By Fr. CLIFFORD HOWELL, S.J.
BEFORE MASS, by Romano Guardini (Longmans, Ks. 6d.).
HERE is a hook which is small in size but great in content. It is not easy reading but those who know other works by the same author will gladly undertake the intellectual effort needed to savour the profundity of his reflections and the beauty of his thoughts. He goes down deep below the surface of things and extracts the innermost meaning from actions and words normally passed over with little or no attention.
In the first part of the book the author considers certain fundamental attitudes of mind and will which we ought to have even before the Mass begins if we are to contribute to God's glory and derive profit for our souls to the utmost possible extent. We must have a stillness of soul, a receptivity of mind and a composure of will too often lacking in those who come to Mass direct from the turmoil of this world. We must exercise ourselves first in conscious recollection. Only thus can we overcome the hindrances that arise from habit, from sentimentality and other defects of human nature.
In the second part the author treats of certain fundamental aspects of the Mass itself. He gives due prominence to the fact that the Mass, besides being a sacrifice, is a memorial of Christ-both of His Person and of His redemptive work. Particularly fine are the chapters dealing with the meaning and implications of the New Covenant commemorated and ever renewed in the sacred action, and of the relationship of the Mass to the Second Coming of Christ. The whole book is pervaded by that spirit of deep piety and sound scholarship which characterise all the works of Romano Guardini.