Recommendation: Children's Book about the Mass
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,039
    image

    Yes, I’m recommending a newly-published children's book. I was shopping for a First Communion gift and decided on the book that is the subject of this post. Below is an informal review of the book; I wrote the review for someone else. I highly recommend that if you work in a Novus Ordo parish, you also buy and read this book, even though it's intended for kids. It teaches a lot about the Mass in a fresh and enjoyable way, and it provides an excellent, comprehensive explanation to understand what the Mass is, which understanding I find influences the music and texts that I select (or spurn) to be sung at and to beautify the Mass as worship. This book would also make a great gift for any Catholics you know with school-age children.

    Not only did I buy this as a gift, I bought another copy for myself! It’s that good, even though it’s a children’s book.

    If you order the book from the Sophia Institute Press website, use the coupon code “MADRID” to obtain a 30% discount off your total order. Shipping was a flat rate $5, no sales tax.

    You might forward this to your parish catechetical leaders and youth ministers, so they are aware of this excellent book too.

    I'll add that an Amazon reviewer stated that the Lego scenes of the Mass faithfully recreate the nave of St. John Cantius Church in Chicago.

    Informal review below…

    ---

    I was looking for a gift to give for First Communion. At a Catholic bookstore, I browsed through the book linked to below and decided to purchase it:

    The Holy Mass - Sophia Institute Press

    The book was published just in October of last year. At the product page, you can preview the first chapter of the book or so. The Amazon.com product page has more images of the book's pages that you can view.

    It’s a graphic novel (textbook, really) that features pictures of Lego people used to illustrate the Mass and biblical typology that foreshadowed the Mass. There are also about a dozen vignettes featuring what saints have taught about the Mass.

    I didn’t read the whole book in the store before buying it, but what I read in the store and later at home has been enough to convince me that this book is outstanding and would be a splendid resource for parents to have in their homes to read with or to their children. The photographs of the Lego Bible and Mass scenes are exquisitely detailed. It must have taken the authors forever to create this book.

    The catechesis and theology are solid. I think this book fills a niche need in the Church for something that would teach children about the Mass both itself and as the fulfillment of salvation history, but that isn’t watered-down kiddie VBS cartoon Catholicism. Parents who read this book with their kids will learn about the Mass too.

    The book is a bit above a second grader's comprehension level, but that’s alright because kids can grow into it and learn more upon several re-readings; it's good for a child to be challenged by a book and to have to reach up to understand it. I think it would be most suitable for children in grades 2-6, but even some high school students would find the presentation compelling and the content informative.

    Some minor things; not criticisms, but things to be aware of in the depiction of the Mass:

    1. The scenes of the Mass show the priest celebrating ad orientem at a high altar instead of versus populum, but that’s not a big deal. The explanation and citations are of the new Mass, not the pre-Conciliar Mass.
    2. The Lego priests wear fiddleback chasubles instead of Gothic, and they are sometimes shown wearing birettas. Again, not a big deal, but it is another example of the more traditionally-oriented presentation of the Mass in the book.
    3. Black is presented as a liturgical color. The book explains that it represents sorrow. As with the other things, not bad and not incorrect; just not the typical Catholic experience these days.
    4. Communion is given at an altar rail.

    I highly recommend this children’s book to you, and I would recommend it to all parents as something to read with and to their children at home so that both can learn about the Mass and the Bible and salvation history together. This book, if read by parents with their kids, could do a lot to revitalize the domestic church and parish life. I know what an enormous claim that is; I firmly believe it. This book is the best parent/child catechetical resource about the Mass and the Bible that I have ever seen.
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  • Mark,

    When I'm looking for First Holy Communion gifts (for grandchildren) this will be worth noting. Thank you.

    Now, to your comments:

    The scenes of the Mass show the priest celebrating ad orientem at a high altar instead of versus populum, but that’s not a big deal. The explanation and citations are of the new Mass, not the pre-Conciliar Mass.


