Cardinal Donald Wuerl signs copies of his new book, "The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition," for Beth Garcia, a parishioner at Our Lady of Victory Church in Washington, and her children, Dominic, Faith and Joseph.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl signs copies of his new book, "The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition," for Beth Garcia, a parishioner at Our Lady of Victory Church in Washington, and her children, Dominic, Faith and Joseph.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl marked the Feb. 1 publication of his new book, "The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition," by hosting a book signing that day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

More than 100 people braved cold, wet winter weather and icy streets to have copies of their books signed by the cardinal, who co-wrote "The Mass" with Mike Aquilina. At one point, the line of people waiting to have their books signed snaked through the National Shrine bookstore toward Memorial Hall.

"Thank you for being interested in the book, but more importantly, thank you for being interested in the subject of the book," Cardinal Wuerl said. The three dozen people who started waiting in line about a half hour before the book signing was scheduled to begin greeted the cardinal's arrival with a round of applause.

"The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition," explains every facet of the liturgy. The authors say they wrote the book because while the Mass "is ever ancient and ever new ... it's time for us to take a fresh look, from where we sit now - and from where we stand and kneel."

Beth Garcia, a mother of three and a parishioner at Our Lady of Victory Church in Washington, said she wanted to have a copy of the book because "we're raising our kids in the faith, and its great for my husband and me to have a book like this."

"You find that the Church is like an onion - there is always another layer to peel away and more to discover," Garcia said. "Having Cardinal Wuerl's leadership guiding us is a great asset, a great help, to us as we pass on the faith to our kids."

Robert Polkiewicz, a parishioner at St. Mary of the Mills Parish in Laurel, also noted that he would share the book with his family.

"I'm on my faith journey, and I've been looking for a book like this for a long time," he said. "From what I've read so far, this is stuff I wish I knew when I was a kid, and it's something I'm going to share with my wife and kids."
Polkiewicz said he purchased the book, because "I don't want to just attend Mass anymore, I want to participate in it."

Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the National Shrine, said he was not surprised that people were looking to the book to learn more about the Mass.

"It has been well known for many years that Cardinal Wuerl is the consummate teaching bishop. His Eminence helps us along the path to holiness by helping us learn our faith and deepen our faith," the rector said. "Since the Mass is our highest form and most perfect prayer as Catholics, his book on the Mass helps us better understand that prayer and enter even more deeply into the Mass when we come to church on Sundays."

Victor David, a 19-year-old freshman at the Catholic University of America, waited in line to have his book signed because "I just love the way Cardinal Wuerl writes."

"He is a very wise, to-the-point man," David said. "How he explains things make a lot of sense to me."

Felicity Moran, a resident of Alexandria, said she wanted Cardinal Wuerl to sign her copy of "The Mass," because "I've enjoyed his work in the past, and I know I'll love this book."

"I'm not too old to keep learning about my faith," she noted.

Many of the people who came to see Cardinal Wuerl on Tuesday bought multiple copies of the book. Among them was Mike Hayes, a parishioner at St. Hugh of Grenoble Parish in Greenbelt. He said that he bought six copies to pass on to members of his family.

"It is good to be reminded just how important the Mass is. As he says in the book, 'This is who we are,' " Hayes said. "We don't want to be sedate or complacent in the pew. The Mass is something from Jesus until now that we've done every day. Through it, we're connected to the eternal."

Amy Maloney, manager of the National Shrine's shops, said people were asking for copies of "The Mass" even before its publication.

"There has been a huge amount of interest in the book," she said. "People have been coming in and calling looking for it, and we have about a dozen pre-orders."

The National Shrine reported that during the book signing, the book shop sold more than a copy a minute of the book, with more than 150 books sold in about 100 minutes.

Stephen Holowenzak, a retired professor at the University of Maryland and a parishioner at St. Michael Parish, Silver Spring, said his hope would be that people who read the book "have a more focused dimension to their faith life. I think this book is perfect for anyone who wants to celebrate the beautiful mysteries of the Mass."

"The Mass: The Glory, The Mystery, The Tradition," is available at the National Shrine book store, other local Catholic book sellers, and on-line. It is published by Doubleday and costs $21.99.