Last night (here in Rome) I had an interesting supper with a Roman friend and a couple from the USA who are here on a visit.
They recounted the uphill battle they have had to obtain cooperation of their parish priest for Masses in the Extraordinary Form.
Their tale of patience and bureaucratic obfuscation was both maddening and inspiring. It was madden for the fact that their pastor (parish priest) and their (arch)diocese and even, to a certain extent perhaps also the PCED, are behaving as if Summorum Pontificum didn’t exist and we were still under the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
It is amazing how, now that Summorum Pontificum is in force, bishops want to implement Ecclesia Dei, isn’t it?
The basic outline of the story goes like this.
A stable group of the faithful, as I understand at least 100 people, formally petitioned their pastor for use of a small and beautiful chapel, the former parish church, which is on the parish property. It would be ideal for the TLM. The pastor effectively responded that, while he was pastor, they would never have one. Period. The assistant at the parish was willing and able, the people were surely a stable group, everything was in order. The pastor straight-armed them in a way that only be described as narrow, boorish and lacking any pastoral concern whatsoever. The main organizer of the petition is an attorney, and so she was careful to conserve a written record of everything that went on in their 2 year slog along with all the correspondence.
If you read my TIPS for writing to authorities, you will understand how the petitioners set about their work.
I was both shocked and simultaneously unsurprised at the blocks placed in their path, the delays in even responding to these petitioners. Sometimes months passed without substantive responses. Requests were responses were sent repeatedly, with dogged persistence. Notes were sent back from the chancery with vague explanations about “organizing” responses and getting canonists involved and various difficulties.
The only explanation I could see by the time I had heard it all is sheer liberal ideological disdain not just for the Extraordinary Form, but for the people who want the Extraordinary Form. I was told that the pastor said, openly, not only that he didn’t like the older forms, but that he didn’t want the sort of people who like it around his parish. I’ll grant you that trads can be pretty hard to deal with in some cases… but that’s no different from any other group of people in the Church.
The long and short is that the local Archbishop eventually appointed a “chaplain” to their group, who will know be their point man in the the matter of their legitimate aspirations. They managed to squeeze ONE Mass out of the pastor of the parish in that perfectly suited chapel.
That’s a start.
A few of the lessons to be taken from the story were these.
1. You must be ready to fight with dogged perseverance for months or even years in the face of infuriating clerical condescension and run-arounds.
2. You must be prepared to continue your fight with diplomacy and a smile. Expressing rage on paper or in person is counter-productive. By doing so, in a parish or to the bishop, you simply undermine your own cause. Your anger becomes the issue. Keep it diplomatic and personable, but persistent and document EVERYTHING.
3. Never never never let up. Keep pressing forward, cordially but relentlessly. Be the woman nagging the judge.
4. You must know well both Summorum Pontificum and also the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae. Read them carefully and understand the proper roles of all the players, pastor, bishop, Pontifical Commission.
Shifting gears slightly, I will remind the readers about a couple things I have been saying since the day after Pope Francis was elected.
Firstly, we have the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. We have the vision laid out by Pope Benedict, which is as valid and appropriate now as when he laid it out back when. You have the resources (if something is lacking, SOLVE THE PROBLEM). As I have said before, it is time to take the training wheels off and ride the damn bike! If you want the TLM, work for it. If it is hard, keep working. This is NOT the time to ease up. This is exactly the time to keep pressing onward, petitioning for more and more and more, not just for little crumbs off the liberal cool-kids’ table. Young priests will be with you. Support them 250%.
Secondly, don’t whine about how hard it is. Don’t gripe, bitch, moan, lament, complain and don’t don’t don’t let your frustration with uncooperative obfuscating narrow-minded bigoted pastors and bishops come out sideways in anger or accusations or any other thing that can be turned, by them, into the issue. Once you lose your cool, that will become the only issue. It will be their excuse for slowing down even more, blocking, ignoring, and even flat out insulting you. That’s what they do. When you are on thin ice, it is smart to tread a bit lightly.
As I have said on many occasions, we can lose what we have built already. We won’t lose the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. Those are here to stay. But, mark my words, in this present environment, liberals have the big mo. They are emboldened. You have to be prudent and smart. Provisions on paper are one thing, but their observance by liberals who hate what you want (and hate you too) is a whole other pot of stew. As the Fat Man said in his legendary Laws of the House of God: #8 - They can always hurt you more.
You think not? Just ignore this advice, friends. And they will hurt you more, if you take a tack that ends in anger, etc. They will cancel your Masses, block your petitions, put more and more restrictions on what you have until it collapses.
Be smart. Be the Maquis. Press on.
Now, as a complete aside, I have learned that there is going to be a beautiful All Souls Day Solemn Requiem Mass celebrated in a small chapel north of Detroit on 2 November. Anyone in the area might want to support the event and show up with big smiles and lots of prayers of thanksgiving along with suffrages for the Poor Souls. The Solemn Mass will be at St. Hugo’s Stone Chapel at 5:00 PM. There will be low Masses before that. Of course priests say more than one Mass on 2 November. The Windsor St. Benedict Tridentine Community Choir will sing. The celebrant will be Msgr. Ronald Browne.
For more information check out their facebook page. HERE