QUAERITUR: Can priests refuse to say the TLM or the Novus Ordo?

Another question:

Dear Fr Z —

Is an individual priest of the Latin Rite permitted to say Mass only in the Ordinary Form or only in the Extraordinary Form?  Or will all priests be required to use both forms, at least once in awhile?

I know a number of priests who only say the Mass of Paul VI; in most cases, it’s because they have little or no Latin.  Given Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’s announcement that the Extraordinary Form will be made available in all parishes, is it likely that they will be required to learn the older form?

Conversely, there are priests who only say the Mass of John XXIII.  Will they be required to say Mass in the Ordinary Form from time to time?  The Holy Father touched on this, obliquely, in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum: "Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness."

It would seem ideal to me that all priests become "idoneus" in both forms of the same rite and celebrate both — not just "ordinary form" priests celebrating the EF but also priests from groups like the FSSP celebrating the OF.  Is this what is supposed to happen?   Is it likely to happen?

Okay… that’s a lot of questions.  Too many, really.  So I think I will give an answer that is too long and maybe rant a little.

First, I think circumstances will determine whether or not a priest says Mass only in the older form with the 1962MR or only in the newer form with the 2002MR.  If Father is placed in such a way that it never happens for him to have to say the Novus Ordo, then he won’t be using the Novus Ordo.

Will a priest be forced to say one Mass or another?  I don’t think so.  However, if a bishop assigns a man to a parish where he will have to use the Novus Ordo, and the priest refuses to use the Novus Ordo, then the bishop could have a sound reason to apply disciplinary measures.  Still, a priest cannot be forced to say any Mass, so long as he is willing to bear the consequences.

I think the basic approach ought to be something along the lines of what I usually say when asked if I say only the older form of Mass:  I wasn’t ordained for a book.

If there is need for the Novus Ordo in this language or that, I will go unto the altar and open up the book and say Mass.  If there is need for the older form, I will use the older form.   I prefer the 1962 to the 2002, but the needs of the people of God must outwiegh my preferences.  It would be grossly unfair for me to impose suddenly the older form of Mass on a congregation who haven’t experienced it for decades, or ever, and who weren’t expecting it.

Is it likely that priests of these specialized groups will also use the Ordinary Form of Mass?  I have no special insight into this, since I don’t belong to any of these groups.  I suspect they won’t be very open to the idea.  I suspect some members of these groups could be open while others will staunchly refuse.

I know from my own personal experience that, even though I am willing to say whatever Mass I am pointed at, saying the Novus Ordo is a bit of a let down for me now.  It takes some effort to get my heart and head into it.  I do, of course. I say the Novus Ordo as reverently and with as much continuity as I can.  But I can imagine very well the mental and emotional obstacles against the Novus Ordo that priests would have if they really never say it, have never said it.  It would be close to trauma, a challenge to who they are as priests.

Thus, were I a diocesan bishop – and thanks be to God I never will be – I would hesitate (not refuse) to bring in priests from a group who essentially refuse to use the Novus Ordo. 

Even as a priest I have suffered not a little because I refused to give up my position that I should have the right to say the older form of Mass without joining what was essentially a ghetto.  People would ask me, "Why not join group X?"  I believed that every priest should have this right and if diocesan priests simply opted out of dioceses in favor of some specialized institute, then the dichotomy between the diocesan priests and specialists would grow and, when the time came, the diocese would be weaker as a result.  Thus, I refused to go to the back of the bus, but I endured the blow-back and it hasn’t been fun.

And so, were I a diocesan bishop (quod Deus avertat), I would hesitate about bring in specialists, not only because I think the local men should be the first to have the opportunity to serve, but because of other practical issues.  Say I put guys from the Bunch of Priests Who Say Only The Old Mass (BOPWSOTM or "bopwisotum") at St. Ipsidipsy.  The neighboring parish’s priest over at St. Idealia, Fr. Guido O’Brien, or "Just-Call-Me-’Hooty’" falls off a ladder and winds up in traction.  Fr. Rigidior Oldform over at St. Ipsidipsy is happy to go over to St. Idealia in a pinch, but he won’t use the newer form of Mass.  The result is confusion and people looking at Fr. Rigidior as if he is from Mars. 

As a bishop highly in favor of tradition, I don’t think that that is how I would want a parish to be introduced to the older form of Mass.  Maybe a big jolt might work… but I bet it would create more hard feelings than positive interest.

"But Father!  But Father!" you might want to object.  "Surely Fr. Rigidior isn’t the only priest who could substitute.  This is a straw man argument!  And if another can’t be found just at that hour of the day in an emergency, surely the world won’t come to an end and people will be understanding if they can’t have Mass on Tuesday afternoon.  Leave Fr. Rigidior alone!  He’s our hero!" 

