficiality and chance. No longer finding the essential within himself, he grabs at all sorts of stimulants and sensations; he enjoys them briefly, tires of them, recalls his own emptiness and demands new distractions.

. . . Composure is more than freedom from scattered impressions and occupations. It is something positive; it is life in its full depth and power. . . . Composure is the spiritual manís ďinhalation,Ē by which, from deep within, he collects his scattered self and returns to his center.