My husband is a bit of a nerd when it comes to reading things about the old Mass. You know what I’m talking about, right? The Traditional Latin Mass, the Extraordinary Form, the Usus Antiquior, the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of Pius V…it’s got so many names, I can’t keep it straight.
He’s always yakking about people I don’t know too, like Dr. Peter Kwasniewski. Except that no one can pronounce this guy’s last name, so Peter is affectionately referred to as “Peter K” in our household, which is confusing to others, because then most people think we mean Peter Kreeft.
As an aside, I actually had the nerve to ask Dr. Kwasniewski how to pronounce his last name, and he graciously, phonically spelled it out for me as follows: “Kwash-nee-ev-ski.”
In any case, since I can’t help but to eventually be interested in things that my husband chatters on about, I decided to read Kwasniewski’s book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness. After all, I had come across this man many times, as he writes for the New Liturgical Movement, a blog that I enjoy perusing, even if I don’t understand half of what I read. (New Liturgical Movement is linked on my sidebar, if you’re curious.)
Well, let me tell you, I just finished reading this book, and it’s a gem. A breath of fresh air. Chock-full of stuff I never thought about before. For example, have you ever thought of having a Marian receptivity to the Mass? I haven’t, and there’s a whole chapter on this, and it’s excellent.
So, if you’d like a challenge and are interested in things that our culture considers backwards and foolish, I recommend this book. It’s really worth it. And furthermore, to give you a sample of just what’s in this book, I’ll mention a few things that I learned below.
What did I Learn From Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness?
So, the name thing. What to call this old Mass, that is foreign to most of us and has twenty different names? This is downright confusing to us amateurs, just trying to figure things out. Well, Kwasniewski advises us not to get caught up in terminology wars. He states, “The official documents of the Church use multiple names…each name conveys something important that the other names do not convey.”
In my words, maybe all these names for the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) are like all the names we have for the Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Advocate, Counselor, Holy Ghost. They are all important and serve to reveal something about the third Person of the Trinity. We use different names for different occasions. It must be the same for the TLM too, and I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
The second thing I learned from reading Kwasniewski’s book is that I’m really not as backwards and foolish as I thought for preferring the TLM over the New Mass. Kwasniewski states, “Pope Benedict XVI established equal canonical rights for the two “forms” of the Roman Rite.” It’s perfectly legitimate to have a preference.
When I read that, I was reminded of Pope Benedict’s somewhat well known quotation about the TLM, which Kwasniewski explains in his book, and states as follows:
“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” Pope Benedict XVI.
In other words, it’s a good thing to want to know what it was like for the vast majority of people in the history of the Church the pray the Mass. Just how did St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, and my favorite, St. Therese the Little Flower, experience the Mass? It was the TLM that formed these great saints after all.
But in the end, however, it has not easy for me to learn about the TLM, as I’m fairly new to it and this stuff takes time–indeed a lifetime–to learn about, especially if one lives in area where the TLM is not readily available. I was comforted, in fact, when Kwasniewski compares it all to the call of Abram out of Ur to Canaan. “It prompts the development of new faculties of seeing and hearing; it requires an exodus from our surroundings of pop culture and intellectual fashion; it calls us to a strange land, like Abram being summoned from Ur to Canaan.”
Yes, I can understand that. It’s unsettling to walk into a strange land–the strange land of the Traditional Latin Mass. But for me, anyway, it’s been worth it. And Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness has been a great blessing and a help.
Would you like to experience this Mass of Ages? Come and see.
In the Bismarck area, Fr. Nick Schneider offers the TLM once a month at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan at 11:30am. The next one will be Sunday, February 25th.
There is also a Facebook page for the Latin Mass community. Click HERE for that.
And in the meantime, pick up Dr. Kwasniewski’s book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness.