A bishop and the “Tridentine” Mass: uplifting news

In another entry, there is a comment from frequent participant Jon which deserves to be showcased (my emphases):


I had a pleasant surprise yesterday. Bishop Kevin Rhoades, our bishop in Harrisburg, was on hand for a High Mass celebrated in his honor for the 2nd anniversary of our weekly indult. It was a surprise because, well, he surprised us by showing up. He’d had another event planned, but cancelled it at the last minute to be with us. Even the celebrant (Father James Fryar, FSSP), didn’t know His Excellency was going to be there until yesterday morning.

Anyway, Mass was celebrated in the bishop’s presence. He’d obviously been studying his role, as the few rubrics he needed to follow were preformed flawlessly with no assistance from his MC, who remained in my pew.

Although he didn’t give the homily, the bishop said a few words from the pulpit between the Last Gospel and the recessional. He spoke for a full ten minutes extolling the beauty of the Traditional Mass. Although he praised JPII for granting the ’88 indult, he didn’t quote him. Instead, he quoted only Pope Benedict, from both The Spirit of the Liturgy, and Sacramentum Caritatis. He then gave us his Apostolic Blessing, chanting back and forth in Latin. It was like Wednesday with the pope. Absolutely fantastic.

At the end of Mass, in the receiving line, I said to H.E. after thanking him for coming, "Having you here is almost a consolation for not getting the Motu proprio yesterday!" He laughed, and said, "No word yet, but it should be soon!" 

A good man, and I’m grateful to God he’s my Ordinary. Things are looking up.


This is uplifting.

A couple things:

First, the Mass was being celebrated in the bishop’s honor.  When you receive something to your benefit, rather than focus sourly on your "right" to have it, why not take the high road and thank the bishop?*  As a matter of fact, on a couple occasions I have suggested to priests with traditional Mass communities a couple times a year to send a letter of thanks to the bishop expressing gratitude, unity of prayer, and even a spiritual bouquet from the children. 

Second, bishops and priests who are otherwise well-disposed to the requests of people who desire older forms of the sacraments little by little close their doors and windows under the hail of snooty and downright nasty letters they receive.  Sadly, the whole traditional "thing" tends to attract people who are happy only when they are unhappy.  They write to bishops or say to them in person things which work to their disadvantage.  It gets to a point where bishops or priests don’t even want to hear about traditional things.

Why not create a positive rapport?  Why not expend some effort to help the bishop or priest smile when he sees a letter from "traditionalists", rather than groan and reach for the asprin?

As the Doctor of the Church St. Francis de Sales (+1622) told his friend Jean Pierre Camus (+1652) Bishop of Belley:

“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillerée de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre… Always be as gentle as you can and remember that one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar."

*After confession do you take a moment to tell the priest "thank you"?  It makes a difference to him!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. danphunter1 says:

    Dear Father,
    Thank you for this encouraging letter from a a man in a diocese that is indeed looking blessed.
    The suggestion to write supportive and well mannered letters to bishops in support of the Classical Rite mass is great advice.
    I have just recently asked our Ordinary,in a letter,if His Excellency needs my assistance in establishing a chaplaincy of the FSSP in our diocese.
    His Excellency has only been our bishop for 10 months and is extremely busy with other things,so I thought a hand from one of his sheep would be apreciated.I have not recieved a response from His Excellency yet but I contacted the prior of the FSSP at their US main house and he informed me that the FSSP is ready to send priests to our diocese just as soon as His Excellency gives his permission.
    Father please pray for this worthy endeavor,and is there anything else that can be done,on my part to help the bishop accomplish this work of God in an area that so badly needs these holy priests?
    God bless you

  2. AMEN, Abouna!

    We would want to pray for and respect our bishops as we would want to pray for and respect our earthly fathers, even more so as they are our spiritual fathers in Christ.

    Advocates of Traditional Worship sometimes forget that charity is both the end of worship and the defining parameters of Holy Tradition. Faithfulness in worship should flow from charity, otherwise it is just ritual correctness which serves neither charity nor true worship.


  3. Any recommendation as to a 1962 Missal I should purchase? I make my way to a Latin Church from time to time and want to be prepared…

    Also, I still hope they consider allowing the Tridentine Mass in the vernacular. I believe that this would help ensure its widest usage, especially given the fact that many Latin priests do not speak Latin. My own preference is the blending of the vernacular and the Latin. In our Melkite parish, we have both Arabic and English at Divine Liturgy. It is a wonderful blessing to worship in both!


