I’m digging into Peter Kwasniewski’s new book:
It has a forward by the great Martin Mosebach, author of The Heresy of Formlessness (a must read, a hard read but richly rewarding).
Firstly, I could read Peter’s prose forever. He writes with clarity and great force, which surely reflect both his deft mind and his convictions.
Next, I think we may have a Vulcan Mind-Meld going on.
1 Why the New Evangelization Needs the Old Mass
2 Reverence Is Not Enough: On the Importance of Tradition
3 The Spirit of the Liturgy in the Words and Actions of Our Lady
4 The New Liturgical Movement: Urgent Care for a Sick Church
5 Different Visions, Contrary Paths
6 Formed in the Spirit and Power of the Liturgy
7 Laying Our Foundation on Solid Rock
8 How the Usus Antiquior Elicits Superior Participation
9 A Perpetual Feast of All Saints
10 The Peace of Low Mass and the Glory of High Mass
11 Homage to Our Lady, Queen of the Liturgy
12 “Always Forward, Never Back”
The book is seeded through with exquisite photo images and apt accompanying quotes. There is a prayerful tone within as well. Peter is a Benedictine Oblate. For example, at the end of one chapter you find on a page apart:
Prayer for the Traditional Movement
O Lord, remember in Thy Kingdom N. and N.,
[names of individuals or communities]
and 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.
Every couple pages there are illustrative quotes blocked out which you will wish you could commit to perfect memory. For example, just flipping to a random page (106) I find…
Those who doubt and deny win immediate fame. And the defer- ence refused to tradition, to antiquity, to authority, is given at once and wholly, with infinite thoughtlessness, to the notions of some writer or other, to one of those prophets of the hour who trumpet the vague phrases: progress, evolution, broad-mindedness, and dogmatic awakening. This is intellectual foolery. And it seems to me that good sense and dignity require from us not only an atti- tude of reserve, but above all a spirit of tranquil resistance and conservatism. Conservation is the very instinct of life, a disposi- tion essential for existence. We shall be truly progressive if we hold fast to this spirit, for there is no progress for a living organism which does not preserve continuity with its past.
Moreover, the book is deeply personal. I am confident that you will resonate with what he writes. Here is a sample with my usual treatment:
“Always Forward, Never Back”
Every line written in these pages is born from my personal experience of the things of which I speak. I have sat through every possible permutation of the Novus Ordo, and some impossible ones. I have collaborated or argued with every type of priest or liturgist. I have seen the Reform of the Reform in action and made such contributions to it as I could. I have worked with bishops who promote all the best and bishops who ruthlessly stomp on tradition. I have participated in silent private Masses, magnificent Pontifical Masses, and more or less successful dialogue Masses. I try never to write about anything that has not been intimately and frequently a part of my life as a Catholic. [And now some honest self-examnation…] This will, I trust, help explain the bitterness and harshness of some passages, the tolerance and pragmatism of others, and the melancholy triumphalism that permeates the whole—at once exultant over so many victories and chastened by the sight of so much devastation. It is a hard time to be thinking and writing about the liturgy, when so much is in flux, indiscernible and unpredictable, at the mercy of potentates and volunteers. I am thoroughly prepared to be surprised with the passage of each year at how many good things have sprung up and how many bad things have persisted or emerged from hibernation.
Dr. Eric de Saventhem (1919–2005), first President of the International Federation Una Voce, spoke these prophetic words in a speech in New York City in 1970—words all the more remarkable in the face of the escalating victories of philistinism and modernism, the threat of total devastation, and the hopelessness of the situation emerging at that time: [Speaking of great quotes…]
A renaissance will come: asceticism and adoration as the main- spring of direct total dedication to Christ will return. Confraternities of priests, vowed to celibacy and to an intense life of prayer and meditation, will be formed. Religious will regroup themselves into houses of strict observance. A new form of Liturgical Movement will come into being, led by young priests and attracting mainly young people, in protest against the flat, prosaic, philistine or delirious liturgies which will soon overgrow and finally smother even the recently revised rites.
It is vitally important that these new priests and religious, these new young people with ardent hearts, should find—if only in a corner of the rambling mansion of the Church—the treasure of a truly sacred liturgy still glowing softly in the night. And it is our task, since we have been given the grace to appreciate the value of this heritage, to preserve it from spoliation, from becoming buried out of sight, despised and therefore lost forever. It is our duty to keep it alive: by our own loving attachment, by our support for the priests who make it shine in our churches, by our apostolate at all levels of persuasion.1
All this has been fulfilled before our eyes, and there is not the slightest sign that the “new form of Liturgical Movement” will back down just because of new threats and intimidations and the premature swaggering of the anti-Ratzinger faction. Indeed, if history tells us any lesson, it is that unjust persecution makes the flame burn more intensely and then, as soon as opportunity arises, blaze out more vehemently.
And yet, so much more is waiting to be done; there is fire to be kindled on the earth, in every place, every community, every church—the fire of the Catholic Faith in its totality and integrity, its tradition and beauty. In this connection we might draw courage from the noble words of the Book of Nehemiah (2:17–18):
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer disgrace.” And I told them of the hand of my God which had been upon me for good, and also of the words which the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
[1. The full text is available at the FIUV website: http://www.fiuv.org/p/address- given-bydr.html]
Do I hear an “Amen!“?
Allow me to continue with Nehemiah through a verse which I have for a long while displayed on this blog’s side bar:
Aedificantium enim unusquisque gladio erat accinctus.
And each of the builders had his sword girded at his side while he built.
– Nehemiah 4:18
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.
Do I need to say it?
Yes, I need to say it.
Buy a least two copies, one for you and one for your parish priest or a seminarian.