(LifeSiteNews) –– In the book of the Apocalypse, Jesus instructs St. John to write letters to seven bishops of the churches of Asia (Revelation 2-3). He begins with the church of Ephesus, telling the bishop there that they have retained correct doctrine, that they are doing many good things, and avoiding many bad things. They have, nevertheless, a potentially fatal flaw: “You have abandoned your first love.” (Rev 2:4).
Jesus warns them that unless they return to their first love, their correct doctrine and practice will not save them, and their particular church will be lost. In fact, Christ says that He will come Himself and “remove their lampstand.” Apparently, He prefers having no church in Ephesus to having one that has forsaken her first love. But what, then, is this all-important “first love”?
A vital answer to this question can be found in Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s book The Once and Future Roman Rite. He there offers a similarly passionate plea (or warning) for the Roman Church to return to her first love.
Christ, of course, is the Church’s first Love; He is her Bridegroom. But as Dr. Kwasniewski shows so compellingly, liturgy is where that “first love” of the bridal church happens. It is that majestic, mysterious, romantic, ritualistic, embodied, ecstatic, serious, sacred, spiritual and intimate thing we call worship, and which Christ meant when he called his bride to return to her first love.
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LifeSiteNews will hand-deliver this petition to the Holy See, recording the moment traditional Catholics from around the world stood up for the Traditional Latin Mass.
Pope Francis has issued a new decree, “Traditiones Custodes,” severely restricting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition with other Catholics, and ask the Pope to reconsider this new and divisive Motu Proprio.
Pope Francis’ decree clamps down hard on the TLM. In it, he effectively does away with Pope Benedict’s protection of it, handing bishops in every diocese the right to suppress it, while demanding new priests get permission from their bishop and the Vatican to offer the Mass of the Ages.
As Catholics who value Tradition and know the place of the Magisterium in safeguarding the Deposit of Faith, it is time to speak up and have our voices heard.
Francis has decried rigidity and intolerance for years, but now is showing intolerance and rigidity himself by forcing his very narrow understanding of liturgy on one of the true sources of good fruit in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
Our Lord said that “a bad tree cannot bear good fruit”, and yet we see more and more souls drawn to Christ through the TLM, with marriages dedicated to God and open to many children, and vocations also abounding in traditional seminaries, orders and priestly societies.
Indeed, the Traditional Latin Mass has been a source of unity for the Catholic Church for more than 1500 years, producing great saints, repentant sinners, and souls won for Christ across the world. *Read below how Benedict XVI decried attacks against the TLM and its adherents.
To attempt to restrict the Traditional Latin Mass, as a new generation are rediscovering the treasures of God’s Church, will inevitably cause further division and hurt among the faithful, risking the loss of some souls who will regretfully turn away.
Souls are now at stake with this Motu Proprio, as some will drift away from the Deposit of Faith in disillusionment, while others that are far from God will never be touched by the profound beauty and reverence found in the Traditional Latin Mass.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition to Pope Francis, urging him to reconsider his decision, not least for the good of souls and the glory of God, and making sure as many cardinals support the TLM as possible.
Click “Show Petition Text” on the right to read the letter to Pope Francis.
Finally, please pray, fast and do penance for the salvation of souls, including that of our shepherds, during this turbulent time in Church history.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
‘BREAKING: Pope Francis abrogates Pope Benedict’s universal permission for Old Mass’ – www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abrogates-pope-benedicts-universal-permission-for-old-mass
‘ANALYSIS: Pope restricts ‘divisive’ Traditional Latin Mass, says 52-yr-old Novus Ordo is ‘unique expression’ of Church’s liturgy’ – www.lifesitenews.com/news/analysis-pope-restricts-divisive-traditional-latin-mass-says-52-yr-old-novus-ordo-is-unique-expression-of-churchs-liturgy
* Pope Benedict XVI (Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000):
“For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 [the older Latin Mass] should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her at present if things are that way?”
**Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
READ: Letter to a future religious: God calls us to the fullness of tradition, not the mere minimum
Like most of us who grew up in the post-Vatican II era of the 1970s, for about half my life I had no idea that I was living in a post-apocalyptic era. Dr. Kwasniewski’s book looks both to the past (“Once”) and to the future with regard to the Roman liturgy. If you still are like I was, then the “Once” aspect of The Once and Future Roman Rite will forever cure you of the illusion that what is going on in the Roman Church right now is normal, natural, beautiful, or beneficial.
