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October 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Sparked by the reading of LifeSite author Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s most recent book, Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2020), German musicologist and journalist Dr. Barbara Stühlmeyer conducted the following interview, asking the author about his first encounter with the traditional Latin Mass (TLM), whether there’s a connection between the liturgical reform and loss of faith in the Real Presence, the importance of Latin-rite priests everywhere learning the usus antiquior, the difference between the old Divine Office and the new Liturgy of the Hours, the place of the saints and angels in Catholic life, and advice for those who cannot find a TLM near them. A German translation of this interview will appear in the German newspaper Die Tagespost.

Dr. Stühlmeyer: When did you take part in the celebration of a TLM for the first time?

PAK: When I was in high school, maybe 17 years old, I was told that such a thing as a “Latin Mass” existed. Of course I had no idea whatsoever what this would have meant, as I’d only ever seen the English Novus Ordo, and my Catholic education had been sorely lacking in history or theology. Thanks to a “tip” from a teacher, I found out there was a Latin Mass and made an attempt to figure out where I could find it. That led me one Sunday to a hotel conference room somewhere in New Jersey near where I lived, so I went to it. I remember nothing except confusion, lots of people kneeling in a businesslike space with a low ceiling, and not hearing anything. It was not an edifying experience.

The first “real” experience, I would say, came a couple of years later in college, where one of the two chaplains secretly celebrated low Masses in a beautiful Spanish-style chapel at an altar surmounted by a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That’s where I first fell in love, though as yet I had little clue how this love would dominate my life.

Would you say there is a connection between the postconciliar liturgy and the dwindling belief in transubstantiation?

Yes, I’m afraid it’s impossible to deny the connection. The classical Roman rite as it developed over so many centuries acquired numerous and very expressive gestures of adoration and care toward the Holy Sacrament, precisely because it is not a mere “thing,” but under the signs of bread and wine a divine Person is really present. How we treat Him is how we show our faith in Him and our love for Him. The liturgical reform cruelly diminished these gestures and introduced other practices, now habitual to the point of being immovable, that suggest we are dealing with common food and drink that, in the context of Mass, are given a new symbolic meaning (the technical term for this heresy is “transsignification”). The reformed rite is redolent of a Lutheran or Calvinist conception of the Eucharist. That is the “faith,” if one can call it that, of the vast majority of Catholics in the Western world.

When they learn the true teaching of the Church, they start to see the jarring cognitive dissonance between what we believe (or say we believe) and how we act in the Novus Ordo. And when they see how the traditional Mass works, they realize that it itself is a grand tabernacle for the holy Mystery of Faith, a dominating reminder, a protective enclosure, a gold shining house of God that beckons us while saying “fall on your knees and adore.”

Would you encourage that prospective priests study both rites?

Absolutely. If the usus antiquior is the Roman Rite — as it unquestionably is, both historically and (thanks to Summorum Pontificum) legally — then any priest ordained in the Latin Church to offer the Roman Rite should be able to do so in full, not in a partial and, as it were, handicapped manner. It would be like running with one leg, or boxing with one arm. (I’m thinking that this metaphor doesn’t work so well, because there would be no similar defect in a priest’s only celebrating the old form, which is all that existed for most of the Church’s history and is sufficient unto itself.)

Beyond that, every priest I know who offers the usus antiquior has found it to be a tremendous enrichment to his life of prayer, his sense of priestly identity, and his pastoral ministry. It brings forth new possibilities of evangelization, even if that is not its primary purpose.

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PETITION UPDATE (3/15/21) - 

Reports suggest that the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference (USCCB) is preparing a vote on what to do about pro-abortion Joe Biden (and, presumably, other abortion-promoting politicians) who continues to present himself (themselves) for Holy Communion.

Public excommunication would be a suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of scandalously promoting abortion.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this important petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (2/4/20)

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing Executive Orders to destroy the protections which former President Trump offered to the unborn and to the innocence and modesty of children of the United States.

In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.

And, in another executive order, Biden seeks to force girls' athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to accept gender-confused males.

Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was shamefully silent throughout the presidential campaign on the pre-eminent issues of abortion and gender ideology, and what Biden vowed he would do as president, it is cold comfort that their pro-life office is now speaking up about this Administration's wilful disregard for human life and for God's design of human nature (i.e., two biological sexes).

Stated plainly, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be, and the bishop, acting in unison (as the USCCB) have an obligation to the Lord (first) and to the faithful (second) to refuse Holy Communion to this grave public sinner.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who continues to use the church as a backdrop for statements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, is now doing everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

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PETITION UPDATE (12/10/20)

Prior to the election on November 3, the U.S. bishops did not address Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic position regarding faith and morals as a unified body.

The USCCB, the organization to which every U.S. bishop belongs and which is staffed and led by bishops, remained disgracefully silent in the run-up to the election.

