We Cannot Unsee the Beauty

We cannot unsee the beauty. It’s important for the Church to realize this simple fact. Our bishops need to accept this; Rome too.

Thanks to an increased availability to the Traditional Roman Rite (or at least an increased awareness of it), more and more Catholics have seen the beauty of authenticity.

Thanks to Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, more faithful attend the traditional Latin Mass than at any other time since 1970.

Thanks to the internet, social media, and Catholic bloggers, more of the faithful are seeing what Catholic liturgy looks like when offered in continuity with our tradition. When offered in love and truth. When offered with beauty.

A generation of bishops have done their best to hide the truth from the faithful. They have done their best to destroy that which is true, beautiful, and good. To this very day they still give their spiritual sons and daughters stones when we ask them for bread.

Repeatedly we see bishops asking the young what they want. Asking how can they reach the youth.

Repeatedly the answer has been: tradition. Beauty. Authenticity.

Obstinate ideologues in both Rome and in chanceries around the world refuse to listen. Instead we are told that the truth and beauty we seek is rigid. Is nostalgia. Is something which belongs in a museum, or in the past.

What our bishops refuse to see is that we cannot unsee the beauty. We refuse their nostalgia.

We reject their nostalgia for a return to the 1970’s.

We reject their form of worship, one which celebrates man instead of God and the profane over the sacred.

We reject their banal treatment of the Holy Eucharist and their contempt for the ministerial priesthood.

But most of all we reject their disdain for beauty.

Mind you, we aren’t simply referencing a beauty that is only skin deep. This isn’t just about ‘smells and bells’ and ad orientem Masses, despite what a few prominent Anglican converts to Catholicism try to argue. That is beauty built on sand and unable to withstand the strong winds of modernism.

The beauty we have seen is built upon a solid foundation. It is built upon the organic development of the liturgy over 2,000 years. It is the beauty of the Roman Rite as it has been known and practiced by the saints for centuries millennia. This beauty includes liturgical practices such as ad orientem worship and Sanctus bells, but it is so much more than just that.

We cannot go back because we have seen what Catholic worship can be. What it should be. Out of love for God, and from our need and ability to give Him our all, charity requires beauty. That which is good and true is also beautiful.

No, we cannot unsee the beauty. I imagine that deep down the most ideologically driven prelates are terrified by this. Those who seek to distort the faith always seek to distort worship first.

Speaking at a Wednesday general audience in 2009, Pope Benedict said that the “way of beauty is a privileged and fascinating path on which to approach the Mystery of God.”

Let us continue to see the beauty of tradition, of authenticity. Let us continue to restore the patrimony that was denied the faithful for far too long. This truth cannot be unlearned. This beauty cannot be unseen.

[Photo credit: Allison Girone]

Posted on September 14, 2019, in liturgy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I find your article on point and encouraging. My difficulty has been that, in coming to a Parish where beauty has been lacking, as I try to introduce beauty in the Liturgy through improving the music and begin to “sign the Mass” and not “sing at Mass; improving the way in which the ritual is offered to God; wearing beautiful vestments and not worn out polyester ‘garments’; making sure the preaching is the best it can be; I am told “you fixed something no one wanted fixed – we don’t want this kind of pretentiousness”. As you write, the young, and for me that is parishioners between 25 – 45, appreciate the exposure to beauty. May the words of Pope Benedict XVI be our mantra, “to experience Beauty is to encounter God!” Per aspera ad astra!

    • Beautifully expressed Fr. Jordan. Too many priests have been reprimanded for trying to
      bring beauty back into Church, very sad. Many have accepted the ‘dumbing down’ of the Mass for so long that anything close to the heart of Christ and not centered on the congregation is rejected. Stand strong Father, God is the focus!
      God Bless.

    • Catherine Therese

      This saddens me Father. That those who experienced the majesty, the beauty, the reverence, of the Holy Mass growing up would not want it back. I miss the Church of my youth. Please do not be disheartened. Our youth need to see this. May God Bless and keep you. You are in my prayers. JMJ

  2. Franklin P. Uroda

    Lots of folks, mostly clergy, have proposed what they think it is that Jesus, in His Saving Sacrifice, wants-in the way of theatrics-for His People, as they honor Him, His Father and Their Holy Spirit. IMO, the external expression, at any epoch, should be the natural expression of the people living at that epoch, not neglecting former times, but not being totally tied to the forms of the past.

  3. Absolutely. Your article is timely. I have just today returned from a Pontifical High Mass for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrated by H.E. Cardinal Burke.
    The Mass was celebrated in a plain parish church in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, in the liturgical backwater that is Scotland.
    The Mass was breathtaking. Thank you Cardinal Burke and Fr Mark Morris P.P. for planning this spectacular, and prayerful, event.

  4. Fr. Kelly pretty much sums up the prevalent attitude: “you fixed something no one wanted fixed – we don’t want this kind of pretentiousness.” And they have the audacity to call us rigid. I see that the “museum” comment in reference to the “danger” posed by young priests has rubbed Brian the same way that it rubbed me.

  5. Annettep@reagan.com

    Ohhhh, yes! Copying, sharing and passing around.
    Thank you.

  6. If I’m not mistaken, I attended the Latin Mass today in the very church from which this photo was taken. It’s about my 8th time. The TLM takes my breath away. It’s a 45 minute drive and worth every second. There is a solace in the silence and reverence of this worship that dwarfs the NO. It is balm in this time of upheaval.

  7. The key value here is that the employment of the Tridentine Rite in some areas is via a cultural trickle-down nudgins ALL parishes toward greater reverence and tradition in decoration and church design. The juxtaposition of this mass with the polyester banners and table-cloth altars of the 70s shows the latter as the hideous failure that it has been. The tridentine Rite will never again be normative, but its rising is lifting all liturgical boats.

    • Mr. Hrabe, the “Tridentine Rite will never again be normative.” Huh? Do you think the NOM will produce vocations out of thin air? Not in the least. The correct answer is that the NOM is contracting by conservatively about 2-5% per year. The TLM is expanding by 15-20% per year. Which one do you thing will be normative in two generations? It is demographics my friend; no one can hide from demographics.

  8. The exterior beauty of Catholicism can only do so much.

  9. We are not made up of only bodies. We thrive when our souls and our bodies are moved concurrently. The Mass of the Apostles is organically formative. The Mass of Paul VI was inflicted and contrived.

  10. the sacrificial banquet now seems like just a snack

  11. We recently had two female visitors sit next to us at St Ann…by the end of the Mass they were literally crying because of the beauty, the choir, the phalanx of alter boys, the reverent Mass of Fr Reid…one was old enough to remember “this is how it used to be!”

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