Tuesday, June 09, 2020

You Are Evangelizing Through Beauty!

Someone recently brought to my attention an episode which aired back in January (which only feels like it was a century ago) of the EWTN program The Journey Home, on which converts to Catholicism share the story of their conversions. The person who sent me the link did so because the interviewee, Mr Jonathan Bading, mentions NLM twice, and I do certainly wish to thank him for his kind words about the site, but that is not the reason why I think it will be of interest to our readers. The important thing is rather what he says about the effect that what he saw here had on him. At the first mention (about 21:40), he talks about what it meant for him to see pictures of the liturgy, and particular of the Mass, celebrated with beautiful vestments in beautiful churches. I took the liberty of writing to Mr Bading, who wrote back to me that “NLM gave me empirical proof that Catholics both ‘talked the talk and walked the walk’ liturgically-speaking, that the grandiose and severe dogmas (i.e. from a Protestant perspective) which constituted their religion actually manifested themselves in grandiose and severe sacramental action. I would learn later that the latter informs the former. But yes, beauty in itself led the way, as it always does!” But I would like to emphasize that in the almost 15 years since NLM began, fairly few of the photos of Masses or other liturgies we have shared were actually taken by our writers; most were sent in by readers, either of their own initiative, or in response to our photopost requests. In other words, this is your good work every bit as much as it is ours.

In the second mention, at about 37:30, Mr Bading tells how he discovered the TLM, and heard classic polyphony (Victoria, in this case) for the very first time in the liturgical context for which it was written; he had learned that that particular Mass was happening by seeing a notice for it on NLM. “And I wept like a baby... that was the moment in my life when I said ‘This has to be it! ... I don’t know why this has to be it, but this has to be it,’ because Christ revealed Himself to me in his liturgy. ...  I knew intellectually that the Church was it, but I didn’t trust Her yet, because I didn’t actually see Her living, and for me, it was the traditional Latin Mass ... which really made me first say ‘I need to become a Roman Catholic.’ ” This shows us not just the power of the liturgy, but also the profound effect which even very simple efforts made to get the word out about good liturgies can have. For obvious reasons, we have made no such announcements in recent months, but rest assured that when things get back to normal, NLM will be every bit as glad to go back to sharing news of upcoming liturgical events as you will be to celebrate and attend them.

Mr Bading goes on to explain how he wound up becoming the music director of the very same church where he first experienced that Mass, Sacred Heart in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and we wish him all the best in sharing the treasure he found there with others - ad multos annos!

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