    The book begins to lose its value when you say things like this: "Don't worry about the ad orientem posture: it's just a quirk of the book, but the book is about the real Mass."

    and

    Black is presented as a liturgical color


    This large-nosed, big-eared creature is presented as an elephant.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,039
    Update: here's a pic that shows a nave scene from the book. Those of you familiar with St. John Cantius can assess the Lego model's fidelity to the real church.

    image

    Chris, I wrote that informal review, which I reposted here for convenience rather than type something new tailored for this forum's audience, for a group of dedicated, suburban, Novus Ordo Mass-attending Catholic parents and catechists who have no experience with Mass celebrated ad orientem nor black chasubles, which is about 95% of Roman Catholics these days. The explanations about traditionalist elements in the book were intended to reassure them and persuade them that this is a book worth getting for them and their children. If I hadn't mentioned the traditionalist elements in the scenes depicting Mass that I did while recommending the book to them, they might have been taken aback upon purchasing and viewing the book because "that's not how Mass looks at my parish." Well, maybe one day Mass at your parish will look more like that, and a book like this can help promote and accomplish that.
    4032 x 3024 - 3M
    Thanked by 3Bri tomjaw LauraKaz
  • Mark,

    I take your point. I wouldn't have said the thing you said in the same way. I probably would have written something like this:

    "You will note, if you look very carefully, that the priest is facing the altar rather than the people. This represents the practice of the parish of St. John Cantius, in Chicago, because these Lego pictures are based on that church, but also show the practice of generations and generations of Catholics before the present time. Ask yourself why this might be."
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    I go with Mark that the way he commented this point is adequate for the large majority of the potential readers of his review.
    While evereyone over here immediately gets what point you make by
    also show the practice of generations and generations of Catholics before the present time. Ask yourself why this might be.
    ... the average Catholic may more probably conclude: "I guess that the authors want to indicate, but without openly saying so, that we should 'go back in time' to before V II."
  • Elmar,

    Ok, so try this:


    "Great saints, men and women such as St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Thomas More, St Joan of Arc, St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Francis of Assisi all knew the Mass this way, and it is still celebrated this way in some places."
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    Still more confusing than explanatory to those who have no deeper knowledge of the history of liturgy (in general, and of the history of 20th century liturgical reform in special). Like:
    Of course these saints knew the Mass the way that it was celebrated in their time; and I know that there are traditionalist parishes today - so what?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    1. The scenes of the Mass show the priest celebrating ad orientem at a high altar instead of versus populum, but that’s not a big deal. The explanation and citations are of the new Mass, not the pre-Conciliar Mass.
    2. The Lego priests wear fiddleback chasubles instead of Gothic, and they are sometimes shown wearing birettas. Again, not a big deal, but it is another example of the more traditionally-oriented presentation of the Mass in the book.
    3. Black is presented as a liturgical color. The book explains that it represents sorrow. As with the other things, not bad and not incorrect; just not the typical Catholic experience these days.
    4. Communion is given at an altar rail.
    our Holy Father says the NO and VO are NOT the same rite. That is why he’s discouraging anybody from attending the TLM. Therefore, it would be confusing to mix rubrics and rituals of the old with the new.
    And nobody putteth a piece of raw cloth unto an old garment. For it taketh away the fulness thereof from the garment, and there is made a greater rent [Matthew 9:16] 17 Neither do they put new wine into old bottles. Otherwise the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish. But new wine they put into new bottles: and both are preserved. Mattthew 9:16-17
    The way I see it the two rites should remain separate totally in every facet.
    Art. 1. The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. Pope Francis, Traditionis Custodes
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Mark,

    Is versus populum -- or, perhaps, versus contra Dominum intrinsic to the Missal of Paul VI?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    What is intrinsic to the Missal of Paul VI is that words addressed to the congregation - such as "Orate fratres, ut meum ac vestrun sacrificiun acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem" should be addressed audibly, visibly and completely to the congregation. Not to do that would be a serious perversion, and IMHO was a serious perversion imposed on the Missal of Pius V by SRC.
    Likewise the readings must be proclaimed to the congregation. But the rubrics of the NO have never required that the Canon of the Mass must be spoken versus populum, since the Canon is not addressed to the congregation. Since the Canon is spoken on our behalf by the priest celebrating the Mass, it is desirable that we hear the words.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    Not to do that would be a serious perversion, and IMHO was a serious perversion imposed on the Missal of Pius V by SRC.
    says who? A_f versus Paul V?

