Cheektowaga Summorum Pontificum Hijinx

Someone alerted me to this note in a parish bulletin in (alas in truly inconvenient pdf format which it makes it a pain in the patience to rework – folks, don’t ever think of sending me pdfs or gifs or jpegs.  Just transcribe.  God will reward you and I will be grateful). 

In any event, the accompanying note said:

Dear Father,

This "survey" from St. Gualberts in Cheektowaga regarding Summorum Pontificum is absolutely shameless, brutal and disingenuous.  Belief it or not this priest does say the Traditional Latin Mass on occasion at a chapel.  Is this the ultimate in going throught the motions?

So, what to make of this very odd 5 August bulletin entry from St. John Gualbert Church in Cheektowaga, NY, where Fr. David Bialkowski is pastor?

My emphases and comments.


As you know from the secular press, [Maybe he thinks his people don’t read Catholic publications?] His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, will allow the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated throughout the Universal Church without restrictions, which means no longer does a priest need permission from his bishop to celebrate the traditional Mass, effective September 14, 2007, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. The Roman Rite will now have two forms: the ordinary and extraordinary. The ordinary form will be the Mass as we know it. The extraordinary form will be the Mass as celebrated before the changes implemented following Vatican Council II. This extraordinary form can take place daily and once on Sunday. In our diocese we have the Latin Mass celebrated twice on Sundays: Our Lady Help of Christians on Genesee and Union at 1:30 p.m. and at St. Anthony’s behind City Hall at 9 a.m. In both these instances, the attendance is made up of many who commute from various parts of the Diocese of Buffalo to attend this Mass because they have a spiritual attachment to it. Now that all parishes will be able to celebrate this form of the liturgy, we can begin to consider whether or not it is feasible or desirable to do so in our church. I am under the impression that most parishioners do not feel this is necessary since they are very comfortable with the liturgy as is, but I could be wrong. However, I would like to know how many registered members of St. John Gualbert Parish would actually like to see the Latin Mass celebrated here in our parish. Since I know how to celebrate the Latin Mass, [well done] I would be willing to consider having a Sunday Latin Mass once a month at 9 a.m. or 12 noon, If a significant number of registered households really would like to have it here. There are some concerns I have: it seems to me many people are no longer used to it and are happy with the way things are; the training of servers is very involved, and then there is always the question if a Latin Mass will polarize a parish which would defeat the purpose of the Latin Mass since Pope Benedict said he is allowing it for unity in the Church. To make an informed opinion on this matter, I ask you to consider the following:

• Your participation will be entirely different at a Latin Mass. Some feel they are nothing more than mere spectators and not participants at a Latin Mass, while others claim [Does this foreshadow McBrien?  Probably not.] participation in this Mass is on an interior level in the mystery being celebrated before our eyes. The reverence can be either aweinspiring or leave one feeling distant and completely uninvolved, as responses to prayers are not made by the congregation, but rather by “altar boys” who represent you. Some people have told me that they feel they weren’t at Mass.  [I have heard a lot of people say they haven’t been to Mass by attending the Novus Ordo the way it is celebrated in some places.]

• There will be no lay lectors proclaiming the readings or Special Ministers of Holy Communion. Even a deacon is not allowed to distribute Holy Communion. No Communion from the cup and no Communion in the hand. Remember, only his fingers of the priest are consecrated to touch something so sacred as the body of the Son of God! An altar boy will be holding a paten under your chin lest a single particle fall to the ground and someone – even unintentionally – would trample underfoot on the body of Christ[But…but… this is sounding pretty good!]

No females will be allowed in the sanctuary for serving. [Better and better!] Only boys and adult males will be allowed to serve. Also, only the boys trained to serve this Mass will be able to serve, excluding most of our altar boys. Teaching boys the Latin responses may take several months.  [Nah… not that long.  I would be interested to know how long it took some of you to learn them.  Months?]

The missalette you use for participating at Mass will be useless because of different prayers and readings. If you still have your old missal in a dresser drawer, now will be the time to dig it out and bring it to church like you used to[Sounds fine!]

You will receive Holy Communion kneeling IF your physical condition allows you, otherwise you may stand. Receiving Holy Communion in the former manner will be a challenge in our church since unfortunately most of our beautiful marble communion rail has been removed. I’m not sure how we can even do this without people falling.  [You know… this isn’t so hard to solve.]

• Protestant hymns such as Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, will not be sung. Also contemporary hymns such as On Eagles Wings, Be Not Afraid, You Are Mine, won’t be sung either because they are not in keeping with the “Catholicness” of this Mass.  [What’s up here?  Is he putting so on?  Is he trying to set up straw men that can be easily blown down?  It is true that some people, not many, are attached to those songs.  But most people… well… I think they won’t be missed very much.  So, what is his game here?]

• There will be no procession with gifts, no Prayer of the Faithful and no Sign of Peace. [Where do I sign up?] The intention of the Mass will be announced before the priest delivers his “sermon”.

• The length of the Mass would be the same, although communion might take longer since only the priest distributes. A lot more people go to communion today than years ago. [And probably shouldn’t without going to confession at least… well… sometime in the last who knows how many years.]

