From a priest: I must “protect myself from persecution and ridicule” over the TLM

From a priest reader west of the International Date Line (edited):

Hello Father Z,

I am 31 years old and a newly ordained priest, … and am presently assigned at a parish ….  I know I cannot write a long letter to you (it would take much of your time) and express all my sentiments.  I have a lot of things that I cannot do for the love of the Church’s faith and tradition for fear of being persecuted and maligned even by own companion priests and the faithful of the parish where I serve as assistant.   [I have lived that too.  I understand what you are talking about.] To a lot of people here, everything that harks back before 1962 is evil, damnable, and worthy of every condemnation.

I write you to express my sympathy for your work and the important role you play in galvanizing and encouraging Catholics throughout the world who deeply love their faith and would wish to remain true to their identity.  I for one, Father, have experienced persecution for being loyal to the Holy Father and firm in my determination to be solidly grounded in the faith.

For many years, I have closely studied the liturgy and the rich tradition of the Church in the seminary albeit doing it privately (even secretly at times). And throughout the many years that I have admired and been inspired by the liturgical treasures of the Church both past and present, I couldn’t help but suffer in the midst of all the persecution which the current climate in the Church … exerts to those who want to live out according to the fullness of Catholic faith.

I am not trying to be cranky at this, but I just would like to share my own experience to you of how the Church is in a very sorry state here …. [I had to cut this, just to be sure.]

Things have been changing a bit in the Church especially in your place but not much here in ___.  Our bishops here are more interested in speaking about politics …  than overseeing the faith of our people and the discipline of our clergy.

For a very long time, I have waited for the day when I could even witness one TLMass in my own lifetime, but now I have witnessed it, not as a Mass goer, but as a celebrant myself. [So… this priest learned the older form and now can say Mass using it.]  I do it unknown to my parish priest and my parishioners in another far away parish where there are regular EF Masses.  I have to tell made up stories about my whereabouts whenever I would be out of my parish to say the EF Mass so as to protect myself from persecution and ridicule.  I love the Novus Ordo myself, though I try to celebrate it with as much as solemnity as possible using chant for the Preface, the whole Eucharistic Prayer and the Institution Narrative, the Doxology, and even the embolism, and I try to use incense as much as I am able and wear the complete and appropriate vestments. And one thing I [find] curious though is that most of the young people here, those who are 30 years old and below, appreciate and love the Mass when said with solemnity with appropriate vestments and with solemn chant.  And the ones who label me as a conservative and "out-of-touch" are some (not all) of the old ones here who have no sympathy whatever for anything old and "medieval" according to their labels. They seem to have a liturgical formula: Before 1970 = old+evil+poisonous.

Thank you Father for the good work you are doing for the Church.  May the Lord Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar be all the more loved and revered as we work for the good of the holy liturgy so as "to save the world".

A great and heartfelt message.


This priest should know that he is not alone.  More and more men throughout the world will be learning the older form of Mass. With prudence and patience it will be introduced in more and more parishes.  Prejudices will wane and healing will begin.

I hope priests continue to write in.  I would like their contributions to be a regular feature here.  I will maintain anonymity if requested.  For a description of Mail from priests go HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I hope this faithful and lonely priest knows that the Blessed Mother hold him close to her heart. May the Mother of Jesus, and our Mother, continue to protect and encourage all good priests who suffer so much.

    May God grant us the fullness of the practice of the Faith!

  2. David Andrew says:

    Fr. Z – If priests like this young man are experiencing this kind of persecution and ridicule, and must behave as if what they are doing is somehow shameful or inappropriate to the point of lying to staff, parishioners and brother priests, imagine what those of us among the lay ecclesial leadership (I am a music director and organist) must endure if we express the desire to introduce (or better, reclaim) those elements of the liturgy that are reverent and dignified in our work when the staff and parishioners are hostile?

    Panic and anxiety attacks, soaring blood pressure and the need for counseling to deal with depression are the rewards many of us in lay leadership reap from the constant workplace bullying, ridicule and scorn received from ultra-lefties on staff. All too often the pastor may be willing to address the issue, but himself is being bullied.

    Bearing in mind that priests have a certain degree of canonical protection by virtue of their office as well as from their Ordinary (we hope), those of us in lay positions not only run the risk of the emotional and physical health consequences from hostile treatment by staff and parishioners, we run the additional risk of losing our jobs, income and even our career.

    I’m sorry to be negative about it, but in face of the wonderful news of so many parishes experiencing succesful movement toward greater reverence, there are stories of terrific sadness and even wickedness and evil.

