About this blogger:
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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Certainly, the Second Vatican Council wished to promote greater active participation [and] fine initiatives were taken along these lines. However we cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy caused by remodeling the Church’s liturgy according to their ideas. They forgot that the liturgical act is not just a PRAYER, but also and above all a MYSTERY in which something is accomplished for us that we cannot fully understand but that we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience and adoring silence.
— Pope Francis' Chief Liturgist (31 March 2017)

The Heresy of Formlessness
published 3 February 2014 by Gwyneth Holston


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.