You probably noticed that in the topic I called this a reflection, not a book review. My purpose is to share with you how this book touched me. I will leave a real book review to those more skilled in the process, like Pete Socks from Catholic Stand. To begin with, you must know that I absolutely love the mass. I am a daily communicant and I believe that the mass is the “source and summit” of my faith. When I saw this book I immediately pre-ordered it. I highly respect Timothy P. O’Malley as an author and he was writing about a topic that was dear to my heart. I did worry about the first part of the title, BORED AGAIN CATHOLIC. I saw it as a cute spin on “born again” but I never considered the mass boring. The second part of the title was more to my liking, HOW THE MASS COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE. I know this statement to be true.
From the very beginning I saw what Timothy P. O’Malley was getting at in looking at the “boredom” of the mass. He shows how there is good boredom and bad boredom. The good boredom is the space where you can allow God to work. In it we can ponder on the wonders of God at work in the mass. The bad boredom is really a time where we allow ourselves unhealthy distractions from what God is doing. The author gives great examples of good boredom and bad boredom. He really makes you think about how the mind and its thought processes can lift you up spiritually. There is no doubt that the author has a great love for the mass and for liturgy in general. I see a lot of myself in him.
The book takes just about every part of the mass and applies personal stories, as well as scripture and quotes from theologians, Saints, Popes etc. and creates a space for your own personal reflections. It even includes questions at the end of each chapter to help you reflect on what was just given to you. Some of the questions even challenge you to actions that will help you in better understanding the gift of the mass and liturgy. I cannot think of any adult or teen that wouldn’t learn and grow by reading this book. Whether you are a seasoned Catholic, or a new Catholic, this book is for you. I can also see that it could be used to help non-Catholics better understand the mass (and hopefully decide that they too need the mass).
As I said earlier, I am a daily communicant who really loves the mass. This book gave me some new insights in to the mass and liturgy, even though I have been doing this since I became Catholic in 1973. It gave me a better appreciation for the signs used in the mass. His discussion of how when his mind might wander and then get caught up in the smoke rising from the incense in to the light of the sun made me better appreciate the use of incense (which we really do not use enough). I loved the author’s suggestion of how we really should enshrine THE BOOK in our homes. For many years we always kept a large bible open in a prominent area of our living room. Somehow we got away from this. I now plan on starting doing this again.
I really loved the chapter dealing with the homily. As a person who often does both weekday and Sunday homilies, I was moved by what Dr. O’Malley said. He recalled how one day he took his toddler to the back of the Church because the toddler was fussy. He admitted that he himself was fussy because the homily was not on target and was too long. He recalled that the homily was not on target because it did not connect to the Gospel. It was filled with too many personal stories. Now, I have no problem with some personal stories, but I realize that everything that I say during a homily must connect to God’s word. I recalled what was said to me by the Bishop who was ordaining me. He handed me a book of the Gospels and said, “Believe what you read, Teach what you believe, and Practice what you teach”. I actually keep a small plaque on my desk saying this so that I always remember what being a deacon is all about. We too often hear that the Catholic Church suffers from poor homilies. Actually, I have been lucky that the bishops and priests and deacons that I have been exposed to usually give great homilies. This book inspired me to be better in my preaching. It also reinforced my love of liturgy and the mass. I know that I could tell you more, but I really believe that the best thing that I can tell you is to go out and get the book and read it. Actually, don’t just read it, ponder it. God is so good. Thank you Dr. Timothy P. O’Malley for this gem.