    Obviously there is much need for continued fervent prayer for our priests as well as laity who work so hard on a daily basis to make the “bricks” (brick by brick) often with very little straw.

  3. Fr Smith says:

    My dear brother, I am a 31 year old priest as well and I have had three parish assignments, the first one being a beautiful Reform of the Reform parish, the second a conservative parish where I started the TLM, and the current one which is an Amchurch nightmare. What I have found is that a priestly presence of prayer, nonpolemical truth and a devotion to the sacraments will have its effect. Reach out to families and young children, teenagers and college students: they will be drawn to you even if the aging revolutionaries just don’t get it. Just keep on keepin’ on, don’t get discouraged, and if you get flack for it, offer it up for the salvation of their souls. In my last parish I was raked over the coals by some of the old 60s types, but I held firm and was always gentlemanly, and when I left, some of the same people who wanted to burn me at the stake for traditionalism wept that I was leaving because they were afraid the restoration of the sacred would be lost. Luckily my successor is of the same mind and they are happy to see the work I began continue. Obedience and sacrifice wins the people over every time, even if we fear we may lose our minds in the process. Mater mea, fiducia mea!

  4. JPG says:

    My prayers are with him.
    Likewise his story gives me joy. Why ? He is young. One suspects he will persevere in his vocation by virtue of his understanding of tradition and the fullness of the faith. He will influence young people under his tutelage. It makes me profoundly glad since I imagine that there are others just like him. I am 49. I have grown weary of the attitude that old= bad but this is prcisely the catechesis to which people of my age were subjected. People of my generation were not a part of the reform but spent our formative years being taught by those 10-15 years older than we. Those who are the architects and engineers of the recent demolition of Catholic worship. Not to speak so much of the OF but HOW the OF has been interpreted and applied. These people have desacralized the Mass, played with it according to their own fancy, failed to instruct the faithful reducing Catholicism to be nice to people and chew with your mouth closed. In addition do not worry about your sins because God is all forgiving so by implication divorce and remarry at will, contracept and cohabitate at will and do not worry about it. Yet thse same people are surprised when people stay at home or join the Assembly of God ecclesial community. Yes they will react with anger to a conservative or traditional priest. Note well these are the same people who will not wear religious garb. You cannot tell if there a priest unless vested for Mass. This approach I assure you did not do a thing for vocations. It made me wonder at 18 why anybody would want to be a priest since they who were seemed ashamed of their own vocation. It is too late for me to rethink such a decision since I am married with two kids. It is only my own interest and faith that has kept me bound to the Church of Rome otherwise I see lukewarmness , apostasy and heresy all around me.
    Hearing that there are younger priests who think this way gives me profound hope. This current crisis will leave but it will be slow since many who have an antipathy to the traditional rite are bishops.
    I do not mean to harp but I am often struck how laxity and liberal liturgical tendencies go hand in hand with doctrinal and disciplinary dissent. God please bless and protect this young priest!

  5. fortradition says:

    For all I know, this dear and courageous priest could be from my archdiocese. Most parishioners don’t even know of the existence of Summorum Pontificum. The issue that is most spoken of here is ‘social justice’. I am a 60-ish person and would love to have the EF of the first 20+ years of my life as it was so spiritually fulfilling. So I say, good priest, take heart. Continue to fight the good fight of faith. Your reward will be great in heaven. I wish we had more priests like you and I pray that someday before I pass, that the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass will be some place within an hour of where I live so that I can attend regularly. To those who have this Mass available to them, remember to thank God for His eternal goodness to you!

  6. Tina in Ashburn says:

    A youngish diocesan priest here once told me his secret for dealing with a way-out liberal parish. He told me that repeating doctrine and theology had little effect, fell on deaf ears. He got the most mileage when he taught the people to pray. He said to me that when they were told about God they then developed an interest in God. He taught them to find God that one must pray. Once the people started praying, they change and they become more docile and receptive to teachings.

    What a simple concept! Teaching the receptive anything about prayer, at whatever age, goes for all of us.

    As a layperson, I’ve had my share of ridicule and being marginalized for traditional sentiments. As a choir member of many years, I identify with David above.

    Just an idea… I’m not belittling the struggles of any priest.

  7. Thomas says:

    Very sad. His experiences of having to learn the EF privately and celebrate it in secret instantly reminds me of Elizabethan England. But to have the persecution coming from people WITHIN the Church is devilish.

    Saint Edmund Campion, pray for these persecuted priests.

