We will continue to observe how the new pew missals and hymnals are working. Soon after they arrived I heard that we need more ribbons for the missals, in order to set them at the beginning of Mass and not have to search through pages. So we ordered a ribbon supplement for each pew missal, which will add three ribbons to your missals. You will have a total of five ribbons for each missal. That way you can mark the readings for the day, the Simple Gradual antiphons for the day, the ordinary Mass parts in the gray-edged pages, the Mass setting (e.g., if we are doing a musical setting of the ordinary Mass parts contained in the Missal) and the section with devotional prayers before and after Mass.
I want to focus on that last suggestion: the prayers before and after Mass. Otherwise you might not realize that the missal has much to help you enter into Mass with a right mindset, and leave Mass, having done a proper thanksgiving. Consider the following that can be found in your pew missal:
-Prayers for preparation for Mass (by St. Ambrose and St. Thomas Aquinas), p.1000f
-Thanksgiving prayers after Mass (by St. Thomas Aquinas, and various others), p.1002ff
Then there are also pages to help you through the Sacrament of Penance:
-Sacrament of Penance (with an examination of conscience), p.1005ff.
-Formulas of Catholic doctrine to help with your preparation for Penance, p.1009ff.
-Prayers before Confession, p.1012ff.
-The actual Rite of Reconciliation, p.1015ff.
-Prayer after Confession, p.1018f.
-The Seven Penitential Psalms, p.1020ff.
Then you have a section of common prayers and litanies, beginning with the Sign of the Cross, Our Father and Hail Mary (p.1024) and continuing on through the Rosary (p.1011), the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (p.1032), various litanies (p.1034) and the Stations of the Cross (p.1040).
Finally you have the Rite for Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction (p.1056).
Please take a look at all these resources and see if they could be a help in your own approach to the Mass.
On another note, I want to wish all of you a most Blessed Christmas. How precious to us the fact that the Son of God took on human nature! Without this astounding condescension on the part of God, we would not have the Eucharist, and without the Eucharist, what would be sustaining the world? Where would we be finding our strength? To help us remember the connection between the Incarnation (the Son of God taking on human flesh) and the Eucharist, we are going to have a corporal put under the baby Jesus in our parish manger scenes. This is a pretty old tradition. The corporal is that cloth we unfold and put on the altar, just before the Eucharistic prayer. It is on the altar for the sake of catching any crumbs of the Eucharist that might fall. That way they can be handled reverently right after Mass. Special, reverent, handling is required because this is the Body of Christ. A corporal under the baby Jesus in the Christmas manger reminds us that this body is the Body He will give for us on Calvary, and in the Eucharist for our salvation.
Have a blessed Christmas!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,