Liturgical Arts Flourishing at Prince of Peace in Taylors, South Carolina

Good things are happening at Prince of Peace parish in Taylors, South Carolina.  The pastor, Fr. Christopher Smith, is doing terrific work.  Earlier this year I was privileged to visit the parish twice, witnessing the splendor of the Sunday High Mass.  The liturgical arts flourish at Prince of Peace with great devotion and piety, thanks in no small part to the pastor, a good friend of ours.  I have known Fr. Smith for years, since our student days in Rome when he was at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.  It is no surprise given his education the wonderful things he is doing at Prince of Peace.    

Fr. Smith has incredible gifts and is a great asset to the parish and Diocese.  He is a convert who was received into the Church over thirty years ago (Maundy Thursday, 1991).  Earlier this year I was privileged to visit St. Mary's in Greenville where he entered into the Church during the Easter Vigil, the holiest time of the year.  I was deeply moved to hear again his story of conversion.  Fr. Smith is a an excellent preacher and a very practical and pastoral priest.  He holds a doctorate in the sacred science of theology and he has studied at Oxford and Rome.  He knows well and understands the meaning of mysteria in the liturgy, the one thing lacking in so many parishes and yet so necessary to help inspire and ignite the Faith.  

Prince of Peace is a success story that deserves attention.  It was founded in 1976 by a handful of families.  Since that time, it has become a beacon of Catholic life for the entire eastside of nearby Greenville and beyond.  In the fall of 2003 the new church and school were opened.  After two years of construction, the new church was dedicated to the great joy of the local Catholic community.  

The current church seats 1,200 and was built for a cost of almost $7 million.  The beautiful design is Roman basilica style, influenced by the great basilicas of Rome.  The ceiling soars to a height of 70 feet.  Exposed beams make it resemble early basilicas from the fourth century.  Natural light floods the sanctuary from clerestory windows that invite sun beams to illuminate the worship space.      

Prince of Peace is a thriving parish with a vibrant liturgical life offering Holy Mass in both the OF and EF.  Since July of 2008 the parish has offered a weekly Sunday Missa Cantata, sung in Latin with Gregorian Chant.  The school attached to the parish, robust in its Catholic identity, is involved in the liturgical life of the parish.  Dozens of young boys make up the well-trained cadre of altar servers.  Fr. Smith through his gifted zeal and pastoral approach effectively attracts many converts to the Faith.  

Traditional liturgical arts can be a powerful tool to help inspire the young to a deeper interior life and influence converts to consider the Faith.  Sacred liturgy has always been the lifeblood of Western culture.  It gives an other-worldly experience that feeds the soul.  For many young Catholics the traditional Mass in Latin has become a refuge for those seeking to deepen their quality of worship.  Indeed, offering the EF has proven an enormously beneficial evangelization tool, fostering an effective bulwark that has a proven track record through the centuries.  

Given the secular nature of society there is hardly anything left to revolt against except the ugliness and disintegration of the modern world.  The solution is a return to universal principles of composition and beauty.  When the tradition of sacred liturgy breaks down, the Church suffers a crisis of identity.  Prince of Peace gives solid evidence of how much value can be attributed to beauty in the liturgy.  A little fabric and a lot of music according to the norms of the Church can go a long ways. 

Through a new age of liturgical arts being fostered at Prince of Peace in the American South, a little Renaissance in Catholic life is booming, attracting not only converts to the Faith, but also a large number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  This fresh approach is working, a welcoming flowering of life that speaks for itself at Prince of Peace.  A solid foundation that is an indication of sustained renewal in the life of the local Church.  

God bless Fr. Smith for devoting so much time and energy to the liturgical apostolate - teaching people to make an effort to love the Mass.  His time-honored approach, always in concert with other initiatives, is a lived sign of the presence of God among the community, as part of the living tradition of the Church.  This brings to mind a quote from St. Josemaria Escriva: "A man who fails to love the Mass fails to love Christ.  We must make an effort to 'live' the Mass with calm and serenity, with devotion and affection."  

Prince of Peace was voted best place of worship in the Upstate by Greeneville News

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