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Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness

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Up until a week or so ago, I had never heard of Peter Kwasniewski and yet somehow his words and the words of so many of the men he quotes throughout his writings, have made a profound impact. So much so that I felt it necessary to share some of my thoughts and story. The past 7 years of my life have been a journey of discovery. Everyday there is something rich in meaning, something profound and transcendent placed before me that has only granted me this keen desire to dive in deeper. The Catholic Faith is a fathomless ocean in its depth and width and this post has to do with its very roots.
 
Somehow many of us Catholics have been severed from our roots by our very own Church's. We have become completely unaware because it’s what we are used to and it’s the only thing we’ve ever had access to, so therefore it is the only thing we know. I am a Cradle Catholic and yet I can honestly say, that the Church I grew up in moved with the world, it did not move the world. Although my family may feel differently about the parish we attended more regularly when I was a child and then less and less in my teen years - I can now see why it was so easy for us to leave behind to go about our ‘daily lives.’ I was left at the age of 17, poorly catechized with no real sense or knowledge of the True Presence. I had a lack of clarity on the importance of the sacrament of confession and I know for a fact how unwilling I was to make sacrifices or take time to understand the beauty of the mass. The list could go on and on. A sinner no doubt, but a sinner cut off entirely from her own heritage, her own Catholic traditions that should have been rendered with due concern for my soul as a member of the body of Christ. Does that seem selfish, because to me it seems rightly fitting. The fact is, the steady decline of mass attendees since about 1965 should be of concern to us all and for Saint JP2 in 1984 and Benedict XVI in 2007 it was important for them to voice their concerns through beautiful clarifications.
 
I personally have been able to experience the aftermath of the widespread ‘spirit’ of Vatican II for a majority of my life and now it’s hard not to feel like many Catholics, including myself have been severed from so much of the beauty of our Faith.
 
As Benedict XVI once said, “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.”
 
Truthfully, I was not fed thy medicine, thy body and blood of Christ with such reverence that I knew to whom I was receiving. Sadly, for many my story sounds remarkably similar. I haven’t experienced some of the worst things I have heard though, as some don’t even get to witness a knee bow in adoration before the Lord, not even from their very own priest. For some it’s like going to a rock concert, some watch eucharistic ministers drop Him on the floor, or laity walk back to their pews with His body in hand. Sacrilege is so easily befitted amongst the confusion and variety.
 
The Lord blessed me in my early 20’s though, thankfully a few people I am most certainly grateful for entered into my life during a time when I needed them most. These wonderful people gave me true insight, but my journey had only just begun. Over the course of the next 5 years of my life I was slowly able to open my eyes to the transparency and lack of reverence and beauty I beheld in my youth. The things that never would have bothered me before began to cause me great heartache and frustration. The lack of reverence I experienced at different parishes I attended had me constantly searching, desiring to see a deep longing in the eyes of those receiving. My heart had been turned ‘ad orientem’ and the solid question that to this day continues to stir around for hours on end within the confines of my heart is, “How can I revere you more, Lord? How can I behold your mystery in a way that gives you due honor?” I’ve been soaking in this question for some time now as I have allowed the sacred liturgy to fill in every crack and everything I had been missing prior.
 
I also for a time, felt extremely frustrated that I only knew what the Second Vatican Council, in its lack of clarity ‘allowed’ for me to know. What I mean is, wether we like it or not, the evil one was granted the ability to rid of the Sacred because of Vatican II's lack of clarity, and now we are left with a faith that in some parishes has become entirely unrecognizable from its very own roots and traditions. The smoke so clearly infiltrated yet the faithful continue on seeking truth. They continue to seek what transforms us within, what equips us and nourishes us towards the Heavenly. It sadly sometimes has to be up to us, but I have found great men like Robert Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sample, Benedict XVI, Father Ripperger, etc - who have steered my heart solemnly to the usus antiquior and I will be forever grateful.
 
As my husband and I have passionately read aloud the words of Peter to one another, truth overflows and I feel it is necessary to continually share what we have learned - but I wanted to start off with this preface: We are all at different stages and I have to say it can be tough. It is hard when you feel like you have to learn your faith all over again, but it is worth it and it is good and it doesn’t happen over night. In fact this is part of permanent formation which means you are going to be learning something new for your whole lives. It is worth every single solitary moment as you grow more and more in love with the Lord and the Church He founded.
 
As Peter says in his book, “The New Evangelization begins with my conversion and your conversion. The most basic fact of our existence is that we are in need of God - not a God of our own making, who fits into our mental categories, but a God who transcends all we can ever think and imagine. The liturgy has to introduce us to this God, the real one, in order to satisfy our neediness of Him. “Thou didst touch me,” says St. Augustine, “and I have burned for Thy peace.” If the liturgy is to bring us into the real presence of the sovereign mystery of God, accessed by faith alone, it will have to make serious demands on us, in God’s name; in keeping with the logic of the Cross, it will try us as gold in the fire, to see whether we are worthy and to render us less and less unworthy. The believer, for his own good, needs the liturgy to be dense, elusive, and fascinating. The “thickness” of the old liturgy better expresses and inculcates the mysteries of the Faith; its layers of prayer, symbolism ceremony, and chant, even in their apparent foreignness; have the power to speak more directly to the soul and to call forth an interior response.”
 
And as Archbishop Sample says, “If we are transformed by the sacred liturgy, then we, as believers, can help transform the culture. Let us place ourselves in the school of the old Mass, the school of countless saints, so that it can shape our minds and hearts, nourish us, and equip us for the work God is calling us to do. The traditional Latin Mass has an irrepressible power to make Our Lord “Rex et centrum omnium cordium,” the king and center of all hearts.” May the “Faith blossom anew in the midst of our modern wasteland.”