  8. Maybe our priest in distress can find a reason to pursue canon law studies, if he hasn’t already, so he can come to the DC area. Then he could live or visit the Diocese of Arlington, where he can say the TLM to his heart’s content. It could be a couple of years of respite, after which… well, you never know.

  9. Hey, I’m just throwing out ideas here.

  10. JPG says:

    Intersting analogy to Elizabethan England.
    Keep in mind the persecution came from the crown and one imagines the official ie “local” Church then recently divided from Rome. Thomas Cramner was Archbishop of Canterbury and if I recall correctly all but john Fisher knuckled under to Henry’s demands. It predates Elizabeth but I imagine that they did nothing to stop it and if anything quickly introduced Continental heresy into the English church.

  11. English Pastor says:

    I encourage this priest to keep going. Eventually, though bits of conversation, he will find one or two will express a desire for the TLM; someone will remember how to serve it, a small ‘stable group’ (if that is indeed what is meant by SP) will request it and if the Pastor does not fulfil his duty to provide it himself your opportunity may come, for he is bound to then ask a priest who can offer Holy Mass in this Form to supply for the people’s need. He cannot refuse it under the terms of SP.
    It does get a little better as Pastor of a parish, but the difficulties remain. Those over 50 tend to harbour animosity to anything pre 1970. My theory is that the self-affirming, self-congratulatory liturgies we have had for the last forty years are hard to let go of because by its very nature it ties in with concupiscence and the self-focus we have been fighting since the commission of the original sin.
    Sadly, my experience as a Pastor is that because the TLM is now allowed and they cannot hide behind ‘Its banned Father’, and because we celebrate it once a week, they find everything and nothing to complain about and thus gain for the Pastor a rather negative reputation among his brother priests and the people of God. I suppose I made it more difficult for myself by celebrating the Novus Ordo ad orientem for the last two years, and introducing a simple, sung Kyrie, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei to our Vigil Mass. I was, at the time, unaware of how much hostility this would arouse but the people were prepared for it by quotations about liturgy from the GIRM, Redemptionis Sacramentum and other Roman Documents well before any of these were introduced, the ad-orientem being used first only for Christmas and Easter and their Octaves.
    I can only encourage you to carry on, dear brother. Though I have been impetuous at times in my desire to rush to the fulfilment of the reform of the reform, one can content oneself with knowing that whatever the Holy Spirit desires will come, and we are playing our part, brick by brick; things do not happen overnight, but like water takes years to smooth out the rock, so it may take time before the disaster of the 1970’s disappears. Sorry this post is so long.

  12. Anthony says:

    You are in my prayers Fr. Anonymous.

  13. Agnes says:

    Pray for these people, both those being persecuted – cleric and lay – and for those doing the persecuting. Pray incessantly! St. Pio was known to say as he was looking for his Rosary, “Where’s my weapon!?” It’s October – pick it up!

  14. Riverside says:

    I am a relatively new parish priest…just over three years old. Most of us in my time in the seminary would share Pope Benedict’s “marshall plan” for the Church.

    However, some act like more of a SWAT team than priests, leading to their expulsion from parishes and pastors saying “I don’t anymore newly ordained.” These sayings are even coming from pastors who are not 70’s types.

    Pope Benedict himself, modeled on Christ, is restoring with love. If our people know that we truly love them…the restoration is not always easy but do-able.

  15. Kevin A. says:

    Have courage- so many young people are tired of Masses that are full of clapping, hand holding, and horrible liturgical music. Give them the truth, because that is what we all hunger and thirst for. God bless!

  16. Chironomo says:

    Fr. Anonymous…

    How I sincerely hope that you are in my Diocese!

  17. Jayna says:

    “To a lot of people here, everything that harks back before 1962 is evil, damnable, and worthy of every condemnation.”

    I experience that as well. I’m in a very progressive parish, so I hear that kind of thing all the time. It does more than make me frustrated, it makes me sad that they cannot or will not see the beauty of it all.

    “most of the young people here, those who are 30 years old and below, appreciate and love the Mass when said with solemnity”

    Count me in with those 20-somethings, Father!

