Saturday, July 22, 2017

Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis

Resurgent in the Midst of CrisisResurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church by Peter Kwasniewski, 206 pages

In the view of Peter Kwasniewski, the crisis currently facing the Catholic Church is not primarily the product of outside forces, but of internal collapse, brought about by a turning away from discipline, self-sacrifice, and the transcendent.  Essential to this reorientation was the introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass following the Second Vatican Council, for liturgy functions not only as prayer but also as paideia, ideally not only petitioning God but making the Church more Christ-like.  Central to Kwasniewski's argument is his awareness of human beings as equally body and soul, and therefore receptive to physical languages - gesture, costume, architecture, decoration - as well as the spoken word.  This results in a particularly incisive critique of the didacticism and informality of the Novus Ordo, whose wealth of words is actually less effective at communicating the truths of the faith than the sign and symbol of more traditional liturgies, even as its casual approachability seems to implicitly contradict those same truths.

An obvious problem arises in that many of Kwasniewski's arguments are predicated on observations akin to aesthetic judgments, which will be of little currency in a culture where aesthetic judgments are dogmatically held to be entirely relative.  It is part of his argument that conventional denials of aesthetic or moral hierarchy cannot long endure contact with genuine beauty and goodness.  In the end, as the title suggests, his outlook is hopeful, grounded in faith and an understanding of the Church as a unity transcending time, drawing past and present and future together in eternity.

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