“Not all is well, nor should we pretend that it is — even if this means abandoning the ‘new Pentecost’ narrative of Vatican II”

angel altar on high smAt NLM, Peter Kwasniewski has a good piece. Here’s how it begins (with my emphases and comments):

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI frequently acknowledged that the Church is in a state of serious crisis. [Is there any other kind?] Not all is well, nor should we pretend that it is — even if this means abandoning the “new Pentecost” narrative of Vatican II that supplied meaning to the lives of countless gullible people. (A claim that could never have been made without hubris deserves to be retired without regret.) The main cause of the crisis, said Ratzinger, is the vain attempt to accommodate Christianity to the modern world and its distorted values. A major casualty of this process has been the liturgy, which has suffered desacralization.  [This is not only a casualty, it is a causality.  The desacralization of our liturgical worship accelerated the “serious crisis” by orders of magnitude.]


Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: how we pray shows what we believe, and what we believe informs how we live. Orthodoxy in fact originally means right worship as well as right doctrine. [Hence, also right praxis.] Being an orthodox Catholic is far more than just adhering to the most recent Catechism promulgated by Petrine authority. It means turning one’s life into a liturgical offering of praise. To doxologize in the company of the saints, allowing time-honored forms of prayer to shape one’s mind and heart, is to be orthodox. To throw one’s hat in with a committee document, [He means, inter alia, the Novus Ordo, doesn’t he.] the fruit of countless compromises between progressives and conservatives, is not necessarily to be orthodox.

To a Church suffering from rampant anthropocentrism, horizontalism, liberalism, banality, and boredom, [A.H.L.B.A.B… “ahlbab”!] traditional Catholics can and must bring the witness of a life shot through with the primacy of God, the primacy of divine worship, the primacy of dogmatic truth. [You might ask, “How can you have three simultaneous primacies. Isn’t a “primacy” something that occupies the top spot?  There can be only one, right?  This trinity is possible because Cult, Code, and Creed, that is, worship, reflection on the fides quae and fides qua, and how we express outwardly in word and deed who we are interiorly, cannot be separated.] The more unpopular this triple commitment, the more we shall throw ourselves behind it, ready to suffer and die for it. We embrace whatever is authentic, noble, and profound, and fight mediocrity wherever it rears its ugly head. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]


Peter goes on to talk about the role of the “transcendentals” of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in education in the Catholic Faith, along with the triptych I call Cult, Code, and Creed, and then the choices that young Catholics need to make, thus putting his own gloss on the oft-mentioned “Benedict Option”.

In regard to his last point, about mediocrity, I am minded of a quote often attributed to C.S. Lewis, though I haven’t found the exact page: “Something deep in the human heart breaks at the thought of a life of mediocrity.”  If he didn’t write those words in that exact order, he did express the same concept in Surprised By Joy, where he penned:

When we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life.

Think about that.


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  1. ChesterFrank says:

    Can someone explain where the term “new Pentecost” refers to? I am not familiar with it.

  2. John V says:

    I found that quote, without attribution, in a book titled Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About, by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson (page 5). It comes immediately before a quote from “Mere Christianity” from which derives the title “Rumors of God”, which may be the reason it has been attributed to Lewis.

  3. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I can think of things in everyday life with three things being in primacy.

    Sports . . . even the Olympics: Tied for First Place: Team Nation 1; Team Nation 2; Team Nation 3.

  4. Joy65 says:

    I am a ,cradle to grave—womb to tomb, practicing devout Roman Catholic. My Catholic Faith IS my life. I was born in 1965. I remember aspects of the Traditional form of Mass but all I’ve really known is the latest form. I’ve heard and read about Vatican 2 and what it may have done or didn’t do. All I can speak of is what I know. My Catholic faith grows stronger each and every day. I belong to a weekly Catholic Bible Study developed by a priest right here in south Louisiana. It is a tremendous blessing to have this weekly instruction along with my past faith formation by my parents and the Catholic Church. It is an AWESOME program. I converse daily online with Catholics who only attend Traditional Masses and raise their children in the Traditional Catholic Faith. I respect them and I have learned a lot from them. I also converse online daily with many in the Catholic Faith as it is now. I understand where those who practice the Traditional form of the Catholic Faith come from (as my parents did) and I can see their point. I also know that yes the Catholic Church has lost many of it’s Traditional ways and changes have been made. While that is unforgivable and inconceivable by some I cling to my Roman Catholic Church and my Roman Catholic Faith. It will always be The One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church for me——The ONE TRUE CHURCH! Could we do better in our Catholic Church of today, absolutely we could. Could we have done better if we had not changed some of the past Traditional things of our Catholic Faith, yes. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I KNOW our Catholic Church, our Catholic Faith will be here until the end of time because Jesus Himself told us it would. The “division” between the Traditional Catholic Faith and the Catholic Faith as it is now should not make us lose our hope in our Catholic Church, our Catholic Faith or our Catholic faithful. If anything it should only strengthen it and cause us to continue to seek, learn, and love. My daily prayer is for Our Catholic Church and all who serve in Her. If there is any division is should always be between us (Catholics) and sin. It should never be us (Catholics) against each other. I enjoy coming here and reading everything and as always learning and growing in my faith. I will continue to do so and as always let God be my guide. Thank you for this wonderful site.

