Thursday, April 07, 2011

New Roman Missal comparisons

Today I was looking online for information about the new editions of the Roman Missal. As I hope everyone knows by now, at the end of November, we'll all begin using the new, improved translation of the Mass in English-speaking countries. Hence new Missals for church and chapel and Mass kits.

Here's what I found, and I welcome input:

U.S. Bishops.

Both a "Ritual" and "chapel" edition, the latter being smaller.

At first I was suspicious, because I assumed this would be the same Catholic Book Publishing that currently produces so many ritual books for U.S. Catholic parishes--but it's not (see information on that outfit below).

All we can see so far is the cover (at right) and a few inside pages. My reaction? The cover looks OK, the interior art looks good. What I can see of the layout looks fine, but too little to judge. Price? It's $169, but with a 25% discount if ordered by June 30.

Liturgical Training Publications.

I have a ritual book from LTP, a bilingual ritual for visiting the sick. It's not bad, but could be laid out better. That makes me wonder if I'll have the same experience with a missal from LTP.

The cover is, to my mind, better looking (at left). The inside art? Well, it's by Matthew Alderman, whose stuff I like--but it's executed in black-and-red, while two other publications produced full color art. I am sorry to say I wasn't so keen on this artwork. At $175, the price is slightly higher than that of the bishops, and no discount--but some discounts can be negotiated.

Midwest Theological Forum.

OK, this is the one I really like. It comes in a "regal" edition with real leather and a fancy cover (who needs that?) and a "classic" edition that seems very similar, but faux leather and not as many bells and whistles.

I really like the art in this one, but when I showed it to other folks in the office, one liked the bishops' edition better for that. I also like this cover best, but again, one of my employees here didn't agree (at right).

How about price? Well, this is the highest: "classic" is $350; "regal" is $500.

Catholic Book Publishers.

Here's the company that produces so many of the books we currently use in parishes in the U.S. Sorry to say, I hate their books. The art in them is horrible, there is no imagination or style about them--these books seem to be published by people who have no romance or poetry in their hearts. Some will say, "who cares, they're serviceable"--these are the folks who are content with gruel if it's nutritious; who cares how it tastes or smells?

But, I thought, maybe they will step up their game; when I went to the bishops' site, I thought they had, till I realized it wasn't the same company. So what are they offering? Here's the image of their top-of-the-line edition:
I know, you're thinking, that's not bad--but that's their "regal" edition. Hint: the cover is almost exactly the same as what they're producing now. Upping their game? Not so much.

But wait, you say, let's look inside. I click on the link for inside pages, for typography and artwork--and what appears?

That's right--nothing (if you get it to work on your browser, let me know). I don't know if they have any artwork uploaded, but they haven't posted any details on features so far. Price is $159--but no discount mentioned.

And just to give you a treat, here's the cover of the "chapel" edition:
Impressive, isn't it?


Scott said...

Can't believe Catholic Book Publishing hasn't done a design makeover in all its decades of mediocrity. They must be hanging on to a special magic machine that does the shaky typefaces, the orange page edges, and the artless page layouts. Everything looks just the same, from my old brown St. Joseph Sunday Missal and Hymnal to my tattered Liturgy of the Hours books to this new missal. I'd love to see, hear, or read an interview with the people who run that outfit.

cecilz10 said...

I think that it is interesting to note that it is now to be called The Roman Missal instead of the pervious sacramentary. Do you know why this is Father?

Fr Martin Fox said...


Yes; it actually has always been the Missal in Latin: "missale romanum"; and before it began to be called a "sacramentary," circa 1970, that's what it was called.

I think the reason for the name change is this: prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Missal included both the Mass prayers and the readings; after the Council, with a much larger set of possible readings, separate books were needed: hence, a "sacramentary" for the Mass prayers and a "lectionary" for the readings.

FYI, "missal" derives from the Latin word for Mass: "missa"--hence "missale" I would guess roughly translates as "Mass book."

I don't really object to "sacramentary," but it isn't that great a name...(shrug).

Fr. Cory Sticha said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who dislikes Catholic Book Publishing. There is so much they could do, but seem unwilling or unable to do so. I have a copy of MTF's 2002 Missale Romanum, and have found it to be a very well constructed book. Like you, I'm leaning towards their missal, but I'm also interested to see what the Magnificat Missal will look like.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for the reminder about Magnificat's Missal; I want to see what they will have as well. It seems they are furthest behind, however, that's a concern.

Green said...

I love the changes. The more you see in what the Catholic Church does and why, the better the Church looks, despite the dissent and hand wringing of the guitar clown mass group. Love it. Now they need to make sure this is what you find at every mass in this country no matter where you attend mass.

archon1 said...

I was interested to read the well justified criticisms of the poor standard of design associated with the Catholic Book Pu. Co. I am pleased to learn that they are not representative of Catholic publishing in general. How sad and surprising it is that such a significant Catholic publisher should be locked into that really sterile time warp of '60s brutal' left behind by everyone else. Why dont the Bishops exercise some quality control and tell them to shape up?

When comparing Missals why not look at the uk edition (see CTScompass) I think they are streets ahead in quality than even the ezcellent Mid Western Theol Forum editions.

Emily said...

The Magnificat Preview is out. The Missal looks good, the same high-quality art and typesetting as one expects from them. The music typesetting seems a little so-so, but hardly a deal-breaker. The Missal Companion featured on the page looks fantastic. The commentaries are both informative and a bit poetic.

Emily said...

Regarding the comment about the UK editions, it occurs to me that the calendar and rubrics will differ somewhat from the US Missals, so that wouldn't really work out so well.