On the other hand, if you are already aware of the apocalypse, but are still currently on the fence about what you ought to do, then the “Future” aspect will call you, powerfully, as the prophet Elijah did to the Israelites of his time, to stop “limping between two opinions” (1 Kings 18:21).
Dr. Kwasniewski goes beyond the minimalist liturgical outlook that frequently plagues these discussions (“Is it valid? Licit? Doctrinally correct?” Yes, but so was Ephesus!) to the real issues—the issues that get to the heart of “first love.”
Here are some of the questions:
(a) (Objective:) In this liturgy, are we giving God the best that we can?
(b) (Historical:) In this liturgy, are we being receptive to the best God has given us through our apostolic tradition?
(c) (Subjective:) In this liturgy, are we being formed in the best way in our first love of Christ?
Regarding this last point, the famous Catholic historian Christopher Dawson showed clearly the influence that religion has on culture. Dr. Kwasniewski takes this insight one step further back with his vision (which is the biblical vision) that liturgy is to religion as religion is to culture. We become as we worship, not just how we think and believe. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi: in that order. Sola doctrina will not save your church.
READ: Large Catholic families are promoted by the traditional liturgical calendar
Roger Scruton captures the positive aspect of Kwasniewski’s intuition well:
The truth of a religion lies less in what is revealed in its doctrines than in what is concealed in its mysteries. Religions do not reveal their meaning directly because they cannot do so; their meaning has to be earned by worship and prayer, and by a life of quiet obedience. Nevertheless, truths that are hidden are still truths; and maybe we can be guided by them only if they are hidden, just as we are guided by the sun only if we do not look at it. (Roger Scruton, Against the Tide, 99.)
We might illustrate this truth further by another analogy that occurs to me as a biblical scholar.
The Scriptures are written revelation. They became the Bible we now have through an organic process of development guided by God through history for our salvation. Likewise, our liturgy is ritualized revelation. It became what it was in an organic process of development guided by God through history for our salvation—before “experts” started messing with it.
No one would talk seriously about excising, rearranging, or rewriting the Bible because it “no longer spoke to modern man” or because we found it obscure or difficult. No one would want to import all sorts of other things into the Bible that didn’t come to be there as part of its divinely guided growth. (1) And yet this is what happened to our liturgy.
As a divine-human product of the great Tradition, this thing we call liturgy is fundamentally formative, on a practical and sacramental level, even more so than doctrine and catechesis, though obviously those are necessary too. Many (myself included) have experienced this on a practical level in parish life, adult faith formation committees, and youth groups.
READ: Church’s worship should teach us to speak ‘from God’ and not ‘from ourselves’
For example, you can teach the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist till you’re blue in the face, but if the art and architecture of your church, your bodily posture in prayer, and the liturgy and music you practice fails to enact that reality in the non-verbal, pre-verbal, sensual, poetic, liturgical, mystical mode, rooted in apostolic sacramental tradition, you have already lost that battle. Pretty soon, you’ll be…well…you’ll be where we are—hardly anyone believes. If Dr. Kwasniewski is correct, it’s probably not their fault. The Church formed people not to believe by failing to form them in “first love.”
Despite dismal realities, however, The Once and Future Roman Rite is a beacon of hope. For this final point I want to return to the book of the Apocalypse. The last of the seven bishops St. John writes to is the lukewarm, self-congratulatory “people church” of Laodicea. (2) They say, “We are rich, prosperous, and self-sufficient.” Christ says, “You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and lame.” And yet to these people, Christ, who came to heal the wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and lame, holds out the ardent offer of a return to their first love. He reminds them tenderly that he is the Bridegroom of the Song of Songs when he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” (Rev 3:20; Songs 5:2) and pleads with them to open.
I call The One and Future Roman Rite “the last self-help book for a post-apocalyptic church” because if this one doesn’t help convince you about what happened, and move you to do what needs to happen, then I doubt there is another that will. It is a firm but gentle guide to the perplexed who were born after the apocalypse, and for those who lived through it. It might be the best means of helping the church to hear that knock at the door, and to open to her first love.
Readers can purchase a copy of The Once and Future Roman Rite from the publishers, TAN Books, at this link.
- Actually, there are people who propose this. Among others, I had teachers in graduate school who did so. They also proposed themselves as the expert decision-makers who could fix our outmoded Bible for us. And, (God forgive them they know not what they do) they were from “that” era. One begins to wonder—was something in the water?
- “Laodicea” in Greek means something like “decision of the people”