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Archives Booklet penned to show mysticism of the Mass

February 27, 2019

By Darcy Fargo

KEENE – Noticing that many youth and young adults – including some who were baptized Catholics – were Mass Bookletgravitating toward concepts of eastern mysticism, Maura Hearden Fehlner, who has a doctorate in religious studies, wanted to help Catholics better understand the mysticism of the Mass.

“To Heaven and Back: Discover the Mystical Journey of the Mass,” a booklet, was born.

Fehlner said she was partly inspired to write the booklet after she and her husband, Deacon John Fehlner, attended a Convocation for Catholic Leaders with Bishop Terry R. LaValley and other diocesan leaders.

“There was a great deal of talk about how to reach the ‘nones’ – the people who identify as having no faith,” she said. “You reach them through relationship and witness. Perhaps the focus should be on the people who are in pews. They’re the ones who need to become holy and witness to others through their holiness and their lives, but they could use more background on faith. If you want to bring an appeal to mysticism and a method for becoming holy in one place, look at the liturgy. The Mass is where heaven meets earth, where we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with angels, where we meet our Lord, Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and consume his body and blood, soul and divinity. To me, it was a question of how to help people more deeply understand the Mass.

Even people who go every Sunday don’t know why we stand when we stand and kneel when we kneel, where the prayers come from, and why we do what we do.”

The booklet, around 50 pages in length, breaks the Mass into its component parts in chronological order, from preparing for Mass and dipping fingers in holy water to the Concluding Rites. The various parts of the Mass, movements and prayers are discussed in easy-to-read language.

“Everyone is so busy these days,” Fehlner said. “There are a lot of wonderful books about the Mass, but a lot of people don’t have time to sit and read several hundred pages. And often smaller pamphlets are set up in a dry question-and-answer format. I wanted to create a booklet – something short and easy to read, but filled with the mysticism and wonder of the Mass.”

Fehlner was aided in creating the book by her husband, Deacon Fehlner, who collaborated on the content and designed the layout for the booklet. Father John R. Yonkovig, pastor of St. Brendan’s Church in Keene and St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid, worked with the couple to secure photos of portions of the Mass. The booklet has received reviewed and received the Nihil Obstat from Father Douglas J. Lucia, episcopal vicar for Canonical Affairs, and the Imprimatur from Bishop LaValley.

“’To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.’ These words ascribed to St. Augustine aptly describe the mystical journey that Maura Hearden Fehlner takes us on in her most informative and inspiring work on the Eucharist,” wrote Bishop LaValley, in a message about the work. “The reader is able to discover how, in the Eucharist, ‘heaven is wedded to earth, and earth to heaven.’ In the process, one discovers again, the awesome gift of the Eucharist.”

The book was completed for first use with a Formation for Ministry class focused on the sacraments.

“The class became the deadline, and sort of a test market,” Fehlner said. “We created the first 30 booklets for that class, and it went over really well.”

The Fehlners say the book could be used by an individual looking to grow their understanding of the Mass or as a guided study program, as part of an RCIA curriculum or in a group setting. An audio CD of the booklet is also available.

“During the Mass itself, the amount of grace we receive is based – at least in part – on our receptivity,” said Deacon Fehlner. “I think a lot of people are missing out on the fullness of the graces because they don’t understand the fullness of what we’re doing. We don’t just walk into a church and drop into a pew. We prepare by dipping our hands in water and cleansing and blessing ourselves as we start our journey. It’s a journey to meet the Lord. God’s not going to force himself on you, though. If you’re not receptive, if you’re not open or if you’re distracted, you’re not going to get as much as you should. The goal is to open their eyes and their ears, so they can fully appreciate this and receive the graces they’re meant to receive, and the peace and happiness that go with that.”

The booklet is currently available by contacting Light of Truth, the couple’s ministry, and Deacon John Fehlner at (518)312-5636. The couple is charging a nominal fee to cover printing costs. Any amount raised that exceed printing costs will be used to support WCLP Catholic Radio, also a Light of Truth ministry.

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