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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book: The Heresy of Formlessness

I came across this beautifully written book The Heresy of Formlessness by Martin Mosebach, about the Traditional Latin Mass. This is the Mass that was celebrated in every country from 1570 to 1962, and is making a bit of a comeback since Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 document Summorum Pontificum, authorizing a wider use of the old Mass.

I've only read a Kindle sample of the first chapter of Mosebach's book, and it seems to capture the beauty and solemnity of the old Mass (which I'm fortunate to be able to attend in Victoria). Mosebach writes:
Gregorian chant is not art music. It exists to be sung in every village church and every suburban church, in spite of the fact that some of it is difficult and requires practice—and people did practice it, hearing it every Sunday all their lives. Only later did I realize, however, that the liturgy and its music must not be regarded as an occasionally edifying or impressive concert or as a help toward meditation; no, it is something that must be practiced one's whole life long. The obligation to go to church every Sunday should be seen in connection with the liturgy: the liturgy must permeate our lives at a level deeper than deliberation and thought; it must be something that, for us, is “taken for granted”; otherwise it cannot have its full effect on us.
Good stuff.

One more excerpt:
Now it was quiet. Everyone was kneeling, and Professor Gessner was whispering, turning pages in the Missal, and Hermann in his soutane was kneeling beside him, the bell in one hand while, with the other, he held the chasuble up a little. Professor Gessner bent forward and whispered a little more distinctly, then genuflected; the little bell was rung, and he lifted a little, white, round wafer high in the air while the bell rang three times, and Ludwig forgot that Hermann had taken the wafer from the wooden box and put it on the little golden plate on top of the chalice. This white disc in a cloud of incense—he did not see it as something material at all, or rather, he saw it, for one moment, as something very fine and delicate, like solidified light. Then the hands came down and Professor Gessner started reading in a whisper again.
That's a beautiful description of the moment of consecration at a Traditional Latin Mass.


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