  18. Agnes says:

    Riverside, concepts of zeal and love can be tricky, easily misconstrued and misunderstood by laity and clergy alike. But we can at least try to get the Eucharist right…

  19. Joseph says:

    Dear Father:

    Don’t be disheartened. Pray a lot! You are reaching more people than you know. I am a pastor of a formerly way-left parish where the people were accustomed to the 70s style, feel good, celebrate our wonderful selves liturgy. At first, people (especially the school kids, and also the choir), were distraught that we were no longer applauding them and calling atention to them at every mass. But they got used to it. You will feel alone much of the time. Remember Christ as He carried the Cross. Very alone. Remember you were ordained to be the steward of the mysteries of Christ. older priests will dismiss you, or even revile you. Please be charitable. Pray for them. And ask the Lord every day to help you to know that you are doing His will, and not your own. Remember that one cruel insult can work on your soul more than 100 positive comments. Don’t give in to the evil one. Ther are a multitude of people in your parish who have been praying for a priest like you for many years. They will come forward. And please remember, most of the people are good, earnest, seeking God. You are bringing God to them in a way that is sometimes painful for them. May Our Lady pray for you, and may you remain faithful.

  20. prof. basto says:

    A very moving account.

    I sometimes get grumpy because I see no priests willing to offer the TLM in the area where I live (I have two options – either attend a TLM in another city or attend a TLM at a very dangerous neighbourhood – both options require more than one hour of travel by car). Some priests have indicated to me that they fear repression from the Ordinary. And even so sometimes I get very upset, because there are dozens, litteraly dozens of parishes in the area where I live, and absolutely no TLM. And that sometimes leads to me thinking that no priest is ever going to make the heroic action of offering the TLM. And it is true that someone, some priest, has to take the first step and go public with the TLM. And when I think that no one is showing courage that makes me feel hopeless about my Archdiocese.

    But it is often easy to forget the pressures and the surveilance that the clergy are under, and that the ministerial life of the cleric – especially of the younger ones, who are not parish priests yet – is entirely dependant on the pleasure of the hierarchical superiors.

    So, this account is a good reminder that priests suffer too under the present circumstances, and that there are outstanding priests out there – such as yourselves, Father Zuhlsdorf and Father Anonymous – who are doing a good job and fighting the good fight in the measure of each one’s capabilities.

    May Our Lord ever continue to bless and keep you.

  21. Rose in NE says:

    May God abundantly bless this priest. Remember, dear priest, our Lord was also ridiculed and persecuted. You’re in very good company. My rosary tonight will be for you.

  22. Mary Augustina says:

    For most my childhood, I participated in a mission Church which used Latin language. While a very reverent tone, I embraced the later freer use of the English language when it became popular. My sister and I were in the choir, and enjoyed singing whatever music was chosen by the organist; there should’ve been no distinction from one tune to the other, but thankfully we did not have to sing in Latin or other unfamiliar tongue. Sometimes there were guitars, sometimes Bobby Fleming played trumpet, and sometimes there was chanting. The ‘Sign of Peace’ was the major new change from the older version that seemed to take a while to feel more familiar. I studied German in school, not Latin. Latin was useful to know when it came time to anatomy, but other than that it was not practical to study something just for the sake of studying, when there was much else in my long science career training.

    As a young woman, while visiting my mother’s relatives, I attended Mass celebrated in French and Latin, a frustrating experience and difficult to participate fully. When I go to Mass, I expect to participate in an communal celebration of an ancient rite, celebrate the Eucharist, relate the readings in my mind to the priest’s homily and look for inspiration and validation in my Catholic faith for the coming week. I don’t go to Mass to participate in a ‘secret’ ceremony with those that understand Latin as co-conspirators. I think the desire to attend Masses celebrated in Latin is for nostalgia and a desire to withdraw from the world problems that surround us.

    I’ll have to admit that the raising of arms during the Lord’s Prayer is still unnerving and I choose to kneel after Communion for personal prayer if no one is going to have to step around me, but I’ve attended Mass all over the US, and I contend that Mass should be a Celebration, act like a Celebration and FEEL like a Celebration, and fumbling through another language is a hassle in difficult to feel celebratory. I think that it is a bit of ‘holier than thou’ elitism to use an unfamiliar language just for the sake of history. I doubt that Jesus would’ve thought it sensible to speak a foreign language for community worship. As one will recall, one of the Church’s enlightenments pointed out in by Martin Luther’s schism was to speak in the native language, and thus the repression of the medieval ages began to end.

  23. Mary Rose says:

    I am saddened by this but yet hopeful. First, I can’t believe that after Pope Benedict gave the green light to celebrating the TLM freely, that there is still such an opposition. My goodness, it makes me feel as though we’re in China!

    Secondly, persecution does bear a certain fruit that otherwise we would not have. It purifies us and allows God to instill in us a deeper devotion to His Son. I will keep Fr. Anonymous in my prayers as well as all priests who desire to celebrate the TLM without harassment. God bless you, Fr. Anon.

