HAT IS THE CENTER of the Catholic’s existence? The Holy Eucharist. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…” And this means that the Mass, above all other prayers, will be the activity that defines a Catholic as such. As the Mass is, so will the Catholic be. Weak, anemic, bland, and trendy liturgy will produce weak, anemic, bland, and trendy Catholics, many of whom will fall away for sheer boredom, distracted by the allurements of consumerism. Those who remain will be shaped by the ars celebrandi like clay in the potter’s hands. But if the Mass is potent, weighty, full of spiritual salt, and defiantly countercultural, so will its participants be: fed on Light, they are ready to oppose the rulers of this present darkness. They are ready to enthrone Christ as King in their souls―and as King of the universe, of every nation, people, government, and culture, including America’s. And they are ready to listen to the Popes who, over the past 700 years, have singled out St. Thomas Aquinas as the theologian par excellence of the Catholic Church, the teacher from whose heavenly wisdom all may freely drink, the servant of truth who will humbly lead them to the feet of the one and only Teacher, Jesus Christ.
The traditional liturgy, with its archaic wisdom, noble pageantry, and sublime beauty; the avid study of St. Thomas Aquinas, teacher of the universal church; Catholic social doctrine in its fullness, based on the social kingship of Christ: these three things stand or fall together. Is it really coincidental that these three all at once nearly disappeared after Vatican II and even became the object of bitter enmity and persecution? It is not for me to say what came first or what caused what. All I see is that they did stand together, and they have fallen together. Is it any surprise that, after their fall, the Church is in a state of almost total chaos, liturgically, doctrinally, socially, in spite of the superficial “signs of hope” that we hear so much about?
A true, heart-felt adherence to tradition is expressed in reverence for all the Fathers and Doctors, especially St. Thomas; reverence for the sacred liturgy they prayed and handed down to us with an observant love that extended to the tiniest details; reverence for the kind of Christian society they aspired to build and, once built, defended to the hilt. Take away any one of these things, and you take away the basis for the others.
And what of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary? Such devotion is the foundation on which true ecclesial reform can and must be built. Where there is true devotion to our Lady, there is also a deep love of the Church, a total commitment to the spread of the Gospel, and hence, an openness to the social dimension of the faith as well as to its theological inheritance. A Marian Catholic is, in the social realm, a supporter of the kingship of Christ; a Marian Catholic is, in the academic realm, a disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, because Holy Mother Church has declared him her Common Doctor, and Mary is the model of obedience to authority; a Marian Catholic is, in the liturgical realm, a lover of silence, contemplation, and beauty, as was the Virgin of Nazareth. In this sense, one who would give himself entirely in prayer and praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary would necessarily be moving towards this triad of goods, and thus, be advancing the reign of the great King over all the earth.
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