Pastor’s pages promote deeper understanding of Mass

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A West Valley pastor has a new way of reaching his ever-growing flock: on paper.

That’s right. A priest, who for more than 10 years has addressed the faithful from the pulpit, through a classroom white board, through social media and in front of the camera via his regular “Catholic Breakfast” YouTube series, is now a published author.

‘Getting More Out of Mass’

Fr. John Muir, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Avondale and associate director of the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy, tweeted this picture of himself holding a copy of his new book, “Getting More Out of Mass,” shortly after it was released.
(Courtesy of Fr. John Muir)
Author: Fr. John Muir
Publisher: Word Among Us
Length: 40 pages
Release Date: Jan. 1, 2018
Available at: bookstore.wau.org
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Fr. John Muir, pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale and associate director of the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy, released “Getting More Out of Mass” earlier this year. The Word Among Us publication has Life Teen’s Mark Hart as the editor. The Mesa resident introduces the 40-page booklet and its companion piece, “Getting More Out of Prayer” by Patricia Mitchell.

Each book is designed to introduce Catholics to “something more” about their faith in a way that’s approachable individually or in small parish groups. Questions for discussion and reflection appear at the end of each section — identified as “session” in the book.

“Consider this book your rock-climbing manual and its author your seasoned guide,” Hart wrote in the introduction. “Fr. John Muir is not only a skilled writer and trusted friend; he is a passionate priest of God and talented evangelist” with the “unique ability to make the mysterious known in easy-to-understand language.”

Fr. Muir described his book as something deeper than a pamphlet but more widely accessible than a theological volume.

“This book is an easy access point to the rich, underground cavern of the Mass,” said Fr. Muir, who was invited to be its author.

He estimated a reader could get through it in one or two sittings and emerge with a deeper understanding of the liturgy. Each section tackles one part of the Mass — introductory and concluding rites sandwiching the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist — with the first section setting the scene.

Related YouTube videos, available at wau.org/faithseries, also help guide readers. Fr. Muir said it’s another layer of taking by the hand a Catholic who wants to learn more but is afraid to ask or doesn’t know where to start.

“The experience for me has been very eye opening that the Church has this rich tradition — the Mass — and most Catholics don’t know it,” Fr. Muir said.

He wrote “Getting More Out of Mass” for a theoretical 55-year-old man from Boston and his friends. Those are the types of people, he said, who might know exactly what happens at Mass because they have attended for so long but may not know the reasoning and symbolism behind each movement. It may be their first venture into reading a Catholic book outside of the Bible. It’s Fr. Muir’s hope that his book inspires readers to open more detailed ones about the faith.

For now, it’s enough if readers simply think about their own Mass experiences as they read each section. By the final page, the Catholic should be prepared to participate in the next liturgy in a deeper way.

He described the introductory rites as God gathering His family home, “almost like a mother calling her children to come inside.” The Liturgy of the Word is a dialogue between the Lord and a person’s soul and the Liturgy of the Eucharist is a moment the people are “participating with Christ himself.”

For example, the offertory when a Massgoer brings the gifts to the priest isn’t simply a matter of logistics.

“These people represent you: they are carrying your gifts and sacrifices to the altar,” Fr. Muir wrote in the book. “When we give the essential stuff of our existence to Him, it signifies two things: thanks and trust. We are saying, ‘Thank You for Your goodness,’ and, ‘I trust Your
goodness.’”

That’s prime time to pray in the pew specifically about what the Catholic is offering to God at that Mass, he wrote. “Nothing is too small or trivial to be offered at the altar, to be transformed for His glory and our good.”

The concluding rites are “a transition into purpose and mission,” Fr. Muir said, not a signal that it’s time for donuts or punching out. “He’s giving an energizing mission and adventure. That’s where we receive our marching orders from the King Himself.”