Okay… I’ll stipulate that another guy could probably be found and that the world won’t come to an end.  But it seems to me that it shouldn’t have to be that complicated. 

A priest should be willing to help out in either form under reasonable conditions.  Saying Mass with the newer form, when you are ordained for the WHOLE CHURCH and not just a fraction of it, is not unreasonable.

The corollary to this is, as bishop (which will never happen) I would be pretty annoyed with a priest who simply refused to learn anything about the Extraordinary Form of Mass. 

If he were to have requests for the TLM and refused even to learn anything about it, that would irritate me.  I would view that approach as narrow, stingy, and crass.  I would begin to wonder what that priest’s understanding of the Church might be, what his notion of priesthood was, if, for idealogical reasons, he was determined to remain ignorant of his own Rite.

If Father was found to be too stupid to learn the older form of Mass, try as he might, I wouldn’t be irritated with him, poor thing.  But I would have to wonder what he was doing when he said the Novus Ordo. 

I think priests should be prepared to step up to the altar, open up the book, and say Mass, older or newer, Latin or English (or some other vernacular truly necessary in the place according to circumstances).  As bishop I would also remind them that as pastors of souls they have the obligation to teach their flocks to speak and sing the parts that pertain to them in both Latin and their mother tongue. 

If they refused to do this, I think I would want to discuss their reasoning with them and learn their minds.

Therefore, as a diocesan bishop (which is impossible) I would want to give the local men, priests of the diocese, the first and best opportunity to satisfy all these needs for the older forms everywhere in the diocese without bringing in extra-diocesan groups.  I would do everything I could to make sure they had training and support and my public approval.  I would even b happy to bring in extra-diocesan men on a temporary basis at least to train other priests and lay people, to get the ball rolling.  But, the local men would have my first preference. 

Furthermore, Summorum Pontificum states that pastors have the ability to deal with all these matters and that I should have to get involved unless necessary.  Bringing in men from outside would be a serious intervention.  I would rather support or persuade local men to get trained up so that they could handle these.  Of course, according to this fantasy, there would be abundant right-thinking seminarians in the pipe line, so the problem would resolve pretty quickly.

Also, I would make it clear to these priests of the diocese that if there were legitimate need to help elsewhere, with the newer form of Mass, they shouldn’t drag their heels too much or grouse publicly, no matter what they said to me over the phone or griped about to their priest friends.  Gripe to me in private, make your arguments, try to convince me, but please don’t be sullen in public so that you create scandal. 

We are not ordained for a book, or even a specific use.  Hopefully in years to come these problems and tensions will resolve themselves as Pope Benedict’s Marshall Plan creates the desired results.

So, the long and the short is this: If a priest is ordained for the Latin Church, I think he should be willing to work with people as they are and, hopefully, move them along to a broader perspective.

 

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43 Responses to QUAERITUR: Can priests refuse to say the TLM or the Novus Ordo?

  1. Carolina Geo says:

    Thanks for your perspective, Father. At the risk of sounding antagonistic (which I do not mean to be), I have a couple of short comments/questions:

    “It would be grossly unfair for me to impose suddenly the older form of Mass on a congregation who haven’t experienced it for decades, or ever, and who weren’t expecting it.”

    There are two generations of Catholics, many of whom have never experienced a reverent Novus Ordo Mass. In fact, many teenagers have only experienced “Lifeteen” * Masses. (The asterisk is an indication that I have to spit whenever I say it to get the bad taste out of my mouth). Would you consider it then to be equally unfair to impose a reverently-offered Novus Ordo Mass on these people? After all, they haven’t experienced it in decades, or ever, either!

    “Thus, were I a diocesan bishop – and thanks be to God I never will be – I would hesitate (not refuse) to bring in priests from a group who essentially refuse to use the Novus Ordo.”

    Father, this seems to be a slight against the FSSP. Their very charism is to celebrate the sacraments using the old rites of the Church. Do you then have an issue with their charism? [Do you have a need to find conflict where there isn't any? - Fr. Z]

  2. Carolina: I made my position clear. Read what I wrote. This is not a slight of anyone. This is a preference in favor of diocesan priests to serve in diocesan parishes. I believe I have given ample space and support to the FSSP et al. on this blog, as those who come here often know.

  3. LCB says:

    “you are ordained for the WHOLE CHURCH and not just a fraction of it”

    This. Infact, I want to hit ctrl-v a few more times. If more recognized this, and contemplated the depth of it, we would be more unified.

  4. Carolina Geo says:

    Father: I know that you have given support to the FSSP, which is why I was confused by your comments and why I sought clarification. If by “conflict” you mean “confusion,” then I guess I was conflicted.

    Thank you for your follow-up. I must have missed in the original post where you differentiated between diocesan parishes and those run by other orders (such as the FSSP). Please pardon my oversight.

