I sense a trend.

Over at Orwell’s Picnic there is a post entitled “Face it, Hippies”, which this graph.

I sense a trend.

The growth is slow, some will say.  But there is growth.  There is growth in several important spheres of the Church’s life, including a growth in vocations to the priesthood answered by men who are faithful to the Church’s teachings, many of whom desire traditional liturgy..  In the meantime, the acceleration of the “biological solution” is sweeping a certain vision out of positions of influence.  As the Church in the wealthy West seems to in some ways growing in numbers, it doesn’t seem to be growing in numbers of people who know their faith well and practice it diligently.   We seem to be moving toward what Pope Benedict referred to as a “creative minority”.  Now look at the graph again.

We need a Marshall Plan for the renewal of our Catholic identity, and the New Evangelization.  The key to any renewal of any aspect of our Catholic lives must be our liturgical worship.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. This looks more like (merely) linear growth than the (explosive) exponential growth some may have expected after Summorum Pontificum.

  2. anilwang says:

    @Henry Edwards,
    Yes, the growth is linear but the resistance of the bishops, due partially to laziness, partially to fear from parishioners, and partially to a hostile “Spirit of Vatican II” lobby has been constant. There’s was a sort of a Catch-22 in place. If few priests aren’t allowed to experience TLM by such bishops, the next crop of bishops will not likely be from TLM-friendly priests, so the cycle continues. SP has allowed for the hope of TLM-friendly bishops to be selected and Universae Ecclesiae (which is not taken into account in the above statistics) seals the deal, and if SSPX can be reconciled, even more fuel can be added to the fire.

    The possibility of a tipping point in the future is very likely, but for now, TLM supporters need to keep the parable of the mustard seed in mind.

    I firmly believe that a NO that actually conforms to Vatican II will ultimately triumph (due mostly to the biological solution, people who are sick of “the stone age Vatican” moving on to liberal denominations, people who are sick of wishy washy spirit of the age NO masses looking for greener pastures either inside the Church or outside, and the rise of the “threat of TLM” forcing the NO to shape up or ship out), but I could be wrong.

    In any case, paraphrasing Rabbi Gamaliel, Acts 5:33-39 “If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. “

    If TLM is destined to return as the default Latin Rite, there is nothing any man can do to stop it. If not, it is destined to be a reference point, along with the Eastern Rites on how to understand the NO, but no more. In either case, TLM has already triumphed.

  3. Moscatelli says:

    @H Edwards

    The graphic would look different if the x-axis showed an identical number of years for each step; between 1988 and 2001, one step corresponds to three years, follows one step of five years and from 2006 onwards one step corresponds to one year.
    Putting it differently, the graphic shows that in the period 1988 – 2007 there were approx. 230 new Masses (12,5/year), while the number of Masses grew by approx. 160 units in the period 2007 – 2010 (53,3/year).

  4. rfox2 says:

    This is very good to see. I’m not a regular attender of the Latin Mass. It’s been difficult to go as often as I can get my family there. However, I’ve found it truly amazing and a sign of God’s grace that in these small communities (less than 100 families, usually), there are hordes of priestly and religious vocations. The FSSP have had a large role in this growth and the positive outcomes.

    I can live with the “biological solution”. I’m still completely baffled as to why the Church hasn’t more forcefully implemented the “ecclesiastical solution” as well starting, oh, 30-35 years ago. That culling may have accelerated a recovery as well. In the mean time we’ve had these death warmed over priests and prelates poisoning the minds of thousands. I guess I have a little bit of St. Jerome in me. Truth will eventually and inevitably win out.

  5. Fabrizio says:

    A growth of +/-100% in ten years doesn’t seem that “linear” to me. Especially because I remember how it was back in the late ’70’s and the ’80’s and how almost everything went lost with the 1988 folly. Consider the current catastrophe of catechesis and culture, the hostility of many bishops and a life that has become very diffcult to reconcile with the traditional liturgical life, especially if you have to drive 2 hours to get to your parish church (when there’s a parish) with 4, 5, 6+ children, on Sundays, when “ordinary” parishes that still function have their people and clergy – and committes! – at walking distance, every day.

