Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus: An Introductory Latin Missal for Children
This summer, TAN Books published Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus: An Introductory Latin Missal for Children, illustrated by Adalee Hude (June 13, 2023). The slim hardcover edition is a mere 42 pages, with no page wasted. The book is beautifully illustrated with a medieval design and illuminated borders.
It offers the latest English translation in this traditional style Latin mass missile. Historically people carried their missiles to the church for mass with one side English one side Latin and followed along the mysterious smells and bells of the Latin mass now called the extraordinary form or the traditional Latin Mass.
It is somewhat remarkable that this book arrives on the scene two years after recent restrictions proposed by Pope Francis set forth by Pope Francis in a motu proprio Tradiciones Custodes. Despite restrictions people continue to find the mass of their choosing in most places as bishops have found alternative ways of following the new law or apply more by more pastoral approach, judging the needs of their flock, by permitting it to continue.
An visual teaching tool
Every aspect of this book is created as a teaching tool. Much like the mass itself, before the book even properly begins, on the cover pages you’ll find the steps a priest takes when vesting and the order of the procession.
Illustrations alternate between the face of the priest the view of the people, and display spiritual realities of what occurs in the mass beyond what we can see. It cuts down some of the more lengthy prayers and shows the postures by illustration only. The responses of the alter servers and people are included in Latin and English.
Following the flow of the mass, the tone of the illustrations change throughout as the mass itself leads to its climax from the quiet focus the consecration following the brilliant jubilation at the Sanctus.
A Visual Illustration of Spiritual Realities
The book communicates through its images such deep meanings of the mass like the communion of saints and the ties to history, the church militant, the church triumphant, and the church suffering. Again providing a gentle introduction to the ideas and tradition, in some places, it includes neume musical notation, which is how one will find Gregorian and other chants printed.
The communion page shows the words the priest speaks as he gives each person communion. Communicants illustrated are dressed from all times and places, another visual cue to a spiritual reality of the union the people of Christ enter into as they receive the Body of Christ.
Throughout the book itself the reader is treated to a subtle diversity like what one experience at the church itself, where people and their ancestors come from all over the world to worship in this one place, united not by a shout about the importance of diversity but through the one Christ in the Eucharist, brought about through the actions of the priest and the grace of God as he follows the commandment “Do this in memory of me.”
It’s a good book.
As an adult struggling to learn the Latin expressions but too lazy to get something for myself, it’s he sort of book that, I think to myself “Oh good, this is just what I needed. Perhaps I’ll read over my child’s shoulder.”
My upbringing was at a typical American Catholic Parish. The structure was built in the 1970s and so were the songs. The focus was a communal gathering where people could fully, actively, consciously participate through song and gesture.
Over the years as babies encroached on my ability to sing or stand, I struggled with this concept. Now as I wrangle toddlers and shush older children, the quiet solitude of the Latin mass drew me in. The action of the mass did not depend on my singing or standing, but took place apart from me, as I entered in, internally, to the spiritual reality before me.
Like every mass, there is something bigger than me there, only in this setting, it was more apparent and easier for me to focus when I could focus and orient myself to that central action.
Sanctus, Sanctus: An Introductory Latin Missal for Children reflects that reality. The same beauty I will to enter into during mass is on display in these pages directly connecting with we see or hear or feel or contemplate in the mass. It is a fitting integration of the way the spiritual reality breaks into the physical moment in time and space.
Will it make my children love the mass?
I did not let me children preview this book beforehand but pulled it out of my purse as mass began. My three year old was not interested. My seven year old thumbed through the pages and picked it up again when he grew bored. The 10 year old expressed delight when I showed him the words in the illuminated border were those we were reciting at that moment. I looked across our semi-circle church and saw another seven year old holding his copy.
Like most booklets for children, this will not be the magic volume that wakes them up to the beauty of the mass. But its one more tool that, with repetition, can create a fertile soil for when that moment comes, when Heaven touches earth and their hearts to the extraordinary reality before us.