New book by Father Bausch offers fresh look at why Mass matters
By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
For decades, Father William J. Bausch has been a noted homilist, storyteller and prolific author of more than 30 books, sharing his experiences and observations as a parish pastor and as a retired priest.
In his new book, “Mass Matters: Reflections of a Parish Priest,” Father Bausch revisits topics he has often written about – the Sacraments, the liturgical year, organizations and activities at the center of parish life – in a 21st century framework.
Without shying away from contemporary circumstances facing society and the Church, the slim, soft-cover volume – out from Clear Faith Publishers, Lakewood, for $15 – makes for a compelling read. In 16 chapters and 131 pages, Father Bausch invites the faithful to become, as he so aptly puts it, “more intentional Catholics, thereby seeding the future.”
Father Bausch was born in Jamesburg in 1929 and prepared for the priesthood in St. Charles College, Catonsville, Md., and St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. He was ordained in 1955 in Trenton’s St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral by Bishop George W. Ahr. He served as parochial vicar in St. Mary Parish, Middletown; St. Joseph Parish, Keyport; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade, and St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel. For 23 years, he was pastor of St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck.
Father Bausch envisions his readers as those who are curious, interested in remaining Catholic or who want “a fresh look at what attending Mass should be, could be like … activists and ministry people who, in cooperation with their pastors, want to make the parish better and more appealing.”
Those familiar with the insights Father Bausch shared in earlier works such as “The Hands-On Parish: Reflections and Suggestions for Fostering Community,” “The Parish of the Next Millennium” and the award-winning “The Total Parish Manual: Everything You Need to Empower Your Faith Community,” should warm to the suggestions offered for enhancing parish life throughout “Mass Matters.”
In the book, he focuses on the need to create a warm and welcoming sensibility in the parish that will encourage folks to attend the liturgy. The atmosphere should be compelling enough, he wrote, to obliterate the commotion of modern life – intrusive conversation, Smartphone interruptions and the like – replacing it with “the proper humility, silence and reverence” often lacking today.
Statistics, demographic realities and societal trends are an integral and important part of the book, offering in easy-to-grasp form the reasons why church participation is declining. Those cited include: the ongoing sexual abuse scandal, the growing shortage of priests and the increasing encroachment of secular philosophy affecting all generations.
It is Father Bausch’s hope that parishes interested in “refreshing and recalculating” their appeal or effectiveness will use “Mass Matters” as “a template for discussion.”
The book begins with the history of the Mass, its importance and impact. The second part of the book offers essential guidelines for building a strong community. The book concludes with challenges that must be overcome to accomplish that aim.
Each chapter is followed by discussion questions designed to stimulate conversation. There are also pastoral suggestions, an idea taken from his book, “The Total Parish Manual.” These, he wrote, do not necessarily relate to the chapter but are offered as things that promote the parish community.[[In-content Ad]]