What were the bishops afraid of, losing their charitable tax status with the IRS, or being deprived of fat checks from the HHS (immigration programs) and USAID (foreign aid programs)?

Or, were they just too cowardly to clearly declare Christ's law to be above man's law and risk the ire of a Joe Biden as president?

Either way, the bishops’ lack of clarity in this regard is a terrible scandal in itself and probably greatly contributed to the possible election of a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Catholic to the presidency.

Given the fact that exit polling shows Catholics split their vote 50-50 for Trump and Biden, even a slight deviation in the heavily-Catholic swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could have produced different results.

The bishops could have spoken out against Biden’s pro-abortion stance collectively, but, again, they were overwhelmingly and shamefully silent.

Because of this, they will be at least partly responsible for the policies advanced by a Biden administration, in the event that Biden is sworn into office.

However, the bishops can, even now, mitigate the damage done by their inaction by taking the following steps: 1) Speak with one voice, as the USCCB, and plainly condemn Biden's pro-abortion stance; 2) Publicly advise Biden not to present himself for Holy Communion because of his scandalous position on abortion and homosexual "marriage;" and, 3) Tell Biden to publicly repent of publicly promoting the wilfull murder of the preborn, sins against nature, and diminishing the natural family.

Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken out forcefully on Biden's scandalous behavior, and his standing in the Church.

On November 9, Archbishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

Additionally, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado and Archbishop Charles Chaput have both declared publicly that Joe Biden “should not receive Holy Communion."

But, to add insult to injury, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has said that he will give Holy Communion to Biden because “it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”

And, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware and Bishop McElroy of San Diego also congratulated Biden in statements, but they have not indicated whether or not they would administer Holy Communion to him.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who uses the church as a backdrop to make sickening political advertisements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, says that he will do everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-concerned-about-pro-abortion-biden-previously-hailed-him-as-second-catholic-president

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=standard

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/former-philly-archbishop-biden-not-in-full-communion-with-the-catholic-church

https://www.thesoutherncross.org/news/bishop-mcelroy-offers-prayers-and-congratulations-to-president-elect-biden/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/us-catholics-weigh-mixed-reaction-biden-win

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PETITION UPDATE (9/29/20)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has stated that Democratic candidate Joe Biden should not receive Holy Communion because of his support for abortion.

In an interview for Thomas McKenna's Catholic Action for Faith and Family podcast, Cardinal Burke states the following (starting around 5:00):

First of all, I would tell him [Biden] not to approach to receive Holy Communion, out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege and endanger the salvation of his own soul.

But, also, he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone, because if someone says, 'I'm a devout Catholic," and, at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it's acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion.

Of course, it's absolutely not acceptable, and never has been, and never will be.

We give thanks for Cardinal Burke's frankness and clarity. And, we call on every U.S. Catholic bishop to follow Cardinal Burke's lead and call out Joe Biden for his bloody-minded hypocrisy on the issue of abortion.

To reiterate: You cannot be a Catholic and support abortion.

Thank you for continuing to sign this urgent petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (8/17/20)

The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, keeps claiming to be Catholic but has said he will do everything in his power to support abortion.

And, with his pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has just cemented abortion into the Democrats' 2020 presidential ticket.

Indeed, Harris is vehemently pro-abortion.

During her time as attorney general of California, Harris played a key role in defending Planned Parenthood over its sale of aborted baby parts (which violated multiple federal laws, according to undercover video of abortion industry personnel).

And, last year, Harris unveiled a plan to essentially force pro-life states to seek permission from the federal government before pro-life laws can take effect.

Additionally, Harris has dangerous views on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

Harris displayed anti-Catholic bigotry in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brian Buescher. Harris cited his membership in the “all-male society” the Knights of Columbus and its stances against abortion and same-sex “marriage” as grounds for rejecting Buescher for a federal district court in Nebraska.

And, David Daleiden, head of the pro-life investigative group Center for Medical Progress, wrote that from his firsthand experience, he considers Harris the “greatest threat to First Amendment civil rights our country has ever seen.”

Joe Biden has seriously erred by taking on Kamala Harris as his running mate, further distancing himself from the truths of the Catholic Faith, especially that every life is sacred from conception till natural death.

Please CLICK HERE to read an article which details one U.S. bishop's warning about the Biden-Harris ticket.

And, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition.

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Of course, these two things are incompatible: you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.

And, a "Catholic" politician's responsibility in this regard is absolute: On pain of serious sin, he or she can never promote abortion because abortion is the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings, and also because doing so causes grave scandal to the Church and the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition asking the bishops of the United States to refuse to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

Biden recently promised to “codify Roe v. Wade” as president, adding, "my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose."