  24. Crusader says:

    Anyone out there who can join me, please get a copy of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1962 edition, available from Baronius Press) and pray it in Latin every day for the return of Tradition to the Church… I have committed to doing this myself, and I believe in my own life I am seeing abdundant fruit, especially in the parish God has led me and my family to and seeing all that is being done there to bring back Tradition by our pastor (who definitely gets it!)… please won’t you join me in committing to this prayer for the sake of Tradition and for the soul of the Church? It takes a little sacrifice to say the whole office every day, and the Latin was difficult at first, but after 9 months it’s starting to sink into my daily routine… and when we pray in honor of Mary, she takes our meager efforts at prayer, embellishes and purifies them, and they thereby become a sweet offering to our Lord. Great things can be accomplished through sacrifice and prayer, especially when offered through Mary. Therein lies our hope and our certain victory!

  25. Joseph says:

    Many of the men in the diocesan bureaucracy are against young priests who adhere to the rubrics and rites of the Roman Catholic Church. They will never say it out loud, but you will come in contact with their wily ways as you become a pastor. But when you are a pastor, you will have rights under canon law, and you will not have to submit yourself or your parish staff to them. When they sponsor parish days of reflection featuring outright dissenters from the Catholic Faith, just don’t send your staff. But you must be prepared to have orthodox presentations of the Faith ready for them. Keep the Faith! And wait til you are a pastor. Then you have rights under canon law, and they can’t touch you. God bless you.

  26. Agnes says:

    “… just don’t send your staff. But you must be prepared to have orthodox presentations of the Faith ready for them.”

    This is essential. You can’t leave a vacuum. I’m a volunteer catechist at my parish. The archdiocese offerings for catechist formation are so watered down, it about drives one to despair. I’m left to an independent study program and seeking spiritual direction/retreats wherever I can.

    Not ideal at all. Begging for scraps.

  27. RichR says:

    This priest has my sympathies. SP was written for men like him.

    What can a layman do for priests like this? What if you and a small group of laymen would be supportive of such a “covert” priest? How can we make life a little more pleasant for our Fr.s who want to bring back a Catholic identity?

    Also, as to Mary Augusta’s comments, I appreciate her comments, and I don’t mean to slight her personal experience, but as a member of a men’s Gregorian chant group, I can say that the younger crowd is not merely into escapism or a Gnostic approach to liturgy. They want to recover the solemnity in the Mass that has inspired saints for ages. Christ celebrated Jewish feasts in Hebrew, not the common language of Aramaic, so he himself lived the reality of sacred language. “Celebrate” as it has been used throughout liturgical history, merely means “to come together with due decorum”. Only in recent decades has its definition been narrowed down to mean “for a joyful purpose”.

    Finally, as to the charge of “nostalgia”, O would say that the younger crowd is guilty. The word “nostalgia” is derived from two Greek words meaning: “return home”. That’s all we want. We want to leave Mass feeling like all the saints before us felt. We want to return to the decorum of solemnity and experience the traditional sense of awe that the Mass should inspire. We want to experience something more than this world has to offer. We want to return home.

  28. AnAnonymousSeminarian says:

    Mary Augustina,

    … I’ll have to admit that the raising of arms during the Lord’s Prayer is still unnerving and I choose to kneel after Communion for personal prayer if no one is going to have to step around me, but I’ve attended Mass all over the US, and I contend that Mass should be a Celebration, act like a Celebration and FEEL like a Celebration, and fumbling through another language is a hassle in difficult to feel celebratory.

    I just returned from a Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form. It uplifted my soul in a way that Mass in the Ordinary Form never has — it was a celebration that was truly beyond this world. Too often, though certainly not always, Mass in the OF becomes a celebration of ourselves.

    But we must never be swayed only by FEELINGS! Holy Mass exists for the worship of God, and everything in it should point to that. Had the Liturgical Reform gone differently, Mass in the OF might have been everywhere and at all times sufficiently reverent that the restoration of the EF would never have been necessary. But I digress.

    If we were to solely be dictated by feelings, I would never go to Mass in the Ordinary Form again, because it rarely moves my soul — but I will keep going there (attending the EF is a rare privilege for me) because that is where Our Lord is!

    I think that it is a bit of ‘holier than thou’ elitism to use an unfamiliar language just for the sake of history. I doubt that Jesus would’ve thought it sensible to speak a foreign language for community worship.

    Hebrew was used in the Synagogue in a time where the language on the street would have been Aramaic, Latin, or Greek. Nearly all of us in the West are competent enough to learn a second language at least enough to follow a text, as you yourself have done with German.