  5. Ottaviani says:

    Forcing institutes dedicated to the older form of the sacraments, to concelebrate the newer rites would be none short of a disaster. It would only prove to the SSPX, that the modernists want the Novus Ordo shoved down their throats and would hardened their positions. We certainly need less of that and more reconciliation. [But this is not what we are talking about. - Fr. Z]

    The whole protocol 1411 was a debacle in itself and an unfair treatment of the FSSP. I can’t recall any other institute being dealt off-handed and unilateral behaviour like that.

    The changes in the Good Friday prayer and allowing Bishops to move Holy Days has caused enough suspicions in traditionalist circles.

  6. John Hudson says:

    I was impressed by the careful wording of the motu proprio (or was it the accompanying letter?) with regard to this question, in which it is stated that no priest may refuse to celebrate the ordinary form *on principle*. In other words, there may be practical, pastoral or even juridical reasons why a priest may decline to celebrate the ordinary form, and priests belonging to orders specifically instituted to celebrate the extraordinary form should have no difficulty declining on such grounds. For many, who have been formed and ordained in such orders, there is the simple practical ground that they don’t know how to celebrate the ordinary form.

  7. Malta says:

    Fr. you may not have “been ordained for a book,” but the OF has certainly led to a de-emphasis on the sacral mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Most don’t believe in the real presence anymore, no less the mass as Sacrifice. Only the EF instills these mysteries in most; the OF may do so in some cases, but most Catholics worship like protestants these day–that is in “song and praise,” and are not given the meat they deserve in the OF.

    Is this an accident? I think not, the Concillium concocted the OF in a liturgical think-thank with the help of six protestant “observers,” at the behest of Paul VI, who admitted to a friend that he wanted to make the mass as protestant as possible. [Rabbit hole.]

    So, although priests aren’t ordained for a book, they should celebrate mass in the way that is best for souls, and clearly the Mass which produced most of the great Saints is best for the soul. [You add this last part from your perspective as a layman, I hope. - Fr. Z]

  8. Brian Mershon says:

    All I know is that I thank God every day for the FSSP, ICR, the Institute of Good Shepherd and the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre.

    Without them drawing and holding the line, there would most likely not be the spread and growth of the TLM today to the diocesan priests. Thanks be to God they knew where to draw the line.

    I attend the Novus Ordo much more often than the TLM. But I wish I did not have to. I wish I could attend ONLY the TLM with ONLY the traditional liturgical calendar and ONLY with FSSP or ICR or Institute of Good Shepherd or St. John Marie Vianney priests.

    Based upon the hypothetical scenario (for the good of the whole Church), I would posit that it is NEVER better nor good for the whole Church to offer Mass to ANY congregation, no mater WHAT their reaction, using an inferior rite of Mass.

    No. We have Spanish speaking priests who don’t offer the Novus Ordo in English. We have Vietnamese. Same thing. We certainly have Eastern-rite priests who do not fill in when Fr. gets sick.

    No reason to impose this litmus test on the FSSP, ICR or others when their well-formed Catholic consciences prohibit them from participating in Masses allowing Eucharistic mistresses, communion from the chalice (often spilled), altar girls, etc. etc.

    Just my opinion of course.

  9. Tom says:

    Dear Fr. Z.

    Reluctant as I am to challenge your orthodoxy, which reigns supreme here on wdtprs, I have to ask you if you can conceive a Church in which people ARE “ordained for a book.” That is, can you conceive of a Church where there are distinct, seperate strands that are cherished in their integrity and not asked to conform to other strands just because of human convenience (aka pastoral need).

    Without challenging your orthodoxy, what appears to be proposed is a “dominant form” rather than an “ordinary form.” To say that a man cannot be forced – so long as he accepts a disciplinary procedure for refusal – is fallacious reasoning. If I am free to choose, then I cannot be disciplined for choosing according to that freedom.

    Since Vatican II, ‘the Church’ (by which I mean the lived reality of ‘being Church’) has become at once more anarchic and more monolithic. When was a Priest of another Rite required to celebrate the Roman Rite? Schism would have ensued. Schism has been caused by less. Why should a Priest ordained in the Gregorian Rite, for the Gregorian Rite, be required to celebrate the Ordinary Form, or why should his refusal to do so be made to seem downright indecent?

    Dear Father, very good people often think that, because they are so good, they are also ‘Right’ in an absolute sense. That you would say any legitimate Rite that you could decently celebrate for the sake of the people is laudable. That others would not is deserving neither of condemnation nor discipline nor distain. [And no one here has done that. - Fr. Z]

    That some Priests would refuse to celebrate a legitimate Rite other than their own does not mean that they deny that Rite or that they are unfaithful to their ordination “for the whole Church.” That goes for the Ordinarians as well as the Gregorians. Surely the Church is holy enough a Mother to respect the particularities of her children.

