In Arkansas, 3 day program on Summorum Pontificum

Here is some spectacular news from the Arkansas Catholic.

My emphases and comments.

Arkansas priests get overview on Latin Mass

Seminary professor leads three-day program on ‘motu proprio’

Published: October 27, 2007
Malea Hargett

By Malea Hargett

Fifty-seven priests and two deacons attended clergy continuing education Oct. 16-18 at St. John Center in Little Rock to learn more about the expanded use of the Latin Mass. [I think we know that they mean the "extraordinary use" of the Roman Rite… right?]

Father Joseph Portzer, a former chaplain for the St. John Latin Mass Community in North Little Rock, returned to Arkansas to lead the program on Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum," which went into effect Sept. 14. The expansion of the extraordinary form of the Mass is often referred to as "motu proprio," [I think the reporter might not be overly familiar with things Catholic… but let’s read on.] meaning the decree is the pope’s personal initiative in the matter.

Near the conclusion of the program, about 35 priests and two deacons attended a High Mass celebrated by Father Terrence Gordon, the current assistant chaplain for the Latin Mass community in North Little Rock, Cherokee Village and Mountain Home.

The same chapel in Morris Hall at St. John Center where the Oct. 18 Mass was celebrated was also the place where students from St. John Seminary attended Latin Mass from 1951 until the seminary closed in 1967. Latin Mass [like a broken record… Latin Mass… Latin Mass… Latin Mass…] also was offered in the chapel for a couple of years in the 1990s.

Parishioners from North Little Rock and Cherokee Village formed a choir and sang Gregorian chant during the Mass. A booklet was provided to the priests, deacons and diocesan employees to use in order to follow the readings and prayers in Latin. The homily was the only portion of the Mass that was in English.

"It’s very commendable to receive such enthusiasm for the will of the Holy Father in this matter," Father Portzer said.

The society of apostolic life provides priests to 26 dioceses in the United States to celebrate Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal.

The Diocese of Little Rock was the first diocese in the country to ask the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to provide an overview of the "motu propio" to its priests and deacons. [Really?  I wonder.] During the clergy program, Father Portzer, a professor of Gregorian chant, liturgy and spirituality at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb., also reviewed the basics of celebrating a Tridentine Mass.

Father Portzer, who served in Arkansas from 2000 to 2002, said extensive training would be required if a priest in Arkansas wanted to celebrate Latin Mass. [I sure hope that is not because they are from Arkansas!  {inset rimshot here}] The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s seminary in Nebraska is offering five-day workshops to interested priests who are too young to have studied the Latin Mass or to older priests who forgot much of the language and rubrics.

"We have already educated 50 priests in the Old Mass," he said.

Father Portzer admitted even after five days of training a priest would unlikely be ready to celebrate Mass on his own.  [That may be true, if a priest has virtually none of the requisite tools or experience.]

"It is an involved rite," he said. "When we are in the seminary, we are asked to practice the Mass for six months every day."  [Well… you don’t need that long, but it wouldn’t hurt!   And it’s worth it!]

Only priests who are trained are allowed to publicly [split infinitives and] celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass.


 Not a stellar piece of writing, but this article conveyes some very good news.  Steps are being taken in Arkansas to help people understand what the issues are.  I find that very positive.

I believe in a kind of reverse Gresham’s Law when it comes to information: eventually good information drives bad information out of circulation.  Therefore this workshop with Fr. Portzer was a great step in the right direction.

A widespread implementation of Summorum Pontificum is going to take a while.  We need patience and lots of positive experiences.

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  1. John says:

    It’s great news by any measure.
    Pray for priests, for vocations, and for a more complete liturgical restoration.

  2. TNCath says:

    You must realize that for this to take place in Arkansas, a state with a minority Catholic population, is HUGE. Also, keep in mind that the Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses the entire state of Arkansas, has been “sede vacante” for over a year now. This event was sponsored on the watch of the diocesan administrator, Rev. Msgr. J. Gaston Hebert, one of the last of the “giants” of the Church in the South. However, their former ordinary, Bishop J. Peter Sartain, formerly a priest of the Diocese of Memphis, did allow the FSSP to establish a presence in the Diocese of Little Rock, something the Bishop of Memphis would never allow.

  3. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Only priests who are trained are allowed to publicly [split infinitives and] celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass.

    <DeNiro>Fr. Z… you! You! You…!</DeNiro>

  4. RBrown says:

    Fr Terrence Gordon was one of my students. He is a grad of the Naval Academy (from USNAPS–I had gone to USMAPS years before) and an ex Marine Corps Officer. Both his brothers, one of whom is also an FSSP priest, attended USNAPS, but they went to the Coast Guard Academy.

    When he would come in for the oral exam, I would greet him with “Semper Fi!”–and he would answer “Do or die!”.

    A good man.

  5. kat says:

    I have had the pleasure of attending Mass when Father Portzer was presiding several times. He filled in our little “indult” chapel in Virginia while he was studying in DC when our long time (60 years as a priest)chaplain was ill. A fine priest, as are all the FSSP priests we have had say Mass at St. Benedict’s. God bless them all.