    And the NO people think TLM rubrics should be part of the NO??!!

    Aren’t we supposed to FOLLOW the pope(s) or are we promoting cafeteria catholicism?

    Can’t have it both ways people!
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    The assembled bishops of VII; it was a point that Abp Lefebvre was, I believe, keen to approve, but I do not have a confirmatory quote.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    “assembled bishops?” That don’t hold any weight.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    it was a point that Abp Lefebvre was, I believe, keen to approve,
    WHAT?!

    If he was suggesting an alteration it would not have anything to do with the NO.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    No it has nothing to do with the 1969 Missal, this is about the integrity of the 1570-1962 Missal. When the words of our liturgy are belied by the actions we are, and were, in a very bad place. As Superior General of his order (The Holy Ghost Fathers) Lefebvre was an enthusiast for the 1965 rubrics.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,778
    I’m not positive he was a “fan” so much as chose to cling to that which was the most recent and acceptably licit expression of the true rite. It was political to accept even recent reforms, to show that he wasn’t being deliberately antiquarian for the sake of being contrarian.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Hawkins,

    I picked up the (paraphrase) "Don't be worried by the wrong posture", when I asked about contra Dominum. The entire Mass seems to need to be said versus populum nowadays -- which you can demonstrate to a sensible person's satisfaction by proposing to face the altar for the Canon, or even to call it the Canon.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    The “propping up” of what is inevitably rotten becomes exponentially ludicrous as the years pass. My peace returns… Dust from sandals.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • davido
    Posts: 895
    What the heck does this thread have to do with the book?

    Sometimes you guys make this forum unreadable with the hairsplitting and squabbling
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    @davido

    The Split Hairs

    There are two colliding liturgical philosophies that revolve around the Roman Catholic praxis represented on this forum. And everything that we discuss, leans toward one or the other. You cannot divorce observing the presence of truth, goodness and beauty (or the lack thereof) [iconoclasm] from the realm of liturgy.

    On one side of this dichotomy, are those who believe that all aspects of art, music, implements, vestments and architecture are intrinsic to the very act of liturgy, and that that ultimate expression has been mined over the centuries and has been hewn in perfect expression in the traditional mass. (VO)

    Then there are those who believe that those aspects can be ever changing and ever new with no connection to the past, tradition, family, customs, documents, rubrics, and now even dogma (and the list goes on.) This is what’s born out in the new rite (NO). The far side of this equation lies in the faulty assumption that extravagance and tradition has no place in the liturgy of today. (the wasted ointment could have been sold, and the money given to the poor.)

    This erroneous view comes from the devaluation of the sacred, the family, the inheritance, the lineage, indeed the very fabric of society.

    We know that society rises from music. And we also know that music is the greatest art form of the liturgy, and tampering with these sacred things has resulted in global devastation.

    In my view of things concerning the book, the fact that the liturgy is represented in “Lego men” (plastic life) is somewhat of a desecration in itself. The fact that this book tries to amalgamate the old with the new is a falsity.

    I think this is a better choice of books to explain the Mass.

    https://b2c-cbp-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/pdfs/9780899428062.pdf

    So yes, there will always be tension in our discussions here because we are in the Star Wars. There is no neutral ground. There are only two forces at work… the realization of the kingdom of God or the destruction thereof.

    I think you will also agree that dialogue is of great value. Yes?

