“The ancient liturgy, with its poignant symbols and innumerable subtleties, is a prolonged courtship of the soul”
My journey into the traditional liturgy was gentle and gradual. I grew up in a typical suburban American parish. In high school two things happened: I got involved in a charismatic prayer group, which re-animated my faith, and, thanks to a philosophy course, I started reading Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. I had at the time a vague longing for a form of prayer that would correspond to the profound depths opened up in these authors.
Without knowing it, I was searching for the traditional worship of the Church, which was born of the ancient Fathers, developed by the medievals, and faithfully handed down from Trent onwards. I was fortunate to attend a college—Thomas Aquinas College in California—where the Ordinary Form of the Mass was celebrated in Latin and with Gregorian chant. This pleased me very much, as it seemed like what I had been looking for.
But then, towards the end of my four years there, I had several opportunities to assist at traditional Latin Masses in a small chapel. The intensity of silence, the palpable holiness, the richness of the prayers, the beauty of the chanting, gripped me powerfully. When I went on to graduate school at the Catholic University of America, I made a priority of finding out where this glorious Mass was celebrated in Washington, D.C., and ended up at Old St. Mary’s, where I experienced for the first time a High Mass with full ceremonial.
In a flood of gratitude I knew I had finally “come home” as a Catholic: this was the point of arrival, what I had been searching for. That was over 20 years ago, and I have never wavered in this conviction. I fell in love and I am still in love!
In this page you will find information on my books on the sacred liturgy in English and other langugaes, links to selected articles, audio/video, and free resources—all intended to promote knowledge and love of the inexhaustible wealth of the Church’s traditional liturgy.
The Holy Bread of Eternal Life: Restoring Eucharistic Reverence in an Age of Impiety (Sophia Institute Press, 2020)
DESCRIPTION: Recent decades have been marred by pervasive Eucharistic abuse, from violations of liturgical norms and rubrics to practices that encourage irreverence and facilitate habitual sacrilege. The coronavirus crisis in 2020 has occasioned a further wave of sacramental manipulation, desacralization, and deprivation that has left almost no Catholic in the world unharmed. These disturbing “signs of the times” call for an unsparing reassessment of official and unofficial policies, practices, customs, and attitudes, along with fresh appreciation for “creative minorities” that are taking a different, more difficult, and more successful path to reverence.
The Holy Bread of Eternal Life is a powerful and timely book by scholar Peter Kwasniewski that exalts the divine gift of the Blessed Sacrament, which can never be too much adored, too much loved, too much cared for, or too much sacrificed for.
Drawing on both Testaments, the Fathers of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Magisterium, Kwasniewski describes the fitting veneration and handling of this “mystery of faith” past and present, the dispositions we need to cultivate for a fruitful reception of the Lord, and the blessings that follow from a life centered on Holy Communion. At the same time, the book critiques many novelties in modern Catholic worship and shows why they must be set aside for the health of souls and the Church.
There is far more at stake in today’s debates concerning Holy Communion than what preferences should be indulged or slip-ups tolerated. At stake is whether we truly believe in Jesus Christ, our God, our Savior, our Friend, and our Judge, really present in the Eucharist; whether we acknowledge and accept His lordship over us in every aspect of what we do and say; and whether we will act, react, worship, and pray in a manner consistent with true belief.
DESCRIPTION: At the crest of volatile years of experimentation, a new rite of Mass was introduced in 1969—no mere cosmetic treatment but a radical reconstruction of the Church’s central act of worship. A minority of the faithful continued to hold fast to the traditional rite, which John Paul II and Benedict XVI gradually freed from restrictions. The steady growth of this “traditionalist” movement inevitably prompts questions in the minds of more and more people. What is it that Catholic laity, clergy, and religious are discovering and falling in love with? Could you—should you—be among them? In this engaging book, Peter Kwasniewski draws on decades of experience and, presuming no specialized knowledge, explains why the traditional Mass operates the way it does, what its distinctive features and benefits are, and how it still captures hearts with a beauty deeply rooted and perennially green. Every reader—whether already a lover of the Mass of Ages or a complete newbie, whether committed or curious, perplexed or skeptical, sitting on the fence or bouncing back and forth between old and new—will find life-changing insights in these pages.
Tradition and Sanity. Conversations and Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile (Angelico Press, 2018)
DESCRIPTION: Tired of the withered fruits of a devastated vineyard, an increasing number of “postconciliar exiles” are making their way, in a pilgrimage of irrepressible curiosity and improbable delight, to the haven of Catholic Tradition — laboring to recover it piece by piece, word by word, rite by rite, chant by chant, devotion by devotion. Tradition and Sanity brings together a round-table discussion, interviews, and imaginary dialogues exploring the depths and shallows of Catholic liturgy, the lyricism of sacred music (or the lack thereof), the state of the Church as it suff ers attack from without and dementia from within, and the revival of traditional beliefs and practices in younger generations turned off by the anti-dogmatic dogmatism of their elders. Dr. Kwasniewski’s latest book engages especially those who have fallen in love with tradition and are eager for a better understanding of it, as well as those who have barely seen traditional Catholicism and yet, in their search for a beauty that does not disappoint, are already on the way to it.
Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of the Ages (Angelico Press, 2017)
DESCRIPTION: The traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church is a highly formal ritual unfolding in layers of elaborate gesture, rich symbolism, whispered Latin, and ancient plainchants. “Experts” after the Second Vatican Council were convinced that such a ritual was irrelevant to “modern man.” To the shock of some, the delight of many, and the surprise of everyone, the old Latin Mass (and much that went along with it) has tenaciously survived during the past half-century and become an increasingly familiar feature in the Catholic landscape. What are the reasons for this revival, especially among the young? And why is this development so important for the renewal of Catholicism? Peter Kwasniewski offers a lively account of the noble beauty and transcendent holiness of the traditional Roman liturgy, which humbles us before the mystery of God, stirs us with its pageantry, carries us into sacred silence, and bears us to a world of invisible realities. He contrasts this priceless treasure with the rationalistic reforms of the sixties, which yielded a Catholic liturgy severed from its own history, inadequate to its theological essence, unequal to its ascetical-mystical purpose, and estranged from its cultural inheritance. His conclusion: if there is to be a new springtime in the Church, the widespread restoration of the traditional liturgical rites will be at the heart of it.
DESCRIPTION: Since the time of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has experienced an unprecedented crisis of identity, symbolized and propelled by the corruption of the greatest treasure of her tradition: the sacred liturgy. The result has been confusion, dismay, devastation. To the surprise of some, however, the same half-century has witnessed a growing counter-movement of Catholics who find in the Church’s traditional liturgy a perennial witness to the orthodox faith, a solid foundation for the interior life, an ever-flowing source of missionary charity, and a living embodiment of the true Catholic spirit. In this book, Peter Kwasniewski presents a fearless critique of the path of liturgical novelty and a detailed apologia for liturgical tradition in all its beauty, richness, and profundity, addressing such topics as solemnity, sacredness, the language of symbols, contemplation, participation, the symbiosis of lex orandi and lex credendi, silence, music, worship in Latin, and Gregorian chant. He confronts the humanism, rationalism, utilitarianism, and modernism so prevalent in the liturgical reform, assesses the prospects and limitations of a “Reform of the Reform,” and reflects on the great gift of Summorum Pontificum. In the end, Kwasniewski argues for a zealous recommitment to Catholic Tradition in its fullness, starting with divine worship and embracing the whole realm of faith and morals, including integral Catholic social teaching. Evidently, there is an all-encompassing crisis in the Church, which the Synods on the Family unveiled to a global audience. Unexpectedly a resurgence is taking place, with the usus antiquior or classical Roman Rite at the very heart of it. To those who have loved the traditional Mass all their lives, those who have newly come to it, or those who simply wish to learn more about the issues, this book offers abundant matter for reflection.
Foreign Language Editions
Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis has been published in Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Polish, German, and Belarusian. Italian is under way.
The Latin Mass: The Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition
Dr. Kwasniewski has written for every issue of The Latin Mass since Winter 2006. This excellent quarterly magazine is available in print as well as online. See the website for more information:
New Liturgical Movement
Dr. Kwasniewski has been contributing weekly articles to New Liturgical Movement since 2013 —over 400 to date. To bring up a chronological list of these articles, use this keyword URL.
Here are some of the most popular:
Dr. Kwasniewski has been a writer for OnePeterFive since its inception in 2014. To bring up a chronological list of his 1P5 articles, use this keyword URL.
The following are among his most important essays to appear there:
Since October 2017, Dr. Kwasniewski has been a blogger for LifeSite News. To bring up a list of his LifeSite articles, use this keyword URL.
The following are some of the many liturgically-themed articles that have appeared at LifeSite:
Selected Articles in Translation
Dr. Kwasniewski’s work has been translated into at least thirteen languages: Belarusian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. For each language, a few of the available translations will be listed. To request more articles in a given language, please send a note to Dr. Kwasniewski using the Contact form.
(By far the largest number of translations are those into Spanish. Most of these may be found at three sites. These links will take you immediately to the list of my articles: La Asociación Magnificat; Adelante la Fe; Marchando Religión. Here are a few:)
(The Czech translations appear primarily on a website called Duše a hvězdy.)
(All of the Belarusian translations, now over 40 of them, may be found at Scriptorium Nostrum.)
AUDIO + VIDEO
“Why the Latin Mass Is the Answer to the Church’s Crisis of Faith" (Interview with Dr. Thomas Curran of My Catholic Faith Ministries and Sound Insight)
"Our Fathers' Mass, Our Birthright with Dr. Peter Kwasniewski" (Interview with Timothy Flanders)
Hyperpapalism and Liturgical Mutation. Lepanto Conference, February 16, 2019, New York
"The Sacred Liturgy and the Ecstatic Orientation of Man" [on ad orientem worship]
"Liturgical Obedience, the Imitation of Christ, and the Seductions of Autonomy" [in defense of fixed and stable liturgy, with no "options"]
Josias Podcast, Episode X: "Liturgy and the Common Good" (with Pater Edmund Waldstein, Jonathan Culbreath, et al.)