I got a package from my parents today, and laying right on top was a little black book about the size of my hand.  My Sunday Missal by Father Stedman, it says in red letters on the cover.  It was published in or around 1942, and most likely belonged to my Grand-uncle John, my paternal grandfather’s brother.  I never got to know my grandfather, but I do remember Uncle John from my childhood–and he was my godfather!  He may have had this little missal with him when he served in the military.

It’s a lovely little book.  It has the Order of the Mass in Latin, with the English translation on the facing pages.   Then it gives the prayers and scriptures for all the Sundays of the year and for Holy Days of Obligation, and finally assorted common prayers, all in English.  Throughout, it gives explanations of the Mass and tells how to participate fully and to live out the faith every day.  I can’t wait to really dig in and read it more fully!

This is such a wonderful gift!  Even if I never regularly attend a Tridentine Mass, I will always really appreciate the cultural and historical treasury of it.  It is my heritage, my patrimony.  Not just mine, but every Catholic’s.  It should remain with us and be cherished no matter what.  It’s not just some relic, it’s part of the way our own families have lived and worshiped.  It’s more precious than any material treasure we could inherit. And yet so many people today reject it and refuse to pass it on, eager to break from it and consign it to some murky past.

Fortunately, we have many people who are also trying to preserve it and pass it on–people like our Holy Father, as well as countless other clergy, religious, and laypeople.  In my own parish, one can attend a Tridentine Mass 6 days a week, led by a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).  I haven’t made it to one of these Masses yet, though I have been planning to.  Mainly, I am just happy that it is available to me.  It should be available to us all, and we should be grateful.

I am grateful to my grand-uncle and to my dad for holding on to this little missal.  I shall hold on to it too, and, God willing, pass it on to descendants of my own!