  10. John Enright says:

    Maybe if the NO was consistently celebrated in a more reverent and dignified manner the divisiveness between the various factions would be lessened greatly. One thing the Church does not need is a liturgical war between the OF and EF crowds. Can’t we all just get along?

  11. Joshua says:

    Just a clarification on the FSSP. All Roman priests have a right to say the Novus Ordo (and now conversely to say the old form). Because they are Roman all of their priests retain such a right, just as a Dominican could have said the Tridentine Mass in the day. But, they cannot be obliged to, since their charism is to celebrate the older form. I know that with the Institute, for instance, whether or not to concelebrate at the Chrism Mass is left up to the individual priest’s discretion, I suspect the same for the FSSP.

    However, were an FSSP priest to regularly say the NO, I would say he does not belong with the FSSP.

  12. introibo says:

    as an english catholic, i am struck by how pseudo-anglican (i.e. pseudo-protestant) we have become. clearly, there is no longer a single liturgical use in the catholic church. just like the anglicans, who have traditional liturgies (e.g. book of common prayer, 1662) and a range of subsequent liberal liturgies (including happy-clappy, circa 1975), rome seems prepared to countenance such massive variation in liturgical style that the reality of the church’s unity is thrown into question. it’s a very sad state that in the church the lex orandi is so diverse that a single lex credendi is no longer credible.

  13. John Paul says:

    What is not mentioned here is from the perspective of the bishop who
    really doesn’t support the EF of Mass, or has a collection of priests who
    don’t, and he doesn’t want to encourage them to learn it. In those cases,
    as here in Virginia, outside orders are brought in for the select few who
    seek the EF of Mass. Everyone else is encouraged not to disturb Father with
    requests for the “Old Mass.” Those that do are sent (at what ever distance)
    to the two “side chapels” in the diocese that offer it. The ghetto continues.

  14. Tom says:

    Re. “pseudo-anglican,” I would quote a certain Cardinal Ratzinger in 1998:

    “Before the Council there existed side by side with the Roman rite, the Ambrosian rite, the Mozarabic rite of Toledo, the rite of Braga, the Carthusian rite, the Carmelite rite, and best known of all, the Dominican rite, and perhaps still other rites of which I am not aware. No one was ever scandalised that the Dominicans, often present in our parishes, did not celebrate like diocesan priests but had their own rite. We did not have any doubt that their rite was as Catholic as the Roman rite, and we were proud of the richness inherent in these various traditions.”

    Re: “The ghetto continues,” oi, i should be so lucky! Imagine a Diocese where you’ve been writing for 14 years and being promised for 13 years and now 7 Parish Priests have been asked, 5 ignored it, 1 said that there was no group of faithful seeking the EF in his parish – to the half dozen people who wrote to him! – and the last said that we could have a church for the same length of time that it took to say other Masses but no more. THEN the Bishop said he would invite in the FSSP but, a year later… and all the PCED can say is ‘don’t bother us, there’s an Instruction due soon…’

    How I long for a nice cosy ghetto to call my very own!!!

  15. Tom says:

    Re. “That you would say any legitimate Rite that you could decently celebrate for the sake of the people is laudable. That others would not is deserving neither of condemnation nor discipline nor distain. [And no one here has done that. – Fr. Z]”

    Dear Father, no one here has said that but isn’t there the faintest hint that the guys in the pointy hats would be justified in doing just that?

    In fact, isn’t there even a hint that you would at least question their actions?

  16. Derik Castillo says:

    The more I read Fr Z’s post, the more I am convinced of his point
    of view. For reasons that escape me, many faithful tend to believe
    that the EF and the OF are not good neighbors, or in other words
    that a priest should stick to one use of the Roman Rite. This is a
    narrow interpretation of the reality (especially after SP).
    I attend both forms of Mass, and even when my preference is for
    the EF, all the benefits of active participation in Mass can also
    be obtained from a dignified OF.

    To frown upon one form of Mass is something I always avoid for fear
    of breaking the first commandment, and distrusting the Holy Church.

  17. joy says:

    Maybe after the new translation of the OF passes, and the prayers more closely follow the Latin original, some of these issues will lessen.

    Pray that it passes on the absentee ballot.

  18. Tom: In fact, isn’t there even a hint that you would at least question their actions?

    Here is what I wrote, above:

    If he were to have requests for the TLM and refused even to learn anything about it, that would irritate me. I would view that approach as narrow, stingy, and crass. I would begin to wonder what that priest’s understanding of the Church might be, what his notion of priesthood was, if, for idealogical reasons, he was determined to remain ignorant of his own Rite.

