Parish course for people interested in the older form of Mass, the TLM

A tip of the biretta to FA  o{]:¬)    who informed me of this article from the California Catholic Daily.   FA added: "Only in America!"

My emphases and comments.

Published: November 2, 2007
“The Tridentine Mass for Joe Sixpack”

Parish offers refresher course on Latin Mass, sacraments

"Tridentine Mass and Sacraments 4 Dummies” is the title of a series of courses on “the extraordinary form of Blessed John XXIII” to be held at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Wilmington (near San Pedro). Norbertine Fr. Michael Perea, the parish’s associate pastor, will teach the courses.

“The Tridentine Low Mass for Joe Sixpack” is the name for the first class, to be held Nov. 7. The titles for the classes to be held over subsequent weeks are “Getting Married the Way Grandpa Did It” (Nov. 14), “The Requiem Mass” (Nov. 21), and “How to Baptize Babies the Old Way” (Nov. 28).

Fr. Michael told California Catholic Daily that one parishioner was upset by the title of the course series. [It seems to me that that sort of title has become standard by now, no?] But, said Fr. Michael, it was not meant to be offensive. “It’s a popular approach,” he said. “We want to make the course user-friendly. We want to encourage the average Joe to attend, because it seems that the Tridentine crowd tends to be a specialized crowd.”  ["Specialized crowd"!!  LOL!  Well put.]

Fr. Michael said he is basing his courses on the Latin-English Sunday Missal, which offers a sample Low Mass, with all the readings, a sample Nuptial Mass, a Requiem Mass, as well as the Rite of baptism for one child. “I thought I would divide the course into four parts, following the book,” said Fr. Michael. “My approach is to be simple and practical. My target audience is someone who is interested in the Tridentine Mass, but doesn’t know a whole lot about it. So, it’s not going to be academic.”

The class has elicited “a lot of interest so far,” Fr. Michael said. “People keep asking the book store for the book.”

The classes serve as an introduction to the weekly parish celebration of the Tridentine Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul, which will begin ad experimentum, said Fr. Michael, on the First Sunday of Advent, at 6.30 a.m. The first Masses will be Low Masses, though Father Michael says he will encourage the people “to participate in the parts they traditionally participated in,” and there will be devotional singing. Fr. Michael said that, in the future, he hopes to have High Tridentine Masses.

So far, 131 Ss. Peter and Paul parishioners have added their names to a sign-up sheet, indicating they want to attend the Tridentine Mass. “But there’s more interest than that,” said Fr. Michael. “I’m suspecting that, once we start, we’ll have a regular congregation of about 200 people.”

What a great approach!  Well done! 

We can only hope for reports on the classes.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rob says:

    In the latest edition of Mass of Ages (UK Latin Mass Society Magazine), Mgr Ignacio Barreiro says that the laws regulating use of the 1962 Missal are those that governed it before the liturgical reforms. Therefore, he says, altar-girls and communion in the hand, which have since become licit, remain forbidden for the forma extraordinaria. However, I was once assured by an FSSP priest that the current Church law on fasting (1 hour before receiving Holy Communion) applied, not the midnight fast or three hour fast … But wouldn’t Mgr Barreiro’s argument suggest that we ought to hold to the old law when receiving Communion in the EF?

  2. catholiclady says:

    I believe that how long one fasts was not part of the liturgy and that might be why. It is a matter of canon law. Prior to 1964, Catholics fasted from midnight until the reception of Holy Communion. This practice ended on November 21, 1964 when Pope Paul VI reduced the fast to a period of one hour prior to the reception of Communion My memory tells me that was a period when the time was 3 hours but I can’t find any documentation of that. One hour is the minimum required however one may fast as long before receiving as one wants to.

  3. EDG says:

    What a great idea! If there’s no sympathetic pastor willing to offer such a course in his own church, I think some of the Latin Mass organizations should put together a presentation and find places to offer it even in “resistant” dioceses. People are very curious about the TLM, even people who live in places where it is not likely to be offered, but unfortunately they’re getting only the “unintelligible language, priest-with-his-back-to-the-people” version from their biased clergy.