• There will be much silence and reflective moments [ahhhhhh] during this Mass; so much so, you might be tempted to think the priest forgot his place in the missal.

• The readings can be proclaimed in English as permitted by Pope Benedict in paragraph 6 of his motu proprio, however, they are not the readings of the current Mass. The Tridentine Mass has completely different Scripture readings with only one Epistle.

• The priest will not be facing the congregation [AHHHHH] when he celebrates this form of Mass. His position is ad orientem, which means he stands in the same direction with you, since he is representing all before the throne of God. When he turns around for the greetings “Dominus vobiscum” with eyes downcast, he represents Christ to the congregation. The ad orientem position is also called facing east, which was the liturgical direction for Mass since time immemorial. Facing east is in the direction of the rising sun, which represents our attentive waiting for the Second Coming of Christ who will return from the east. This liturgical position of the priest means that for the most part, his personality is suppressed, and because of the strict rubricism of this form of the Mass, he will appear almost robot-like at the altar.

Okay… I get the sense that he is really trying to get his people to think of this in a positive way.  He tosses some oddities at us here and there.  Still… it is very odd.

You can chime in. 

What’s his game?  Is he positive or negative?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I think he is trying to prepare for criticism from both side by neutralizing himself in the manner of my old grandpa-by being both positive and negative in his description of what might happen. If either side is disappointed with the outcome, he can say “Well, it’s not like I didn’t warn you . . .”.

    BTW, it took me about two days to learn the server’s prayers.


  2. Vincenzo says:

    Father Z asked:
    “What’s his game? Is he positive or negative?”

    Positive, but perhaps designed to obfuscate his position?

  3. David2 says:

    On balance, I think he’s trying to be more positive than negative.

    He deals with, and tries to explain in simple terms the obvious differences between the uses. That said, there are some uncalled-for perjoritives. However, I’ve certainly seen a lot worse…

  4. Jean-Luc DeLacroix says:

    This is a perfect example of “by trying to be everything to everyone you become nothing”. I read into it a mostly negative stance, but I think, like a reed in the wind,this priest will bend to the wishes of his flock…not exactly my definition of a strong leader.


  5. Tim H says:

    He might also not be a native English speaker, very fluent and competent indeed, but perhaps his phrasing seems brusque, and his structure disorganized. His Polish might be better.

  6. LeonG says:

    Preemptive, I would estimate.

  7. Allan Potts says:

    He has done everything possible, save stand on his head to discourage, his flock from requesting the Traditional Latin Mass. He is extremely NEGATIVE, and Slick Willie would be proud of his anti-traditional mass descriptions.

  8. Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,
    It strikes me that the priest has no agenda of which he is conscious. He is simply trying to present the “stakes” so that his parishoners can begin to think about the issue he is posing and then offer a decisione riflettuta anche se non perfettemente informata – the best he probably can reasonably hope for, given the circumstances. It is also clear that some of his examples are, well, odd: almost like he wrote the message in the parish bulletin as one of a hundred thousand tasks to which he had to attend in the course of a week. That happens to all of us, though, yes? In sum: if Fr.’s purpose in listing a few examples of the concrete differences between the two usus is to help the faithful of his parish begin to think about whether they want a Mass to be celebrated according to the usus antiquior, then he does a passable, though certainly not a perfect job; it strikes me that his purpose is precisely this; his personal inclinations in the matter are largely irrelevant…and is that a bad thing, ceteris paribus?

  9. Irulats says:

    One scenario: This priest has a drawer full of letters that are critical of things happening at the ordinary form of Mass in his parish. He transcribes them and describes a situation where these will become impossible. He wants those who wrote the letters to take a look at the TLM and request it.

  10. Ut videam says:

    Father Z: alas in truly inconvenient pdf format which it makes it a pain in the patience to rework

    Unlike JPGs, GIFs, and other graphic formats, it’s (usually) possible to select text in a PDF, copy it to the clipboard, and paste into whatever editor you’re using. There are exceptions—the PDF was created from a scan rather than exported from an application, the PDF creator has restricted copying, etc.—but they are rare.

  11. flabellum says:

    \”Protestant hymns such as Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, will not be sung. Also contemporary hymns such as On Eagles Wings, Be Not Afraid, You Are Mine, won’t be sung either because they are not in keeping with the “Catholicness” of this Mass.” Is he saying that the Ordinary expression of Mass is really Protestant?

    \”Remember, only his [the] fingers of the priest are consecrated to touch something so sacred as the body of the Son of God! An altar boy will be holding a paten under your chin lest a single particle fall to the ground and someone – even unintentionally – would trample underfoot on the body of Christ.” Again, is he saying that the Novus Ordo does not confect the body of the Son of God?

    \”When he turns around for the greetings “Dominus vobiscum” with eyes downcast, he represents Christ to the congregation.” Is he saying that in a Mass acording to the Missal of Pope Paul VI the priest does not represent Christ to the congregation?

  12. Legisperitus says:

    I can remember having had the sensation after attending the TLM that I “hadn’t really been to Mass,” but that’s because it was so painless.

  13. Federico says:

    Brilliantly clever and good. He sets up the typical objections to the Mass of B. John XXIII only to mock them with the sarcasm evident throughout his letter.