  19. Gabriel says:

    Please tell me Father Z – would you give Holy Communion in the hand. I have met a couple of Priests who say both forms of the Mass but they hate giving Holy Communion in the hand. In my opinion they should stipulate that they will not do it. What is your opinion on this

  20. While I agree that diocesan priests should be encouraged to learn the TLM, I really don’t see any reason to prefer them to the specialist institutes. After all, isn’t the world we want to create that of Cardinal Castillon where the one where the TLM will exist in every parish? So if Fr X is sick, and the FSSP priest fills in and says a mass according to the 1962 missal it should be no big deal!

    And in terms of how we reach this world, as the Cardinal suggested, people won’t appreciate what a treasure the ‘gregorian rite’ is unless they are exposed to it – so ‘imposing it’ on people now or then seems no bad thing to me.

    Moreover, even if saying the TLM for some reason or other is judged inappropriate, FSSP and other TLM-only priests can and do help out in diocese in other ways – filling in as confessors, acting as hospital chaplains, etc. I suspect that is more than many of the religious orders who serve many of our parishes do!

    I do think we should appreciate the sacrifices made by priests who, in the interests of those they serve, are willing to use both forms of the mass. But I think Fr Z’s experience of the difficulty of going back to the NO is only too common, not just for priests, but also for the laity – somehow or other, the more you experience it, the harder it is to go with anything else.

    And I suspect many priests and laity sooner or later reach the point of really being unable to say or hear the NO as a result. I think bishops need to start understanding this, and get used to dealing with it!

    Part of the problem seems to me treating the two forms as if they are really the same rite. As Fr Z has pointed out in the past, this is essentially a legal fiction done to ensure that all priests have the right to say the TLM, but really shouldn’t be stretched beyond that.

    In the dark days, many Latin Catholics took to Eastern rite Catholic Churches. Can’t imagine anyone suggesting to most Ukrainian Catholic or Maronite priests that they should be prepared to fill in somewhere else and say the Novus Ordo. And I can imagine the reaction if someone did!

  21. Quote: “Because they are Roman all of their priests retain such a right, just as a Dominican could have said the Tridentine Mass in the day.”

    This is not correct. No matter what documents promulgating the Tridentine Missal say, the Order and the Sacred Congregation of Rites always treated the Dominican Rite as an obligation for Dominicans. In fact, when a a couple of lone missionary Dominicans teaching in varioius African seminaries wanted permission to use the “Tridentine” Mass because of pastoral practicalities, they had to petition the Master of the Order, who then had to petition the Sacred Congregation. They were granted permission eventually, but warned that they would have to return to saying the Dominican Mass on return to their provinces and normal life. I discuss this in my “History of the Dominican Liturgy, 1946-1969″ over on my blog “Dominican Liturgy.”

    By the way, I find Fr. Z’s position on priests refusing to say any valid rite for which they are prepared exactly rite. This from one who says the N.O., the Dominican, and even (when there is pastoral need) the Byzantine Rite.

  22. Dang, you’d make a good — I mean — someone like you would make a great bishop.

    I find your “rant” rather balanced actually, and looking at a much bigger picture than most of us usually see (or want to see).

    Benedictus Deus!

  23. Geoffrey says:

    I know many a good and devout priest who has no interest in the Extraordinary Form. Are they bad? Of course not, just confused. We should try to open them up to the reasons why many of the faithful like the Extraordinary Form. Many priests and even bishops have warmed since 7-7-2007. And let’s face it, the Ordinary Form is here to stay until, I think, the two forms organically become one.

    At any rate, our mentality should never be “Ordinary vs. Extraordinary”, but rather “Ordinary AND Extraordinary”.

  24. Animadversor says:

    Tu si ordinarius dioecesanus esses, hoc commentarium scribere nequires. Quod Deus avertat!

  25. Michael B. says:

    Father Z.,
    Of course you are right in your analysis. The return of the Roman Rite to traditional practice is missionary work in the Catholic Church. The OF is now a fact, the OF done untraditionally is the norm. A traditional, reverent OF Mass in English is a noticeable departure in most parishes, that will be a sufficient witness to the Church’s true liturgy, even in current ICEL English, for now. The new translation will make that Mass even more of a blessed departure from the norm.

    As we have been blessed with young priests in our area who understand the nature of this “Counter-Restoration”, they have, out of necessity, wisely taken the course you outline.

    This line of action is no danger to exclusively EF orders. As to the issue of whether or not you would bring in one of these EF orders, it would depend on the size of the diocese, and more importantly, as you noted, on how quickly you could fill the seminaries, which is not a difficulty for an orthodox Bishop (The diocese of Saginaw, MI comes to mind.)

