Love In The Ruins

Anne M. Larson, Ed.

SKU: 8340  |  ISBN: 9781892331663

"Every Catholic who has found refuge in the traditions of the Church has a story. One doesn't end up at the Latin Mass by accident...

"The narratives are written by Roman Catholics who have discovered or rediscovered the riches of the ancient liturgy and traditions of Holy Mother Church, powerful antidotes to the ecclesiastic and liturgical crises of our day." ~From the Preface

The Contributors

  • Joseph O'Brien
  • Michael Larson
  • Mary Ann Kreitzer
  • John Vennari
  • Andrew Childs
  • Dr. David Allen White
  • Richard Cowden Guido
  • Dr. John C. Rao
  • Edwin Faust
  • T. Rení©e Kozinski
  • Michael Matt
  • Brian Douglass
  • Dr. Kenton Craven

181 pages. Softcover.


Nearly five years ago I attended the Tridentine Latin Mass for the first time. In an incense-filled moment, I found the Faith that shaped Western Civilization and changed the course of human history. It seemed like an altogether different religion from much of mainstream Catholicism, which had been ravaged by sex scandals, declining vocations, liturgical abuse, heretical catechesis, cafeteria Catholicism, loss of faith, and more; a disturbing but undeniable reality for a Protestant who had converted to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; a Church that had been radically altered in the brief span of my own lifetime. The Latin Mass and the teaching and practices emanating from it (sometimes called "traditional Catholicism") were the means by which I discovered the fullness of my Catholic Faith, which had until then been obscured from my view.

Every Catholic who has found refuge in the traditions of the Church has a story. One doesn't end up at the Latin Mass by accident. When I was making the transition to traditional Catholicism, stories of how other people had found their way to the Latin Mass fascinated me;,and still do. Their stories helped me to articulate my own experience and make sense of the confusing ecclesiastical landscape. Thus the idea for this book was born.

The narratives that follow are written by Roman Catholics who have discovered or rediscovered the riches of the ancient liturgy and traditions of Holy Mother Church, powerful anecdotes to the ecclesiastic and liturgical crises of our day. They are accounts of conversion, reversion, and simple fidelity to the Faith throughout the religious and cultural upheaval that followed in the wake of Vatican II. Many of the contributors to this book suffered for years from theological dissent and liturgical abuse in their parishes, parochial schools, and Catholic universities; some grew up in tradition but refused to participate in the post-conciliar revolution; some, like me, were converts to the Faith; and all were inexplicably drawn to the beauty and mystery, the truth and holiness of the centuries-old sacrifice of the Mass. Perhaps most importantly, these are stories of what Evelyn Waugh has called the "operation of Grace" the unmerited and unilateral act of love by which God continually calls souls to Himself."

Many thanks to my daughter, Kate, for her invaluable editorial assistance, to my family for their encouragement and support, and to the contributors for sharing their stories.
Anne M. Larson


"How did I know I had found the Mass of All Time, the Mass of the Roman Rite? First and most obviously, the solemnity and the dignity evidenced everywhere in the ceremony of worship. This was not the raucous rumblings of the modern world brought indoors on Sunday to continue to amuse and to entertain. This was serious worship, unlike anything in the rest of the week, unlike anything to be found anywhere else in the world. This was uplifting, this was spiritual, this was God-centered, this was higher, nobler and richer than anything the world could offer. My intellect confirmed what my emotions first sensed‰ۡÌÝÌÕthis was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Traditional Rite of Worship of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church."
Dr. David Allen White

When asked what sort of person presumes to elevate himself to the rank of traditional Catholic, a wise wag once quipped: Is there any other sort? He may have a point! According to the infallible teachings of Holy Mother Church, a Catholic is by definition a traditionalist since his religion rests on the twin foundations of Scripture and Tradition. One who is loath to identify himself with Tradition cannot ingenuously call himself Catholic.

If, on the other hand, the qualifier refers to those disenfranchised Catholics who'd voiced serious concern over the new direction their Church began to take in the late 1960's, when novelty began to supplant Tradition in both liturgy and catechism, then by conviction as well as association quite a number of us today would count ourselves in the company of traditional Catholics.

Why? The short answer is easy: God's good grace. The number of Catholics that left the Church in the decades that followed the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae is staggering. Churches closed, seminaries emptied, vocations dried up, and there was an alarming exodus from religious life and even the priesthood itself, the statistics tell the whole, sad story. But traditionalists remained in the Church and, their ranks now swelling worldwide, have come to represent the future of the Church. I think Pope Benedict's historic motu proprio Summorum Pontificum more or less acknowledges this fact. In France, for example, the number of Catholics attending the traditional Latin Mass is beginning to overtake the number attending the so-called New Mass. Without question, traditionalism is the future of France.

So, grace is the short answer. But for a more in-depth explanation most traditionalists point to some baptism of fire or spiritual restlessness along the road of life that ultimately set them down on the path to Tradition. Alas, in my case this would be something of a stretch. There is no road to Damascus experience on my rí©sumí©; no voices from heaven nor lightening above. I can't even lay claim to a decent "conversion story"....
Michael J. Matt

When asked how it was that I ended up at Mass one Sunday, I can find only one answer that seems fitting. I am one of the lame that was laid at the gate of the beautiful. My own love and affection for beauty may have been better than most, yet still not sufficient to explain such a discovery. I had done nothing to merit the ability to understand the things I was shown and had not good sense to have sought them out. Therefore the lame man or the one lured is how I see myself coming to Mass, the victim of great mercy.

I was seventeen years old when I sat in class listening to the man that would take me to my first Mass a year later. A year after that, this same man would lay his hand on my back as water washed me clean of Adam's stain. This man was my English teacher, and besides being smart and poetic, he was kind. No doubt, his thoughtful classes and his voice, which I recall being enamored by, attracted me, but he snatched me with simple kindness in the end. I had lost my father only a few years prior, and my home was not a place where structure reigned. I was in need of a man to help me; God looks kindly on the fatherless, we are told; and I am convinced.

At the same time my mind and heart were filled with questions about the world around me. My best friend's parents had just filed for a divorce; my mother had just had a child with a man she was not married to, and he began living with us; and I had my first girl friend. The wreckage that comes from disordered love, the desperation of hearts wanting to find relief in any way possible, without regard for the consequences: this world is where I discovered beauty. It was in this state, as though lame, that I was brought to the gate.

My world was a modern suburban one. I was something of a middle-class music fan raised on MTV. Nirvana was the band of choice as I entered the seventh grade; I was learning Neil Young songs on the guitar when I was supposed to be at my studies. My father, when alive, was an avid collector of Arabic music and worked hard to mitigate my musical tastes. This was different from my friends; music was serious to him, and he had records in every nook and cranny of the house. After he died my mother had neither the ability nor the energy to stop me from listening to anything, and I spent most of my time in the basement with my records and a guitar. My friends took drugs quite often and fairly openly. Their parents had a practice of turning their heads and advising them not to get caught. I still had memories of my immigrant father telling me of the things he would do if I was involved in anything illegal; and, frankly, I was still scared of him even from the grave.