Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Changing for Good

One of our IT technicians told me that when people ask him where he works, he tells them tongue in cheek that he’s at a facility that “produces missals.” He never spells it for them, so he leaves them thinking we manufacture the kind that go “boom.” Since they know he used to be employed at Lockheed Martin, they’re usually unfazed.

Click here to see inside.
Anybody who knows a little about our publishing history also knows that we’ve always printed a missal, or “Mass book for the people in the pew.” Even when liturgists thumbed their noses at the notion, we kept at it, and not because the books were among our best sellers. (OK, so don’t believe me.) Growing awareness about various learning styles vindicated the use of an aid for visual learners, and society’s increased willingness to accommodate the hearing impaired made more people sensitive to their needs when shopping for a gift. Sure, the Sunday missalettes met that need, but they were never intended to be a permanent fixture at Eucharistic celebrations. Plus, without commenting on the usual condition of what most churches had available, we saw a real benefit in turning out an edition, at least for weekdays, that was worthy of what people went to church for. Besides, we knew from our contact with those we met in our book and media centers, or at parish displays, or on days of door-to-door evangelization that we weren’t the only ones who used the readings of the day to meditate with, or at least to prepare for Mass ahead of time.

Click here to see inside.
Both missals come in
black or burgundy.
The on-again, off-again pace in liturgical revisions over the past ten years kept our Mass book publishing in a holding pattern. We still met people’s needs with the Millennium Edition of our Vatican II Sunday and weekday missals, knowing that permanent changes were in the offing. Catholic Book Publishing in New Jersey did the same with its St. Joseph’s Missals, and Scepter Press came out with a pricey, but beautiful Daily Roman Missal. Suddenly two years ago, “air traffic control” at the Church’s liturgical offices approved the revised texts which would be implemented by Advent 2011, and three weeks ago Pauline Books & Media (PBM) came in for a landing with our new St. Paul Sunday Missal and St. Paul Daily Missal, which contains both Sundays and weekdays.

That’s good news. So is the reception they’re getting: they’re being distributed even faster than we anticipated. With their handy size, their imitation leather binding, and burnished gold edging, all at an affordable price, they’re irresistible! Our PBM centers and the other book stores we supply watch them roll in the back door, then roll out the front, sometimes in a matter of days. Three days after receiving its missals, PBM San Diego sold out of the “Dailies”—50 copies—and manager Josie Stanley had to reorder. “It’s worth waiting for,” she says. “[People] really like the look of the missal, especially the daily one. But the majority are just happy that they’re here.”
Josie Stanley

Chicago’s PBM sales associate Juan Villegas echoes Josie’s observations: “People were really anxious to get it since Advent. But they were very patient and they were really excited when we got them in.” Despite a few larger orders, Chicago still has “a pretty good stock.” A community of sisters ordered fifteen copies. Church groups have been requesting twelve or fifteen copies at a time—mostly Dailies. As in San Diego, those Daily missals are a favorite here too. Several people, though, apparently accustomed to the previous Sunday and weekday missal combo, are still buying both, even though they realize that now the Daily also contains Sundays. Juan explains, “They keep the Daily at home and take the Sunday to church because it’s lighter.” One person noticed that the calendar goes only to 2017, but was reassured that the missal would be just as serviceable even afterward. If history repeats itself, PBM will no doubt print a calendar insert for subsequent years.

In New Orleans (Metairie), Sr. Laura Rhoderica says that “people are extremely pleased. When the missals came in, Linda shipped them out to those who had them on back order. They were so pleased when they received them, that they called in a second order. They like how beautiful and lightweight they are. A lot of people go to daily Mass here, so the Daily has been a better seller than the Sunday. It’s economical too.”

As you can imagine, Boston has all it can do to keep these places supplied. We’ve already moved 84% of the Sundays and 96% of the Dailies out of our Boston warehouse. We’ve now begun the process to get in our second printing of 10,000 daily missals, hopefully due in late spring.