    I hope this helps you to better understand the serious nature of our plight.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    On one side of this dichotomy, are those who believe that all aspects of art, music, implements, vestments and architecture are intrinsic to the very act of liturgy, and that that ultimate expression has been mined over the centuries and has been hewn in perfect expression in the traditional mass. (VO)

    Then there are those who believe that those aspects can be ever changing and ever new with no connection to the past, tradition, family, customs, documents, rubrics, and now even dogma (and the list goes on.) This is what’s born out in the new rite (NO).
    What you spell out here is both 'side one': the "hermeneutic of rupture". Traditionalists and modernists only disagree on whether this perceived 'rupture' is bad or good.
    The real 'other side' in this dichotomy are the adherents of the "hermeneutic of continuity" (like popes Benedict XVI and Francis).
  • Elmar,

    That's an interesting point,
    What you spell out here is both 'side one': the "hermeneutic of rupture". Traditionalists and modernists only disagree on whether this perceived 'rupture' is bad or good.
    The real 'other side' in this dichotomy are the adherents of the "hermeneutic of continuity" (like popes Benedict XVI and Francis).

    but I think either you or I misunderstand Pope Francis if you think he and Pope Benedict take the same attitude toward liturgy and rupture.
    Thanked by 3francis Elmar LauraKaz
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    Side 1
    Benedict-neocon
    Francis-neomodernist

    They subscribe to Vatican II

    Side 2
    Trad

    They subscribe to what became before Vatican II

    I lived in the Lego book for 50 years. It’s like living on the front line of the Warzone. The worst part is that the children become the casualties.

    UPDATE

    You have to realize that i am the generation that spans the old with the new. After I’m gone, there won’t be many of us left… especially that represent the old school of sacred music. … willing to call a spade a spade, and keep history intact. Most of the bishops and representatives of music in the church are betrayers of the truth. Don’t succumb to the wolves.

    Yours truly in Jesus and Mary (and Joseph, who now is restrained)
    FK
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,778
    Sometimes you guys make this forum unreadable with the hairsplitting and squabbling
    fwiw, this is THE most sensitive forum I visit when it comes to people complaining about the natural turns that conversations take.

    The OP mentions the liturgical dichotomy, so… go figure, conversation veers to address that, as it’s a source of much discussion here.

    The entire Mass seems to need to be said versus populum nowadays
    our parish says all daily masses versus deum all year round. A parish nearby says all their Sunday masses that way, although I’ll readily admit that’s the exception to the rule. (Would that there be more exceptions!)
    Thanked by 2tomjaw LauraKaz
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    The entire Mass seems to need to be said versus populum nowadays
    our parish says all daily masses versus deum all year round
    Our former pastor was able to do both at once.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    What does versus deum mean? I imagine we all think God is everywhere, not located in a particular spot.
    I understand the current view is that during Mass the focus is on the altar as a symbol of Christ's presence, and that is why we dress it in linen, light it with candles, and venerate it with kisses. [I say the current view because I recall the earliest writers boasted that as Christians we have no altars.]
    Thanked by 2Elmar Liam
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    His Body is not everywhere. It is only in the tabernacle of the Catholic Churches around the world, or it is in the hands of the priest at the consecration.

    That’s it, baby!

    If we don’t have priests (who take care for matter, form and intent), we don’t have Jesus.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    His Body is not everywhere. It is only in the tabernacle of the Catholic Churches around the world,

    and the Eastern Orthodox churches. But you knew that already.

    Since people with really nothing to add on the topic of this thread are using it to ride their hobbyhorses, I am closing it. Later I may come back and delete all the irrelevant talk.
    Thanked by 2GerardH tomjaw
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Reopened:
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,778
    Mark, I was intrigued by your review, and I actually ordered the book, received it, and finally had a chance to peek at it just last night.

    I agree with you that it is a surprisingly well done book! Frankly, I'm astonished at the depth of what they attempt to cram in there, theologically speaking. While I have my internal struggles with the "language" — that is to say, the lego imagery — to depict such an august mystery, the fact remains, it is a "language" that my son will understand well, and be eager to devour (he will be 8 in October, but reads wayyyyy beyond his grade level).

    I think what intrigues me the most about this book is how well-integrated it is. Things like presenting images from the Mass on one side of the book, with images of the church triumphant/militant/suffering on the other to display how Mass affects the entire divine economy, etc. are surprisingly well conceived. Flashbacks to Old Testament prefigurements of New Testament rites is also very welcome. Presenting these familiar, yet unconnected (to a child) things really helps weave the tapestry together in a profound way.

