Peter Andrew Kwasniewski (born 22 March 1971) is an American traditionalist Catholic writer and composer of sacred music. He is a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center in Steubenville, Ohio, and was formerly on the faculty of Wyoming Catholic College. He is also the author of three books about traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, and Tradition and Sanity.
Life and career
Kwasniewski was born on 22 March 1971 in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He grew up in New Jersey. At the Delbarton School in Morristown, he received his first serious tutelage in music. After a year at Georgetown University, Kwasniewski matriculated as a freshman at Thomas Aquinas College in California, where he earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts in 1994. He subsequently studied at The Catholic University of America, focusing on ancient Greek philosophy and medieval scholasticism. He received his M.A. in Philosophy in 1996, writing a thesis on "The Dialectic of Reason and Faith in Descartes’s Meditationes de prima philosophia" and his Ph.D. in the same discipline in 2002, with a dissertation on "The Ecstasy of Love in Thomas Aquinas".
He served as Assistant Professor of Philosophy from 1998 to 2006 at the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Austria (then in the town of Gaming) and as an adjunct instructor in music appreciation at the Franciscan University of Steubenville's Austria Program located on the same campus. In 2006, he joined the founding team of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming, where he served as Assistant Academic Dean and Director of Admissions, and then as choirmaster and Professor of Theology and Philosophy. He also taught music and art history in the college's fine arts curriculum.
At the end of the academic year of 2017–18, Kwasniewski left Wyoming Catholic College. He accepted the title of Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center in Steubenville, Ohio, and is currently working as an independent writer, editor, publisher, and guest lecturer, giving talks and workshops on the traditional liturgy of the Catholic Church.
Kwasniewski is a board member and scholar of the Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, and a fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies.
Kwasniewski's books, lectures, and articles have meet with both considerable praise and opposition. Major prelates and Catholic magazines and websites have praised Kwasniewski for his insights into the crisis in the Church, while others have criticized him for insubordination to the present wishes of Church leaders. Some, like Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, of the PrayTell blog, have criticized Kwasniewski for an intransigent defense of traditional things, especially preconciliar, and for his apparent rejection of the reforms intended by the Second Vatican Council. Ruff, in particular, argues that Kwasniewski depends excessively on the Council of Trent, whose doctrine was completed and corrected by Vatican II. Jonathan Daly maintains that Kwasniewski's vocal preference for traditional worship is itself characteristically modern because it is a lifestyle and worldview choice over against other options that have more to recommend them, such as the contemporary magisterium. Support for Kwasniewski's positions and writings has also been substantial. In 2016, the international Catholic TV station EWTN broadcast a TV interview with Kwasniewski on their popular "EWTN Live" channel and also began carrying his book Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis in their online catalog. That same year, TV Infobar made available the video of the book launch of the Czech translation of Resurgent, at which Cardinal Burke introduced the book, calling it "very readable and very accessible" and thanking Kwasniewski "for giving us this work." Other positive publicity for this book included The New Oxford Review, which claims that "Kwasniewski accurately sums up the current situation in the Church" and that Resurgent is "a starting point for serious discussion" for "revitalizing the Church".
His book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, was praised by The Catholic Herald, a major British newspaper, and National Review, both of which published favorable reviews of it. Fr. Zuhlsdorf also reviewed the book favorably, claiming that "He writes with clarity and great force, which surely reflect both his deft mind and his convictions."
In 2016, it was revealed that Kwasniewski was among the clergy and theologians who signed the "Letter of the 45", a letter to all the Catholic Cardinals which asked them to "respond to the dangers to Catholic faith and morals" that Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia posed. Kwasniewski was also a signatory of a Letter in support of the Four Dubia Cardinals.
In addition to being a teacher and writer, Kwasniewski has enjoyed a parallel career as a choirmaster, cantor, and composer of about 150 works of music.
After studying composition and conducting with Roy Horton and voice with Carol Horton at Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, Kwasniewski became assistant choir director at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California (1990–1994). He served as director of the Schola Cantorum at Old St. John’s Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland (1994–1998), director of music at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria (1999–2006), and founding choirmaster and schola director at Wyoming Catholic College (2007–2018).