  4. Andrew Fanco says:

    I (almost) always thank the priest for confession. When a man absolves you of your sins you ought to be grateful. I don’t thank them if they give me a heavy penance though. (just kidding) Anyhow I’m glad you brought that up Father. Many of us to not express gratitude often enough. It’s just about impossible to offer God enough gratitude for the manifold gifts He has bestowed upon us.

    Thanks for this blog!


  5. Henry Edwards says:

    Any recommendation as to a 1962 Missal I should purchase?

    I made some notes on the two recently published Latin-English ones:


    The differences are only in “look and feel”, not in content.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    I might add that however much everyone might wish a faithful Tridentine Mass in the vernacular were possible, I fear that at the present time it is not. (And please don’t anyone drag out the irrelevant remark that at one time Latin itself was the the vernacular.)

    The problem is that, at the current time, use of the vernacular encourages — as we have seen ad nauseum with the NO — extemporariety in a generation of priests that lack the liturgical formation to resist such temptations.

    Moreover, once the motu proprio has been promulgated and gone into effect, we may soon go rapidly from a situation with too few TLM’s available to one with far too many.

    By too many TLM’s I mean more than there are priests qualified to celebrate them correctly, faithfully, and reverently. We may not be able to count on the bishops to insure such celebration of the TLM, any more than they have with the NO.

    When celebration of the TLM suddenly goes from a strike against a priest to a feather in his biretta, Latin may be not only a needed bulwark of ars celebranda but a filter against unqualified celebrants.

  7. priest in another diocese says:

    Wish he was my bishop!

  8. catholiclady says:

    As an aside: Fr. James Fryar is the brother of our Traditional Latin Mission here in Phoenix, Fr. Ken Fryar. They were ordained at the same time by FFSP –

  9. danphunter1 says:

    Somerset 76,
    Thank you for that insightful post from Angelqueen.It seems as if we now have two Churches:one that obeys the authority of the Supreme Pontiff and one that directly disobeys the authority of the Supreme Pontiff.
    What ever happened to One,Holy,Catholic?There does not seem that there is is true charity any longer in addressing error,in the Church and then condemning error and removing the cancerous growth of dissenting bishops priest’s and theologians.
    Please,everyone read an eye opening and faith shaking book by Romano Amerio entitled:”Iota Unum”.
    For people who do not know that there was a Roman Synod called by Pope John XXIII in 1960,to reafirm the traditional doctrine,teaching,and disciplines of the Church and that it was discarded by the Council which also discarded the preparation committee’s groundwork to the Council which was in keeping with authority and Tradition,this work is earth shaking.
    This work of truth is available from Sarto Press.
    God bless you.

  10. Stephen says:

    Bishop Rhoades- a young JPII appointee, is an all-star!

    Vocations are BOOMING in Harrisburg! From an average of three to 2 consecutive classes with 12 or more!

    95+ attended a vocation retreat last summer in his presence.

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    It might be mentioned that Amerio’s Iota Unum appears now to be in favor after having been “off limits” in former more progressive times — as per a recent review in La Civiltà Cattolica, the magazine of the Rome Jesuits printed with the prior scrutiny and authorization of the Vatican secretaiat of state, a review that is Sandro Magister says signals the end of a taboo on reassessment of Vatican II:


  12. RBrown says:

    I might add that however much everyone might wish a faithful Tridentine Mass in the vernacular were possible, I fear that at the present time it is not.

    I’ll take a Latin Novus Ordo any day over a vernacular version of the 1962 missal. And I think there would be more opposition to a Latin NO than to vernacular 1962. Having said that, I realize there are almost no Latin NO’s being said–TLM refers to the 1962 Missal.

    Latin is very, very important, and that is why there is so much opposition.

    (And please don’t anyone drag out the irrelevant remark that at one time Latin itself was the the vernacular.)

    It’s not only irrelevant, it’s historically incorrect.

  13. Henry Edwards says:


    Let me take advantage of this back-door opportunity to sneak in mention of Bishop Rhoades slightly older fellow native of the tiny PA mining town of Mahanoy City, my own Bishop Joseph Kurtz of Knoxville. Hmm … I wonder if Bishop Kurtz was the first of the two to participate (in the same manner you describe) in his own diocesan indult TLM:


    Seriously, both illustrate the fact that — as Archbishop Eldon Curtis (Omaha) was perhaps the first to say publicly — that the so-called “vocations crisis” is a manufactured sham. Based on statistics including vocations, priests and adult conversions per capita, etc, Knoxville was rated the #1 US diocese in a recent Crisis Magazine study. It appeared generally that the top-ranking dioceses were ones with orthodox bishops.

