17 July 2014

This is Profound Enough to Steal

By that, I mean, to steal in full from the Rorate Caeli blog, where it was posted today.  What follows are the words of Martin Mosebach, the great German author of The Heresy of Formlessness, in a talk he gave on Ash Wednesday 2013. 

One side note about The Heresy of Formlessness: despite its rather unexciting title, it is a fascinating and compelling read.  Every Catholic-- especially every Catholic seminarian-- ought to read it.  I loaned it to a friend who was fairly new in St. Louis and somewhat new to the timeless Mass.  I was in the immediate aftermath of having read it the first time, and was going on and on about how great it was as I loaned it to him.  I'm sure he regretted the dinner invitation during this spiel (if not before).  Anyway, the first thing I noticed when I said the title of the book was his eyes glazing over.  I assured him the book was better than title would suggest, but that the title was perfect for the book.  He said something polite. 

Much later he confirmed my suspicions when he confessed he had no interest in the book and merely took it to be polite.  He didn't read it for a long time, but when he did, he couldn't believe how great it was.

It is.

So, read the book, OK? 

Anyway, Mosebach's words as posted at Rorate:

One difficulty that arose from the Church's abandonment of her traditional liturgy was surely quite unexpected. Many who observe the Church from a distance, and this includes many nominal Catholics, now see the Church as embodied principally in the moral teachings that she requires her faithful to follow. These teachings include many prescriptions and proscriptions that contradict the customs of the secular world. In the days when the Church was above all oriented toward the immediate encounter with God in the Liturgy however, these commandments were not seen merely in relation to the living of daily life, but were concrete means of preparation for complete participation in the liturgy.
The liturgy  gave morality its goal. The question was: What must I do in order to attain to perfect Communion with the Eucharistic Christ? What actions will result in my only being able to look on Him from afar? Moral evil then appeared not merely as the that which is bad in the abstract, but as that which is to be avoided in order to attain to a concrete goal. And when someone broke a commandment, and thus excluded himself from Holy Communion, Confession was ready as the means to repair the damage and prepare him to receive Communion again. A surprising result of the reform is that while the Church of the past, which was really oriented toward the liturgy, appeared to many outside observers as being scandalously lax in moral matters, the current Church appears to contemporaries (and not only to those outside) as unbearably moralistic, unmerciful, and meanly puritanical. (From: "Das Paradies auf Erden: Liturgie als Fester zum Jenseits," Una Voce Korrespondenz 43 (2013), pp. 213-214; translation by Sacerdos Romanus).


JDD said...

I fully admit my eyes were glazing over, but it might have been a combination of the booze and the book title.
Being new to the Tradition mass, I wasn't ready for it. But after 5 years of St Frances de Sales, my eyes were opened to the Heresy of Formlessness.
Cardinal in Huskerland

Karen said...

I read this post and also was smitten. Would love to read the book. BUT, there is next the question of how to return to the TLM. I recently listened to a talk (sermon?) by a Fr. Chad Ripperger whose many orthodox sermons are available online and he spoke of a universal indult and all the problems that could arise from such a move. As much as I would LOVE the entire world to return to the TRUE Mass, I am at a loss as to how it could be accomplished. In the talk, Fr. Ripperger states that most of the priests today do not know how to properly say the Mass and that trying to teach them to say it would probably end up in many abuses and improper forms. Does anyone see an answer to this point?

Rachel said...

Karen, I heard a sermon that said something related-- that the wholesale switch to the new Mass had the effect of preserving the old one in its pure form. I think we'll have abuses and improper forms no matter what form of Mass is said, so I don't know the best way forward for the Church. Fortunately my only task is to be faithful in my own life...

Tinman, what a great extract. I never thought of that before, that greater focus on the liturgy puts moral teachings in context.