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Friday, January 13, 2012

Fear And Loathing in the Sanctuary

So, I was in a facebook conversation with a very good friend of mine, who is a priest.  During the course of the conversation, the following statement was made:

 Ok all you liturgy geeks, observe this extract:

"The document did not require all parishes to automatically establish a Tridentine Mass schedule, but it said that where "a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably," the pastor should "willingly accede" to their request to make the Mass available. 

Cardinal Castrillon told the press conference, however, that a stable group could mean just three or four people who were not necessarily drawn from the same parish."

I responded this way:

 In had best start learning your Latin, if you don't already know it, dear clergy. Because I can guarantee you I can start barnstorming and get 3 people per town that say go.

To which another priest made this statement:

Well, as one who offered an extra - a fourth - Mass (in the extraordinary form) every Sunday for four years for a stable group of 40 faithful, I can tell you it is impractical in all but a handful of places. The clergy are already spread thin to meet the needs of the majority of the faithful. If the EF Mass has so little demand, it is a Mass of convenience. This is not at all what the Holy Father has in mind. Give me an associate and I would happily resume offering this weekly Mass!
To which I responded:
Please forgive my impertinence, I know that I'm not a priest, but for those few of us who do adhere to the TLM (or EF), it is not impractical. We crave that Mass in the same way Suite Judy Blue Eyes craves the Novus Ordo (or OF). You might think that it is a Mass of convience, I can tell you from the point of view of those who assist at that Mass, it is imperative.

I will pray that you change your view. The Church needs the TLM (or EF)...

For where there are two or more gathered in My Name...isn't that what Christ said? That was prolly a little impractical as well.

To which yet, another priest responded:

O.K. To all the people who think/want this to happen at EVERY parish, I propose this. PROVIDE MEN FROM AMONG YOUR NUMBERS TO ENTER THE SEMINARY SO AS TO BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE THESE MASSES. We're short of priests as it is - and to provide a Mass in Latin for perhaps 5 people at a parish when there is probably another parish within 5-10 miles that HAS a regular Latin/Tridentine Mass is very poor stewardship of already stretched very thin human resources - PRIESTS. So provide the priests for it. Other wise, it would behoove you, in this priest's humble opinion, to quit bellyaching. There aren't enough of us - and the good people of the Church aren't willing to "sacrifice/offer/give up" their sons to the Church anymore like they used to. Many parishes that 10 years ago had 3 priests now have only 1. Other parishes have NO "full-time" priest, but a priest who "hops around" to multiple parishes. This is our reality. And like the old saying goes, "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip." So start producing more turnips!
To which I said in response to both:

Ok, so if I may, from a layman's point of view (albeit, I have a pretty close perspective)...

1. With regard to the EF being celebrated as a 4th Mass. Replace one of the OF Masses. What's the worst that will happen, some of your parishoners will get mad? They get mad at you for less. You're an administrator. Administrate. If the EF is to be of equal stature, there should be no problem replacing an OF with an EF. It is a different expression of the same rite. There is nothing substantially different. Or could it be that your parishoners are a bit intolerant of the EF and things traditional. This is a reality in the Church, shouldn't the pastors and bishops of the Church catechize properly. Excluding the EF is certainly not proper catechesis on liturgical life of the Church, at least according to the pope. So, pastors...if you have one person ask, you should accommodate. But, I get's an inconvenience and that is what is the hardest about being a priest, inconvenience. It's much easier to be a priest, when everyone loves you.

2. With regard to vocations; let's not go there, ok? How many good, solid, Catholic men do you know who were either squeezed out or flat out booted out of seminary for being traditional? I know of more than a few. Ahem...right, Ramil? Top that off, with the fact that Catholic priests are supposed to know enough Latin to administer the Sacraments. That is a flawed argument. So, Fr. Holy, if you can assure me that the men who want to celebrate the EF will make it all the way through without being demonized and discriminated against, then, we can have that conversation. Until then...I'll pray. Just like I do every day, that the Church reforms the seminary structure to accomodate BOTH liberals and conservatives, both progressives and traddys. As it is, your sentiment is nice, but it is unrealistic.

Priests just don't get it sometimes.  They feel so over worked and they feel so overburdened and now the Church is asking for more.  The bottom line is this.  The TLM is to have the same importance as the Novus Ordo.  There should be absolutely no difference in the administration of the Mass.  If there are just a few, they should be given the same quarter.  The sad fact is, it isn't.  It isn't for a number of reasons, but the major ones are these:

1.  Fear of the unknown.  With most priests, they don't want to be perceived as being a conservative, because that might get them excluded from gatherings and their "friends" won't be their "friends" any more.  What the heck?  Are priests 10 years old?  The parish should be administered based upon the needs of the parish, not on the perception of other priests in the area.  A little courage is needed.

2.  Fear of over working.  Really?  Replace a Novus Ordo Mass then.  The TLM is a different expression of the same theological reality.  IT SHOULD NOT MATTER!!!!!!  IT SHOULD NOT MATTER!!!!!!  It should not matter if the Mass is OF or EF, but because the EF is from the pre-Vatican Council II era (I wonder how many look at it as a different Church altogether, priest and layman alike) it cannot be authentic.  I would argue the opposite.  I would argue that the TLM is authentic because it developed through the life of the Church, whereas the Novus Ordo did not.  It was fabricated under the direction of one priest, who steered the whole of it and slapped it together in 3 years or so....Bugnini was a fool.

3.  Fear of the bishop.  That has been removed.  The pastor has the right, without the approval of the bishop to say the Mass.  So...if the liberals can demonize a conservative, why can't a conservative demonize a liberal.  Except catechesis really isn't demonizing, it is teaching...the resistance comes from the true intolerance of the Church, the liberal.

There are many, many people in the Church who will support their priests...priests just need to have the courage to step outside the box.  The true acceptable innovation in the Church is to embrace her 2000 year history and theology and meld it with and sometimes replace it with regard to the Council to end all Councils.  Implore your priests to say the TLM.  It is your patrimony.  The Novus Ordo has no more right to have pride of place than the TLM.  Priests are afraid today.  They are afraid of 3 things:

1. their parishoners --  checkbooks say a lot don't they.  And that is what the Church is about...right.
2. their fellow priests  -- popularity contests rarely work out well.
3. their bishops -- bishops should be supporting their priests, so what is there to fear?

I implore all priests everywhere to stand up, catechize and the support will be there for the TLM.  Don't fear the Church, embrace it.  The Church will support you.  And so will the traddys.


  1. Mr. Milam,

    An inspiring post! My wife and I are registered in a rather run-of-the-mill Novus Ordo parish. I more often than not assist at the TLM at other parishes, but nonetheless this is where we are registered for now. We are gearing up to petition the priest to baptize our due-in-a-few-months child in the Traditional Rite, and I am nervous but cautiously optimistic. Thank you for the encouragement!

  2. Hi Andy,

    As a fellow Iowan, I had to chime in. 100% agreement about priests and bishops with NO FEAR, taking the lead in showing the way to the TLM. God bless you. Keep the faith in God's country.

  3. Matthew and Supertradmum;

    Thanks for your comments. It is a struggle. But it is worth it. I may never see the full fruits, but then again, it isn't about me. If I can lay the ground work, then I am doing my part. It can be frustrating, but those who see the vision often are.

    I refer back to the words of Our Lady to St. Bernadette, "I cannot promise you happiness in this world, only in the next." There is something very soothing and comforting about those words.

  4. Mr. Milam,

    Most definitely comforting words from Our Lady. Thank you!