REVIEW – Peter Kwasniewski’s new book: Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages

Peter’s new book is a sword for your side as you build in your own parishes. It is a new arrow for your quiver when you need to explain, defend and spread the vision we share of a Holy Church revitalized in her sacred liturgical worship.

Without a revitalization of our worship, no other undertaking we mount in the Church will succeed.

Hence, the stakes are high.

I fail to understand how going to back to a form of the liturgy that requires large amounts of explanation and discussion in order for the congregation to have any semblance of understanding about what is going on is what the “modern age needs.” If nothing else, I would think a full scale return of the extraordinary form would simply drive the lukewarm away.

What the modern age needs is to look less inward and more outward.

Yes, the revitalization of our worship is essential for all other efforts to succeed.

Yes, we need to restore the sense of the sacred.

Yes, the stakes are high.

No, the Extraordinary Form is not the panacea some would make it out to be.

And using fancy descriptors like Mass of the Ages or Mass of All Time with reference to the EF simply makes me go :rolleyes:

I love the EF, but I have no interest in those who exalt it at the expense of denigrating the OF.

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Tim_D, while I think that your last sentence may be much too broad, I readily agree with the rest. I’m a Slav. My ancestors celebrated Divine Liturgy in Old Church Slavonic, a language closely related to their mother tongue, since the 9th century’s mission of Sts. Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia, with the formal authorisation of Pope Adrian II, I might add. Only petty power struggles with German clergy put an end to this. The literary tradition of the entire Slavic world rests heavily on this missionary work. Therefore, I cannot stress how vitally important it is to me to be able to take part in liturgy celebrated in my own language.

So if someone wants to suggest that the supposed “Mass of the Ages”, celebrated according to a missal that’s less than half as old as the missionary work of the Apostles to the Slavs, is somehow intrinsically superior to the Mass that, among many other things, in allowing the use of national languages fulfils the core purpose of the mission that is one of the foundational blocks of my entire culture, I simply raise an eyebrow. The Tridentine Mass had it’s place in the millenia-old history of Christ’s church. Our dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has wisely allowed it’s continued use so that those who wish to worship our Lord in this form may do so, and so that all the faithful may have an opportunity to grow in faith inspired by this gem from the treasury of our Church’s tradition. But that’s that.

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No doubt. To my mind, it certainly doesn’t help the argument.

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How was it that 7-yr olds with their illustrated prayer books were able to understand the Mass better than today’s crowd which doesn’t what the Sacrifice is even in their own language? I point towards the many threads here which ask this or that.

The older form of the Mass involves more contemplation, simple as that. And I’m done here.

A pertinent question. I remember those 7 year olds, the illustrated prayer books, the piety of the young, and yes, their understanding of the essentials of the Mass.

I don’t yearn for a return of the EF; I like the OF. Yet there does seem to be a need for a return of reverence and understanding.

I am also a Slav. I agree with Peter Kwasniewski completely. That does not mean I want the Ordinary Form to disappear since I accept what Holy Mother Church tells me. However, and I have heard this on Catholic Radio - a deep sense of reverence in the House of God must be taught and practiced. The Mass was never meant to be just a social gathering. When we are presented the Host, it is the Body of Christ - literally. That small wafer has been transformed.

The deformations of the Liturgy will disappear since Jesus Christ combined with our fervent desire to reaffirm the sacred will overcome in the end. Ours is a relationship with God that must be reverent as if we are standing before God Himself because, in Church, we are. And this reverence and sacredness must continue after we leave the Church building.


Wow…you post a reply two weeks later and then declare “and I’m done.”

Thank you for your wonderful insight.:rolleyes:

I agree with ProVobis. And I’m done here too.


I see that the RULES for participation at daily
Mass are NOT being stressed, Our parish has
mass at noon, however the Soup Kitchen does
not serve lunch until 11:45am(It’s supposed to
open at 11:20am) so that those who wish to
participate in communion breaks the 1 Hr. fast
receiving communion less than 1 hr. before
finishing the meal, I know of 4 ppl in that pre-
dicament, when I asked the priest for dispens-
ation, he says to NOT participate in communion.
However, others are going ahead and taking
communion!! We need to put the foot down and
follow the rules of participation of mass properly
to have reverence for true worship, I pray that it
will happen here.