    As one will recall, one of the Church’s enlightenments pointed out in by Martin Luther’s schism was to speak in the native language, and thus the repression of the medieval ages began to end.

    And he lived and died a heretic and schismatic. Heresy and schism is only “enlightenment” so far as it is from Lucifer, the Prince of Lies. No laudable example to follow.

    That the Church has chosen the use of vernacular in some cases in Liturgy has nothing to do with “ending the repression of the medieval ages.”

    This Priest has my sympathies as well. Should God will it, I might one day join his ranks.

  29. Christopher says:

    Sancta Sancte Tradenda.
    Holy by the holy worked.

    Miss Mary Augustina, I can appreciate your sentiments about not wanted to study latin just for the sake of studying. Studying for the sake of studying simply empowers one’s ability to study. However, I think it is important for us to have a realization of why we ought to study latin- other than being of the elite who study history or read the Latin Vulgate, etc.

    When we speak of the celebration of the Holy Mass, we speak of a sanctifying service. It is our expression of worship and adoration which is due to God alone, Who, in turn, in the same action, sanctifies us who worship Him.

    I think you have expressed a very important concern about this matter when you speak of being acitively engaged. Without being actively engaged, though the Holy Mass be licit and valid, how is it fruitful for us? This is the challenge of true active engagement, which I believe you would quickly support as I write this: the true challenge of active engagement is the lifting of our hearts and souls to the Lord Most High God, and such an active engagement truly occurs beyond all language, ritual, and music. This is why we are the people of the Holy Spirit, of the body of Christ, in His Spirit with His Gospel, not “people of the Book” to whom the external words are everything. Simultaneously, however, you rightly recognize the importance of language, ritual, and music. God, through these very human things, sanctifies humanity- most especially in Him, the Incarnate One. By these words and actions we come to know Him, Whom we Love, and adore Him with our best.

    This Incarnate One brought a New Law, the Gospel. Mundane things did not corrupt the Holy, but the Holy sanctified the mundane. Christ was not made unclean from touching the leper; instead, He cleansed the leper. In the samewise, the mundane languages, music, and rituals that we use in our everyday life are transformed and made Holy, not only by their attachment, but their further completion. Christ did not simply remove leprosy from the leper, but further healed the incompleteness, spiritual and physical, of him. And althogh the power of the Spirit arrived in the healing of that poor and miserable man, the Holy Spirit was already working in his imperfections, compelling him to perfection and completeness in holiness and wholeness.

    Like wise, through the ministers of Holy Mother Church, indefectible as Christ established her, the Holy Spirit does not leave our mudane in their crude forms. Language is elevated in style, music is perfect, rituals become ceremonial. Not good enough, but because these are the best we can offer to God, that is why we speak of liturgical language, sacred music, and holy ceremonies- these human and otherwise mundane actions are sanctified by their proximity to Divine Grace. By no other words and actiosn does God enact His Sacraments- His living Covenant with humanity through Jesus Christ.

    As you rightly wrote, it is beneficial to speak the vernacular as it does improve the progessive engagement of the Christian Faithful with the Holy Sacrifice. The Holy Council of Trent had great desire to employ the vernacular, but since the heresies of Luther, Zwinglii, and Calvin has violently swept across the continent like wildfire in the Mediterranean Brush, the Church could not risk confusing the faithful, so the employment was unfortunately delayed and postponed. Nonetheless, the Church, in her veneration of holy things, would not, either, do away with the latin entirely, and I do not think we ought to attempt such a thing. One of the greatest gifts Christ Jesus has given us in our freedom from the unbearable and impossible law is the ability to not condemn what is good and, instead, to appreciate what has been good through the ages. Still the Church uses Greek and Hebrew in the Holy Mass, even though the Holy Mass has not been celebrated in Greek for over 1700 years (in the EF, Greek was used in a notable way, beyond the Kyrie, in the Easter Vigil as a conversation between the Priest, Deacon, and subdeacon). The Hallels are still sung at the proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Christ, written according to the Holy Evangelists. We retain these external forms because they are holy things, made holy by their proximity to the Divine Grace in ages past. Even if we were to only celebrate the Holy Mass in the vernacular, how could we be so uncharitable to the saints of old by disregarding or havign contempt for the rituals and language and music that brought them into the holiness that God called them?