And, since starting his latest run for the presidency, Biden also flip-flopped against the Hyde Amendment, saying that he would allow federal funds to be spent on abortion - a position he claimed to be against for more than 40 years.

In short, Joe Biden will do everything in his power to enable and defend the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings.

So, this should not be a hard decision for our U.S. bishops. In fact, in another circumstance, it was already done by an Illinois bishop.

Indeed, Bishop Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, invoked Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law to withdraw Holy Communion from two Illinois state politicians who had worked to enact radical new abortion legislation in 2019.

Canon 915 states: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Of course, no-one, least of all the bishops, wants anyone to be deprived of Holy Communion.

A politician who publicly and obstinately advocates for the murder of innocent preborn babies puts himself out-of-communion with the Church and her teaching. 

Pro-abortion politicians should not think that they can advocate for the murder of the unborn and receive the Body of Christ at the same time. This would be to defile the Eucharist while giving scandal to the faithful.

Depriving politicians of Holy Communion is not just meant to prevent scandal; it is also designed to bring a grave public sinner to repentance. In this way, such an action is meant to be for the good of their souls, too.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition which calls on the U.S. Catholic bishops to refuse to admit Joe Biden to Holy Communion until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-priest-denies-joe-biden-holy-communion-for-pro-abortion-stance

Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome’s Position on Denying Communion  - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-mccarrick-and-the-concealing-of-romes-position-on-denying-communio

**Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

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How would you describe the difference between the performative power between the reformed liturgy of hours and the traditional form?

The traditional Divine Office is a weighty thing. It has a breadth, depth, and thickness that come from the repetition of the entire Psalter in a week; the varying structure of the major and minor hours (seven in the day and one for the night); the dense interlacing of the Office with the Mass; and the intellectual clarity and rigor of the Latin prayers and hymns. In short, it is serious, and it demands to be taken seriously. In this way it really forms or informs the interior life of the priest and the religious who uses it.

The modern Liturgy of Hours has been satirized as “the liturgy of the minutes” because of its brevity. It displays a typically modern architecture, lacking in ornament and subtlety, and always repeating the same structure (first the hymn, then the psalms, etc.), which is tedious. In fact, it is hard to take seriously, and that is partly why it seems harder for modern clergy to commit to praying this lightweight Liturgy than it was for the priests of old to pray a far more demanding breviary. I’m not even touching here on what happened to communities of monks and nuns who abandoned chanting their daily prayer with the incomparable Gregorian melodies. That was the kiss of death. They have shriveled up like a dry, weary land without water.

Is there a connection between the current state of liturgy and the rather poor awareness of the saints and the angels today?

When people start attending the classical Roman rite, one of the things that surprises and intrigues them the most is how hagiocentric it is: the sanctoral cycle is far more prominent. There are over 300 more saints in the traditional general calendar than in the Novus Ordo, many of them commemorations on top of feasts. The saint of the day determines the whole “tenor” of the Mass, from the Introit through the Epistle and Gospel all the way to the Postcommunion. One has a strong sense of the presence of the saints as intercessors and exemplars, who show us Christ in their own persons and who point the way beyond themselves to Him. So far from being a distraction, this hagiocentricity amplifies the fullness of Christ by displaying His perfections, refracted through the prism of a variegated sanctity. Exalting the saints, especially the Mother of God, makes Christ stand out all the more as the Lord of all, not a chummy brother. The same could be said of the angels, who enjoy many more feast days in the old calendar and who appear much more frequently in the texts of the Mass itself.

We need to return to a liturgy that reflects, as in an unblemished mirror, the biblical cosmos, filled with angels and demons, saints in glory and sinners in need of conversion and deification. This is what all the traditional liturgical rites of East and West present to us. We still live in the same cosmos, but we have tried to forget about it, we’ve tried to fashion a work of our own hands to affirm us in our supposed modern distinctiveness. It was a vain endeavor, doomed to fail. A better way is already at hand, flourishing wherever the traditional Roman liturgy has resumed its rightful place.

What would you recommend someone who is drawn to the TLM but has no possibilities to join one where they live?

I consider it a heavy cross to bear, when a Catholic, who is heir to two thousand years of organically developed tradition, has no option to pray the way the vast majority of saints have prayed, and to benefit from the special qualities of this age-old liturgy. But we can come into contact with the traditional liturgy in other ways — for example, by praying part of the Roman Breviary or the Monastic Diurnal, by meditating with a daily Missal (or even praying a sort of “dry Mass,” such as I describe here), and by making trips once in a while to a monastery or parish where the TLM is offered, as a sort of “retreat” from the busy world of the Novus Ordo. Naturally, in the age of the coronavirus, many are watching the TLM on their screens, and while this is far from ideal, it can nourish the longing for meditative and contemplative prayer.

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville's Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing. 

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published ten books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least thirteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over 1,200 articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church. 

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.

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