    I'm grateful you pointed my attention to this book. I'm honestly impressed.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen MarkB
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,778
    I should also mention that I think there was (relative) restraint employed by the authors; that is to say, that while the legoy-ness certainly cannot be ignored, it does seem to me that the images were constructed in such a way that an attempt at an honest and non-cartoony depiction was the goal. Some of the lego figures have funny lego faces, but on the other hand, the depictions are surprisingly detailed and a very clear effort was made to make the images as accurate as possible, complete with little sewn vestments and birettas for the priests, little chalice veils, etc. etc.

    It is lego—there's no denying it—but it is also a clear attempt to use that medium to depict these realities in a non-joking, non-trivial way. To paraphrase St. Thomas Aquinas, the success of the reading will be received according to the mode of the reader, so YMMV, but I think it is earnestly worth considering, even if you are rather trad-oriented as I am. Perhaps it won't become a mass companion if you're very strict with your children, but they would still benefit from perusing it at home at the very least.

    As I was showing it to my wife last night, we both came to the conclusion that it would likely be a springboard for many healthy questions (read: opportunities for discussion!) from our son.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen MarkB
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,039
    ServiamScores, I'm delighted that you bought the book for your son and that you also realized very quickly what solid catechesis and theology about the Mass and biblical typology the book contains. Before I browsed the book, I would not have thought such substance about Catholic faith could be taught to kids using a graphic novel format (whether with Lego scenes or illustrations). As you pointed out, the juxtaposition of scenes from the Mass with scenes of their prefigurements in the Bible or other elements of Catholic faith is especially effective.

    And even though it is a book for children, I think high school students and adults can learn from and enjoy the book because the content is substantial, and the artwork is not childish or immature in its presentation. The detail in the Lego artwork is impressive and evokes some wonder and admiration. The authors did not cut corners in their graphic design or artwork; it must have taken an enormous amount of time to create and photograph and arrange the scenes in sequence. I think the Lego scenes are more effective and more captivating than cartoony illustrations more typical of children's books would have been.

    I have recommended the book to my choir members for themselves. I have recommended the book to other music directors and to catechists in my diocese. I have recommended that my pastor and deacons promote the book among families. I think it's a non-intimidating, inviting resource for many Catholics, young and old, to learn about the Mass, and I think if music directors who otherwise don't know much about the Mass read this book, they will understand better what Mass is, which should result in them realizing that some styles of music or texts are not suitable to be sung at Mass because they do a disservice to the gravitas of the Mass.

    I reiterate that if parents would read this book with or to their children at home, I think it would revitalize the domestic church. The book is an unparalleled tool for parents and children to learn together about the Mass, the Bible, Catholic faith, saints, and the Church. I cannot speak highly enough about the book, and I'm amazed and grateful that the authors created something so solid and successful.

    I hope it gets wide attention and racks up many purchases. The authors deserve it.

    The same authors also wrote another similarly conceived book that teaches about the sacraments. I have not viewed that one yet, although I have ordered it.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,731
    @MarkB
    The same authors also wrote another similarly conceived book that teaches about the sacraments. I have not viewed that one yet, although I have ordered it.


    My children have the earlier book on the Sacraments, they love it. I think it is quite good.
    https://www.catholictothemax.com/catholic-gifts/lego-catechism-of-the-seven-sacraments-hardcover-book/

    Although my children have this church to play with...
    https://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-lego-church-that-is-better-than-quite.html
    Thanked by 3MarkB CHGiffen Elmar
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    and the Eastern Orthodox churches. But you knew that already.

    I purposely stated "Catholic"... are not the EO included in that title? Correct me if I am wrong. (ps... I don't own a hobby horse)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Hi, Francis: the Catholic Church comprises Christians in communion with the Holy See. Hence yes for Eastern Catholics, but no regarding Eastern Orthodox.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    @chonak

    forgive my ignorance, I am confused on the point you are trying to bring forward.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    I was responding to your statement that our Lord's Body is present only in the tabernacles of Catholic churches. Since the Eastern Orthodox have valid sacraments, their churches also have Christ's Body reserved.