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Gwyneth Holston is a sacred artist who works to provide and promote good quality Catholic art. Her website is gwynethholston.com.
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The soul is distracted from that which is sung by a chant that is employed for the purpose of giving pleasure. But if the singer chant for the sake of devotion, he pays more attention to what he says, both because he lingers more thereon, and because, as Augustine remarks (Confess. x, 33), “each affection of our spirit, according to its variety, has its own appropriate measure in the voice, and singing, by some hidden correspondence wherewith it is stirred.” The same applies to the hearers, for even if some of them understand not what is sung, yet they understand why it is sung, namely, for God's glory: and this is enough to arouse their devotion.
— St. Thomas Aquinas

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The Heresy of Formlessness
published 3 February 2014 by Gwyneth Holston


GWYN_Mass

IKE MANY OTHER visual artists I know, I both despise and fear writing. That is why I am ecstatic when I find a writer who articulates what I cannot. Last week I read Martin Mosebach’s book The Heresy of Formlessness (Ignatius 2006). It is a stunning portrayal of the beauty, poetry, and mystery of the Extraordinary Form of the mass. He not only delves into the roots of the Roman liturgy, but also into its fruits in Western civilization. I was won over irrevocably when I read an entire page and a half devoted to my favorite artist, Enguerrand Quarton. It was intriguing to read about the mass from the perspective of an artist rather than from the perspective of a theologian. At one point, Mr. Mosebach examines Oscar Wilde’s notion of Christ being the greatest artist of all – a tantalizing subject on which much could be written.

Why isn’t the beauty of the Extraordinary Form obvious? How is it that there exist so many holy people, educated individuals, and aesthetically sensitive men and women who do not find the traditional mass appealing? After decades of grappling with this question, I am convinced that there is no simple answer.

Anyone who has ever chosen to attend a beautiful liturgy in an ugly church over a meager liturgy in a beautiful church should read this book.

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski has mentioned Mr. Mosebach before in previous posts here and here.