God is NOT Ugly or Banal

It is no accident that much of the most beautiful art and music in the Western tradition has been religious, and that a good deal of that has been produced for use in the sacred liturgy.

William Schaefer

Evangelization isn’t just giving people a set of propositions, or a rulebook to follow. It’s inviting them into a relationship with the living God. But first we must get their attention. Human beings are by nature drawn to beauty. If we want people to fall in love with God, we must give them a glimpse of His loveliness. 

Of course, love is the primary way we do this. But it’s a mistake to think that the outward forms of the Faith—liturgy, music, art, architecture—are superfluous. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These outward manifestations of beauty reveal something of the great love of God for us. They are also a sign of our love for Him. 

There’s so much ugliness and banality all around us—it’s the hallmark of our post-Christian age. The Church must provide a refuge from all that. 

The article linked below describes the connection between beauty and right worship, and explains why “there are no box stores… in the City of God.”

Vatican II and the New Mass

This is not what we council fathers decided; this is against the decisions of the council. I cannot understand how the Holy Father could give his consent to such a thing.

Josef Cardinal Frings, 1969

The short article linked below gives us a little insight into how the Mass of Paul VI (aka the Ordinary Form) came to be.

The point of sharing this is not to shock our readers (though it might indeed raise some eyebrows). Rather, we just want to reaffirm why we are so concerned with conforming our liturgical celebrations to the authentic vision of Vatican II, as revealed in the document Sacrosanctum concilium

It’s not about mere aesthetics or nostalgia: it’s simply about being faithful and giving God what is due Him.

Make Mass Great Again

It’s not just us! 

More parishes are discovering Mass the way it was meant to be celebrated, returning to the authentic teaching of Vatican II. Take some time to watch this episode of The Catholic Talk Show, where they discuss “5 Ways to Improve the Novus Ordo Mass.” 

How many of their suggestions do you see here at St. Mark every Sunday? Did they miss anything?

A Deep Dive Into Liturgical Reform

The Church’s existence lives from proper celebration of the liturgy, and the Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy nor consequently in life.

Pope Benedict XVI

If you would like more insight into the reform of the liturgy, both before and after the Second Vatican Council, this article from Adoremus is worth your time. In it, the author traces liturgical developments in the 20th century through the eyes of Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI. 

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“Ad Orientem” Revisited

There is only one inner direction of the Eucharist, namely, from Christ in the Holy Spirit to the Father. The only question is how this can be best expressed in liturgical form.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 1986

There continues to be considerable misunderstanding of ad orientem worship by many Catholics, which is unfortunate, because there is so much depth of meaning and rich theology involved in the simple gesture of the priest facing the same direction as the people during Mass. 

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Gregorian Chant—a Brief History

One of our goals at St. Mark has been to gradually restore Gregorian chant to its rightful place in the sacred liturgy. This is specifically in response to the call of Vatican II: “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specifically suited to the Roman liturgy; therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services” (Sancrosanctum concilium, 116). 

One might be tempted to think that there was an unbroken tradition of Gregorian chant in the Roman liturgy right up until the 1960’s, when “everything changed.” But that’s not quite right. It turns out that Gregorian chant fell on hard times from the about the end of the Middle Ages up until the mid-19th century. It’s ironic that it was that other venerable liturgical musical form, polyphony, that worked to undermine the purity of chant and initiate its decline.

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