Excellent readings on the traditional Latin Mass

Check out this wonderful article giving ten reasons to attend the traditional Latin Mass over at OnePeterFive, by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski and Dr. Michael Foley. (Full disclosure, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Foley during my time in Texas, where I occasionally attended the traditional Latin Mass he had organized at St. Louis Catholic Church in Waco, Texas; he is a model of the Christian gentleman).

Reason #1 is, to me, the most important. I am constantly amazed (and scandalized) at the derision with which most Catholics treat the old Mass, as if it were nothing more than a style of art with which we are free to be unimpressed. Nonsense! The traditional Latin Mass is the history of the Roman rite of the Church. To borrow a phrase from Cormac McCarthy, the Church’s life is made up of the days it’s made up of and nothing else: if you hate her past, then you hate her. More urgently, because this form of the Mass was beloved of so many saints, we are obliged to at least consider its merits, because hating what the saints love is a sure sign that our sensibilities are defective and our soul in need of repentance and renewal.

Fr. Louis Bouyer, whose recently-published memoirs recount some of the antics surrounding the liturgical reform.

Fr. Louis Bouyer, whose recently-published memoirs recount the antics surrounding the liturgical reform.Also worth reading, from Dr. Joseph Shaw, is a pair of blog posts (one here, the other here) on Fr. Louis Bouyer, a French priest who was heavily involved in the liturgical reform, and whose memoirs were recently published (in French, and soon in English). Bouyer’s main contribution is his draft of Eucharistic Prayer II (the one with which Catholics are probably most familiar, being used almost exclusively by many priests due to its brevity), a draft he hated because he was forced to write and rehabilitate it in the course of a single evening with Dom Botte; both men complained bitterly of their colleagues in the Consilium who had made such a terrible hash of it. The first article linked above gives some quotes in the memoirs in which Fr. Bouyer speaks… shall we say, impatiently… about his colleagues, who were driven by an archeologizing zeal and a hatred of everything Roman, and his horror at discovering the ease with which some of its more unscrupulous members were able to manipulate Pope Paul VI.

The second article has some useful reflections about the nature of liturgy, which, he insists, is not didactic but mystical. It’s not a theological equivalent of vocation school in which Catholics are taught skills, but the theological equivalent of a classical education, in which the mind and soul are formed according to sound principles. The latter is teaching, and is characteristic of the new Mass with its emphasis on visibility, intelligibility, and simplicity; the latter is education, and is characteristic of the old Mass with its emphasis on self-emptying, silence, and mysticism.


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