    Perhaps one lesson is that real men want to be priests in dioceses whose bishops encourage them to be real priests.

  14. Henry,

    Thank you for the link and the recommendation!

    I understand your desire to ensure the integrity of the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, but I would personally favor the TM’s wider distribution, and the past 40 yrs. of Latin-less liturgy cannot simply be ignored.

    The TM is obviously more than a vehicle to get an ancient language (or culture)
    to the masses (we run up against this all the time in the East), and I am not suggesting that this is your position. It is about full Catholic worship for the faithful. I would fear that the Latin, while it may attract some, might repel others who would otherwise be drawn to the form and ethos Tridentine worship in their own language (or at least evenly split).

    That being said, I hope that the dioceses prepare to offer training to priests deacons and acolytes.

    BTW, any chance we might see the restoration of the sub-diaconate to the Latin Church?


  15. When Bishop Rhoades took over in the Diocese of Harrisburg, I was living there. It also happens to be my home diocese. H.E. went to each deanery to have a Mass shortly after he was ordained bishop, and at each of these Masses, he spelled out what he was going to focus on:

    1) The worthy celebration of the sacraments

    2) Eucharistic adoration

    3) Vocations

    In addition, he wasted no time in establishing a weekly Traditional Mass at St. Lawrence (a closed parish church that serves as the cathedral chapel), a handsome building just down the street from the cathedral in downtown Harrisburg. Previously the Traditional Mass was said monthly and in a suburban school chapel.

  16. Jon says:


    Thanks for highlighting my post. Bishop Rhoades certainly deserves the attention and the thanks. Just an aside, a few months before becoming bishop, while still plain old Father Rhoades, he heard my confession. My life was in somewhat of a turmoil at the time. A profound empathy, sound judgment and orthodoxy were evident even then. His reputation is accurate and well-earned. He is a holy bishop, and a real gift to the Church.

  17. Jon says:


    Bishop Kurtz, as you know, beat Bishop Rhoades to the punch. Still, yesterday was the first time in 42 years that the TLM was celebrated in the presence of a bishop of Harrisburg.

    As for pictures, yours of Bishop Kurtz are exquisite. We just happened to have a professional photographer at the Mass yesterday because the High Mass, with torchbearers, etc… had already been planned, and we need pics for a new website we’re creating as well as posters and brochure. They’ll be on their way to Tennessee as soon as I get copies.

    Btw, during the Canon, including Bishop Rhoades and Father Fryar, there were tweleve men in the sanctuary. It was quite a sight. One of twelve was my twelve year-old son, who served as one of the torchbearers. He had the honor of kneeling to the right of the bishop. We asked him later how he felt, kneeling erect on the hard marble for so long while holding aloft his taper. He grinned. With that fella there to his left, he “hardly even noticed.”

    And after Mass, I said to another of the servers, a boy smaller than my son, to whom H.E. nodded to hold his missal during the benediction, “You boys did quite a job.” “Yeah,” he stammered, “and did you see, he even asked me to hold his book!”

    What was that Michael said about “Vocations?”

  18. What a difference a bishop makes! What a difference to a bishop a friendly community makes!

  19. Stephen says:

    Quo Vadis Days- http://ivycatholic.blogspot.com/2006/07/diocese-of-harrisburg-asks-quo-vadis.html

    – the new vocation retreat formed under the direction of Fr. Raymond Lavoie, the vocation director for The Diocese of Harrisburg.

    Bishop Rhoades immediately named him as a young priest the full time vocation director. Previously, it was a part-time religious sister.

    It has been a MAJOR upgrade.

  20. That thread on Bp. Fellay’s remarks was locked for a REASON. This thread will NOT be hijacked in another direction. A couple comments have been removed. Kindly avoid drift, please.

  21. Henry Edwards says:

    What a difference to a bishop a friendly community makes!

    Bishop Kurtz stayed about two hours at the reception following our first anniversary TLM shown in the pictures linked above. Someone who’s a veteran of these parish receptions remarked that he’d never previously seen our bishop stay anywhere near that long at one.

    I’d noticed that the whole time he’d been engaged in conversation, and only near the very end had been able to make his way through the happy throng to the food and drink, and suggested he might have stayed so long because he’d never seen a livier and more friendly bunch of Catholics. (And perhaps never a general Catholic parish gathering with a younger average age, especially considering some of those big trad families!)

