“Lex orandi, lex credendi.” (“As we pray, so we believe.”) —An ancient Christian motto
For the first decade of my life as a Catholic (I grew up Calvinist and needed to undergo about four major conversions until I made it home to Rome at age 21), I had an awe-inspired love for the Latin Mass. I was pleasantly clueless about the “politics” that surround the Traddies vs. the Novus Ordo-ies (ok, I made up that last term, but you get the gist). I had absolutely no idea what a spectacular liturgical bombshell Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 motu proprio summorum pontificum was. I was just irresistibly, dare I say, naively, drawn to the Extraordinary Form. To me, it was the complete opposite of Calvinism, which was incredibly charming to my prodigal soul. I'd roam over to FSSP parishes whenever I got the chance, drilled myself in Ecclesiastical Latin just for kicks, and sported a mantilla when I had riled up enough nerve to do so. I wasn't exactly a “rad-Trad,” but I definitely watched them with a twinge of envy and admiration, though from afar. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass fed me when I was hungry for God, and I had to believe God was pleased when I grazed on the luscious spiritual pastures I found therein. It was a beautiful exchange. And yet, something critical was amiss in my comprehension of the Latin Mass.
Last summer, I began reading Noble Beautyby Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a prolific author, speaker and founding member of Wyoming Catholic College. Three-fourths of the way through the jewel-weed of its texts, I was a seriously different woman. And of course, a more authentically Catholic one. As I watched the book bring to life the true story behind the Extraordinary Form, I began to understand its place in the Church. Mother Church – so, so fantastically close to Christ's Heart – and yet, so jangled and roughed up by confusion, so singed by fireworks of heresy and scandal – was being rescued by the resurgence of the Latin Mass. The wondrous, contemplative depth of the Extraordinary Form, with its spectacular charm and spiritual charisma, has become a lifeboat for us roaming Catholics, lost at sea.
All throughout Noble Beauty, Dr. Kwasniewski reveals to us why the modern world truly does need the Mass of the Ages – perhaps more now, actually, than ever. Firstly, he opens with a chapter titled, “Why the New Evangelization Needs the Old Mass.” Points covered in this chapter expound upon the following claim he made in his preceding book, Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, “The New Evangelization will stand or fall on the strength of authentic liturgical renewal, and this renewal will stand or fall depending on whether or not it is rooted in the traditional Latin Mass as an immense good in itself and as a constant point of reference for the modern form...”
Following chapters of Noble Beauty cover the topics such as: the preeminence of sacred tradition in the liturgy, the New Liturgical Movement as urgent care for a sick Church, and how the Usus Antiquior elicits superior participation (contrary to popular belief). He also discusses the resounding, interior peace that the Low Mass lends to the soul, as well as grace-filled glory the High Mass has to offer. Appealing to Our Lady, Queen of the Liturgy, he also does a uniquely powerful comparison between the Holy Rosary and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
“The traditional liturgy, like the Rosary, never tires of recalling the memory and invoking the intercession of the all-glorious Mother of God and Lord, Jesus Christ.... Hail, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary! Hail, Our Lady of Victories! Pray for us in this vale of tears, and obtain from Thy Son the longed-for restoration of the great and beautiful liturgy of the Roman Church. Amen.”
In 1988, there were only about 20 places in the United States where you could find a traditional Latin Mass being offered on Sundays. Now there are well over 500 and counting, and the average age of Catholics attending the Latin Masses is much younger than those attending the Novus Ordo rite.
As Dr. Kwasniewski reminds us in Noble Beauty, “It all comes back to the motu proprio: are we willing or unwilling to embrace it? 'He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches,' (Rev. 2:7).” Fr. Zuhlsdorf, President of Tridentine Mass Society of Madison, and a popular blogger known as “Fr. Z,” haunts us beautifully with his famous slogan, “Save the Liturgy, Save the World.” How important is it to us to help save the world, and the Church?
A Prayer for the Traditional Movement
Lord, remember in Thy Kingdom,
all religious, clergy, and laity throughout the world,
who are dedicated to the Usus Antiquior.
Bless us, govern us, defend us, purify us, and multiply us
for the good of souls, for the restoration of Thy Church,
and for the glory of Thy Holy Name.