I would agree that the Mass needs revitalization. I would venture to say that, as of right now, the EF is a bit ahead of the OF in terms of the sense of the sacred. Yet this does not have to be. I have been to Masses in which it is on par with the EF experience. The Monks at Clear Creek Abbey in OK along with the St. John Cantius Society in Chicago both have beautiful and reverent OF Masses. It can be done! Unfortunately, the stereotypical OF Mass can be slightly lacking in the reverence and sense of the sacred department. It’s not because the EF is superior or something. It’s that the OF hasn’t reached its full potential. Yet!

You are correct, of course, but it really isn’t the Mass that needs revitalization; it is the faithful. What many of the “we need to go back to the Latin Mass” crowd does not realize is that the culture has changed completely from the pre-World War II era. Movies, television, computers and cell phones have, for better or worse, deeply affected the culture, causing it to be something completely foreign to what has gone in the past. My parents grew up in a small country town that could have simply been an island in the ocean. Their parents before them were even more isolated. Most didn’t know what was going on in the rest of the world and most, probably, didn’t care. I remember hearing an old priest once say that most Catholics back then didn’t even know who was the pope! All they knew of him was the picture that some churches had. It did not affect people’s daily lives. In the same way, a return to Latin and a silent canon isn’t going to satisfy a modern Mass experience. While I appreciate the ancient form, I can honestly sympathize with one who would say that Mass is “boring” or it is the “same thing over and over” if there was a return to the old form. People need to be engaged. You are spot on in saying that the OF needs to reach its full potential. But I also do not think that it will bring hoards of Catholics back to Mass just as in the past, not everyone went to Mass. There is no simple solution.

Well, knowing the canons of SJC, yes it can be done. But regarding Clear Creek - the monks do not celebrate the Ordinary Form Mass. The only OF Masses celebrated at Clear Creek are those celebrated by visiting priests who don’t know how to say the EF Mass, for their private Masses at side altars. The monks do use the reformed calendar used in the Novus Ordo, with some additions/changes proper to the monastery or the Solesmes congregation; but they do so entirely within the lectionary of 1962 - they do not use at all the lectionary used in the OF Mass. Their Low Masses are entirely 1962 Missal, while their conventual High Mass is the 1962 Missal with some modifications - priest does not recite the Ordinary of the Mass himself, no prayers at the foot of the altar, epistle and Gospel facing the people, Secret sung all aloud, “per Ipsum” sung all aloud after the Canon (no signs of the cross over It because of this), Pater Noster sung by all the monks, and no Last Gospel. All which are also done in the OF Mass, but in the gestures, ordo, and texts, the Mass is still entirely according to the 1962 Missal.

I am presently at a Gregorian chant colloquium. I asked one of the participants if he goes to the EF Mass in his area. He said no, he avoids it because the chant is terrible there. He prefers an OF Mass where the music is good. Mostly as it happens, at a Benedictine abbey.

He said that one form of the Mass or the other is all the same to him. If the EF had better music, that’s where he’d go. As an expert in chant and medieval musicology, he goes where the music is best, and in his area that means the OF.

BTW I do believe Clear Creek used the EF liturgy. They are in the same congregation as the abbey I’m attached to. We use the OF in Gregorian chant, it is where the colloquium is being held.

There’s nothing specific to either liturgy that innoculates it from bad liturgy or music or guarantees great music.

You mean for nearly 2000 years Catholics were serving a Mass that didn’t feed them spiritually because it was in Latin? :ehh:

The faithful no longer recognize the Mass as sacrificial. That’s a major change from the EF to the OF. I don’t know that everyone should be required to attend the EF in order to help them see the Mass as sacrificial. But it’s something the Church should address.

There is a simple solution. The book mentioned provides it. Going to Church is not going to some social gathering. I was there before and after Vatican II. Our responses to the priest during Mass were in Latin and we had the English translation on the same page. That was the reality. There is no “experience” as in going to a mall. We are in the House of God. The Mass is for prayer and worship, not novelty. It is not a variety show.

Cultures do not change because of the date on a calendar. I was there as people - the only ones who can change things - assaulted the Church from the outside and from within. It was a coordinated attack that took years to bring their ideas to the Catholic in the pew. It was poison. Churches are being renovated now. Why? Because statues, Communion/Altar rails, and other things were removed from Churches in the 1960s. Who did that and why? So, no, a return to reverence and knowing that in that small wafer is Jesus Christ Himself is what is needed. Not more novelty.

My parents came from two tiny villages in Europe.


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