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Os Justi Press

The Words of the Missal

The Words of the Missal

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All I want is that this book may help people to pray still better, and to love the Missal still better, so that what is old and familiar shall reveal new beauty and lovableness.

If you read St. John or St. Paul, you are almost sure to love their works, or at least some parts of them. But if you take real trouble to find out what exactly their 
words mean—Faith, for example; Justice; Fulness; Spirit; Light—their value begins to glow forth from within, and the page becomes transfigured and quite different from what it was before you took the pains to pause, compare, ponder, and to catch all manner of elusive shades and depths of meaning in such words. When you re-read those writers you will not any more have to spend time over such details, nor find yourself pulled up or committed to any complicated work, but the flow and the glory of the inspired pages will be a new thing for you.

Something similar can be done with the Roman Missal. The Latin words in the Missal at times float and waver, and require care before they perfectly yield up their sense. Others have so definitely "Latin" a flavour that it is very difficult to translate them exactly into English; still, the attempt should be made, along with a little explanation. Others may seem so ordinary that we might take them for granted and not notice some of the richer meaning that is theirs.

The method of this book, then, is quite simply to take a few of the words which come often in the Missal so as to be in a certain sense "favourite" words in the Liturgy, or else, other words that we might not notice; to collect several instances of their use (for isolated instances prove little; many exercise a cumulative effect); and then, to “worry” them until a kind of valuable juice of meaning is crushed out of them. Certainly no reader would be expected to attend to such details during Mass itself; but, having done it outside of Mass, he will find that Mass becomes full of added delight.

C.C. (Cyril Charlie) Martindale (1879–1963) was a Catholic priest, scholar, and writer, who, together with fellow Jesuit Martin D’Arcy, was among England’s foremost Catholics of the first half of the twentieth century. He kept up a correspondence with such figures as Ronald Knox, Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene.


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