Traditional Latin Mass: Igniting Revolution

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Catholicism: The “Revolution of the Cross”

As explained in the article Men Focused by the Revolutionary Traditional Latin Mass , Catholicism is the prolongation of the redemptive action of Our Lord Jesus Christ – the most revolutionary act in history because it empowered a revolution in man’s interior.

As the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church prolongs this power for revolution above all through the sacred liturgy (the sacraments, sacramentals, public prayer) whose apex is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Among the various venerable ancient rites of East and West is the most ancient rite, that which is made visible in the traditional Latin Mass, and which was at the fountainhead of the culture of Christendom.

“The unerring sentence of time” (Edward Gibbon): the Ancient Rite showed her revolutionary profile in many ways in the first millennium and during medieval Christendom. But revolutionary she continued to be from the sixteenth century onwards even as the civilization she had helped to create was assaulted and destroyed by the ever-stronger forces unleashed against her.

“That Catholic social order—Christendom—had a brief springtime of life in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries before corrupt and incompetent clergy, philosophical nominalism, the rise of nationalism, the Black Death, and the Hundred Years’ War undermined its foundations in the following two hundred years. Then began the era of “modernity” which, although spanning five centuries, is an ideologically coherent unity. The unifying factor is the assault on the cultural and socio-political ethos of Christendom. This onslaught, due to its philosophical roots in socio-political gnosticism, its socio-cultural pervasiveness, and its frequent use of violence in order to pursue a utopian world order, increasingly rejected not only Catholicism but also the Natural Law and any sense of cultural heritage from previous generations to the extent that the world witnessed the arrival of a new phenomenon—the socio-cultural revolution. The successive stages and agents of change of the revolutionary process can be identified emblematically by the years in which crucial events occurred: the outbreak of the Protestant revolution in 1517, the foundation of the first Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in London in 1717, the French Revolution of 1789, the October Marxist-Leninist Revolution of 1917 in Russia, and the 1968 cultural-Marxist rev- olution which is currently eradicating the remnants of the Catholic social order.”[1]

From the beginning of Modernity, the Ancient Rite’s role  has also involved invigorating Catholics to defiantly resist the increasingly and militantly anti-Catholic secularized society built upon the ideology that refuses to recognize the rights of God and seeks to extirpate all references to Catholicism in politics, law and education, justifying the process in the name of cultural relativism.

Continuing to face East, the Ancient Rite breathed a sense of history and mystique of the sacred that helped many Catholics resist. It imbued them with the clear sense of identity that Christ had bequeathed to them of being distinct from, and indeed opposed to, the “world” understood biblically as the world that rejects, indeed hates, God and his Church, a world under satanic power (Jn 14,30). “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it (Jn 17:16).

Thus, for centuries, the “Mass of the Ages” helped to mature Catholics as men and women radically independent not only of secularism but also of the passing fashions of each age and particularly of the “chronological snobbery” by which one naively thinks that one’s age is superior to those that have preceded it. It made them into dangerous men as unjust monarchs and totalitarian dictators from Diocletian to Mao-tze-tung found out when they confronted Thomas a Becket, John Fisher, Thomas More, Oliver Plunkett, James Edward Walsh, and countless others.

The Ancient Rite through its God-centred and sacrificial ethos with the clear recognition that Jesus Christ is Lord of all reality, private and public, instilled in Catholics the unshakeable conviction that Catholicism, while never imposing the Faith on anyone, has the mission to create a society with a Catholic ethos. As the collect of the Feast of Christ the King prays: “Almighty everlasting God, who in Thy beloved Son, King of the whole world, hast willed to restore all things anew; grant in Thy mercy that all the families of nations, rent asunder by the wound of sin, may be subjected to His most gentle rule.”

This clear identity led countless non-Catholics to cross the Church’s threshold and it caused countless others to regard her either with rage or respect – but never with indifference. One of the respectful outsiders was Winston Churchill, a man with a deep sense of Western civilization even though his education in Christianity had been meager. On August 23rd, 1944, after a private meeting with Pope Pius XII in the Vatican, he immediately afterwards quoted from memory Macaulay’s rather long tribute to the Catholic Church and concluded by adding an unexpected personal comment: “He felt that there must be something in a faith that could survive so many centuries and had held captive so many men”.[2]

The chief means by which the Ancient Faith held men captive was the Ancient Rite. Rooted in the vitality of Tradition, majestic with the aura of Truth, it imbued zeal to missionaries, fortitude to martyrs, solace to hermits, inspiration to artists, musicians and architects, peace to the multitudes, century after century, generation after generation, for almost two millennia ‒ and into the future.

Traditional Latin Mass’s Call to Arms to Convert a Secularized Society

The foundation for a Catholic social order begins with the sacred liturgy. It is only through the divinely-given foundation of public adoration of God that a society with Christlikeness, with a Catholic soul, can be built.

Because a society, although more than the sum total of its individual members, is nevertheless mainly constituted and determined by the qualities of its participants.

Through transformed individual Catholics the soul of society can be renewed – indeed, this is the only way it can be renewed from a state of estrangement to God into a transformed Christlikeness.

It is through the sacred liturgy, executed in all its traditional splendor, that men intuit that the honor shown there given to God must flow from the liturgy throughout every sector of society – the family, education, politics, entertainment – so that His Name is held holy, His Kingdom may come, His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

 “The mysteries of the great sacrifice, the sacraments, the sacramentals, the phases of the Christian cycle, so rich in grace and light, the ceremonies, this sublime tongue which the Church speaks to God with in the presence of men; in a word, all of these marvels will once again be familiar to the faithful people. Catholic instruction will once again be the great and sublime interest for the masses and will dominate all other [interests]; and the world will understand again that religion is the first good for the individual, the family, the city, the nations and the entire human race.” (Dom Guéranger)

Hence, the Ignatian, under the gaze of the Crucified Christ where he has chosen to live his earthly life, will dedicate his energies to plant the mystical Cross of the liturgy firmly in the midst of men convinced as he is of the truth of the Divine Savior’s words: “For I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself” (John 12:32).  

By planting the sacred liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the rest of the liturgy at the center of men’s lives the Ignatian knows that he plants the Cross. From this crux-shaped epicenter will radiate outwards wave after wave of light and energy to invade, revolutionize and transform culture according to the pattern of the epicenter.

It is here, on their knees before the heroic heart of Jesus Christ present on the mystical Cross, that the creative individuals and minorities of Christian culture are born because it is here that Catholics not only learn their identity but are transformed into their identity.

[1]      Quoted in William J. Slattery, Heroism and Genius (Ignatius Press, 2017). See also Christopher Dawson, The Gods of Revolution (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2015); Eric Voegelin, Modernity Without Restraint: The Political Religions, The New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000); Augusto del Noce, The Crisis of Modernity (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014). For an instance of the use of violence in the revolutionary ideology, see the analysis of the first genocide of modern times, the 1793–1794 massacre of the Catholics of the Vendée by the French revolutionaries whose motto was “liberté, égalité, fraternité” in Reynald Secher, A French Genocide: The Vendée (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003); Michael Davies, For Altar and Throne: The Rising in the Vendée (Forest Lake: Remnant Press, 1997). For the Catholic vision of freedom, equality, and fraternity, see Roberto de Mattei, Blessed Pius IX (Leominster: Gracewing, 2004), pp. 147–68; also H. J. A. Sire, Phoenix from the Ashes: The Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition (Kettering, Ohio: Angelico Press, 2015), pp. 166–69.

[2] LORD MORAN, Churchill. Taken from the Diaries of Lord Moran, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1966, p. 186. Lord Moran was Churchill’s personal physician.