From a priest reader:
I’ve been a priest since 1984 and when I was ordained my bishop did not look favorably on the traditional Latin Mass. Therefore my seminary training at St. Meinrad did not include any mention of the Tridentine Mass, other than the occasional joke about it. I love to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in English because I know what I am saying, but continue to be drawn to the traditional Latin Mass because of its solemnity, history and beauty. My question to you is, how hard is it to learn to celebrate the Tridentine Mass? I earned a "D" in Latin back in college, and have been told by a former Latin teacher to stick with English. I don’t have a gift for languages. For the past three years, during Lent in my parish, we have chanted the Pater Noster at Mass, and I still have to have the words in front of me. I am not good at memorization. I’ve seen two different workshops available, one offered by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and the other by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Any recommendations? Comments?
Thanks. I am sure there are many priests who hesitate even to start because they think it must be really hard.
That said, it is sure going to be hard for some priests, but not impossible.
Think about it this way: there were many generations of men who learned how to say Mass who weren’t exactly rocket scientists. Right? If they did it, anyone can do it.
It helps a great deal to have strong Latin. But a priest is to be idoneus, suitable, to say Mass. He must have the minimum tools for Mass. He must be able to pronounce the words properly, at the very least. He doesn’t have to be a Latin expert.
The workshops mentioned above are very good. They will be able to steer you toward good tools.
Memorization is important, but not an absolute obstacle: that’s why we have books and altar cards on the altar!
It can be done.
Finally, you would also need to make it clear to any overly zealous trad lay people that if they decide to snipe at you from the pews because they think you didn’t wiggle your pinky finger the right way at the third comma according to the final authority in all things rubrical – their own recollection of how old Msgr. Guido O’Leary did that at St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle when they were ten and following their authoritative St. Joseph Daily Missal – then they can just wait… and wait…. and wait … until the good is no longer the enemy of the perfect.
I think, dear Father, the best thing to do is just to start.
Build it up, brick by brick, and you will find that it isn’t so hard as all that once you get used to it.
That said, I invite PRIESTS to chime in with their comments about learning to say the TLM.