In the period following the liturgical reform of Vatican Council II, the Church has suffered from the use of cheap and unattractive worship aids. The old adage, “Lex credendi, lex orandi,” can also be applied to our Liturgical books. Constant use of poor artwork and the “throw-away” Word of God in our seasonal missalettes speaks volumes about what others perceive we believe and forms the hearts and minds of our congregations. Pope Benedict XVI made the importance of beauty in the liturgy known clearly:
“Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. These considerations should make us realize the care which is needed, if the liturgical action is to reflect its innate splendor.” (Sacramentum Caritatis #35)
The new Saint Isaac Jogues Illuminated Missal, Lectionary, & Gradual [SIJM] will prove to be a major aid in the effort to beautify the celebration of the post-Vatican II liturgy, or what is officially termed the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. One of the biggest challenges is replacing the “much loved” missalettes. One wonders where to go for the readings and propers when purchasing a good hymnal. The SIJM is a viable solution.
My copy of the Missal arrived in shrink wrap to protect the cover. The cover is clean, uncluttered and dignified, a solid deep blue. Each Sunday contains the Entrance Chant, Gradual, Offertory and Communion chants in both Latin and English, thus making available to congregations the universal and normative language of the Roman liturgy. Most of the scriptural readings are broken down with a slash, to assist the reader in making important pauses in proclamation. The chants and readings begin with a larger letter, giving a solid definition point and the ability to scan quickly between chants and readings. The Responsorial Psalm is notated to assist the congregational singing and each verse is clearly marked.
The Missal is filled with beautiful artwork, strategically placed so as to highlight a liturgical season or feast. There are no chintzy stick figures, just beautiful, precise, and inspiring traditional Catholic woodcuts. The font is large and crisp enough to read.
The highlight of the Missal is the Ordo Missæ, or Order of the Mass. The pages are cream colored, with beautiful, full color line art and photographs portraying the various Mass parts. The fonts are also distinguished by various colors: headings are in green, parts of the Mass in red and basic text in black. The Roman Canon appears in both Latin and English, while the other three optional Eucharistic Prayers appear in English only. This section immediately brought to mind my mother’s old hand missal.
The Missal encompasses all Sundays, Holy Week, special solemnities, funerals, weddings, and the Confirmation. There is an appendix featuring the sequences for Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi, along with the Tract for Palm Sunday. At the very end of the Missal are the hymns and prayers for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and a congregational Mass setting in honor of St. Isaac Jogues.
This beautiful new Missal will be a great addition to any parish seeking to promote a greater sense of the sacred in its liturgical worship. Its production team includes members of Corpus Christi Watershed and the Church Music Association of America. The SIJ Missal comes with the approval of the USCCB and has the Imprimatur of Bishop Edward Slattery. It is sold and distributed Père Isaac Jogues Art Productions, LLC. I look forward to viewing both the St. Isaac Jogues Parish Hymnal and the St. Isaac Jogues Daily Mass Companion, both of which are currently in the works.
The SIJ Missal is available here.