Saturday, September 23, 2017

Interview with Dr. Kwasniewski at O Clarim: “The Mass of all the Catholic centuries”

The online journal O Clarim has just published an interview about my book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness that NLM readers might like to read. A couple of excerpts here:

Aurelio Porfiri: Your book uses the phrase “noble beauty” in its title. How would you describe the noble beauty of the liturgy?

There are many different kinds of beauty. There is the simple, domestic beauty we associated with well-made furniture, carpets, blankets, plates, and books. There is an austere beauty, such as one might find in the cell of a Carthusian. There is rugged beauty, such as we see in the landscapes of Iceland or Canada or Alaska. But there is a noble beauty that we associate with sovereignty, majesty, occasions of great public solemnity. The liturgy is our courtly audience with the king of heaven and earth. It should be characterized by a tremendous sense of spaciousness, elevation, dignity, and splendor. That is what I am driving at in my title.

What is your ideal reader? How you imagine your audience?

One reader described me as “giving old arguments new juice.” I was born well after the Second Vatican Council ended and after Paul VI had already promulgated a new Mass. All of the traditional things I love are things that almost went extinct. My friends and I had to stumble upon them and discover them anew. I see it all with fresh eyes: I have no nostalgic memories. For this reason, my writings seem to speak especially to young people who are in the same boat. This book is largely an “apologia” for the ancient liturgy and the whole world-view it embodies—which is definitely not that of modernity. My ideal reader? Someone who has an open mind to the proposal that the past generations might have had more wisdom than we do.

Porfiri: You use the term “Mass of Ages” in your subtitle. Sounds a bit sentimental, doesn’t it?

Well, I once thought of it that way, too. But something changed for me. My careful study of liturgical history led me to see that, in fact, the Roman Catholic liturgy—by which I mean all of the interconnected rites and uses found within Latin Christendom—is one and the same over all the centuries, developing slowly and organically, until you reach the dramatic break in the 1960s. The core of the Mass of St Gregory the Great was still the core of the Mass of St John XXIII. After Trent, St Pius V for all intents and purposes codified the papal rite of Rome that stretched far back in time. Subsequent popes received this rite as a given. It really is, therefore, the Mass of all the Catholic centuries. It is a Mass that grew to maturity over the ages and reflects all that is best in the Church’s devotion and theology.

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