My plan is to share, over time, pictures of the very best of these missals, to show the kind of care and artistry that used to be invested in books for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to rejoice in their wonderful aesthetic qualities (which ought to be imitated and revived), and to document this piece of liturgical history, which is quickly being forgotten as the decades inexorably pass by. My commentary will be minimal; the pictures can speak for themselves.
Today’s featured missal is a magnificent altar missal published in 1931 under the auspices of the Benedictine monastery of Maria Laach, which, as many will recognize, played an important role in the early phase of the Liturgical Movement. When we look at this missal, we see a number of noteworthy features. First, its artwork, though based on traditional models, is distinctively modern; it can be taken as an example of “the Other Modern.“ Second, the craftsmanship is impeccable, sturdy, meant to last for centuries. Third, the content of the missal, its age-old prayers, is treated with what might be called artistic reverence: initials are beautifully decorated, texts are laid out thoughtfully and proportionately, and the images, where they appear, are bold and refreshing. It shows the original Liturgical Movement’s deep love for the Church’s traditional liturgy — that is, the actual inheritance of our rite, instead of the thought experiments of innovators — and the desire to rediscover it, re-present it to a new generation as the treasure it is and will always be.
|The preface by Abbot Ildefons Herwegen|
 If one searches NLM archives with the keyword “other modern,” one can find many interesting articles about architecture, vestments, vessels, furnishings, and books.