I recently finished the book History of the Mass by Robert Cabie and translated by Lawrence J. Johnson. I highly recommend this book to people who want to learn more about our mass and it's roots in history and tradition. This book cannot be completely divorced from Mike Aquilina's wonderful work "The Mass of the Early Christians" because there are a lot of similarities. Mike's book I would suggest for those who are interested in Apologetics, while Cabie's book is better for a straight up history and for your own benefit. "Early Christians" also deals almost exclusively with the first 300 years or so of the Mass (33-400 A.D) while Cabie's breaks down each time period from the the scriptural evidence on to today.
One of the highlights is his discussion of various incidents in the Bible and how they related to the liturgy of the early Church. Another is his exhaustive look at various writings over the last 2000 years and how they described the mass at the time they were living, from the Didache, Pliny the Younger, and St. Justin Martyr on to Vatican II documents. Probably one thing I realized while reading this book (and this book may come off as being apologetic about Vatican II), but many of the changes in the Novus Ordo took us back to the early Church and how they practiced the liturgy.
Probably the biggest problem is that Cabie at times tends to look down upon some changes in the mass (Priest with his back to the parish, the fact that at times in history certain laity did not take the Eucharist every Sunday, etc.) Unfortunately, I would have to say that he presents only the negative side of these developments and ignores some of their positive attributes.
ASK FATHER: What is a “privileged altar”? - From a reader… QUAERITUR: I’ve occasionally seen high altars inscribed with the phrase, “altare privilegiatum.” 1) What does (did?) this mean and how did a...
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