    It likely does take 6 months of saying Mass to get really talented at blocking out crying babies and coughs in the congregation while saying prayers in Latin. The seminary training does work because they keep on even when it sounds like the whole congregation is composed of fussy toddlers!

  6. Former Altar Boy says:

    It may take 40 more years to get halfway back to where we were before the Vat2 craziness stated, but the return of the TLM will bring people back to the Church, attract converts, save parishes, and result in more vocations.

  7. Paul Murnane says:

    I believe in a kind of reverse Gresham’s Law when it comes to information: eventually good information drives bad information out of circulation.

    Keeping with the theme, I hope with the “gravitational pull”: eventually good liturgy drives bad liturgy out of circulation.

  8. Nick says:

    Is it just me or is there something about the first words of this article “Fifty-seven priests” and the most recent article on WDTPRS contrasting ’57 to ’07?

  9. jane says:

    This is another reason I am retiring from Memphis to Arkansas.

    jane in memphis

  10. Eamonn says:

    A whole congregation [apparently] composed of fussy toddlers? Isn’t that called a Catholic Parish?

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    Also participating in this program — but not mentioned in the article — was Fr. Laurent Demets, who as of this year is chaplain of the FSSP apostolate in Little Rock. He has given an account of the conference and of his own opening lecture on its first day at his blog De Fide Catholica:

    Lecture on the Motu Proprio

    In his half-dozen or so years at St. Francis de Sales, the FSSP parish in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Fr. Demets was a veritable johnny appleseed spreading the TLM across the South. He trained priests who now celebrate the TLM in the Dioceses of Charleston (SC) and Knoxville (TN), celebrated the first TLM\’s in recent decades in places ranging from Auburn (AL) to Naples (FL), as well as in a number of parish churches in the Atlanta area, including the cathedral there.

    Fr. Demets is so humble and solely devoted to God and Church that he probably doesn’t even realize what a hero he is to those of us in this area of the country.

  12. Kirk Kramer says:

    Oriens: The Journal of the Ecclesia Dei Society of Australia
    Winter 1999
    The temptation to tidiness

    “THERE ARE many mansions in my Father’s house,” so says Our Lord. “If there were not I should have told you.”

    The metaphor of the Church as God’s household is an attractive one. We live in a rambling old house that has rooms both in time and in eternity. It has rooms full of apparently useless junk, kitchens, dining rooms, rooms to sleep in, rooms just to sit around in, rooms for fun, rooms for quiet, solemn rooms of State and rooms to drink wine and sing songs in. The important point is that the rooms in God’s household are for His family, and that there is a place for everyone. It has been a sign of authentic Catholic faith throughout the ages to allow God’s family to dwell in His house undisturbed by unnecessary demands for moral or doctrinal conformity.

    The heretics have generally been the puritans, fanatics and purists. The Catholics generally had the softer approach to life. The heretics were always wanting to clean up the house like Martha, the Catholics content to put up their feet and chat with the head of the household like Mary. The Catholic attitude to life should be just a little bit irresponsible and perhaps even scandalous, rather like the Church’s founder.

    The Traditional Movement because of its unfortunate marginalisation is always in danger of this temptation to tidiness which historically has not been the characteristic of a Catholic outlook but of a heterodox one. The Church of Christ has never been tidy, efficient or well organised. Catholics, with some notable exceptions, have never been very good, for example, at running wars or bureaucracies. This is as it should be since the Church’s job is to get people into heaven, not to wash or scrub them or to make them into model citizens of whatever sort.

    This should also be the aim of the Traditional Movement which should be content to live in the vast and rambling mansions of God and to encourage others to do so. More frequently than we would like to admit, however, we traditionalists can see ourselves as bouncers at the front door keeping out the riff raff who might make the place untidy. The rules for admission, however, were laid down by Our Divine Founder in embarrassingly minimal terms: “Come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” There are four gospels, seven sacraments and ten commandments. All the rest is optional.

    Integrist temptation

    There is a tendency among traditional Catholics to see Tradition as one big package of religious, social and political conservatism. Those who do not accept this whole package can then be portrayed as inconsistent and not really Traditional at all, just eclectic cafeteria Catholics who happen to like incense and chant, as mere aesthetes who just like dressing up or even in more alarming terms as agents or infiltrators of unseen sinister forces trying to subvert the Church.


    The fact is, however, that the traditional movement cannot impose any other agenda than that of the Church itself. It can be neither republican nor monarchist. It cannot take a line on which is the best way to advance the pro-life cause. It does not have a view on gun control. It neither condemns nor approves home schooling. It does not have a line on the privatisation of public utilities. It is neither capitalist nor socialist. It does not and cannot endorse or condemn any political party. It can only encourage individuals to follow the Church’s teaching on Faith and Morals and to promote them in the public forum. To require more of people than the Church requires is to make ourselves more Catholic than the Pope and more Christian than Christ.

    If traditional Catholics, moreover, are to accept the whole of the Church’s teaching then we must also recognise the Church’s traditional teaching on social and political matters. For over a hundred years the Popes have spoken in encyclical after encyclical about the rights of workers, about the injustices associated with debt and the centralisation of economic power. We cannot ignore the consistent teaching of the Popes from Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum to Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus. To do so would be to embrace the very same “cafeteria mentality” of the progressives that is so often condemned in traditional circles.

