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Your humble blogger has been very… and I mean very busy this past week. Today, before going into the office, I decided put together this short post to “signal” to my readers that all is OK. I will be back, hopefully regularly by the end of next week.
In the mean time, I am putting up a link to a video I found while spending time in the old country over the past Christmas holidays. The video is from the Franciscan Church in Poznan Poland, December 4 2002 and Mozart’s Solemn Requiem Mass- Missa Pro Defuncto. Here are the pertinent facts (see here).
The reason that I am posting this video is not so much for its aesthetic appeal, which this video no doubt has, but for the context. I would like to draw your attention to what could be termed the “comprehensiveness” of the cultural setting in which this Mass is being offered. In this video, we not only see the most perfect form of prayer which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but we see this most perfect form of prayer being reenacted in what can objectively be termed the most perfect cultural setting developed to date and known to man. This no doubt, is a high point of Western Civilization.
When we observe Mozart’s Missa Pro Defuncto offered (I don’t like to use the word “performed”) in Poznan, what we are a witness to is an “event” which in itself is a snapshot of a point in time. The context for this event is a representation of a cause and effect process. One can say that it serves as the perfect example of a cause, in this case the adoption of the One True Faith by a nation, i.e. Poland, the Faith whose most perfect form of prayer is the TLM. The effect of accepting the One True Faith is the ensuing culture that developed on the basis of the One True Faith. In other words, the Faith, with its most perfect form of prayer, the TLM came first and was the cause of the comprehensive cultural setting we see in the video, that it bore.
Supporting evidence for the above assertion can be seen by examining the historical context of the event in the video. This event took place in Poland, a country whose birth is a direct result of the acceptance of the Catholic faith by its first Catholic ruler, Mieszko I in Anno Domini 966. When Mieszko I converted to Catholicism, Poland was a backward country, with no history nor even a written language and nothing that could be described as a national culture. In other words, it was a late comer to the European nation building game by about 1700 years (founding of Rome as reference point). Yet by accepting the Catholic religion and de facto adopting Western culture, the country was able to put in place a highly developed culture in a relatively short period of time, at whose heart was the Catholic Faith itself.
On an aside, if you don’t believe me, next time your driving downtown on the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago, the churches on your right hand side were all built by Poles. But I digress…
The resulting culture allowed the country to not only develop into a super power during the First Republic (1454 – 1795) but to withstand the trials and tribulations in the later half of the XVIII century that ended with the first of three partitions of the country starting in 1772. The partitions literally wiped Poland off the face of Europe. Yet the Polish Nation, whose culture was grounded in the One True Faith withstood the test of time and persists to this day.
The reason that I bring this up today is that looking at the present situation in Rome, or what could be termed the disintegration of the Institutional Church, one could easily notice a historical parallel. A corrupt and degenerate clerical class (see here) which lost its Faith, its bearing and all contact with objective reality, decided to commit ecclesiastical suicide in 1965.
This situation is very similar to the situation with the Polish aristocracy in the later half of the XVIII century. In the case of Poland, a part of a depraved and degenerated magnate class, who felt that their rights were being restricted by the reforms of the 3rd of May Constitution (1792), went to the Russian monarch and asked for intervention. The intervention ended badly, with the first partition literally wiping Poland off the map of Europe. The treacherous aristocrats were allowed to keep their possessions, yet lost their sovereignty. The “god of surprises” is a merciless “god”. It took 126 years, countless sacrifices of generations of Poles and the upheavals that were brought about by the First World War, for Poland to be restored. No small feat.
With respect to the Institutional Church, the depraved and degenerated clerical class who seized power at the last conclave, is also motivated by pride, not unlike the Polish traitors. In their case, they are attempting to destroy the Institutional Church by undermining the theological foundation upon which ecclesiastical structures rest. What these corrupt clericalists don’t seem to understand is that the theological underpinnings are those that derive from Divine Law, i.e. the law that was given to man by Our Lord and from natural law, i.e. the law that God created to govern His creation. So what we are a witness to in fact, is the following situation: when the corrupt clericalist degenerates collapse one part of the Institutional Church, the Indefectible Church, the one that Our Lord promised His Faithful will be waiting for Him at the end of time, and which presently “subsists” inside the corrupt Neo-modernist structures, starts the organic rebuilding process anew (see here).
This video in fact, is a perfect example of the organic Restoration phenomenon described above. What we see in the video is a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form being offered during the Indult period. In other words, at a time before there was an “Extraordinary Form”, since the Summorum Pontificum was promulgated under the next pontiff 5 years later. Next observation, the TLM was offered in Poland, the center of the JPII neo-modernist cult during the reign of the JPII. The ordinary who gave permission (the one and same Archbishop Gadecki of Stealth Sex Synod™ fame) for this Mass must have jumped through some very serious hoops. I have no doubt that this TLM must have been cleared with Rome and that the “cultural” aspects ( TLM was recorded for commercial purposes) were heavily accented. Next, priests had to be found (FSSP in this case was most likely brought in from outside the country) but the assisting ministers needed to be found and trained to celebrate the Mass properly. Also notice that the organizers went one step further. If you look carefully dear reader, you will notice that the organizers discarded the Bugnini table from the sanctuary. You can notice the platform still in the foreground. All in all, those who remember this dark period in the Church’s history will “more fully” appreciate the significance of this video.
Concluding, what is important on a “big picture” level is to notice the “resilience” of the TLM in the larger cultural context. The neo-modernists suppressed the TLM in 1969/1970, yet due to Archbishop Lefebvre, JPII had to allow for the Indult in 1984. Once the Indult was in place, the TLM began being restored due to its integral link to a larger cultural context. They wanted to do a more commercially viable Mozart’s Requiem Mass in this case, no doubt. But once the Faithful gained access to the TLM in one of its settings, they began to ask for the restoration of the TLM in its own right. With the consecration of the bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre, the Vatican tried to be clever and decided to divide the Catholics (who the neo-modernist refer to as Traditionalists) through the creation of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. (Still no FSSP bishop, yes? How many years has it been?) But the true “God of surprises”, i.e the Holy Spirit used this opening to disseminate access to the proper Catholic Mass into the wider church. Which led to the TLM jumping from the Ecclesia Dei community to the wider diocesan structures. At present, what we see is tantamount to a pollination process, whereby more dioceses are instituting the TLM. Regardless of what Msgr. Pope says. But that is the subject for a different post. Excuse the digression… And with the spread of the TLM, we simultaneously have the spread of the culture that derived from it.
Why is this you ask dear reader?
The reason is that the Immemorial Mass of All Ages is where our Faith and culture all comes together.
PS The subject matter of this post was motivated by a recent Fr. Z post titled 250 kneeling students sing Gregorian chant for ‘ad orientem’ Mass in motel bar (see here). The key passage was the following: (emphasis added)
Fr. Caswell describes how the Mass was celebrated: “We celebrated a sung Mass in the ordinary form ad orientem. Latin and English were used. This Mass on Saturday evening would fulfill our Sunday obligation, presuming we would travel home on Sunday (we were wrong). We certainly might have celebrated Mass in the extraordinary form, but altar cards and other necessary items could not be found in the snow stranded hills of Pennsylvania.” [They needed the wonderful travel altar cards from SPORCH!]
250 people singing Mass in a bar, for heaven’s sake!
Which got me thinking that maybe Msgr. Pope spends his time in the wrong sort of bars.
No pun intended.