    For sure, in a whole lifetime of involvement of parish involvement, my wife and I have never, ever seen a more friendly and congenial group of Catholics anywhere than our Knoxville Latin Mass community; it takes an hour or more to get away after every Mass, not just when the bishop’s there. And I’ll bet Jon would say exactly the same thing about the Harrisburg Latin Mass community.

    So where does this stuff about tight-lipped traditional Catholics come from? Frankly, I suspect those squint-eyed screw faces are all over at the Angelqueen forum, not at actual traditional Masses.

  22. Nathan says:


    While I’m not intending to defend the actions and/or comments of the “tight-lipped traditional Catholics” (as Mr. Henry Edwards so eloquently put it), I believe that a measure of compassion and understanding is in order. Way back in 1980, when I entered the Church though a (then perfectly licit) SSPX chapel, I met many people who were truly in the wilderness and were (and, in some cases, still are) completely mistreated, ignored, and rejected by mainstream parish leaders (both laity and clergy). In many places, if you did not think that the latest liturgical abuse was indicative of the “glorious new springtime,” you had no place in their local parishes. And heaven help you if you were a priest suspected of having any favorable regard at all for the Traditional Mass—many such holy men have suffered a long dry martyrdom at the hands of the more extreme progressives.

    How would this, minus extraordinary graces, affect almost any person’s outlook toward the Church, especially after 20-30 years? I imagine I would feel as if someone repeatedly stole the prized possessions from my house and threatened my wife and children, only to go to the police and have them tell me that I was the one who had been wrong.

    Father Zuhlsdorf is absolutely right about bishops responding to a friendly traditional community, though. I’m just not sure how we, as fellow Catholics, can do our part to help restore the trust and love of those who, with firm intention to practice their Faith, are unable and/or unwilling to accept the goodwill that might be most useful in bringing on the full restoration of our traditions.

    In Christ,

  23. thetimman says:

    The relationship between the ICRSP Oratory here in St. Louis and Archbishop Burke is the exemplar of the kind of harmonious relationship that can and should exist between the Bishop and faithful traditionalists. Archbishop Burke is here to celbrate Mass, give conferences and the like several times a year. He supports the oratory fully, and has held the traditional Mass in the Cathedral. This summer, as you may know, he will ordain two priests to the ICRSP at St.Louis Cathedral.

    For our part, we support the Archbishop,and make our gratitude and fidelity known. We get over 1000 people for Sunday Masses and the numbers are growing.

    We are the recipients of an embarrassment of spiritual riches here. And I thank God for it every day. This is why the MP is important– it won’t make a great practical difference in my area, but everyone should have the opportunity to be in a situation like this.

  24. Jon says:


    In case you’re not aware, as a graduate of the North American College, Father Lavoie was ordained deacon by none other than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

  25. Stephen says:

    I think I had heard that, Jon. Thanks for the reminder.

    I hear Fr. Lavoie is getting moved to a parish in Steelton??

  26. Jon says:


    I hadn’t heard that. It would surprise me, although it’s nearly assignment time, so anything is possible.

  27. Stephen says:


    Do you have any contact info on the schola cantorum for St. Lawrence or the Cathedral choir? I know of someone with considerable skill who might be interested in joining. Thanks

  28. Eric the Read says:

    I sent a letter to my parish priest, thanking him for opting to chant the Agnus Dei and Sanctus in Latin during Lent, and asking him if it might be possible to extend that practise. He declined, but expressed appreciation for my letter. I intend to continue thanking him when he makes such overtures towards Tradition; maybe some day he’ll make some more changes along those lines. Until then, his vernacular NO Mass is still very reverent, and I can always do my best to get more out of it without the additional help a Latin Mass might provide.

  29. alpin says:

    could you post a copy of Sacramentum Caritatis

    thank you

  30. Nick says:


    I am the Director of Liturgical Music of the Cathedral Parish, as well as the conductor of the diocesan choir. You or your friend may contact me with any questions about the Cathedral music ministry. My phone number at the Cathedral is 717-232-2169 x 224. I do not have any information about the music for the Mass at St. Lawrence.


  31. Seumas says:

    Nathan, you said,

    “How would this, minus extraordinary graces, affect almost any person’s outlook toward the Church, especially after 20-30 years?

    Certainly that is tough, and it is easy to see why many become bitter. But our Lord always provides the graces we need to patiently and joyfully endure the crosses He gives us. It is up to us to ask for and cooperate with those graces. Yes, it can be difficult, but if our eyes are on Jesus and nothing else; if we truly love Him above all things, then nothing can take our joy and peace away.