    The Church’s social teaching should not be seen as a regrettable family secret that we try to keep anyone else from finding out about. There is no contradiction between a desire to see a restoration of liturgical and doctrinal Tradition and a lively interest in the issues of social justice so consistently urged upon us by the Magisterium of the Church. One might indeed hope, that the alienation felt by many traditional Catholics as a result of the manifest injustices that many of us have suffered would lend us a certain sense of solidarity with the poor and dispossessed.

    Interior coherence

    There is furthermore an interior coherence between the Truth of Christ expressed so purely and so eloquently in the traditional Mass and our refusal to accept the deceptions of the dictators and despots of this world. The traditional Mass is much more difficult for the world to subvert. It cannot easily become propaganda for any party. In its easy and expansive silences Truth is easily nurtured in the soul and the whispered lies of tyrants die. In that hospitable silence the peasant may kneel next to the king, and the only measure between them is that of personal holiness, and God keeps that secret in the recesses of His own mystery.

    The traditional Mass is indeed the Mass of God’s rambling and welcoming mansions into which it is our happy duty to invite all of His scattered sons and daughters.

  13. Steve says:

    As for the term “Latin Mass” I think it’s appropriate and I don’t think it will ever yield to a more precise terminology.

    Sure, the NO can be celebrated in latin but — speaking as a cradle Catholic — I’ve never once experienced it. For the overwhelming majority of people it’s the “new mass” and the “Latin Mass”

    It works for me.

    The liturgistas say “Sunday Eucharist”, but most Catholics say “Mass”. The liturgistas say “Sacrament of the Sick”, most Catholics say “Last Rites”. The liturgistas say “Sacrament of Reconciliation”, you and I say “Confession”

    Mass, confession, last Rites, and yes, Latin Mass are deeply inculturated (in the best sense) terms, their meaning is clear, and it would be foolish to think that they’ll be abandoned.

  14. Henry Edwards says:


    For the overwhelming majority of people it’s the “new mass” and the “Latin Mass”.

    Of course, we try to be nice and precise and correct here at WDTPRS, and I myself would not risk incurring Father Z’s wrath — or his dismissal as an impossibly hopeless country bumpkin — by simply saying “the Latin Mass” without appropriate clarification. However, your remark has a certain undeniable resonance, and I can’t help reflecting that, of all the hundreds or thousands of ordinary pew Catholics I’ve seen in the over half century since I first attended THE Latin Mass, there’s probably not a single one who’ve not know precisely what I meant if I simply blurted out “Latin Mass” to them.

    Whereas if I wanted to refer to a Latin Novus Ordo, I’d have to answer their puzzled question with a tedious explanation that Yes, there is such a thing, that the new Mass really can be celebrated in Latin despite the fact that so far as they know it never has been, and that No, the new Mass is not simply an English translation of the old Latin Mass with sappy music added that they’d never think of listening to voluntarily anywhere but a Catholic Church, etc etc etc.

  15. Steve says:


    In my earlier comment I was primarily concerned with communication between and among Catholics but I think it can be broadened somewhat.

    For instance, if you were speaking to a Protestant neighbor you wouldn’t say “I attend the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite on Sundays” (which would no doubt draw a blank stare) – you’d say, “I go to the Latin Mass” and your Protestant friend would immediately know what you meant. Neither would you say that your grandfather received “the Sacrament of the Sick” on his deathbed – you’d say “Last Rites” and your neighbor would most certainly understand.

    So when the Media use terms like “Latin Mass” to refer to the TLM there is a certain precision in it. It’s immediately understood by readers and it doesn’t require torturous explanations and definitions. Far from being indicative of poor or ill informed journalism I think writers and commentators are correct to use the term “Latin Mass”.

    In any case, I don’t think we’re ever going to change it – nor do I think we should…

  16. Scott Smith says:

    Fifty-seven priests are about all of the active diocesan priests, just to throw that out there. The priest who administers my own parish attended the meeting.

    TNCath- “However, their former ordinary, Bishop J. Peter Sartain, formerly a priest of the Diocese of Memphis, did allow the FSSP to establish a presence in the Diocese of Little Rock, something the Bishop of Memphis would never allow.”

    This is not quite accurate. It was Bishop Andrew McDonald that had invited the FSSP into the diocese. Bishop Sartain, shortly after he arrived, administered Confirmation to the St. John the Baptist Latin Mass Community according to the usus antiquior which was followed by a High Mass in the presence of the Ordinary. Bishop Sartain, did not permit the growth of the movement in the diocese and particularly not to Northwest Arkansas, though it was requested.

    The picture of Fr. Gordon shows him by the high altar, which remained in the unused presbyterium of the oratory, unused except to reserve the Most Holy Sacrament. They had, and likely still have, a portable altar and ambo set up in front of the presbyterium for the N.O. Mass. Probably because it was a seminary oratory, it is divided evenly between the presbyterium and nave. The only entrance to the sacristy, without going outside, is behind the high altar, which I find to be somewhat strange.

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