    Everytime he writes “and it would be this way…” he clearly (yet indirectly and subtly) shows how much better that would be!

    I think I like this guy.

  14. Legisperitus says:


    I think he is saying just the opposite– that in the Pauline Mass “versus populum” the directional symbolism constantly has the priest representing Christ to the congregation, but inadequately shows him representing all before the throne of God.

  15. Devereaux Cannon says:

    There is a fair bit of water under the bridge, by my recollection of learning to serve at the altar in about 1963 was that it took a matter of days, not weeks, and certainly not months.

    To me it is hard to tell whether the priest here is being positive or negative. I got both feelings in different sections of the message.

  16. Andy K. says:

    Dear Fr. Z.,

    I have met this pastor before. He often celebrates the Mass at 11:30 PM on 31 Dec. at the Carmelite monastery (which, in my opinion, is a great way to ring in the new year…consecration bells at the first and final tolls of the bell!). My impressions are that he is solid. This is a good sign, especially when it seems nothing public has come out of Buffalo regarding this.

  17. Kevin says:

    Fr. Z:
    He forgot to mention that the gaudy polyester vestments that they’ve come to love are replaced by –EGADS– tasteful brocades! You know, I am SO TIRED of hearing homilies aimed at those without a third grade education and how people are just to dumb to understand Latin. Perhaps in between washing our clothes in the river and hitchin’ our horses to the plow, we might get some book-learnin’, too!

  18. Jim R says:

    I think the tone is rather condescending as if to say – You really don’t want this. Do you? But, at least he is informing the people unlike some dioceses.

    BTW isn’t Amazing Grace contrary to Catholic doctrine (i.e. promoting sola fide)?

  19. fxavier says:

    I think Father in his newsletter is well intentioned. I think he is preemptively looking at arguments from opponents, but I would not word some things the same way.

    Here are my answers to Flabellum in defense of Father:

    Flabellum said:
    “Protestant hymns such as Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, will not be sung. Also contemporary hymns such as On Eagles Wings, Be Not Afraid, You Are Mine, won’t be sung either because they are not in keeping with the “Catholicness” of this Mass.” Is he saying that the Ordinary expression of Mass is really Protestant?

    Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art are Protestant hymns with a distinctly Protestant view of justification. If an organist tried to play these songs at a TLM, there would be an outcry. The rules of the TLM also don’t allow them. Father is right on this point. You would not hear the same outcry from a Novus Ordo congregation.

    Besides, many have speculated that Pope Paul VI moved the Catholic liturgy closer to the Protestant forms so as to encourage ecumenism and reconciliation with the Protestants. Way before I was exposed to the TLM, I browsed through a Lutheran order of the liturgy. I was surprised at how much it looked like the Catholic version. So which came first? The Lutheran one, or the Novus Ordo?

    Incidentally, the Orthodox welcomed our move to “allow” the TLM once again. (cf. Homily of the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Holy Father’s presence, and recent statements by the Moscow Patriarchate.) Our move towards Geneva and Augsburg was a move away from Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria.

    So has Summorum Pontificum started the “new ecumenism”?

    Flabellum said:
    “Remember, only his [the] fingers of the priest are consecrated to touch something so sacred as the body of the Son of God! An altar boy will be holding a paten under your chin lest a single particle fall to the ground and someone – even unintentionally – would trample underfoot on the body of Christ.” Again, is he saying that the Novus Ordo does not confect the body of the Son of God?

    Father is right on this point again. He is not saying that Our Lord does not become present in the Novus Ordo. After all, he celebrates it, right?

    It is not a secret among those of us who have served the Novus Ordo in the capacity of Master of Ceremonies, sacristan, or acolyte, that particles of Our Lord are strewn about because of communion practices allowed in the Novus Ordo by both priests and “special ministers”. We trample Our Lord underfoot, and we put him through the dry cleaners along with the altar clothes.

    Flabellum said:
    “When he turns around for the greetings “Dominus vobiscum” with eyes downcast, he represents Christ to the congregation.” Is he saying that in a Mass acording to the Missal of Pope Paul VI the priest does not represent Christ to the congregation?

    It’s not about the Missal. It’s about the position.

    The idea of celebrating versus populum for the sake of facing the congregation is not a Catholic and Christian way of celebrating the Holy Mass. It started with Luther. A priest always has the option of celebrating the Novus Ordo in the “more Catholic” manner.

    The first time I heard Mass (Novus Ordo) said ad orientem, the Eucharistic Prayer clicked in my head. When said versus populum, these prayers went over my head and past me, because the prayers were to the Father, but the words were directed towards me. Doesn’t make sense.

    We know the early Catholics from the first few centuries celebrated ad orientem. For example, an upper room buried by Pompeii (ca. 79 A.D.) has a cross fixed on the eastern wall of the room.

    Our Eastern Catholic and Orthodox brethren keep the Catholic direction of prayer.

  20. One comment and one question.

    St. Gualbert’s does not have a parish school (judging from the parish web site) nor does the local high school offer Latin; so it’s unlikely any of the current altar servers have learned Latin. The priest’s estimate of several months to learn to read/pronounce the Latin responses and to memorize them, given this will be an extracurricular activity is probably not unrealistic.

