This great news begins, as it so often does, with a nice note from a reader:
Long time reader, first time partaker. I know you’re extremely busy so I’ll try to keep this short. While doing some research on the TLMs offered in the Connecticut area (not my home region but a place I may be visiting) I found this message from the Parish Priest, Fr. Greg Markey, of St Mary’s Church, found in this week’s bulletin. Here is clearly a young priest who “gets it” as you would say. He says:
“Personally, I would like to say that one of the greatest graces I have received from the Lord since my ordination was to learn the Traditional Latin Mass.”
He plans on speaking at all of the Novus Ordo masses this coming weekend about the TLM and offering a weekly, 4 part instructional class on the TLM.
You may have already covered this parish (although a Google search on your site yielded nothing) but in case you hadn’t I figured I’d make you at least aware of these happenings since a) this priest deserves to be recognized for his attempt to bring tradition and beauty back to the church in line with what you’ve called Pope Benedict’s “Marshall Plan” and b) you’d like to be informed of another priest who’s helping to “change the tide” so we say.
Words cannot express how immensely your blog has helped me in my understanding of the liturgy and therefore, my understanding of the fullness of the faith. Truly, “Save the Liturgy, Save the World.” May God continue to bless you and your work,
I went to the website of St. Mary’s Parish to find what Fr. Markey had to say:
Next week will be a historic moment for the Catholic Church in the United States when Pope Benedict XVI visits for the first time as the Holy Father. Here we have the Vicar of Christ proclaiming the Good News, a message of hope and reconciliation, to the religious and governmental leaders of our nation. We pray that that many fruits will come from this trip as we joyfully await his arrival.
In anticipation of the Pope’s visit the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released some telling statistics about the state of Catholicism in the United States which in many ways reflects the demographic changes within Norwalk. "No other major faith in the U.S. has experienced greater net losses over the last few decades as a result of changes in religious affiliation than the Catholic Church," the Pew report notes. Citing the extensive survey the Pew Forum explains that "roughly one-third of those who were raised Catholic have left the church, and approximately one-in-ten American adults are former Catholics."
Nonetheless despite the wholesale exodus of "cradle Catholics," the Catholic proportion of America’s overall population has remains constant, according to the report, thanks to the large number of Catholic immigrants, primarily from Mexico. Hispanics now account for 29% of the Catholics in the US, and nearly half of those under the age of 40. This is clearly reflected here in Norwalk and at St. Mary Church.
While we are pleased to help Catholic immigrants, the decline of American Catholics is disheartening. For example, a Gallup poll showed that in 1958 three out of four American Catholics attended Sunday Mass regularly; by 2000 the figure was closer to one out of four. These are only a small portion of the painful statistics that show a Church in dramatic decline. While we are still seeking to implement the authentic documents of the Second Vatican Council, it is clear that Vatican II has yet to bear the fruit that so many had optimistically prophesied.
So what happened to the Catholic Church in the United States over the past few decades? The writings of Pope Benedict indicate that he is very much aware of this crisis of faith, and his visit gives us an opportunity to reflect on his mission as the Vicar of Christ.
Firstly, Pope Benedict XVI is arguing for a “hermeneutic of continuity” with the Second Vatican Council, an interpretation of the Council which sees its implementation rooted in the Tradition of the Church. Pope Benedict states that any essential break or discontinuity with the Church’s doctrine would be contrary to the intentions of Pope John XXIII, who called the Council, and contrary to the Faith.
Secondly one can reflect on the issue that has defined Pope Benedict’s papacy more than any other up to this point: his motu propio Summorum Pontificum. Pope Benedict made the Traditional Latin Mass acceptable in the main stream Catholic Church practically overnight in one of the few dramatic papal initiatives since the Second Vatican Council. Pope Benedict has become convinced of Traditional Latin Mass’ enduring beauty as well as the necessity of restoring authentic Catholic worship. As he wrote, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” [This priest gets it!]
We are very blessed to have the Traditional Latin Mass here at St. Mary Church, the Extraordinary Form, every Sunday at 9:00 am. Personally, I would like to say that one of the greatest graces I have received from the Lord since my ordination was to learn the Traditional Latin Mass. To me it expresses both the mystery and fullness of the Catholic Faith like nothing else, and I would like to share this grace with as many people as possible. [Yes… he gets it.]
In order to help people understand the Mass I have included a stuffer in this week’s bulletin on the Traditional Latin Mass. Please take some time to read it. Like many treasures in life, this Mass takes time [brick by brick] to appreciate and understand, but is well worth the effort.
Furthermore, I will be preaching all of the English Masses next weekend, April 19th and 20th, specifically about the Traditional Latin Mass. Then I will then be having classes on the Traditional Latin Mass beginning Monday April 21st, in the evening, based a new excellent book on the topic, Sacred Then and Sacred Now, by Thomas Woods. Books will be sold after Mass next weekend at a discount price.
It is my sincere desire that more people in our parish will become exposed to this gift of the Traditional Latin Mass. I also hope to bring the Mass up from St. Patrick Chapel to the main church every Sunday. St. Mary Church is the “Mother Church of Norwalk”, with a history of leadership in the community. This is another opportunity for us to show leadership, and to truly implement what the Holy Father is praying for, a renewal in our Catholic Faith.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Greg J. Markey
Fr. Markey also has a interesting FAQ section:
Questions relating to the Liturgy
* Why does St. Mary’s sometimes have the Mass in Latin