    St. Catherine of Sienna, a religious, uneducated, mystic, she lived a frugal experience of the Holy Mass, when I think about having contempt for the ritual, I ask myself, can I really be so prideful to think that I know so much better than she about the Holy Mass, whom God granted graces beyond my comprehension? Or about music, Pope St. Pius X, the “Pope of the Eucharist,” who lowered the age of reception of Holy Communion so that children might receive, wrote and exhorted us to love Christ Jesus and to worship Him with due reverence and Sacred Music, polyphony and chant- he was one of the major reformers which brought us the benefits of the Solemns community that any people who are alive today would remember as “gregorian chant” in their church as youth? Or, about Latin, Blessed John XXIII, who let fresh air into the Church and closed the First Holy Vatican Council and opened the Second in 1963 AD, wrote that the use of the Latin Language is to preserved in the Roman Rite and in the teaching of seminaries? Do I really want to step on their faith and its expression?

    You show yourself to be an intelligent woman. When you encounter Christ in the Holy Mass, one that is celebrated in a foreign language, take the oppurtunity to connect with Him in your soul, take to mind the words and prayers that elevate your soul to Him. Our active study of the Holy Mass, itself- especially studying it in our own language- allows us to be consciously aware and actively participating in what is going on with us in the Divine Service we offer in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, spiritually, with the action of the priest who offers it sacramentally. If, though, we can’t engage Him in this way, we ought to ask ourselves, “Has my familiarity with the language used in the Holy Mass actually been so mundane and everyday that I have forgotten to pay attention to the words, themselves?” The difficulty and necessary attentiveness to highly styled language demands the free, continual, acitve participation of our own minds. Work forges the best of us, who are more precious than fire tried gold.

    These things are holy by the holiness they have worked, presently and pastly, in God and for us. To study them, or expereince them in praying through them, is to venerate them. If you feel contempt for ritual and language, please, join me in stepping back and entering into that peace which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and see that by venerating these traditions we venerate all the Holy Ones of God who came before us in His Church. Through such veneration of traditions and the people who used them, we worship and adore the Almighty God, Father of us all.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.
    In ICXC,

  30. Richard says:

    Odd that (as one of the older exceptions-62 years old)I am almost totally dependent on priests his age to promote the EF. As you have stated before, many of us left when the junk started. In a small town, one is limited in the availability of a Novus Ordo offered with solemnity and reverence. Immediately after the issuance of Summorum Pontificum, I’ve spearheaded its implementation in my parish. Although the pastor agreed to sit down and discuss it, I advised him I’ll wait for the clarifications of certain points from Rome before proceeding(how many and whether it’s been sitting around for forty years twiddling its thumbs for the “stable group”, must the priest be capable of conversing in Latin while walking down the street mentality, etc ). Not making waves, not in-your-face, just patience and prayer. Fear not. We (some of the old Hippies) didn’t stick around to contribute to the mess we have to tolerate now. We simply quit going and putting $$$ in the collection basket. I’ve got a stealth seminarian who has promised me if I can hold out four more years, he will guarantee I get an EF requiem mass even if he has to do it himself.

  31. A Random Friar says:

    I would add that not all Fathers who are sympathetic to the EF are realistically able to celebrate it. I already trinate most Sundays and have to binate many a weekday, _just_ to cover the “mininum” for this large parish. I already celebrate in two languages, and could easily celebrate it in a third (besides Latin), but we can’t keep adding Masses. For now, all I can do is celebrate those OF Masses reverently.

    More vocations would help, so kindly offer up your next intention for more vocations to the priesthood!

  32. Mitch says:

    Reading this shocks me more than reading pieces written by others who know of the problem. Maybe this should be passed out to many thousands in a huge mailing with the simple heading “Do you in any way contribute yourself, to your Priest feeling this Way?” “A Private Reflection” Maybe a few eyes and hearts would open….All I can say Father is for the vocal few who persecute, there are equal, albeit less vocal, who love you and the things you will do for the Holy Church as a whole. All in time. I think public awareness needs to be part of this equation in order for people to really, really, understand what they are doing to Priests, the Church, and the Faith when in actuality THEY (Priests) are the Qualified few who are to lead us, not the other way around.

  33. The great Archbishop Fulton Sheen stated that “God rules through minorities, not through majorities”. This young priest will, of course, receive much persecution if he continues down this path but we ought to support him with our prayers to give him strength to go for it.
    The Cure of Ars, St John Vianney, would be a good intercessionary.

