How to hear Mass well

This is the first in a series of excerpts from an article written around the year 1800 by Reverend Father Leonard Gossine and republished in the March 31, 2015, issue of The Remnant:

In order to hear Mass profitably in the sense and spirit of the Church, we should know, in the first place, that the Mass is that sacrifice, which we should offer with our whole being, with all that we are or have, to Almighty God for His glory, in satisfaction for our sins, in thanksgiving for graces received and in supplication for those still necessary, a sacrifice which we ourselves, because of our wretched sinfulness, cannot offer and therefore Christ Himself offers for us; we should be united with God by the most intimate participation in the Sacrifice of Jesus, and we should understand that the Sacrifice of the Mass is also an unbloody renewal of the sacrifice on Calvary.

To be continued…

On liturgy and nostalgia

Observations by Catholic scholar Peter Kwasniewski:

Though Our Lord first appeared on earth in a humble manger, hidden and poor, the sacred liturgy is not time-travel to Bethlehem circa 4 bc. The Mass is a living image or efficacious likeness of the perfect worship offered by Jesus Christ as Head of the Church — the sinless Lamb slain on Calvary, now reigning in the heavenly Jerusalem — and so it makes present in our midst the glorified Savior whose second coming will not be in quiet poverty but in earth-shattering splendor. For this reason the instinct of our faith has always been to maximize the beauty of the liturgy and its diverse furnishings and surroundings, yearning for what is to come rather than indulging in backward glances. From that point of view, the liturgists who clamor for a return to evangelical or apostolic “simplicity” are the ones guilty of nostalgia, not the faithful who desire the traditional Roman rite. They want to go back, we want to press forward. It is the difference between archaeology and eschatology. The irony, in fact, is greater: one of the most ancient liturgical customs of all, and one that survived all ages and cultures until it met its match in the hubris of the modern West, is that of facing eastwards when we pray to Christ, the true light that enlightens every man (cf. Jn 1:9). In having the priest turn his back to the Sun of Justice and “face the people” in a closed circle, as if he were the coming light, advocates of the new liturgical style disdained universal symbolism and banished one of the few customs we can be certain the church of the early centuries practiced. Once again, those who defend Tradition find that they are more capable than their adversaries of preserving what the latter claim to value most — in this instance, antiquity.

Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church (Angelico Press, 2014)

Fr. Straub to conduct Good Friday services at Silver Spring

Good Friday services will be held at midday on Friday, April 3, at the Traditional Latin Mass Congregation of Silver Spring, Maryland. Reverend Father Jacob Straub of the Diocese of Covington will lead Stations of the Cross at 12:15 pm, followed by the Sacred Liturgy of Good Friday at 1:00 pm. Confessions will be heard beginning at 11:00 am.

Silver Spring TLM Congregation meets at the Historic Church of St. John the Evangelist, 9700 Rosensteel Avenue, Forest Glen.

The winter of our unbelief

Catholic author and educator Peter Kwasniewski on the effects of the 1960s liturgical “reform” on ecumenism and evangelization:

What we need for a sane Christian life together is a truly noble simplicity, the silence of anonymity, clouds of beautiful song and incense, a healthy routine of life marked by feasts and processions, a life of worship spent in churches that foster an ecstatic praise of God, bearing witness to his transcendent beauty. This is what the Middle Ages had in abundance, for all that the poor peasants lacked; this is what we fundamentally lack, for all the cleverness and comfort we have. Every time an ugly church is built or the Mass is offered unworthily, faith is endangered, distorted, thinned out. In the Church on earth, half a century out from the great springtime that was supposed to follow the Second Vatican Council, we are in the midst of a darkening Age of Unbelief, a winter colder than the Enlightenment itself.

Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (2014)

The Liturgical Fidget

It bears noting that not everyone was sanguine about the prospects for liturgical change on the eve of the Second Vatican Council. Protestant denominations not noted at the time for radicalism had begun carrying out experiments, some jarring, as had the Catholic Church in some places.

Here is C. S. Lewis, an Anglican, on the subject as published in the early 1960s, shortly before his death:

. . . The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping. . . .

A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the question “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.” . . .

It may well be that some variations which seem to me merely matters of taste really involve grave doctrinal differences. But surely not all? For if grave doctrinal differences are really as numerous as variations in practice, then we shall have to conclude that no such thing as the Church of England exists. And anyway, the Liturgical Fidget is not a purely Anglican phenomenon; I have heard Roman Catholics complain of it too.

Letters to Malcolm (1962)

Charity begins at home

From the Preface to Peter Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis:

The Church is the family of God, and the pastors serve in loco parentis — so why are they absent? Are they truly taking care of their children, and of their children’s primary needs? Ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, efforts for social justice, even evangelization efforts are worthless if the faithful themselves are not first being well clothed, nourished, and taught — clothed by sacraments frequently and worthily received, nourished by a sacred liturgy offered with beauty and reverence, taught sound doctrine in catechesis, preaching, and schools.

Ab omne hoste faciat esse securos

July 3 is the date of the feast of St. Irenaeus in the traditional calendar.  Renowned for his refutations of Gnosticism, he exemplified the exhortation of the Apostle Paul at a time — not unlike our own — foreshadowed in the latter’s second letter to Timothy (4.3-5):

Erit enim tempus, cum sanam doctrínam non sustinébunt, sed ad sua desidéria coacervábunt sibi magístros, pruriéntes áuribus, et a veritáte quidem audítum avértent, ad fábulas autem converténtur. Tu vero vígila, in ómnibus labóra, opus fac Evangelístæ, ministérium tuum ímpie.

For there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables. But be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the Gospel, fulfill your ministry.

The Secret Prayer of the Mass of the Feast of St. Irenaeus:

Deus, qui credéntes in te pópulos nullis sinis cóncuti terróribus: dignáre preces et hóstias dicátæ tibi plebis suscípere; ut pax, a tua pietáte concéssa, christianórum fines ab omni hoste fáciat esse secúros. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O God, Who do not allow the nations that believe in You to be troubled by any distress, graciously accept the prayers and sacrificial gifts Your people dedicate to You, so that the peace bestowed by Your love may make Christian lands safe from every foe. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Redemisti nos, Domine, in sanguine tuo

From the Introit of the Mass for today’s Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Apoc. 5.9-10):

Redemísti nos, Dómine, in sánguine tuo, ex omni tribu et lingua et pópulo et natióne: et fecísti nos Deo nostro regnum.

You have redeemed us, O Lord, with Your Blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us for our God a kingdom.

Consider assisting at Holy Mass today for the salvation of souls.

The liturgical renaissance in foresight and (early) practice

Many Catholics who were better and longer formed in the Faith than your blogmaster was in 1970 (when he was receiving his first Holy Communion at age seven) probably had a sense that the Church was on the cusp of a generation of liturgical turmoil, even if they didn’t have a sense of how very badly worship would be distorted at certain times and places.

In that year Dr. Eric de Saventhem, first president of the International Federation Una Voce, expressed a vision for the future that was by no means as grim as others’ might have been:

A renaissance will come: asceticism and adoration as the mainspring 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.

New Liturgical Movement contains a longer excerpt from Dr. de Saventhem’s lecture from which the above was quoted.

If you agree that the renaissance is well under way, you may yet wonder whether the renewed sprouting of traditional liturgy is attracting worshipers to the pews — or driving them away. Many readers of Fr. Z’s Blog have recently been sharing their diverse and occasionally surprising experiences as either a new or established attendee at the revivified TLM.