(Mass) Journaling for Jesus
A new way to reflect upon and study Sunday Scriptures.
When Kassie Manning and Christie Peters were roommates at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, they went to Mass faithfully every Sunday, but they “were hungry for something more,” said Peters.
They joined a campuswide nondenominational Christian fellowship, where they learned not only a greater appreciation for the Bible, but in imitation of their Protestant brothers and sisters, they took up the practice of taking a journal to Mass and jotting down notes on the homily, the readings or anything that resonated deeply during the liturgy. They took this habit with them after they graduated in 2012 and took up their respective careers in the Houston area.
But the duo realized a blank journal doesn’t include Scripture. In order to refer to and highlight the Sunday readings, one needs a large missal or Bible, too. The delicate pages of a missal don’t stand up to underlining and notetaking, and space is limited. Plus, flipping between books during Mass can be cumbersome and distracting.
With all of this in mind, almost two years ago, Manning and Peters, who remained friends after college, voiced the same thought: “What if those two things — Sunday missal and journal — were combined into one volume?”
“We looked all over for a single-volume publication that combined the Sunday liturgical readings and had space for journaling and notetaking,” said Peters. “But we discovered that the product we wanted didn’t exist. So we asked one another, ‘What if we created it ourselves?’”
“Once we said it out loud,” said Manning, “we felt called to do it.”
Neither of them had any experience in business or publishing: Manning majored in Spanish and biology at Trinity and was working in health-care consulting. Peters majored in art and anthropology and was a full-time art teacher.
Yet, in August 2017, after several months of research and development, including the production of four prototypes of the journal, they launched the project on Kickstarter: the Every Sacred Sunday Mass journal.
Their goal was to raise $28,000 in 30 days so that they could print several hundred copies of the journal. The results far exceeded their expectations: “We raised $28,000 in 12 hours,” said Peters. During the 30-day Kickstarter campaign, they raised enough money for a first print run of 5,000 copies.
They credit this astonishing success to a combination of exhaustive research, meticulous preparation and energetic word-of-mouth promotion on social media — and the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We feel like this is the Holy Spirit’s project,” said Peters. “The book is filling a space that hadn’t been filled, and he gave it to us to be his hands and feet to bring it into the world.”
The Mass journal contains all of the Sunday readings for the year, beginning with Advent, and is formatted with plenty of space for notes, prayer requests and a spiritual action plan called “Going Forth.” The pages are sturdy enough for highlighting and vigorous writing and also color-coded according to the liturgical seasons.
Amy Malone, a project manager in Houston — and childhood friend of Peters — purchased the Mass journal last year.
“Missa est means ‘you are sent,’” she said. “It’s hard to be sent when you leave Mass with no plan.” The Mass journal provides Catholics with a structured way to bring the blessings of the Mass into the week ahead, “so that you can really receive the richness Jesus want to give you.”
Amy’s husband, Bryan, is a recent convert to Catholicism from a nondenominational Protestant church. “Bringing a Bible and taking notes in church was something I was already comfortable with,” he said, “but the Mass journal really helped me learn how to worship as a Catholic. It’s practical as well as beautiful.”
Jen Bartley, mother of four and youth-ministry coordinator at Holy Trinity Church in Westmont, Illinois, finds the journal most fruitful for Mass preparation. She describes the Mass journal as “a sacred space to spend special time with God in the Scriptures.”
“We were hungry for this,” said Peters, who painted the watercolor illustrations throughout the book. “It’s clear that many, many other Catholics are hungry for the same thing.”
Manning agrees. Many Catholics purchase a copy for themselves and additional copies as gifts. “People are on fire to share something that will help them grow in their faith.”
Clare Walker writes from
The new edition of the Mass journal released Nov. 15, in time for the beginning of the new liturgical year, starting with the first week of Advent. Available at EverySacredSunday.com.