    About the priest’s comment that the deacon cannot administer Holy Communion. Can. 910 secton 1 reads “The ordinary minister of holy communion is a Bishop, a priest or a deacon.” Given that, why would the deacon not be able to administer communion? Has that not always been part of the deacon’s ministry (I seem to remember that the proper method was often dealt with in canons of ancient councils)?

  21. dcs says:

    Steve Cavanaugh writes:
    Has that not always been part of the deacon’s ministry

    Before Vatican II the deacon was the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Those rules no longer apply; however, most parishes probably don’t have a deacon to spare for distributing Holy Communion.

  22. Chironomo says:

    I think it is meant to be positive, but I agree that English may not be the gentleman’s first language! The fact that he can say the Extraordinary form and is willing to do so would indicate to me that he is not trying to discourage it. He points out the NEGATIVE aspects of the NO in such a way as to make them seem to be things that will be MISSING from the extraordinary form… a shrewd bit of politiking to be sure, but this type of rhetorical tactic puts the speaker in a position of neither supporting nor objecting to the issue being discussed. It seems to be the point of the article that if people in the parish request the TLM, he is more than willing to say a Mass on Sundays at an appropriate time rather than 5:30AM or some such nonsense…. overall I would say positive.

  23. Mary says:

    I hope Andy K might agree with me but Father’s message is just very Buffalo. Translation – Father is thinking in his head – ‘a few people have approached me about this and they’ve implied or said there are others, there are some rumblings out there-what is the reality?’. So he writes his note in which he is saying – I will do this but I can’t read minds or the tea leaves so you have to let me know that you are interested. He is also telling them ‘but you really have to be interested’ – it’s a lot of work – Don’t put me and others through this and not show up or bad mouth me later – so he tells them as well as he can what it will sound and feel like and how their behavior will have to change (like being quiet, reverent, not leave church early??). Again, for me the message is- if I start this, then I am committed and I expect you to be committed. AND, he is saying if you decide to grouse behind my back about all these things after we start- remember I told you all before hand! I’ve lived other places and have been here 46 years. I would tell anyone analyzing anything from Buffalo to always think local culture first before dissecting something. By the way before you read into anything I said, I love Buffalo. And, Western New Yorkers – if I’m off base pipe up!

  24. Tom S. says:

    No Communion from the cup and no Communion in the hand. Remember, only his fingers of the priest are consecrated to touch something so sacred as the body of the Son of God! An altar boy will be holding a paten under your chin lest a single particle fall to the ground and someone – even unintentionally – would trample underfoot on the body of Christ.

    Something in this makes my smart aleck detector go off. Perhaps it is unintentional, and the fact is that what he says is absolutely true. But remember that his audience here has been getting communion from the cup and in the hand for years. It would seem that he is trying to say to them something to the effect of “the Latin Mass people think your method of communion (and by implication, you) is not good enough”. And say it in a way that is almost certain to spark a negative reaction, yet because of its truthfulness, is unassailable.

  25. Templar says:

    I want to believe that he is trying to be positive, but is also trying to prepare
    his parishoners who, in most cases, will honestly have no idea of what to expect.

    He is doing much better for his parish than is being done for mine here in Middle
    Georgia (Warner-Robins). The Pastor here has had exactly one mention of the MP,
    and regretably I did not save the bulletin, but it was essentially this:

    “As you may, or may not know, the Pope has reccently given permission for the old
    Latin Mass to be said, if a large enough group of parishoners wants it. If that
    is the case, Bishop Boland will make arrangements for priests to be trained in the
    required liturgy and rubrics. It will NOT BE THIS PRIEST. You can not teach an
    old dog new tricks. If you are interested in attending a Latin Rite Mass, and are
    willing to commit to attending it from now on, please contact the rectory with
    your name and we will add it to the list.”

    Now I may have a few words out of place, going from memory, but certain parts,
    like the “old dog” reference stand out.

    This is the ONLY discussion of the MP that has been permitted in my parish. My
    neighboring parish has zero mention. The Diocese of Savannah in general has no
    information available, and it’s newspaper has had exactly one, nearly as negative
    article in it since July. A parish north of me, has reportedly had 1 TLM Low
    Mass said as a trial run in September, which was attended by roughly 200. The
    priest there is willing to consider saying the TLM once a month starting in

    So, is Father B being positive or negative? From the Catholic desert that is
    Georgia, he looks like a real breath of fresh air.

  26. Pistor says:

    I have known Father Bilkowski for many years and he has long embraced traditional expressions of our faith. A previous Bishop hounded him about it to the point where he had to produce a clean bill of health from a psychologist. He was one of a number of priests that were on a rotating schedule to say the TLM in Buffalo, and has long desired to implement such a change in his own parish. He has suffered much and is now taking a logical approach trying to see if there is interest enough to bring it back to a parish where is largely has been forgotten. He is a good man and he IS on our side. Please leave him a bit of space…

  27. Sophie says:

    Protestant hymns such as Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, will not be sung. Also contemporary hymns such as On Eagles Wings, Be Not Afraid, You Are Mine, won’t be sung either because they are not in keeping with the “Catholicness” of this Mass.

