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Little Christendom on the Prairie

All photos by the author unless noted

This past Wednesday, 3 May, Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of Saint Pius X consecrated the Immaculata – a magnificent (if magnificent is a powerful enough word) piece of Christian architecture that stands out in the arid heartland of the American prairies like a Rosa Mystica in the desert of a fallen world.

Having spent a few days ruminating on the significance of the event and digesting the beauty of the ceremony, I have struggled to find the words necessary to express the ineffable significance of such an event. In a time when Tradition has been labelled an enemy of the Neomodernist regime, and when the attacks on the SSPX have reached a fever pitch, a piece of ancient Christendom was erected and consecrated in the veritable centre of the most culturally important nation on earth.

A Church Built for the Apostolic Roman Rite

Personally, I am a bit lost for words, but thankfully – as Providence would have it – the meaning of the Immaculata was written by a prophetic author who was laid to rest in the soil where this monument to the Mother of God towers over America. John Senior’s words about this event were written 40 years ago, but their significance flowers in full bloom today.

John Senior wrote in his masterpiece The Restoration of Christian Culture:

What is Christian culture? It is essentially the Mass… Christendom, what secularists call Western Civilization, is the Mass and the paraphernalia which protect and facilitate it. All architecture, art, political and social forms, economics, the way the people live and feel and think, music, literature – all these things when they are right, are ways of fostering and protecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

To enact a sacrifice, there must be an altar, an altar has to have a roof over it in case it rains; to reserve the Blessed Sacrament, we built a little house of God and over it a Tower of Ivory with a bell and a garden round about it with roses and lilies of purity, emblems of the Virgin Mary – Rosa Mystica, Turris Davica, Turris Eburnea, Domus Aurea, who carried His Body and His Blood in her womb, Body of her body, Blood of her blood.

And around the church and garden, where we bury the faithful dead, the caretakers live, the priests and religious whose work is prayer, who keep the Mystery of the Faith in its tabernacle of music and words in the Office of the Church; and around them, the faithful who gather to worship and divide the other work that must be done in order to make the perpetuation of the Sacrifice possible – to raise food and make the clothes and build and keep the peace so that generations to come may live for Him, so that the Sacrifice goes on even unto the consummation of the world.

“Christendom… is the Mass…”

Have truer words ever been spoken? Is it any wonder why all attempts of the regime of the New Springtime have failed to build a sustainable Christian world? Without the Mass as the heart of the Church and the Christian life, we are left with nothing but a society that operates – as CS Lewis explained – like men without chests.

Exterior []
Interior complete before consecration []

That the SSPX has garnered international attention for this abundant harvest of Marcel Lefebvre’s labour is a testament to the power of the Holy Sacrifice. And, I should add, not just any Mass, but the Mass of all time. The world cares not if another Novus Ordo parish with the pomp of a convention centre is built in this town or that – if there are any being built, that is – but when a church constructed for the traditional liturgy is built, it is a different story entirely.

When Bishop Fellay ignited the small mounts of incense on the altar, the flames that enwrapped the hearts of those in attendance may as well have been a conflagration of the supposed Springtime which is really a Winter. Like Aslan bringing Christmas to the dead winter of Narnia, as the icy death of Modernism melts away.

“All architecture” is a way of “fostering and protecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

Surrounded by Ugliness

Perhaps you have noticed that our culture simply cannot build anything beautiful anymore. Homes are constructed with the creativity one would expect from inspiration derived from the offspring of ChatGPT and Bauhaus. We are inundated with buildings – that are really monstrosities – that are created merely for functionality, so we are told.

But these new anticreations are not functional at all. They keep us in our cars, at our desks, at our vending machines, and in our virtual worlds. Our society cannot create any building that is truly functional, because our society cannot function with any purpose. Our society cannot function with any purpose because our purpose has become ourselves.

Many have wondered why the world lost its mind when the Chinese flu infected our television sets, but we know why. Before there was an alleged pandemic that threatened the body, there was a pandemic of the soul. For so long we have languished under the mundane humanism that has spread like a tumour in the Church. It is for this reason and others that the Immaculata stands as a cure for the ills of modernity.

The Faithful Sacrifice for Beauty

“To enact a sacrifice, there must be an altar, an altar has to have a roof over it in case it rains; to reserve the Blessed Sacrament we built a little house of God and over it a Tower of Ivory…”

We might add that in order to have built this little house of God on the prairie, the people of St. Mary’s, Kansas have had to sacrifice in immense ways so that the first shovel could break the earth in the ancestral homeland of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

This Tower of Ivory is the result of decades of sacrifice and tribulation by the hearty and devoted faithful of what seems like the only traditional Catholic town left in the world. It may look to the outsider that the $42 million required to build this worthy pedestal for a Golden Virgin is an immense amount of money.

Exterior []
Of course, that is a sum of many millions of dollars, but more importantly, it is the sum of many billions of heartbeats that have pulsed in prayerful anticipation. This church was built not just for the town of St. Mary’s – although they heartily deserve it – but it was built for the Church, and therefore, the world – nay, the universe.

For the Glory of Our Lady and the Church

With her palms opened gracefully at her side, the Woman who as Augustine said “gave milk to our Bread,” invites the Church to return to her traditions, and begin to feed her children anew. It is a fulfillment of the prophecy and work of St. Maximilian Kolbe, one of our patrons here at OnePeterFive, when he built the first Niepokalanów, to raise up the Imaculata as the throne of Christ in every city.

The geographical location of this heavenly creation cannot be underestimated. If you are to look at a map of the United States, you will find that St. Mary’s is quite literally at the centre of America, which is the nation at the centre of the world culturally and economically.

The State of Kansas []
The Founding Fathers – Masonically inspired as they were – were instruments of Providence nonetheless. It is no secret that they were largely inspired to create a New Rome. One only needs to gaze at the edifices in Washington to understand this. And, throughout these roughly three hundred years of the American experiment, the US has been a cultural vehicle of anti-Catholic activity. But, as God would have it, this New Rome which has persecuted the Church for three centuries seems to have grown tired of sanity and any of the dim light of rationality that could be found in the higher forms of Deism and paganism that inspired its founding.

We now find ourselves in the midst of a collapse of Masonic civilization that is too insane to define what a woman is. But amidst this decay, we can look to Marcel Lefebvre’s masterpiece and find the Woman “that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array.”

What the future holds for the Church and the world, who knows, but one thing is certain: the Immaculata towers over the ruins “so that generations to come may live for Him, so that the Sacrifice goes on even unto the consummation of the world.”

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