Sometimes, I buy books and then I forget I have them. Luckily, I remembered this one just as we were heading out the door for our mini-vacation. I had picked it up at the bookstore at the Carmelite Monastery back in December and then never got around to reading it. Written by the late Msgr. George J. Moorman, The Latin Mass Explained is a must for anyone who simply wants to understand the Mass better, regardless of the form. However, I think after reading this little gem, you will want to question, as I did, how we ever got from the Mass Msgr. Moorman celebrated to where we are today.
What I found most fascinating about The Latin Mass Explained is that it was originally written decades before Vatican II. Msgr Moorman provides such sound explanations for the use of Latin that it makes me wonder if he anticipated the criticisms that would come later, or if perhaps there was a long-standing attempt to have the Mass said in the vernacular. Even more compelling were his explanations for why an altar is used, the significance of the priest's gestures and the vestments that he wears, and why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was meant to be celebrated ad orientem.
Msgr. Moorman reinforces throughout the book that the Mass is rightfully called a sacrifice, and he references the rituals throughout the Bible that accompany sacrifice.
For those who are new to the Traditional Latin Mass or who are contemplating going to their first TLM, I highly recommend this book. Msgr. Moorman even includes an outline of when to sit, stand and kneel, for those who are concerned about adopting the correct gestures. However, even if you never have any intention of ever setting foot inside a church for the TLM, you should still read this book so that you, too, can gain a new-found appreciation for the Sacred Mysteries that take place on our altars in our churches and which too many of us have taken for granted.