    Amen and Alleluia! Thanks to those who have raised this issue!

    fxavier is right about the questionable theology of these hymns. Equally bad is the kitsch piety. Kitsch has been well characterized as the view that dung doesn’t happen (“dung” wasn’t the word this critic used). Yet 40% of the Psalms (which were sung at public worship) are laments, and as Scripture, they teach that it’s just fine to go to church and tell the Almighty “Things are just terrible; would You do something?” Psalm 87 [88 MS numbering] didn’t make it to Glory and Praise.

    Just as bad is that those hymns in the above list from the 19th Century express a sugary sentimental piety, “effeminate” in the bad sense of the word, all of this piety traced back not just to 18th Century Pietism but also to the man that cost Feuerbach and Nietzsche their faith: David Strauß. Strauß taught Our Lord to be a sweet, kind man who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and who supposedly went around saying sweet candy to make sad people having a bad day feel a bit better. A questionable 19th Century Liberal Protestant moral theology underlies this piety: that man is a pretty good fellow, and that all he needs is moral guidance. Forget the Pelagian implication; what we got from this kind of piety was gas chambers, atomic bombs, and a million casualties at Verdun. In short: call this “kitsch music”.

    The “contemporary” [sic: the 60s are long gone] hymns are the “piety” of a culture offering nothing but entertainment, amusement, and faux folk music. And by putting the Almighty’s voice into the congregation’s mouth, the congregation deifies itself – an action nothing short of blasphemy. Call this music “nouveau kitsch” bordering on vulgarity.

    All this kitsch music wishes to focus on an interior feeling, often a sensation in the central nervous system, privately held. This piety assumes the criterion of genuine faith to be feeling this sensation. Yet a very acceptable imitation of a feeling can come from sources that are not exactly “washed in the blood of the Lamb”. And genuine kindness comes from Grace, not a feeling.

    The piety, and the music of the pre 18th Century was much better, to say nothing of having more “Catholicness”.

  28. Marcus says:

    I think Fr. Bilkowski has done a fine job in describing the Traditional Latin Mass in a positive way to a congregation that may not be familiar with it.

    He’s approaching it from the people’s point of view and heading off their objections. By making plain the differences in the newer and older forms of worship, he is inviting people to think more deeply about the nature of the worship of God, about the liturgy of the Church, and how we enter into it. I think it’s a very tactful and pastoral approach.

    Still, the robot comment at the end is a bit weird.

  29. Other Paul says:

    I think it lays out the differences between the two masses pretty well. I mean, if he had just announced a monthly TLM without laying any groundwork with his parisioners ahead of time, then he would probably have a lot of people on his hands after that first TLM who were at best unimpressed and at worst deciding it wasn’t for them. Mass is one of the few constants in life. It’s a pillar amidst constant change. Most of these people have attended the NO all their lives and have never seen a TLM. If they’re going to now attend a TLM then they should at least know what to expect if they’re to be receptive to it, and Father Bialkowski kinda lays it out here. So for that reason I think it’s positive. I’m with Federico, I think I like this guy.

  30. I find it a really odd treatment. It sounds like he is trying to tell the positives, but the way he throws in the “negatives” is poorly done. Rather than just predict the negative reactions some will have, why not try to do a better job at addressing the error of those negative reactions?
    I was really suprised by this statement:

    “Receiving Holy Communion in the former manner will be a challenge in our church since unfortunately most of our beautiful marble communion rail has been removed. I’m not sure how we can even do this without people falling.”

    I find this rather odd, and if there weren’t posts above that are very supportive of Father Bialkowski, I would think he is trying to criticize the “old” way of doing things. I’ve seen parents with two (fidgity) children in their arms have no problem genuflecting or kneeling.

    Whether he means to or not, it just sounds like he is grudgingly telling the positives about what will happen at the extra-ordinary form, in an almost a shocking way.

    I just find it poorly written in tone, and really wish he could have been a bit more catechetical in the positives and dealing with the potential negative reactions. I’ve seen worse treatments of the subject, but I think he could have done a lot better.

    Still, to give him credit, bravo to him for being open to helping those who may wish to have this form of Mass! I pray that many there will take him up on his offer. God bless him for trying.

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    I read Fr. Bilkowski as saying (surprisingly) plainly that the TLM is more holy and reverent, and offers better worship to God, that it is simply “more Catholic”, that he would like to celebrate Mass in this truly extraordinary form, and hopes his people will support him and it. He cleverly juxtaposes his list of the virtues of the TLM with seemingly positive reference to some of the worst features of the newer form which he knows some people have come to prefer, thereby (we may hope) laying down a line of defense against some of the more dim-witted in his parish and diocese. His candor is refreshing, and I hope his people (and his bishop) understand and appreciate it.

  32. Pater, OSB says:

    hmmm, positive or negative?
    I’d guess bi-polar.

  33. Liz F. says:

    I find this very strange and interesting. I spent the whole time reading it (without the comments) trying to figure out where this priest was coming from. I kind of wonder if he knows better, but is conflicted. He obviously has a good understanding the Extraordinary Mass. Maybe he has convinced himself that the Ordinary Mass is good to “cope.” I often wonder how people dealt with this change.

  34. joe says:

    My take on Father’s message is that he seems to be saying: “Are you people SURE you want this? I mean, really, really sure?”


