Good books on the Liturgy of the Mass?

I am a budding liturgist, and have a great desire to learn as much as I can about the Catholic liturgy, especially the Mass.
I have already compiled a small set of books, but am curious what others are out there and are good? Of course I can go to Amazon or some other site, and just type it in, but I better trust the opinions from posters here on the value and correctness of the books that I should read, as opposed to those that may be too ‘fluffy.’

Thank you in advance for any and all help given!

Books I have found well worth the read.

Springtime of the Liturgy - Lucien Deiss, CSSp
The Organic Development of the Liturgy - Alcuin Reid OSB
The Spirit of the Liturgy - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
The Spirit of the Liturgy - Romano Guardini,204,203,200.jpg

Fr. Michael Mueller’s The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has some very beautiful and accessible reflections on the nature of the Mass.

If you’re of a more traditional flavor, Fr. Jonathan Robinson’s The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backward examines the deleterious influence of certain Enlightenment and postmodern ideas on the Roman rite liturgy.

I echo the recommend of Ratzinger’s/Benedict’s The Spirit of the Liturgy.

When you say, “I am a budding liturgist”, what do you mean by ‘liturgist’? Where would you see this leading?

I am interested in knowing more about our liturgy. The mind of the Church, the history of where we have come from, what we have done, and where we are at this point. I am not looking at ‘trying’ or encouraging the implementation of anything new or incorrect.

I am trying to learn the right way to do things, and the reasons behind how and why we do (or should) be doing it the way we do. I have read the GIRM (USCCB), and also the Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite (Bp. Peter Elliott). I have reviewed Sacrosanctum Concilum from Vatican II, and am about to read The Spirit of the Liturgy (Pp. Benedict XVI). I was looking to find opinions from others on what they thought would be good to read with regard to our beautiful liturgy.

I am NOT trying to ‘lead’ in any way into an unorthodox discussion, or to set anyone up.

My pastor has asked that I help him with “filling out” our very basic liturgical practices in our parish. I have been tasked with organizing and training many of our liturgical ministers (EMofHCs, Altar Servers, Lectors, etc.) I am also deepening my own personal inquiry and discernment into a possible call to the diaconate. When I say ‘liturgist’ I mean one who understands and explains the liturgy with competence.


There is a new one on the Benedict XVI and the Roman Missal but I do not see it yet on the website.

The one by Romano Guardini is a favorite of mine, I can never stop suggesting it.

Another interesting one is the Mass of The Roman Rite by Jungmann.

In can give you two recommendations:

  1. *A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In the Mass *by Dr. Edward Sri (Ascension Press, 2011)
  2. The Bible and the Mass: The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy by Dr. Brant Pitre (Catholic Productions, 2009) Check Dr. Pitre’s website ( for a teaching outline for the course and ordering information.

Dr. Pitre’s Bible and the Mass is actually a 22-disc CD set of a seminary course which he has given. Accordiing to the notes on the CD set “as a bonus, Dr. Pitre also includes an in-depth lecture on liturgical aboses that have arisen in recent years, and the Vatican’s instructions on how to deal with them.”


I would recommend the works of Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB. He literally wrote the handbook that is used in liturgical studies. His main work has mostly been in the field of Inculturation, but he is great at explaining things with lots of great references. :slight_smile:

Amazon link:

A few liturgical classics is a must. Here are some from my library.

The Shape of the Liturgy - Dix
The Early Liturgy - Jungman
Mass of the Roman Rite - Jungman
The Bible and the Liturgy - Danielou

A few other useful books (Catholic and non-catholic liturgies)
Elements of Rite - Kavanagh
Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy - Fisher
Origins of the Litrugical Year - Talley
Study of Liturgy - Jones, Wainwright & Yarnold

Happy Reading. In addition, you should try to attend as many masses of different rites as is possible. And talk to the people there while you are at it.

The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger

I am a currently reading through this book, one of the books that have led me back to the fullness of the liturgy. I missed Mass. I can sit back and not be an observer but a participant now.

For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann

This is a great book but it is more on liturgical theology and spirituality. I think the OP is looking for something from a more practical or explanatory perspective. Also Schhmemann writes from an Eastern Orthodox perspective. Still it is a wonderful book.

Most of the above books are very academic. I read most of them in graduate school. Tally’s book is a killer. Anything written by Kavanagh is pretty accessible to someone getting started, but most of them are also more theological rather than practical.

I cannot recommend Fr. Fortescue’s book more! It is THE work on the Mass. I also enjoy all his other work and recommend both of the "Spirit of the Liturgy"s.
Hope this helps!

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