From a reader (edited):
I just read your post about a group approaching the local ordinary for the Latin Mass wherein you recommend skipping this step and going directly to (able and) willing priests. We here in the diocese … have done that, hoping the situation would be more promising now that [the previous bishop] is retired. Well, his successor is no better, and the priests I’ve talked to who are deeply interested in the traditional Mass … are afraid to offer it on their own initiative for fear of “repercussions” from the Bishop. I don’t know what that would entail. If its banishment to the sticks, that already happened when they received their latest assignments. What can I tell these priests? I’m just a layman, so I know my perspective is skewed on this point, but I can’t imagine any penalty outweighing the opportunity to celebrate the traditional liturgy. Please help! Any word of advice is welcome.
First, Summorum Pontificum is the law of the land. We can and should use its provisions. Bishops can’t repress Summorum Pontificum.
As I have written before, we have the provisions, we have the vision. It is time to take the training wheels off and ride the damn bike!
Going on, everyone who is interested in the old forms, priests and laity alike, must get involved with corporal works of mercy. Be involved. If you are involved, be more involved.
Moreover, be prudent in the way you talk and act toward ecclesial authority when trying to obtain what you want. Be cordial, not aggressive, joyful rather than defensive. Trads can be their own worst enemy.
On a different level, persevere and resist oppression. Be the Maquis!
If your local bishop is hostile or indifferent, or the chancery people are (which is the more likely scenario), then sneak around them. Get to know priests who want these good and holy things and give them private support. Get materials into the hands of priests. Pay for them to get training. Pony up so they can travel to a workshop for their “retreat” and “continuing education” and “vacation”. Organize ad hoc or even private Masses if need be.
You may have to be maquisards in your diocese for a while.
Please pardon me while I continue to mix a bunch of metaphors.
It is often said that every diocese has a Siberia. Priests have to be willing to go to Siberia and people will have to be willing to dog-sled there. Siberia isn’t the only downside of what a hostile bishop can do to a priest. There is a phrase I learned from the “Fat Man’s Rules” in The House of God: They can always hurt you more.
We have to be willing to be hurt a lot more.
We are in a transition period right now. The deck is shifting beneath our feet as the winds shift. The wind isn’t on our best quarter any longer, I’m afraid. It’s backing and we are going to have batten down and run before the wind under close-reefed top-sails. Committed ideological liberals are emboldened right now. They think they have the big mo. They are sending the fleet out. They are going to try to dismantle everything Benedict ever did and a lot of what John Paul II did too. The liberal-tepids, seeing the way the wind is blowing, will follow them. To use more nautical imagery, they have the weather gauge and they will eat the wind from our sails if we aren’t diligent and smart. Moderate conservatives will drift towards them. We can see it happening already, even in the blogosphere. What we need, however, is hard-identity Catholicism. That means traditional forms and teachings. Alas, liberals have everyone convinced that only liberals care for the poor. In the book I just read on Francis (HERE), the author’s starting point was that conservative/traditionalists don’t care about “the poor”. It is a premise they simply expect everyone to accept without question. This trope is going to be ever on their lips and pens and keyboards in the foreseeable future.
So, perhaps we need two tracks. We have to press on and persevere: drive forward and use those provisions in law which Benedict put in place. At the same time, correct the course and defeat every liberal accusation flung in your teeth (“conservatives hate the poor… all traddies are bilious and angry… traditionalists don’t participate in the life of the parish… this is only nostalgia…” blah blah blah…).
Do NOT give up for a minute. We have the provisions of law and we have the inspiration of both Francis and Benedict. We will not be guilty of pitting the one Pope against the other. Claim for yourselves hard-identity Catholicism and true concern for works of mercy. If there is a lack of focus also… also… on works of mercy, then apply correctives. The Francis Phenomenon and his call for a greater focus on “the poor”, is in no way harmful. But be ready: liberals will use “the poor” as a weapon against all things Benedictine or traditional (e.g., “the poor” respond only to flappy-happy easily understood worship). Here’s an idea: traditionalists should create alliances with and reach out to the Hispanic community! Create common bonds and unity within our common liturgical tradition that doesn’t favor. As I look around, in these USA the traditional movement looks pretty “anglo”.
True Catholic identity includes true ecumenism, true inculturation, true “preferential option for the poor”, true charisms and prophetic evangelization. It has to include, as a sine qua non, true sacred liturgical worship.
Here is a take away point: Hard-identity Catholicism is not just about what form Sunday Mass is in. It involves all of life. Use this time of transition to develop a new sail plan and course corrections.