  26. Johnny Domer says:

    Father Z, I think you would be right on the money if it weren’t for the fact that there’s such a huge discrepancy between the quality of priests in the FSSP and in your average diocese. I’ve never met an FSSP priest who wasn’t totally, completely, boldly orthodox. I know very few diocesan priests who are so. Further, the FSSP knows how to do the Old Mass better than the diocesan priests, and are more enthusiastic about it (I think like three priests in my diocese know how to do it in varying degrees of expertise, and one of them doesn’t like it very much). Further, the FSSP priests that I know (and I know a good handful) just seem holier than most diocesan priests. They complain less, are more self-sacrificing, they’re great confessors, they’re devoted to their work…I guess I can’t know for certain (I can’t see souls), but they just seem a significant click above your average priest. I agree that your solution would be ideal, Father; but until every diocese is able to get a little group of orthodox, holy priests whom the bishop can spare to run a full-time Tridentine apostolate with daily Mass and all the Sacraments, I would prefer the FSSP. I think Mater Ecclesiae in NJ is really the only place in the country where the situation you propose, Father, has actually happened and worked; on the flip side, there are lots of successful FSSP and ICRSS parishes in the country.

  27. RBrown says:

    By the way, I find Fr. Z’s position on priests refusing to say any valid rite for which they are prepared exactly rite. This from one who says the N.O., the Dominican, and even (when there is pastoral need) the Byzantine Rite.
    Comment by Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P.

    That’s nice, but the problem isn’t priests who only want to use the 1962 Missal. In the US that is less than .5%, and I’m including FSSP priests.

    Are there 25 OP’s in the US who have been ordained since 1970 and have said the OP Rite even once?

  28. Malta says:

    *So, although priests aren’t ordained for a book, they should celebrate mass in the way that is best for souls, and clearly the Mass which produced most of the great Saints is best for the soul. [You add this last part from your perspective as a layman, I hope. – Fr. Z].*

    Lex orandi, lex credendi [the law of prayer is the law of belief]. Since Mass is the highest form of prayer, and prayer a necessity for salvation, I do believe that if both the EF and OF are prayed as they should be, the former leads to a greater understanding and appreciation, in the average mass-goer, of Christ’s eternal Sacrifice and the propritiatory value of Christ’s death. It teaches a greater belief in and reverence for the Eucharist. Therefore, in my opinion and in my experience, the EF is a vastly superior rite. The OF is valid, but I think the Church would have done well never to have imposed it. I usually attend the OF (because it can be very difficult for me to get to the EF,) and I do think it nourishes; but why go to Burger KIng when one can eat at a four star restaurant?

    Btw: I found the source where it is said that Paul VI wanted to make the mass as protestant as possible:

    http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/stickler.asp

    *French philosopher Jean Guitton says that Pope Paul VI revealed to him that it was his [the Pope's] intention to assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship.*

    That is very pertinent to this discussion. I don’t think this is a rabbit hole at all. If a Priest feels that souls are better fed with the EF, or that the OF is too protestant (because it was designed to “assimilate” protestant worship style,) then he should not be forced or pressured to pray the OF.

  29. Fr. Angel says:

    Dear Fr. Z:
    I completely agree with your excellent post about priests and both Forms of the Roman Rite. We were ordained for the salvation of souls, not for a particular form of the Liturgy. We were ordained to love the faithful of Christ with pastoral solicitude. This solicitude demands “reality checks” and fatherly compassion to their ability to receive the riches of the Mass. A priest preaching before the deaf engages someone to assist him with sign language. When the aged and infirm are immobile, we leave the sanctuary and offer Mass at the convalescent hospital. St. John Neumann sought out the newly arrived immigrants and catechized according to their language and customs. Now, the faithful ask for the EF. I know priests who have no attachment to the EF, but they brush up on Latin and learn it for the love of souls, not for their own personal desires. At the same time, in these days, there are millions of devout and sincere Catholics for whom the Tridentine Mass is not intelligible or spiritually fruitful. Priests should be willing to honor that legitimate aspiration as well–to have Mass according to the new Missal, even if it goes against the priest’s personal desires.

    Our Lord did not bequeath the “I don’t do windows” approach to the sacred ministry. Priests are needed with enough boldness and enough fatherly love for whom no sacrifice is too much for souls, either those which love the EF or the OF. This is not a critique against the Institute or the FSSP–thank God for their work. What you are saying, however, is that outside of the small group who have the special charism to promote the sacraments according to the EF, the rest of us general practitioners or worker bees have a wider calling and much throw out a wider net, must cast our nets into the deep. If lay people cannot grasp what you are saying, that is too bad. You are speaking loud and clear for us who run large parishes with various cultures and languages and varied liturgical inclinations. You are, in fact, speaking for us with that heart of a father that a common parish priest must have. Thank you.