A man called Order Entry the day after receiving his Sunday missal. “It’s just beautiful! My wife saw it and now she wants one.” The PBM Web store was literally inundated with new orders, in addition to the scores of back orders it had already processed.

Three weeks ago in Hopkinton, famed as the starting point of the Boston Marathon, I assisted at a parish display, four days after the missals had arrived from the printer. Seventy-five copies flew off the tables. Of course it didn’t hurt that the pastor gave it a ringing endorsement. So did the permanent deacon. Not at all timid, he positioned himself with us behind our U-shaped table arrangement, held up his own copy of the Sunday Missal, and called out to parishioners, “Secret words and secret handshakes right here, people! Secret words and secret handshakes!” That’s it—Your Guide to the Catholic Underground. Papal Rites for the Uninitiated.... Good thing parishioners know him.

Sr. Margaret Tapang, PDDM
Underpinning all the activity, though, runs a deeply held conviction among us that this liturgical focus is connected to who we are as Paulines. As you may have read in last week’s Pauline Faithways post, “Meet St. Paul’s Family, Sr. Margaret Tapang, a Pious Disciple of the Divine Master (the second women’s branch of the Pauline Family), gave a presentation on Bl. James Alberione and the liturgy. Basing herself on the Gospel of the day about the Jesus cleansing the Temple, she made the following points:
“The new temple is the risen Body of Christ, and we are the ‘living stones’ built into that temple. Blessed James Alberione is a beautiful piece of ‘living stone’ in the Church-temple. He is what he is, because he had experienced the abundant riches of divine grace. The peak experiences of his life were before the Eucharist. We think right away of how the Pauline Family was born from his prayer before the Eucharist.

“Bl. Alberione is also an apostle of the liturgy. He wrote that the liturgy should be lived in its threefold reality: dogma, morals, and worship. The liturgy is the ‘book of truth, morals, and prayer.’ For example, in the liturgy, the Church lays out, in the course of the year, the basic truths of faith. It is a ‘book of morals’ because it reminds us of Christ’s holy commands, his virtues, and the means of salvation. Finally, it’s a ‘book of prayer,’ the most powerful prayer, because it is the prayer of the Church—the prayer of everyone. So, in the liturgy we have the total Christ, Way, Truth, and Life. In addition, the liturgy of the Church wants to bring the entire person to God: mind, will, and heart. There is to be no false and fragmented liturgy—praying with the Church, then living contrary to what we have just prayed. 
Pope examines new African FSP altar missal, Benin.
“Bl. Alberione believed that the continuous ‘de-Christianization’ of life, art, thinking, etc. comes from a lack of liturgical-biblical oxygen. Moreover, the separation of the Bible and liturgy gave way to painful consequences. He insisted on the necessity of the Bible for people. The people of today hunger for the Word of God. Without the Bible, the liturgy would not mean anything to people; much less could they give glory or make a conscious prayer. The Pauline Family’s tremendous response has come from the Society of St. Paul with its publications, the Daughters of St. Paul through its biblical-liturgical apostolate (Here I think of their edition of Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours—a masterpiece), the lectio divina of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master on the Internet, Fr. Tom Fogarty’s Holy Family Institute Concord, and the Pauline Cooperators’ Sambuhay, or life in worship! 
“This lectio divina on the Internet is a pastoral tool. Aware that the Internet is a new forum for proclaiming the Gospel, the Pious Disciples inaugurated on their Web site the pastoral tool 'Breaking the Bread of the Word: A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy’ . The Pious Disciples also carry out a ministry of reparation and intercession for the mass media. Deeply aware of how radically the mass media shape the culture and mentality of the people today and how the correct use of the media can lead to a genuine inculturation of the Gospel, the Pious Disciples live more intensely their ministry of reparation, oblation, and intercession concerning this means.”
However and wherever we accept the invitation to celebrate the sacraments, we see in that action of ours and of the whole Church the font of our own life and the life of those we serve. Father Alberione used to tell us that our mission would not be complete until it brought people to the sacraments. More than anything else, that makes our missal news good.

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