(This has been a very popular piece since it was originally written for Memorial Day over a decade ago, and explains to a culture so stripped of any sense of reverence, respect or even decorum why it is that liturgy should be masculine, solemn, reverent, and especially BEAUTIFUL, in the only terms that can still, just barely, be understood: the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. I have received many emails over the years mostly from men, but also a few women, who reported having a change of heart about the “fancy vestments” or “hyper-formal and distant” rubrics of the Traditional Mass after reading this piece. It is so sad that today’s infiltrated and fallen culture considers masculinity and beauty to be in opposition to each other. Nothing could be farther from the truth.)
HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.
Those are the words engraved on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Here is a video of the Changing of the Guard.
I think we can all agree that the Tomb of the Unknowns, the 24/7 guarding of the Tomb, and the intense precision of the ceremonial rubrics therein is one of the most excellent things in American culture. The old saying goes, “You may judge a nation by how it treats its fallen warriors.” In an otherwise degraded and despair-inducing society, the Tomb of the Unknowns is a beacon of cultural light and hope.
The Tomb of the Unknowns is also extremely instructive, and believe it or not, it instructs us about . . . the Mass. The reason the Tomb of the Unknowns instructs us today about the Mass is because the Tomb of the Unknowns rubrics are highly informed by the rubrics of the Mass, which were themselves informed by military rubrics, which were informed by even older liturgical rubrics. Military ceremonials and the Ceremonials of the Church are intertwined. Only since the Asteroid hit in the 1960s has the masculinity and, if I may use the term, militant aesthetic been utterly purged, in an attempt by the infiltrators to destroy the Church Militant from within by concealing its very nature from itself – MILITANCY. And so I am reminded of a quote I once heard:
It is important for Christians to know their own history, because if you know your own history, no one else can tell you who you are.
And that is precisely what has happened, and continues to happen. The enemies and infiltrators desperately want all knowledge of WHO and WHAT the Church truly is suppressed and forgotten so that they can lyingly “tell you who you are”. And if you have no knowledge of your own history, you will have no way to discern what is truth and what is lies, and you can thus be conned into believing that you are what you are not, and deceived into believing that you are not what you in actuality are.
For those of you who have never seen a pre-1969 Tridentine Mass and are used to the clownish, degraded, irreverent Novus Ordo Masses of the last 50 years, or of Superfun Rockband church, I hope the sense of reverent awe and solemnity you feel when watching the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns helps you understand what exactly it is that has been robbed from you.
After watching the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns above, I want you to imagine the guards walking about casually, maybe wearing a partial uniform jacket, but with jeans and sandals. Imagine the guards walking out and introducing themselves, “Hi, my name is Lieutenant Jones, but you can call me Lieutenant Jake, or just Jake.” Then the guard might say something like, “Isn’t it a beautiful day today? It sure was rainy yesterday. I had to wear a rain jacket. I’m so glad you all could make it to my shift today. I’m going to be guarding the tomb for the next few hours, and I know that it can sure get BOOOORING! That’s why I have asked a local band to come in and play some awesome new music for you guys, because I want this to be A FUN EXPERIENCE for all of us! And, of course, GO RAVENS!”
If this happened, you would be shocked and disgusted, right? Do you understand that what I have just described is a watered-down comparison of what has happened to the Holy and August Sacrifice of the Mass? The Mass went from being even more reverent than the rubrics of the Tomb Guard to what I just described above – and many times even worse than what I described above. And this happened for many people within a span of several WEEKS in late 1969 into early 1970.
Let’s walk through some of the many parallels.
The soldiers are in full dress uniform, meticulously turned-out and maintained. They are not in combat gear that soldiers would use to walk a patrol in Afghanistan. The Tomb guards are doing something DIFFERENT, and thus their uniforms reflect that.
Really, what the ceremonies surrounding the Tomb are is the highest form of ART. It is living ART, not consisting of a mere two-dimensional representation, not consisting of inanimate objects, but ART consisting of human beings in action. The uniforms, the gait, the precise rubrics, words, gestures and movements – these all combine into a perpetual work of art that not only moves and inspires the people who witness it, but also accomplishes the goal of making tangible a RESPECT for and a REMEMBRANCE of all of the fallen unknown soldiers. The Tomb Guards walk their patrol whether anyone is there to see them do it or not. It isn’t a show. It is a service. It is a rite.