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Friday, 28 September 2012

Book review: Glenstal Sunday Missal

The monks of Glenstal Abbey in the Republic of Ireland have a fine tradition of publishing. On this blog I have mentioned Readings for the Seasons previously. Their Glenstal Book of Prayer and Glenstal Book of Icons are also excellent.
This hand Missal for Sundays and festivals (successor to the Glenstal Bible Missal) is quite simple. For every Mass of the three year cycle and the principal feasts (the holy days of obligation) the full text of the Mass and readings is provided using the Jerusalem Bible and the new translation of the Roman Missal. The additional features are short, one paragraph introductions to each reading. they are well written, factual, often summarising the reading but also providing additional context and teaching. Sometimes very short they provoke important thinking.On the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica the reading from Ezekiel is introduced in this rather profound way:
"We are becoming increasingly aware that the word 'Church' covers a mystery with many layers of meaning. One such basic layer is the Church as the temple of God from which a life-giving torrent pours forth incessantly."For each set of readings there are also verse references for 'Impulses for prayer' single verses or short passages extracted from the readings. Since the verse numbers are not given in the text a Bible would be needed to use them.
The most interesting feature are the 'Meditations' provided for each set of readings. These are short passages from Christian authors which further elucidate or enlighten the reader. they are selected from a good ecumenical group of writers including Esther de Waal, John Macquarrie, R.S. Thomas and Carol Ann Duffy. I shall certainly be referencing these for the notes on this blog. There is a definite monastic, well chewed quality to the variety of sources and texts chosen. If you are seeking a Sunday Missal and want something extra this is definitely worth buying. I am not sure what versions are available, the one I bought is green with gold lettering, gold edges to pages and a helpful five ribbon markers. The pages are well laid out with rubrics in red. There are no clip art or other illustrations and no additional prayers or texts other than those referred to.
For those of us who use the Revised Common Lectionary, especially in its Common Worship form (which is a very good improvement of the original Roman version) there are several occasions a year when a resource such as this Missal will not match our readings; but in fact these are relatively few and I would thoroughly recommend the Glenstal Sunday Missal.

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