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Book Review: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis

08.03.2016

Latin Mass Montana's president, Dave Wrobleski, offers a quick review of the book, Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church.  Dr. Kwasniewski's book is critical to understanding what happened and how the Latin Mass movement is the answer for genuine renewal in the Church.  


 

Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, published in 2014, is an excellent continuation of the discussion and disagreement concerning the 2 forms of Holy Mass of the Latin Rite, the Ordinary Form (Mass of Paul VI, Novus Ordo Missae) and the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Mass, Traditional Latin Mass).  The author has clearly been studying and immersed in both Masses for much time and presents a well-rounded, scholarly argument that Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum and the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass are exactly what is needed for renewal in the Catholic Church.

The first several chapters discuss various points of comparison between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Mass.  Importantly, the author clearly presents his arguments related to comparison based on the original texts in the Roman Missal – not translations.  This removes any discussion about the effects of poor translations on the Ordinary Form, although these translations are discussed to a small degree.  Also discussed is how the Ordinary Form is and has been actually celebrated in many countries.

The book contains a great number of convincing arguments for the tremendous superiority of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass including discussions on:

  • The value of ritual, sacredness, silence in the true worship of God
  • Why the 3 year comprehensive cycle of scripture is inferior to the traditional 1 year cycle
  • Why a more marked difference between Catholic and Protestant worship is beneficial (rather than the reverse)
  • How submitting to the texts, rubrics, and worship of Christ’s spouse, the Church makes a priest more like Christ, compared with how forcing his own personality and style on the Mass separates him from Christ 
  • Effects of both Masses on children – the awe, beauty, and fascination that children experience at the Extraordinary Form (which I have experienced in my own family)

A weak point of the book (if one can be found) is that portions within some of the middle chapters become quite esoteric and scholarly to the point where I began to drift over them.  However, the return to concrete reality did not take long with an occasional humorous comment mixed in: the sad but too familiar description of a priest’s polyester drapery vestments and servers wearing a “robe of some sort” that doesn’t quite ever hide their gym shoes.

One of the highlights of the book for me was the section on the riches of the sanctoral cycle in relation to the Mass.  A detailed comparison of propers between the 2 Masses on the feast of St Therese of Liseaux explicitly displays what was lost in the sanctoral cycle.  The author then discussed how the Traditional Liturgy could have been reformed.  How the propers used for feasts of saints could have been expanded and instead of several saints (e.g. confessors) all having the same prayers, scriptural texts that applied more specifically to saint could be used on their feast.  More broadly, then, he discusses why the Traditional calendar helps unite us with the Holy men and women who have come before us.

The later chapters the author begins to look forward at what can be done as we move forward.  In a chapter on Summorum Pontificum in our current times the author discusses the law of the church, comparing and contrasting integration of the EF Mass in our dioceses in relation to what the documents actually say.  An excellent point made here is that to question the fact that the traditional Latin Mass is beneficial for the health of the Church is to call into question the credibility of everything the Church says.  Quoting Cardinal Ratzinger and later Pope Benedict in his letter to each Bishop, Kwasniewski discusses how undoing and undermining what was once the holiest action in Christendom also undermines everything the Church says today.  If she could change her mind then, then the church could do so again.

Also presented chapter is list of questions, addressed to bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople – have each of us really worked toward what Summorum Pontificum specifies.  The silent answers to these questions are deafening – nowhere near enough has been done.  I highly recommend the book for its excellent comparison of so many aspects of the Masses including specific examples.  This book can provide people with experience with both Masses a more organized grasp of the differences.  It can provide those with little knowledge of the Extraordinary Form with a grasp on why it is so fervently supported and what it might do for their spiritual life.  For those who remain opposed to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass it can provide an understanding of why those long for its widespread use feel the way they do. 

You can purchase the book on Amazon

Resources

Universae Ecclesiae: Instructions on Implementation of Summorum Pontificum

Universae Ecclesiae is the official instruction from Ecclesia Dei regarding the application of Summorum Pontificum.

10 Reasons to Attend the Latin Mass

A great article from OnePeterFive outlining 10 good reasons to attend the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form).