  30. Michael says:

    Father, my own view is that the two rites can peacefully live alongside one another only if they are under different jurisdictions. The TLM needs at least 50 years to settle, while what you propose can only lead to its decomposition. Would a TLM priest be expected to let women enter the sanctuary, distribute Communion, would he be expected to employ lay ministers of Communion, to concelebrate if a translation is false, to go along with abuses during concelebration, to give Communion in the hand, under both kinds, standing; what about the woman at Orthometer (the post above), or, generally, women in mini skirts, with semi-exposed breasts, tightly dressed men and women, men and women in low cut trousers sitting during Consecration (you as a priest do not know the scenario one has to put up with while kneeling behind…)

    A Western Rite Catholic finds it difficult to digest the idea of two jurisdictions on the same territory, because he thinks of the Catholic Church as the Western Church, and tends to switch off when the existence of the Eastern Catholic Churches is brought to his attention. And yet, this existence is a reality, and in fact the only hope for a restoration of unity with the separated Eastern Churches. If Providence provided the latter ever to happen, a typical Western Catholic, bishop and priest included, would find it acceptable only if the Eastern Churches ceased to exist as entities, or exist as some kind of ecclesiastical oddity or exotic creation to be tolerated, rather than an enrichment of his own faith. But a reunion would be impossible on these premises.

    On the other hand, if the Eastern jurisdictions can exist along the Western one on the same territory, why a Tridentine Rite Catholic jurisdiction couldn’t? The TLM might possibly, by a divine miracle, enrich the NO only if it is administratively independent of it. The NO can’t enrich the TLM.

  31. John Enright says:

    Michael said that his “own view is that the two rites can peacefully live alongside one another only if they are under different jurisdictions.” This is the exact form of divisiveness the Church must avoid. There is absolutely no reason at all that the Roman Rite cannot exist in two forms peacefully and under a single local jurisdiction. The Eastern Churches can serve as an example of liturgical diversity: the Liturgy of John Chrysostom; the Liturgy of St. Basil; the Liturgy of St. James – all of which can be celebrated in modern vernacular languages as well as liturgical Greek, Slavonic, etc.

  32. Craigmaddie says:

    I agree that your solution would be ideal, Father; but until every diocese is able to get a little group of orthodox, holy priests whom the bishop can spare to run a full-time Tridentine apostolate with daily Mass and all the Sacraments, I would prefer the FSSP.

    I would agree with that. In Glasgow there is so much pressure for traditionally-minded priests to keep their heads below the parapet that I can’t see the EF being offered by another diocesan priest (apart from the very good semi-retired priest who currently celebrates it) for a long time. I would give my right arm for an FSSP apostolate here in the West of Scotland. But it will be another generation before that happens here.

  33. RBrown says:

    Fr Angel,

    I’m not sure we agree on what Fr Z is saying,

    IMHO, he seems to want to avoid dropping 1962 Missal responsibility on one small group while the other priests continue on their present road.

    Notwithstanding the current pastoral situation, if we take Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos at his word, then in the future every parish will have a mass using the 1962 Missal and responsibility for it will be little different than who says the 9:00am mass.

    Interesting that within a year Rome has moved from permission to use the 1962 Missal (cf SP) to the desire to see that it is said in every parish.

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  35. Fr. Angel says:

    RBrown:

    You are right. The reality is that most priests celebrating the OF do not want to learn the EF, and that is a “I don’t do windows” attitude which is not compatible with the care of souls. That is an attitude that Fr. Z has run into plenty of times. However, I believe Fr. Z also made the point that the pick and choose thing can also infect traditionalist priests. And that attitude then infects the faithful who later begin to cast aspersions on priests who celebrate both forms, but using the EF as their litmus tests. They will say, “I have a suspicion about Fr. X, Y, or Z, because besides celebrating the TLM he is also doing the modern Mass. If he really loves tradition he should detest anything of Paul VI.”

    Fr. Z stated “I prefer the 1962 to the 2002, but the needs of the people of God must outwiegh my preferences. It would be grossly unfair for me to impose suddenly the older form of Mass on a congregation who haven’t experienced it for decades, or ever, and who weren’t expecting it.”

  36. Marcin says:

    There is absolutely no reason at all that the Roman Rite cannot exist in two forms peacefully and under a single local jurisdiction. The Eastern Churches can serve as an example of liturgical diversity: the Liturgy of John Chrysostom; the Liturgy of St. Basil; the Liturgy of St. James – all of which can be celebrated in modern vernacular languages as well as liturgical Greek, Slavonic, etc.

    It isn’t a good analogy. The Eastern Liturgies are not interchangeable at the whim (or pastoral need) of clergy or laity. In the Byzantine tradition, Div. Lit. of St. John Chrysostom is served throughout the year, while in certain times that of St. Basil (e.g on Sundays of Great and Holy Lent, and some other high occasions, plus the Feast of very same St. Basil, go figure), and still more rarely Lit. of St. James (the Feast of St. James and the first Sunday after Christmas). There are of course local variations of that allotment.