    Far from becoming tight-lipped traddies (or allowing delays in Motu Proprios to destroy them), for people who love the Lord above all things, exile and persecution is something to thank God for with joy, for it means they were counted worthy to receive a share of our Lord’s Cross, which is His greatest gift.

    And if they do not get what they want in the world, be it the Traditional Mass or anything else, that is alright, because it is only God’s Will that really matters to them. Their eyes are on Jesus and the Heavenly Crown that is prepared for them in eternity, and if they have not quite put aside all earthly desires, they have at least put them in their proper place.

    They may never get the Tridentine liturgy, but if they persevere, they will participate in the Heavenly Liturgy for all eternity! What more could we possibly desire beyond the fulfillment of all desire?

    Friends, as long as we have Jesus Christ, we want for nothing, and the sooner we come to really know that, the better for us. How sad it is that some people, in desiring for what is temporary, risk their eternity. Leave worldly things for children of the world, who will perish with them.

    We need suffering and sacrifice. Without it, we could never learn patience, detachment, and mortification. We could never learn to truly love God above all things. But in order for the Cross to bear fruit, we must embrace it, tend it, care for it, and it must be watered with Grace. Otherwise it will dry up or turn to rot. The more we learn to embrace suffering, the more we love God, and the more we love God, the more we are able to embrace suffering.

    But lest any should think that I am prideful–or worse, think that I am holy–I hasten to add that I am also working on this, and not always succeeding as I would wish. God has given me the light to know these things to a degree, but acting on it is another thing. Yet it is very much possible, and something we must strive for, and we have the example, instruction and intercession of many great saints to help us.

  32. Marcin says:

    al-Masihu qam!
    Dear Gordo, which Melkite church do you worship in? I, myself being (canonically) a Latin Catholic, am thankful to God for leading me to the Holy Transfiguration in McLean, VA, each time I go there.

    As for your question about Latin subdeacons, well, in the context of Novus Ordo they don’t have much to do liturgically speaking, if ever mentioned (corrections welcome!). Your question is right on spot, however, for what I would wish for the Latin Church is rather setting “lay involvement” straight by
    a) strengthening the minor orders (instituting _real_ lectors skilled in chanting the readings, and _real_ acolytes, having them serve in proper vestments)
    b) supressing all those Lay Ministers of Whatnot (first of all cutting back heavily on Extr. Min. of Holy Communion, and making CLEAR that those left are extraordinary not casual, getting rid of female altar boys and not-instituted lectors altogether).

  33. Marcin,

    Christ is Risen!

    I worship at St. Ann’s in Connecticut. It is a wonderful parish!

    We were very sorry to hear about Reema Samaha, BTW, who was a victim of the Va Tech shooting and an active member of Holy Transfiguration. Our parish youth group sent a card to the family. Eternal memory!

    I was also blessed to attend HT while doing grad theology work in Northern VA. What a wonderful parish! I did not know if I was in heaven or on earth!

    I agree with your assessment. The role of the subdeacon is a rich part of the traditions of both East and West. I believe Pope Paul VI, however well intentioned, was mistaken in suppressing this minor order among others. Time has demonstrated that the ministries he created have had little to no positive impact on lay involvement in church life. With the coming MP, I hope that the restoration of minor orders is also on the table for consideration.

    God bless,


  34. D. W. Downey says:

    A comment on Bishop Rhoades:

    This is the same man who gave the Catholic Cathedral to the Lutherans for the installation ceremony of their “bishop” who is open to homosexual marriages. Bishop Rhoades is also the man who went to a Jewish group and told them that the Catholic Church has no plans to convert them to the Catholic faith. He has personally participated in “charismatic” masses. He is a supporter of “theology of the body” and its program for sex education and promoting NFP as a moral good.

    The priest who offers the Latin Mass is his personal water boy who was sent to the Fraternity of St. Peter to be trained in the Latin Mass. He is no traditionalist and has a novus ordo theological formation. Before he was trained, the Fraternity priests who offered the Masses had their sermons recorded and vetted for any unacceptable theology. One priest was censored for a sermon that counseled against buying and selling without necessity on Sunday. Another priest was forbidden to ever preach again because he made a positive comment about Archbishop Lefebvre.

    Bishop Rhoades is open to the Latin Mass only because he is confronted by an independent traditional group that he wants to stop. He is a through and through ecumenist and liberal. Those who applaud him are satisfied with crumbs and are not concerned that the faith be preached without admixture of liberal modernism.

    D.W. Downey

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