    P.S. Kinda surprised Father didn’t mention mantillas for women and girls.

  35. RosieC says:

    Father sounds to me like a parent who is fine with loading up the car, getting gas, and driving to the beach but suspects that as soon as the family gets there, the kids will say, “Water’s too cold, it’s so sunny, beach is too sandy,” and troop back into the car.

    It WILL take some time to get altar boys into shape if the parish currently has an undisciplined lot of mostly girls. The other things will take time and effort, too.

    Having the older Mass is not the sort of thing one should do on
    a whim, and it sounds to me like Father is trying to make sure the faithfull in his parish understand what they are asking for.

    On the other hand, I often do this sort of thing with my kids, knowing that they will bail out on me, because the experience is going to be a good or important one. A generally better disciplined set of altar servers will result from the above process, and probably everyone who participates will learn something about the Mass and the Catholic Faith in general that they don’t now know (or realize). I hope that if Father is at all inclined to do this, he will dive in regardless of what “the kids” do.

  36. John Adams says:

    I think Father is trying to inform his people in order to make a thoughtful
    decision. I think it is clear that his personal preference is for the NO,
    and that is what he imagines the people will support, but he is open to the TLM
    if that is what the people want.

    I think it is good that the people are being told what the differences in the
    two uses signify… I get the impression that people think the direction of
    prayer and the use of the paten, kneeling, etc. are just “details” and that
    people with strong opinions about these are being “picky.” This is probably
    becuase they have no idea what the significance of these actions are in the
    first place. It is not like they learned it in CCD in the 70’s and 80’s.

  37. Jason in San Antonio says:

    Federico and Henry Edwards,

    I agree, I think the priest is responding favorably. He\’s got just the right tone of snarkiness that will appeal to the ignorant among his flock, but just the right amount of reverent appreciation for the TLM that will cue in those faithful who are so inclined that this is a priest who wants the TLM.

    I think he takes precisely the proper approach in a \”mixed\” crowd.

  38. Petrus says:

    About learning the responses, I would say 40-50 years ago more young boys were more eager to be altar boys as opposed to now where they almost have to be forced to do it. If you have to force somebody to do something they arent going to A) do it well B) learn how to do it better.

  39. Barb says:


    There is something I don’t understand here. Nobody is forced to attend the Extraordinary form. So why should people who are repulsed or indifferent to the manner in which the Traditional Mass is celebrated even be asked to render an opinion? Why not call everyone who is interested together and give the theology of the TLM to them so that they might make an informed decision instead of putting out such a lengthy dissertation which is subject to making various people upset? The first point that should be made is: NOBODY WILL BE FORCED TO ATTEND THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM. NO Novus Ordo MASSES WILL BE TAKEN OUT OF THE SCHEDULE. If the priest wants to add an Extraordinary form Mass, he should make it clear to his congregation that he LOVES this form, is aware that others in the congregation love it also, and that he is going to add a Mass to the schedule for anyone who wants to attend and then deal with what comes up. He should emphasize that no one is to be criticized for attending the Extraordinary form.

    Before he does this, why not provide the parishioners with the Vatican text of Summorum Pontificum and the letter to the bishops so they can read what Pope Benedict wants for themselves?

    It seems to me that what the priest wrote is going to cause contention amongst his parishioners. I don’t want to play “My Mass is better than your Mass” with anyone. And I don’t understand why the bishops have not decreed that all pastors provide their parishioners with a copy of Summorum Pontificum and the letter to bishops. If they were really in unity with the Holy Father the bishops would have done this, wouldn’t they? Aren’t we supposed to pay attention to what the Holy Father wants and try to understand it, especially when we are not being forced to do anything if we don’t want to? I am a member of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and I am interested in everything that concerns the Church everywhere in the world, if for no other reason than that I should be praying for the salvation of souls everywhere and should know the special challenges facing the Church in our times.

  40. Patrick T says:

    VERY VERY smart move by this priest.

    Here is what he accomplished:

    1. He notified everyone of Summorum Pontificum.

    2. He communicated his willingness to celebrate the Mass at the parish.

    3. He asked people to let him know if they are interested.

    4. He totally eliminated the possibility of future complaints by describing the differences between the two Masses. In short, he set expectations very clearly for those who are traditional and those who might be more liberal.

    It’s really quite brilliant.

  41. Henry Edwards says:

    Petrus: About learning the responses, I would say 40-50 years ago more young boys were more eager to be altar boys as opposed to now where they almost have to be forced to do it.

    You need to make a distinction between the older and newer forms. It\’s true that many if not most young boys are reluctant to serve the newer Mass.

    But in my recent experience most young boys who attend the older Mass are eager to serve at the altar. They perceive it as a manly aspiration, and the priest as a man to emulate. Which no doubt is why TLM communities produce vocations all out of proportion to their numbers.

  42. joshua says:

    He sounds like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde at times. I get the overall sense that he is positive about it and throwing out liberal cliches just to pacify them. Maybe

    It took me an evening to learn the prayers, but I already knew the Suscipiat and Latin response ’cause we do a Latin NO. Oh, and I kept saying “incendo” instead of “incedo” at the 2nd response for the Judica me Deus psalm for a while. A priest heard me and actually started chuckling because he is fluent in Latin.

