Vol. XVII, No. 2
Encountering the Mystical Voice of Christ in the Mass
Reviewed by Helen Hull Hitchcock
Mystical Body – Mystical Voice
by Christopher Carstens and Douglas Martis. Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2011. (262 pages. $16.95).
Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass illustrates how the liturgy is enriched and the Church’s understanding of the Second Vatican Council is deepened through the translation of the Missal.
Co-authored by Father Douglas Martis, director of the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Chicago and Christopher Carstens, Director of the Office of Sacred Worship in the Diocese of La Crosse, the book approaches the new translation of the Roman Missal as a valuable vehicle for liturgical catechesis — that is, “mystagogy”.
The first section of the book offers a “Liturgical Primer” — beginning with the theology of the Trinity (“God Himself is Speech”), and exploring the sacramental nature of the liturgy, including signs and symbols. The chapter on the “use of words in the Church’s liturgy” prepares the way for Part II: “The Language of the Roman Missal”.
This second section systematically goes through the immediate background of the new translation, then in detail explains each part of the Mass. A final chapter, “Liturgical Catechesis for Active Participation” offers questions and answers to help parish leaders (and readers) deepen their understanding of the Mass. The book’s appendix also briefly outlines the translation process.
Mystical Body, Mystical Voice, wrote Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, “offers a clear, and yet theologically profound, exploration of the English translation of the [Missal].… The authors offer no mere explanation of the meaning of the words of the Mass. Rather, they succeed in forming the reader with a deep sensitivity to the supernatural reality of the Mass, made accessible through sacramental words and signs”.
In addition to publishing this very useful book, Father Martis and Chris Carstens have presented well-organized workshops in many dioceses to introduce the new Missal translation. These informative and very engagingly presented events, also called “Mystical Body, Mystical Voice”, have provided practical grounding in sacramental theology and the liturgical rites of the Church. The book furthers this cause: the purpose of the Sacred Liturgy is the glorification of God and the sanctification of humanity. To that end, the texts of the Mass are viewed in light of the Paschal Mystery and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
View these resources of the Liturgical Institute on the special “Mystical Body, Mystical Voice” web site: mysticalbodymysticalvoice.org.