  5. my kidz mom says:

    banality, boredom, liberalism, anthropocentrism, and horizontalism…


  6. Tom A. says:

    Benedict spoke often about liturgy and lamented the sad state of liturgy. Yet never once did he himself publically offer the TLM. It’s as if we all know the diagnosis but won’t take the medicine to cure the illness.

  7. Rich says:

    I have often thought that the state of the liturgy has resulted from a lex vivendi, lex credendi, lex orandi succession, in that people first and foremost want to do whatever they want in life and adopt an “anything goes” mentality to rationalize their lifestyle and will remain Catholic as long as what they call their faith accommodates this mentality. These same people haven’t the slightest about what happens at the Mass, nor do they really care about such ideas as the Holy Sacrifice or Real Presence, but a liturgy which itself reflects an “anything goes” attitude is that which these people will seek to maintain in order to further justify their corresponding “anything goes” mentality, which in turn ultimately serves to justify doing whatever they want in life.

  8. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    banality, boredom, liberalism, anthropocentrism, and horizontalism…

    To which it might seem apt to add “speciousness” and “obliqueness” . . .

    . . . resulting in BBLAHSO, one anagram of which is:

    Baal bosh

  9. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I recall during the era when all Masses were celebrated in Latin, my brother, as a pre-schooler would repeat the Latin greetings, as accurately as he could manage: “Dominoes Nabisco.”

  10. JonPatrick says:

    Tom A, I used to think that too, why didn’t he offer the TLM publicly if he believed that, but the more I think about it, it would have just roused those that are opposed to the return to tradition. I think it is better to have reforms start at the bottom, as is happening with the return to beauty and reverence in the Mass, rather than being imposed from the top.

  11. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    Mediocrity, we do well to remember, is not innocuous, but insidiously pernicious. It is a daughter of Acedia, human sadness over what is spiritually good. Acedia is the real “Spirit of Vatican II,” and mediocrity its only distinct fruit. Anyone who can distinguish Haydn from the St. Louis Jesuits can discern the formal and final causes of the changes in the liturgy, the demolishing of the ideas that God is supreme and the Supernatural Order is real. I am sure that the author’s choice of the word was made with his being fully informed of this particular usage and the assumption that everyone would understand it in this sense. But it still bears emphasis and being pointed out specifically.

  12. PTK_70 says:


    I have come to the conclusion that the number one problem with the celebration of the ordinary form Roman Rite Mass, as it seems to be actually celebrated in 2017, is a well-intentioned, yet exaggerated and unhealthy attempt to make the Mass all fellowship-py. (Caveat: my recent experience is limited to the U.S. but not the whole U.S.)

    Just like ‘work’ is one thing and ‘play’ is something else, so too worship is one thing and fellowship is something else. This should be easy to understand.

    Some Protestants may get fellowship right, and we Catholics do well emulate them, but NOT by attempting to squeeze worship and fellowship into the same container.

    Here’s an anecdote: I had the privilege last year of attending an usus antiquior Mass in Austin, TX. The fellowship afterwards would be the envy of many an Evangelical community. Far from suppressing fellowship, I want to suggest that ad orientem worship may actually buttress true fellowship…..fellowship conducted on its own terms.

    “Work hard, play hard” ==> “Worship reverently, fellowship heartily!”

  13. St Donatus says:

    Rich, your point is well made. The longer I am a part of a traditional parish, the more I realize that it isnt about me at all, it is only about God. I have invited my relatives to attend the Latin Mass with me and afterwords I ask what they thought. Thay always mention how reverent and how close to God they felt. Then they go on to say all the ‘but I want’ remarks like, ‘but I didnt understand what the priest was saying’, ‘but it was too long’, ‘but I am used to the english Mass’, etc.

    The other day I had asked someone why they think our parish isnt bursting at the seems, instead of just growing slowly. They had no answer but Rich did. As he pointed out in his comment above, they want what is easy and doesnt challenge them to give themselves over completely to God. Relativism is alive and well in catholic parishs today, and being a part of world is so much easier than being completely Catholic.

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