    We had about one out of every 6 males here volunteer.

  43. Jennifer E says:

    From a frequent reader and mom and fellow sufferer, I read this and my first impression was “SIGN ME UP FATHER” – I’ll train my young boy in the rubrics of this Holy Mass and pray for more boys to bless us that can assist at Mass. He sold me completely! As a long time attender of liturgical dance and protestant hymns and clapping at our ingenuity, yep . . I’m tired and Father would have me right there. So if you ask me, if there any out there like me, don’t know if anyone else cares in my parish type (because I haven’t been there for more than a few years) he would have me knocking at his door. There was nothing in there that told me to beware I would be mistreated, it just laid out the stakes.

    I think he (Fr.) is right. This is polarizing. But it is needed. For a long time things are lukewarm and no one has wanted it any differently. I am not one to not want to be pruned, I welcome it. There is proven fruit at the end and I think this is how it needs to be looked at. I say that it will be polarizing only because I have heard the undercurrent that travelled through our parish when the vessels were finally changed to comply with the GIRM. Incredibly negative. You should have heard the homliy. Basically, how can we spend so much on ourselves when we have the poor that need us. I got the impression that this came from above (I am in Cincy archd.) I think I may have made a fool of myself when I took pictures of the vessels as they were on display before first use. AAAYYYEEE, you should have seen the manhandling by the “angry” parishioners. I wanted to rewash and polish them before Mass!

    I digress –
    So yeah, here – that bulletin would create an incredible undercurrent negativity but not because they weren’t there already.

    Thank you Fr. Z for your blog. It has been a great education for us both. I even got an Ipod for an anniversary present to get your podazts! My husband has been resistent to all this stuff but he “hears” your teaching. Even moved our family out of said liturgical dancing parish.

    Jenn E in dayton

  44. Scott says:

    I think this priest is really provoking some thought here…

    with tongue firmly planted in cheek. :)

  45. Boko Fittleworth says:

    I think this tracks fairly closely another commentary I recall seeing posted on this webpage. From California, maybe? The bit about “no Protestant hymns” especially rings some bells. Nothing wrong with cribbing, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this before.

  46. Sid Cundiff says:

    To understand a statement, know first to whom it is addressed. Most of us don’t know his congregation or read his mail. Let’s assume the best.

  47. chris K says:

    I think he’s trying to be as honest as he can while wearing a flak jacket for yet the probable reactions of another prolonged “teaching moment”. He’s probably a veteran! He’s probably had his share of whiplashes over the years. And he sounds tired but resigned to the next onslaught of confusion and soap opera moments that most parishes seem to undergo these days whenever some change is noticed. So he just puts it out there and lets the people know that he’s not superman. He needs help from those who really want this.

  48. JayneK says:

    I don’t think he is being positive or negative. He just sounds to me like someone trying to be honest.

  49. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Fr. Zulsdorf:

    I’ve used his line of argument before now in a classroom. At a guess, I’d say he’s trying to confirm his congregation in their willingness to leave all the old nonsense behind: think of all these things I TOLD you wouldn’t be there. Don’t come whining to me.

    Chris Garton-Zavesky

  50. Henry Edwards says:

    Patrick T: You got it right! But I’d like to strengthen a couple of your points.

    2a. He’s more than willing. He sincerely wants to celebrate the TLM.

    3a. He’s letting people know what the TLM offers, and earnestly hopes they will request it.

    Not knowing that much about the local situation there, I would guess that he feels a need for the “cover” that this brilliant approach will afford.

    If he lays it all out pretty much factually — the good, the bad, and the ugly — who can blame him if (enough of) the folks choose the good?

  51. Vincentius says:

    Henry:” I read Fr. Bilkowski as saying (surprisingly) plainly that the TLM is more holy and reverent, and offers better worship to God, that it is simply “more Catholic”, that he would like to celebrate Mass in this truly extraordinary form, and hopes his people will support him and it.”

    I agree- whenever I have someone attend a TLM w/ me I find this kind of prep is helpful so too much is not expected, and let The Mass itself hook them
    The standard training for altar boys in my parish was about 5 months- I began in 1961- during the training, the ’62 missal was published and we were delighted to have the second Confiteor eliminated! Our parish also had Dominicans for 2 Masses so we had to learn those rubrics eventually (pretty quicky since there was no psalm 42, nor suscipiat nor Centurion’s prayer.) A priest at a nearby parish is training 4 of his altar boys, and began in July- I think they’re begining the TLM in Advent.

  52. Andy K. says:

    A few comments after reading more than 12 hours later from my original post:

    1) Please spell the name right. I know Polish surnames are difficult, but “Bialkowski” is rather easy.

    2) A comment was made that perhaps Fr. Bialkowski’s first language is not English. This could be the case. A few Poles have been ordained for the Diocese of Buffalo. This is a very Polish parish in a very Polish neighborhood. It is quite possible he is in Buffalo as a service to the Polish-American community.

    3) Mary, I concur with you. This is typical Buffalo “I’m telling you all in advance, so don’t tell me later I didn’t tell you now” stuff. He is giving them what will happen and how it will be different.

    4) Latin offerings: I will research the local offerings more.