Kwasniewski’s Mass settings, motets, hymns, carols, antiphons, and acclamations have received numerous performances from 1990 to the present. His Mass settings include Missa Spiritus Domini (1994), Missa Spe Salvi (1995, rev. 2012), Missa Brevis à 3 (1997), Missa Hereditas Mihi à 3 (2016), and Missa Honorificentia Populi Nostri (2017). His Seven Mandatum Antiphons (2010) were dedicated to Arvo Pärt on the occasion of his 75th birthday; the maestro personally accepted the dedication. Many of these works can be found in his book Sacred Choral Works, which was highly acclaimed when it first appeared in 2014. Ensembles that have performed Kwasniewski's choral music include the Ecclesia Choir (dir. Timothy Woods), the Vittoria Ensemble (dir. Rick Wheeler), the Scottish ensemble Cantiones Sacrae (dir. Graeme Adamson), and Cantus Magnus (dir. Matthew Schellhorn).
Kwasniewski has also written a three-movement wind quintet Fire and Flame, premiered by the Antero Winds in 2012; an Ave Maria for SATB, winds, and strings; a violin sonata; organ accompaniments for English plainchant; and pieces for brass quartet and string quartet.
He has published numerous articles on music, especially on the recovery and renewal of sacred music in the contemporary Church.
- Tradition and Sanity. Conversations and Dialogues of a Postconciliar Exile. Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2018.
- A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching: From Syllabus Errorum to Deus Caritas Est. Edited, annotated, and with a Preface by Peter Kwasniewski. Tacoma, WA: Cluny Media, 2017.
- Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages. Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2017.
- Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis: Sacred Liturgy, the Traditional Latin Mass, and Renewal in the Church. Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015.
- On Love and Charity: Readings from the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. [A translation of texts from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences, containing Book I, Distinction 17, in both the Parisian and the Roman versions; Book III, Distinctions 27 to 32; and selected articles from all four Books.] Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008.
- Wisdom’s Apprentice. Thomistic Essays in Honor of Lawrence Dewan, O.P. Edited and introduced by Peter A. Kwasniewski. [A Festschrift of twelve essays with biography and bibliography of the honoree.] Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007.
Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis has been published in Czech, Polish, German, and Portuguese editions, and will be appearing in Spanish and Belarusian:
- Povstávání z prachu: Tradiční liturgie a obnova Cirkve. Trans. Štěpán Smolen. Nová Ves pod Pleši, Czech Republic: Hesperion, 2016.
- Kryzys i odrodzenie: Tradycyjna liturgia łacińska a odnowa Kościoła. Trans. Piotr Kaznowski. Tyniec, Poland: Wydawnictwo Benedyktynów, 2016.
- Neuanfang inmitten der Krise: Die heilige Liturgie, die traditionelle lateinische Messe und die Erneuerung in der Kirche. Trans. Christina Brock. Tremsbüttel: Una Voce Edition, 2017.
- Ressurgente em meio à crise: A Liturgia Sagrada, a Missa Tradicional, e a Renovação da Igreja. Trans. Nestor Forster. Sao Paulo, Brazil: Editora Ecclesiae, 2018.
Kwasniewski writes for a number of tradition-friendly or traditionalist weblogs, including New Liturgical Movement (weekly since 2013), Rorate Caeli (since 2014), OnePeterFive (since 2014), and LifeSite News (since 2017). Including academic publications as well as popular writing, he has published over 1,000 articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.
- Kwasniewski, Peter Andrew (2002). The Ecstasy of Love in Thomas Aquinas (PhD Thesis thesis). The Catholic University of America.
- "The Priority of Religion and Adoration? Peter Kwasniewski on the Eucharist". PrayTellBlog. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- "Follow-up: Is Summorum Pontificum Divisive?". PrayTellBlog. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- EWTN (2017-06-26), EWTN Live - 2017-06-14 - Peter Kwasniewski Phd, retrieved 2018-04-18
- "RESURGENT IN THE MIDST OF CRISIS". www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- TV Infobar (2016-11-09), Peter Kwasniewski: Povstávání z prachu - Tradiční liturgie a obnova Církve, retrieved 2018-04-18
- "New Oxford Review". www.newoxfordreview.org. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- "Our ill-starred love affair with modernity | CatholicHerald.co.uk". CatholicHerald.co.uk. 2017-11-23. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- "Beautiful and Holy: The Case for the Traditional Latin Mass | National Review". National Review. 2017-09-16. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- "REVIEW – Peter Kwasniewski's new book: Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages | Fr. Z's Blog". wdtprs.com. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- "Signers of document critiquing 'Amoris Laetitia' revealed". National Catholic Reporter. 2016-07-22. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
- Shaw, Joseph. "RORATE CÆLI: Letter in support of the Four Cardinals from Catholic academics and pastors". RORATE CÆLI. Retrieved 2018-04-18.