    I went to a meeting where we were trying to plead the case for the TLM in our diocese a couple of months ago, and I was surprised at how many laypeople who had never even seen the TLM showed up to say they disliked it, they hated Latin, it shouldn’t be allowed, etc. And it was all because they had been fed wild misconceptions by a few of the clergy who have a vested interest in opposing it. So I think we have to take a reasonable, down-to-earth and practical approach in explaining it, and also that it would be great to take the initiative in charitably offering information and allaying people’s fears and misconceptions.

  4. I’m going to sound like the stereotypical humorless, cranky, sour-faced traditionalist, but this approach really bothers me. I’m sure the priest is well-intentioned. His classes may well be excellent. But the culture of the TLM is one of respect, reverence, and solemnity – not pop-culture vulgarities.

    Trust me, as a former class clown and expert classroom troublemaker, the temptation for everyone to be cracking “TLM 4 Joe-Six-Pack” and “Sacraments 4 Dummies” jokes throughout the course will be overwhelming. A supremely Bad Idea.

  5. Joshua says:

    Fr. Michael is one of the holiest and most reverent priests I know. Considering the series is outside the context of the liturgy, what is wrong with light-heartedness?

    The fact remain that Fr. Michael will reach many more people this way. And being humorous is not only not opposed to respect, reverence and solemnity, the latter stands out more when humor is used at the appropriate times. Fr. Michael, whom I know personally, will the subject its due.If he actually engages people by cracking jokes himself, God Bless him. Canon O’Connell, one of the old rubricists, used to say that he would laugh about matters of rubrics. I think you have to keep due respect for such things without making them the end all.

    BTW, Fr. Michael is one of those priests who spends his spare time in the Confession, so that people can come outside of normal hours.

  6. Mike in NC says:


    My memory tells me that was a period when the time was 3 hours but I can’t find any documentation of that.

    I am just old enough to remember the general midnight fast, and made my First Holy Communion a year or two after the three hour fast became general.

    The midnight fast was relaxed under certain limited circumstances to three hours, by Pope Pius XII, by the Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus, on the Epiphany, 1953, and permission for a three hour fast was extended, by the motu proprio Sacram Communionem, on the Feast of St Joseph, 1957.

  7. Rachel says:

    EDG, I’ve been to two explanatory meetings for the TLM at two different parishes here in the LA archdiocese. Both parishes have now started weekly TLMs, thanks be to God. But at both meetings there was someone in the audience who clearly disliked the idea and had shown up chiefly to disapprove. I couldn’t understand why they’d go to so much trouble to be curmudgeonly (no one was asking *them* to attend!), but maybe it’s like you say and they’ve been fed misconceptions.

  8. Gordo the Byzantine says:

    I think that this is EXACTLY the right approach! It is the same idea as “Theology on Tap” and the “Society of Armchair Theologians” and the “Dead Theologians Society”. Use the principle of accomodation (and a good sense of humor) to attract interest in the rich and profound. I think about how Don Bosco used to put on his own small circus for neighboring kids (he was evidently quite the acrobat). The price of admission? Saying a Rosary and listening to a recitation of the homily of the priest from the previous Sunday Mass. The last thing the TLM needs is for its resident “mood hoovers” (an Irish term I treasure) to suck all the fun and optimism out of what could be an outreach to people who spiritually need to have a positive experience of tradition.

    Way to go Father Michael Parea!

    In ICXC,


  9. RosieC says:

    I didn’t need a course like that to learn to love the older form of the Mass. I read the excellent notes in the margins of that red booklet, and I paid attention to what Father explained, and I came to websites like this one.

    Most people aren’t like me, though. They need a learning experience that will catch their attention. Since people have become so desensitized to everything through TV, they need an approach that competes well with that.

    So while I don’t think those classes are for me, I can see where it might introduce some people to the mysteries in such a way that they will be more open to Our Lord through the Mass itself.

  10. Tom S. says:

    I think it’s a great idea!!!