  53. Pistor says:

    I can say from personal knowledge that Fr. Bialkowski is bi-lingual, but he is an American and English is his first language

  54. Andy K. says:

    Dear Pistor,

    Thanks for the correction.

  55. I have to say that I think father is being very crafty. Take the comment about the communion rail. Is this a prod to replace what he obviously believes is a beautiful piece of church architecture? I agree that it seems he is going out of his way to express all of the positives of the extraordinary form while still being able to say later,”Dis the hymns we’ve been using for 30 years? I didn’t say that,” while actually pretty much saying it. (Good for him.)
    I seem to recall spending about six weeks learning the responses when I was in grade school, but admit I’m extraordinarily bad at rote memorization, which was the method used at the parish I was at. Never really got very good at Latin until High School, by which time I wasn’t serving much any more.

  56. Madkins says:

    Come on, Fr. Z! You are too nice. This is some of the thickest sarcasm I have ever read. This guy is stomping on the Extraordinary form and Benedict’s words in a most eloquent and condescending way. He knows his stuff, and he uses it for all the wrong reasons. If I was his bishop (I’m happily married), I would reign this guy in big time, demanding an explanation.

  57. Madkins says:

    Come on, people. This is clearly sarcastic.

  58. Cantor says:

    Fr. Z wrote:
    It is true that some people, not many, are attached to those songs.

    Whoa there! Make that “LOTS” of people are attached to “Be Not Afraid” and “On Eagle’s Wings”. Everywhere I have been, anyway.

  59. Francis A. says:

    Right you are, Cantor. Fr. Z is TOTALLY out of touch with the general (Catholic) public. He lives in some kind of cocoon. Moreover, there is nothing in “Summorum Pontificum” that rules out the use of post-Vatican-II-composed hymns or the use of hymns written by non-Catholics. Heck, I can remember singing (at Mass, as a boy in the 1950s) Christmas hymns that were written by non-Catholics. There is some deep sickness at work here. I am on the verge of killing the bookmark for this site, because something is terribly wrong in the mind/heart of Fr. Z and many of his readers. The hatred is palpable.

  60. michigancatholic says:

    I think he\’s flatly reciting the differences between the two because perhaps he realizes that many people aren\’t going to know those differences. It\’s quite likely some won\’t and those will be the ones he\’ll have to listen to complain. \”Why can\’t I play my guitar at the Tridentine mass,\” etc.

    I personally know a few people who awaited the MP eagerly but then were thrown off because what they had remembered wasn\’t the 1962 Tridentine after all. They had remembered one of the many intermediate steps in the 70s and weren\’t quite ready for the full Tridentine in all its glory.

    I suspect he knows the condition of the parish where he is and that knowledge is what he\’s speaking from.

  61. michigancatholic says:

    Cantor, Francis A,

    Please remember that not all of us are tone deaf. Through some miraculous mixture of pitch and grace, some of us still detest “Be not afraid,” etc. etc. Not everyone everywhere wants to sing or hear this stuff. Isn’t it enough for you that the N.O. is filled with these ditties? Can there not be a corner of the church free of it? Please go back to your missalette subscription and leave us in peace. We’re not hurting you. You have no right to try to control us.

  62. Andrew says:

    You’all invited to a birthday party. I regret to inform you that we will not be serving the usual cool-aid – so popular on previous occasions: instead we will be serving some choice wine. Also, we are not going to use paper cups as we’ve done in the past: we are going to use real crystal. Which means, regretfully, that we are not going to be able to discard them afterwards. They will have to be washed instead. And also, if you drop them they break: not like the paper cups. Finally, instead of hot dogs, regrettably, we are going to serve london broil. I know some of you prefer the hot dogs with your relish and ketchup – sorry about that. And one final note: we are not going to play the sixties, seventies, and eighties hits as we did in the past. We’ve invited a small ensemble from Russia to play Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Music for us instead. Our apoligies ahead to all who find this highly disappointing.

  63. Paul says:

    Just an idea: one shrewd thing pastors and Church musicians might do with sub-standard contemporary hymns, for those who love them: positively encourage them to sing them at home instead of at Mass–and maybe start a religious singing group to meet some weekday night for that purpose. If the pastor of good taste showed up and humbly sang the bad songs himself once it a while, it would probably work wonders. Obviously, this refers only to those hymns that aren’t heterodox. (By the way, “Voice of God” songs are not necessarily bad, and certainly they are not usually blasphemous. If we thought so we would think the Old Missal and Office very offensive to God, since the Communion/Magnificat/Benedictus antiphons for Dead and during the Easter season commonly used this device.)

  64. Paul says:

    Of course, the Old Use still does use it. I wasn’t meaning to relegate it to the past!

  65. ** Matt ** says:

    I get the feeling Father is being condescending. While trying to explain the difference between the two Rites, he does so with words and phrases which really do come across as being an intelligent rear-end. For instance, the part about taking one’s Missal “from the dresser and bringing it to church ~~like you used to.~~ Why “you” as opposed to “we?” Further, when Father makes a list of Won’ts and Cant’s, it seems a bit smarmy. Perhaps it was an unfortunate bit of phrasing.

  66. Peggy Olds says:

    I believe the priest in his heart is negative, however I think the response to what he has sad will be positive.

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