  34. TJM says:

    Fr. Smith, I sympathize with you. I see what you mean about your current parish, i.e., the photo of the “Liturgist” says it all.
    Best of luck, Tom

  35. NY Priest says:

    One anecdote:
    When assigned to my first parish I went through the sacristy and found a great Missal stand at the end of June. It seems a minor thing, right? Well, the pastor gave me a week off in July. When I came back the stand was gone and I had a note from the pastor saying he’d rather I not use the missal stand since it was something of “bygone times.” [I’ve kept the note.] I explained that because of my poor eyesight the stand was quite helpful to me – which it is. But, “surprisingly” when he went to go get the stand wherever it had been hidden it was gone. No one could find it!!! He promised to buy a plexi glass on.
    I didn’t complain or say anything publicly, but people noticed when I propped up the missal with a small pillow so I could more easily read the missal. The daily Mass-goers started to wonder what happened to the stand I had been using. I just said that it was lost without giving the whole story. One offered to buy a new one. Even the sisters (who wore their habit) in the convent next to the school offered to give me theirs from the chapel. I didn’t want to take theirs. But, God provided! For some reason as I was looking under the sacristy sink for something – voila! – a wooden missal stand. It was not as nice as the metal, but did the job. [As a coda, for Masses at our school (too far from the church for the kids to walk), our maintenance man made a missal as a surprise.
    The pastor was no ogre, just indoctrinated by a certain liturgical mindset. In the end, he could do no other but accept the inevitable. I didn’t tell him how to say Mass, he didn’t tell me.

  36. TJM says:

    Random Friar, wouldn’t it be easier if all Masses were in Latin so we didn’t have to pander to individual lingual groups? Tom

  37. NY Priest says:

    Persecuted Father, may I make 6 suggestions:
    – Offer up any persecution for the salvation of souls.
    – Find an older priest with whom you can talk in confidence about your parish situation in all its aspects.
    – Jesus said be “clever as serpents but gentle as doves.” I take this to mean that when trying to be faithful to the liturgical prescriptions find “pastoral” and especially “non-religious” or “common sense” reasons to do what must be done. For example, with little things like the missal stand, it does honestly make it easier to
    see. If you wanted to wear a more traditional vestment, explain at the beginning of the homily that for example, your sister bought it for you (be truthful of course) or that you found it in Ireland when visiting relatives. If you want to wear a fiddleback, do so in the summer, and comment on how much cooler it is to wear. Find any convincing reason and your opposition won’t know how to respond.
    – Any traditional elements lawfully added to the liturgy should not inconvenience the people. For example, singing the Eucharistic prayer…Is it really necessary? It’s allowed, but is it really part of the Roman tradition? Is your voice good enough? We have to know our own limitations? Does singing it extend the Mass?
    – Make sure your preaching is coherent and not more than 8 minutes. Face it, we’re in a commerical viewing culture. Go longer and they’ll tune you out anyway. If they know you’re short they’ll listen to every word and learn to live with your liturgical differences.
    – Take the John Paul I lesson, – always smile – even if you feel like you’re dying inside. Offer the smile to Christ. But, it will also have the effect of ingratiating you with many.
    I hope these rules which have helped me help you.

  38. A Random Friar says:

    TJM: I sympathize — I do. However, it is my belief that to go to an all-Latin high Church (which I would personally love) may well have the same effect that the post Vatican II implementations had: without proper catechesis and some rather poor executions on the parish end, we lost a good chunk of faithful. Yes, some people would rejoice. Others would find it too abrupt. As Fr. Z says, “brick by brick.” And I believe that a reverent, properly celebrated OF is perfectly good and salubrious, even in the vernacular (and it will be better when the new English translations come into effect). My 2 cents, FWIW.

  39. TJM says:

    Randon Friar, My comment was really directed at the HUGE mistake we made in implementing
    Sacrosanctum Concilium – which did call for Latin in the Mass to be preserved. I have always found it a bit of an historical irony that at the precise moment the world was getting to be a much smaller place due to air travel, that the Church would, de facto, abandon use of Latin in the Mass. I recall so fondly being in Notre Dame de Paris several years ago and on that particular Sunday the Ordinary was chanted in one of the familiar tones and for those moments, we were all one. Not French, German, British or Americans but ROMAN Catholics jointed together by our lingua franca. It was a very moving experience. Like you, I would never suggest a widespread change in practice without proper catechesis. I am old enough to have lived through the “changes” in the 1960s, which were rammed down our throats with little, if any, proper explanation. I do believe, however, that the case is stronger than ever to reinstate Latin as the lingua franca of Catholics. Tom

  40. Sandra in Severn says:

    This sounds like it could have been written by our last military chaplain that was deployed to Iraq last summer.

    Prayers for all our priests and for those that study for the priesthood and the diaconate.

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