    My wife is interested in the TLM, but more than a bit dubious about the Latin. She’s disgusted by a lot of the goings on at the mass (NO), but has never know it to be any other way. There are LOTS of people out there jist like her, i.e. potential supporters if they had good information – and good experiences (Ref. Fr. Z’s Rules # 2 & 3). So IMHO, anything that brings interested but hesitant people “in to the fold” is a BIG positive.

  11. Melody says:

    Lord Bless the Norbertine order of priests! Please pray for the Abbey of St. Michael in Silverado, one of the areas devastated by fire. They have a thriving novitiate there.

    Here in Orange County the Norbertines are a refuge of orthodoxy. If you hear about a Latin mass, don’t be surprised to find it being presided over by a Norbertine. The Order has a certain amount of indepence from the reign of the lamented Bishop Brown.

    I think the class is a great idea. Many younger folks are quite frustrated with the current form of the mass, but have no grounding in the older form. I have never been able to attend a TLM, although I was able to attend the Latin Novus Ordo at St. Mary’s by the Sea. Sadly that is an hour away by bus (I do not have a car). However, back when I didn’t even know about the Latin mass, I cried out inside at abuses and most especially at the showlike quality of the Novus Ordo. I feel toward the pastor of my old parish rather as one might feel toward a malpracticing doctor (too bad I can’t sue).

    In any case, the idea of a class is genius. Not only can people like me get to learn about the older form of mass, but a list of graduates provides incontrovertable evidence of that so-called “stable group” that dissenting Bishops are always going on about.

    Two questions I’ve been meaning to ask:
    I understand the objection to having female altar servers for the TLM, but why is this an issue for a Novus Ordo mass? All altar servers do in the new form is stay silent and hold stuff.

    Also: Any chance of official updates or addendums to the Latin missal? I’m thinking particularly of feast days added to the calendar after Vatican II, like Divine Mercy Sunday.

    PS: Don’t be thinking because of the altar server question that I’m one of those “womynpriest” people! I have a mantilla and am not afraid to use it! ^_^

  12. Athanasius says:


    First, please, please (i’m on my knees) don’t use that word presided, yikes! I know you mean well, and it is a word used often in modern Masses, but its usage was coined by the Protestants to focus on the community. If a priest just presides then that suggests that he merely presides over the community’s action, which is true in protestant services. On the other hand, the term celebrates is more accurate, because it makes the priest alone the agent of the verb. Progressive liturgists have used that word for years to downgrade the role of the priest.

    For your questions:
    The objections to female altar servers transcends the rite of Mass. It is an argument from tradition. Serving at the altar was something explicitly clerical, even in the Early Church, and when this was opened up to young boys (and laymen when necessary) it was done with the aim in view of training them to be priests. Since a woman can never be a priest, it is inappropriate to admit them to services that were formerly clerical. Let me put it this way, I have never met a female altar server who did not feel drawn to the idea of being a priest through service at the altar. The same is true with lectors. Of course, not only do I think female readers should not be permitted, I also think male readers should not be permitted. It should be someone with the minor order, or at least someone who is already in the sanctuary vested in a cassock, to identify it with clerical ministry. In the old rite this is happily avoided since the priest or a subdeacon read/chant the readings. Yet, that is an argument from tradition. There is nothing, technically, juridically stopping the Holy See from permitting women to serve at the altar either in the Novus Ordo or in the Traditional Liturgy.

    But with changes to the 1962 liturgy to admit other feasts, prefaces, etc. the current Holy Father when he was Cardinal Ratzinger talked about that in Spirit of the Liturgy, as he did in other addresses, and other Bishops such as Cardinal Castrillion have spoken of this. That is something that is possible for the future. Personally I don’t like it, I think for now it ought to be left as it is, but there is not much I can do about it one way or the other.

    I hope that helps answer your questions.

    p.s. don’t say presider! I’m not mad, I actually have a 2 week old baby in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other, so I am rather pleased at the moment. just the word presider makes me think of my dad’s Church!

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