QUAERITUR: We have two TLM places – should we push for more?

From a reader:

My wife and I are recent converts. Our family is increasingly drawn to the beauty and transcendence of the EF. I have approached our parochial vicar and gently inquired about the possibility of having a EF mass. He is young and seems very orthodox but has no interest. He told us that it is understood in ____ that those who want the EF mass need to go to one of the two parishes that offer it. (We’re very lucky to have two parishes within 15 minutes drive that offer the EF mass – one on Sunday and the other on Monday.)

My question is: Should we press on and ask our pastor or attend mass at one of the other parishes?

First, I am very glad that you have places to go.

At the same time I am concerned about the idea that "people should go to ‘those places’".   This is a problem that has bugged me for a while: we mustn’t create ghettos. 

Summorum Pontificum should be implemented wherever there is desire.  That is the point of Summorum Pontificum.

So… I think that priests everywhere should be encouraged to learn and celebrate the older form of Mass everywhere.

So… support the places which have been established.  But push to expand.

Everyone benefits.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    For my part, I wish folks at the same time would be a little more sensitive to how much parochial vicars have on their plates these days. I went to a five-day workshop to learn the TLM but it wasn’t enough: I haven’t had the time to practice since then, either. So, I will learn it as soon as I can, but when will that be? I am already spread so thin between various “extra assignments” beyond just the usual parish work, which is certainly sufficient in itself. This is the plight of many priests nowadays, so folks should be patient.

    I do sympathize with these folks, but I would just caution them about pressing too hard when there is already something available. Yes, they have a right to it, yes, it should be available in every place, but it has also only been one year since Summ. Pont. came into effect, and that is not long in Church time. Let them be patient and charitable, and let priests act the same way to those who request it!

  2. Jason says:

    On the other hand, if there are two parishes within 15 minutes’ drive that offer an EF Mass, it might be wise to let them be well-populated; I would much rather drive fifteen minutes than have someone be able to say, “Very few people attend any one of our three celebrations of the older form.” They could easily point to lackluster attendance as a reason to abolish them.

    I’m very glad for you – and highly envious – that you are in this happy predicament! Please pray that my two-and-a-half hour drive is soon decreased.

  3. TJM says:

    Fr. BJ, I suspect you also celebrate the OF with great dignity and by the book. I always thought that one way a priest and the people
    could be prepared for the eventual re-introduction of the EF was to do portions of the OF in Latin. Have you thought about doing this or are you already doing so? I am beginning to notice since Summorum Pontificum that more and more parishes are adding some Latin to the Sunday Mass. I’m not sure if its a defensive measure or a way of getting people used to the use of Latin and hence a way of preparing them for adding an EF. Tom

  4. Fr. BJ says:

    TJM: in the situation that I am in, it is not possible, although I would love it if I could offer an OF Mass in Latin from time to time. At least I can on my day off, and there is another place in the diocese that I can go to from time to time for a personal “fix”.

    Brick by brick as Fr. Z. says, and for all of the progress we have made, we have a very long ways to go in many respects!

  5. “Ghettos”


    It perfectly describes where the TLMs are in my city. Is it un-Catholic to say “slums”? There is no TLM-fitting church in most of my Archdiocese, since nearly all the proper rectangle churches were torn down to make room for the round spaceship churches. I’ve often sat in the pews wondering how a priest would properly offer the old Mass in our round spaceship church– thinking that it’d be easier to offer the Mass in a Baptist church than on the strange altar in the middle of the circle.

    But if brave military chaplains drug mobile chapels out to the battlefields of Korea for Catholic servicemen kneeling in the mud, certainly the Mass can be offered in the suburban spaceships– it’s just a different kind of battlefield.

    Sorry for the digression. I’ve asked the emailer’s question myself.

  6. Father Totton says:

    Father BJ, For what its worth, does your parish currently have a Saturday MORNING Mass? Very few do, and it puzzles me (yes, I know all about the vigil Mass and the demands of pastoral ministry). When I arrived in my current assignment I added a Saturday morning Mass where there was none. Archbishop Sheen once said that a priest should reserve the Mass intention once a week to pray for the fruit of his own priestly life and ministry. I use this Saturday AM Mass for that purpose. Also, since this was not replacing anything else, I didn’t see any problem with making this a predominately Latin (OF) Mass. A year went by, I offered the Mass in the Ordinary Form, mostly in Latin (with the readings in English) ad-orientem at the “High Altar.” I can say this, for the most part, we have few in attendance in the pews. Saying this Mass in Latin, though, gave me a familiarity with the Latin Canon (which is nearly identical to that in the EF – with the exception of the transfer of the Mysterium Fidei and the subsequent addition of the memorial acclamation to follow) which took one thing off my plate as I was learning to celebrate Mass in the EF.

    Also, with regards learning the EF, Please, and this applies to all the priests reading this, don’t see it as a burden to learn or as a private cause (your own or someone else’s). Seeing the fruit that comes from knowing the tradition and being formed more closely in it, I view such training as beneficial in the same way as, for example, our annual canonical retreat. It will bear fruit for your ministry and it will rejuvenate your priestly self-understanding, all of which will be for the benefit of your parishioners, even those who might never hear uttered the phrase: “Introibo ad Altare Dei…”

  7. Former Altar Boy says:

    Father BJ,

    At your OF Masses do you ever say the Kyrie in Greek rather than English? Have the people revolted? Don’t worry about saying an entire OF in Latin, begin by saying the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin for starters. As Father Z says, brick by brick.

  8. Kradcliffe says:

    Support the EF mass not only by attendance but also financially… parishes will notice if the EF brings in a lot of money in the collection plate. ;)

  9. Kradcliffe says:

    I wish I could edit my posts… I just thought of something I wanted to add: if you really want to support the EF Mass, you should consider whether or not you can afford to give EXTRA for that Mass. I mean, maybe you’re willing to budget £X a month for the collection plate as it is, but you also like to go to the movies a couple of times a month… would it be worth it to you to give up something like the movies or the premium cable channels or whatever in order to give that money to the parish that offers an EF?

  10. Frank H says:

    “I’ve often sat in the pews wondering how a priest would properly offer the old Mass in our round spaceship church…” – WhollyRoaminCatholic

    Although I no longer live there, I grew up in the Detroit area, and one of the most famous churches was, and is, The National Shrine of The Little Flower in Royal Oak. Built in the 1930s by the famous radio priest Father Charles E. Coughlin, it was built “in the round”. I never attended a TLM there, but clearly it was done. It is still a beautiful church.

  11. David Andrew says:

    I’ve held off sharing this little account, but I think the time’s ripe.

    In a conversation I had with an aging pastor of a parish with a fairly conservative bent (an OF parish with choir and organ providing music exclusively, no “sacro-pop”; not a piano, tamborine, microphone or guitar in sight), he said that he has successfully held the few who desire “contemporary music” in the liturgy at bay by suggesting that they seek out one of the nearby parishes that offer such music. It’s kind of the reverse of what we have here, that is, an attempt to drive into “ghettos” the aging hippie sacro-pop crowd who favor the feel-good music at the Mass that harkens back to the purple-hazed fun they had in the 1960’s. I thought to myself, “Good for you, father.” But then the other side of the coin popped up. I asked if he’s had much in the way of requests for the use of Latin in the Mass (meaning either the NO in Latin, or at the least the introduction of some Latin chant). His response to those who made the requests? Exactly the same: “You know where they do that sort of thing . . . go there.”

    It was clear that the number of people requesting the NO in Latin or even the TLM were far greater than the few wanting sacro-pop music at Mass, and yet his answer was the same for both. What’s worse? He’s old enough to have learned the TLM, and by his own admission taught Latin in a parochial high school.

    His excuse for denying the requests had nothing to do with his inability to properly “Say the Black or Do the Red,” but rather (and he said this in so many words) a philosophical difference of opinion regarding the value of returning to the Latin, thus cutting people off from their understanding of the prayer.

    How sad. A priest who not only knows the TLM, but even knows how beautiful it is, and would rather send those among his flock to a nearby “TLM ghetto” because of his own philosophical differences with the Holy Father.

    Much prayer is still needed. Much more prayer.

  12. TJM says:

    David, it occurs to me that Father probably thinks what he is doing is “splitting the difference” between progressive desires and traditionalist desires, in the hopes of avoiding controversy. Kind of like “peace in our time.” Tom

  13. Mark says:

    I agree with Father Z completely – no more TLM ghettos!

    This young priest should realize that one day he’s likely to be reassigned or clustered with a parish that offers both forms of the mass. Why not learn and offer the TLM now? The “no interest in TLM” attitude in this young priest needs to change.

  14. Daniel Muller says:

    The “no interest in TLM” attitude in this young priest needs to change.

    Obviously without knowledge of the particulars, I would bet that having a no-interest-in-the-TLM attitude is probably what was necessary to get the fellow ordained. Please be realistic as well as charitable. And pray.

  15. David Andrew says:


    Interesting you raise the “peace in our time” parallel.

    I’m reminded of a wonderful quote from Churchill:

    “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile in the hopes that he’ll be eaten last.”

  16. Jason commented:

    On the other hand, if there are two parishes within 15 minutes’ drive that offer an EF Mass, it might be wise to let them be well-populated; I would much rather drive fifteen minutes than have someone be able to say, “Very few people attend any one of our three celebrations of the older form.” They could easily point to lackluster attendance as a reason to abolish them.

    Very true! In fact, adding a third church that celebrates the EF might very well draw some parishioners away from the first two churches to the third (perhaps they live closer to it).

    Also, the EF will not grow if it simply attracts people who already want it. It needs to attract new people too. An enthusiastic pastor can do that: at the 11 AM Ordinary Form mass, he might say in the announcements, “As many of you know, we celebrate the EF at 9 AM. If you haven’t attended it, you might consider coming once or twice. Some Catholics have found that they prefer it, while others prefer the new form… and you never know until you try!” But a non-enthusiastic pastor will never do this.

    Is there a danger of a “ghetto”? Perhaps. But this can be avoided in multiple ways. One way is to have the EF celebrated at many churches. Another way would be for one church to become the diocesan focus for the EF, leading to a strong lay community built around that Mass, and then this lay community could do something additional. I don’t mean adding the Office in Latin, or adding a Rosary (though of course these are good). I mean, adding a St Vincent de Paul weekly feed-in of the homeless, or a program of service in the community, or something like that.

    If a skeptical bishop sees that those who love the EF are also involved in social work, it may change his mind about what “those people” are like.

  17. John says:

    As fahter Z says “brick by Brick” or perhaps at times even “pebble by pebble”. 14 months after Motu Propio, the issue of a possible Latin Mass was raised at our parish via survey questionaire.

    Hopefully, the “stable group” requirements of Motu Propio will be interperted fairly. There is alot to be overcome including Latin hostile senior clergy at the Parish level and at the level of Bishop, a diocese still recovering from decades of scandal and just plain bad management wrought by a long serving former Bishop.

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