  37. malta says:

    *Priests are needed with enough boldness and enough fatherly love for whom no sacrifice is too much for souls, either those which love the EF or the OF.*

    I agree, what I have said is not to impinge on the holiness and sanctity of many NO Priests. The Priest who, to me, was the holiest I’ve ever known (one can never probe the depths of a person’s soul,) was a OF priest for many years before he took over an Indult community (the Archbishop wouldn’t allow a personal parish). Although he did say that offering the Sacrifice in the EF effected on a personal level–in his growth with the Lord.

  38. RBrown says:

    However, I believe Fr. Z also made the point that the pick and choose thing can also infect traditionalist priests.

    I think that attitude is more likely to be found among laics. I know of no priest outside of any of the PCED communities who only uses the 1962 Missal.

    And that attitude then infects the faithful who later begin to cast aspersions on priests who celebrate both forms, but using the EF as their litmus tests. They will say, “I have a suspicion about Fr. X, Y, or Z, because besides celebrating the TLM he is also doing the modern Mass. If he really loves tradition he should detest anything of Paul VI.”
    Comment by Fr. Angel

    If there is suspicion, it is the product of persecution by the Church Hierarchy for at least 35 years.

  39. Michael J says:

    Despite the fact that legally, both forms of the Mass are the same rite, they are obviously different. I see no problem with any priest objectively quantifying these differences and coming to a reasonable conclusion about which form is superior and therefore “refusing” to offer the other form.

    I have no envy for the Priest who must choose between what he honestly considers “better medicine” and something that his parishoners sincerely desire. It is a difficult almost impossible situation, but I cannot find fault with a Priest simply by virtue of the fact that he does not offer both forms.

  40. John Enright says:

    Marcin said: “It isn’t a good analogy. The Eastern Liturgies are not interchangeable at the whim (or pastoral need) of clergy or laity.” I think you misunderstood my post. I didn’t mean to imply that the use of different liturgies in the Byzantine Churches is analogous to the use of the two different forms of the Roman Rite. My example was only meant to establish that different liturgical traditions can coexist in one Rite in harmony with one another.

  41. Michael says:

    AD John Enright — 19 June, that separate Tridentine jurisdiction would be a “divisiveness the Church must avoid”. But in that case the existence of more than twenty Eastern Catholic Churches, some or many of them on the territory of the Western Church, and vice versa, would be “divisiveness”. The two Roman forms de facto cannot exist under the same jurisdiction as the whole debate which goes on and on evidently shows, and will show even more with time: we will waste our energies on endless polemics instead of evangelising ourselves and the world.

    The three Eastern liturgies listed by John Engirt, are practically indistinguishable to an ordinary faithful; they are like four Canons and variations of the penitential prayers of the NO. And yet, they are celebrated by some 15 separate jurisdictions, based on nationality and historical origin, each using its own liturgical language. They do not interfere with one another’s affairs, and yet do not consider this state of affairs divisive, but canonical. And they are in full communion.

    What, I fear, lies behind the “divisiveness” objection among traditionalists is a resistance to change in matters which are of ecclesiastical origin as if is the latter were of divine origin. Why could not we have two Archbishops of Washington for instance; in full communion but each having his own jurisdiction ?

    And the “progressives” too are afraid, because if a separate Tridentine jurisdictions were established in each country the Novus Ordo Church would soon disintegrate. All polemics would cease, because we would have nothing to argue about.

    Ad John Enright – 19 June, second comment: “My example was only meant to establish that different liturgical traditions can coexist in one Rite in harmony with one another.”

    Of course that they can, if they are compatible, but the NO and the TLM are de facto not compatible, although they could be if the NO were celebrated as in the Brompton Oratory in London. However this form of the NO is a statistical anomaly, resented by the standard form users.

    Enright fails to realize that the eastern Churches are in harmony, as he says, and yet under separate jurisdictions. To estaablish two general jurisdictions in the Western Church from what is now one, wouldn’t mean a break of communion, but a peaceful life instead of the existing friction.

  42. Cathy2 says:

    This thread sure is a good example of reason eclipsing Faith.

    The priest is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ can celebrate the Mass any way He chooses within the authority of His Church. The very idea that the sheep can tell the Shepherd how to feed them is outside my understanding of the Faith.

    What kind of guest on receiving an invitation to dinner tells his host how to plan his banquet?

    Is not piety; even common politeness; the reason why faithful Catholics accepted the New Mass even though it assaulted their souls and broke their hearts? It is my impression that they were extraordinarily polite until heresy entered the liturgy.

    Are those accustomed to the OF incapable of piety; incapable of even common politeness?

  43. Dominic says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf, I would be interested in reading your thoughts on the “Ottaviani Intervention” when you find a chance. Or, if you have already done a post on this, pardon me, and perhaps you could point me to it…