    If this tree can grow that fast in such a desert, wait till someone begins to actually water it. Folks, after the disastrous fall of Rome, barbarians weren’t evangelized nor was civilization restored overnight. It took almost 3 centuries after the death of St. Benedict, centuries of blood, sweat and tears to see the Carolingian reinassance. Lasting fortresses take time to build, and good engineers, and good workers too.

  6. Scott W. says:

    Before we get too excited about the graph and wrangling over linear/exponential, what is the source this is based on?

  7. APX says:

    One question I have is,by “Masses every Sunday” are they in fact referring to the number of TLM Masses every Sunday, or the parishes that have a TLM every Sunday. For example, if a parish has two TLM’s on a Sunday, are they counting that as two TLM’s, or still as one because it’s in one parish?

  8. danphunter1 says:

    I wonder if this chart takes into account all TLM’s,
    FSSP, ICRSS,SSPX, etcetera.

  9. CJD89 says:

    What is not reported is how many parishes have the occasional Mass on Sunday (such as a TLM on the 3rd Sunday of the m0nth). Also they have not counted how many weekday Traditional Mass there are. I know a parish where the pastor says the TLM only on weekdays as to not create competition on Sunday with another parish.

    What many people also need to understand is that most parishioners do not know that the Traditional Latin Mass is open to the people. Believe it or not some heterodox bishops, priests, religious and laity don’t want people to know about that. And vocations? Remember it’s the Will of the Holy Spirit that we do not have any vocations… or a Church for that matter. (And these individuals call themselves Catholic…)

    Even at that many Catholics who grew annoyed and distraught at the Novus Ordo had left the Church years ago.

    My pastor once gave us a good example: If you have an ice cream parlor that has three flavors and people (85%-90%) love these flavors but then you tell them the only flavor they can have is vanilla- everyone is going to stop going to that ice cream parlor and go somewhere else (or just give up ice cream… that should make Michelle Obama happy). But if you were to ask the remaining ice cream parlor patrons (27%) if they like vanilla they will all say ‘yes’… why? Because everyone else was pushed away!
    – Get it- our Church is the ice cream parlor
    – the different flavors is the Traditional Latin Mass (go even further and the flavors represent the Low Mass, High Mass, Solemn Mass etc…)
    – Vanilla is the Novus Ordo Mass- a real badly said Novus Ordo Mass.

    As for the future being the Novus Ordo properly said- the truth is that the ethos of the Novus Ordo is different. The Traditional Latin Mass is an archive of Church history, the Novus Ordo is not. The Traditional Latin Mass developed organically, the Novus Ordo was artificially (though validly) developed. A well said Novus Ordo Mass tends to mimic the Traditional Latin Mass- therefore lets just go straight for the Traditional Latin Mass?

    I end saying what I say at my BBQ’s: I like my Mass in Latin and my meat well done!

    St. Thomas Aquinas ora pro nobis

  10. debval says:

    Now that’s a beautiful graph!

  11. Athelstan says:

    There are two aspects of this revival, as you have mentioned repeatedly, Fr. Z: the growth of EF exclusive parishes, be they formally PP’s or roughly de facto; and the growth of EF masses offered on some regular basis in regular diocesan parishes. And both are needed. Both work in tandem.

    Traditionalparishes.net has a summary of totals of EF personal parishes in existence – 26 in the U.S., which does not include new PPs being erected in Tyler, TX and South Bend, IN, nor a number of other parishes which function as such more or less de facto. This still seems small given the number of dioceses in the U.S.; but they you see how vastly better off we are than anywhere else in the world, save possibly for Campos in Brazil. Right now we’re seeing a handful erected every year, and that is another sign of “brick by brick” progress. And these are needed as a foundation for the return of the traditional mass – an anchor for exposure to EF for diocesan priests within each diocese, one where all the traditional sacraments can be seen and traditional liturgy can flourish in a true “parish” setting.

    The risk is that bishops and chancery officials will too readily grant these as a way of isolating or restricting the traditional liturgy to such personal parishes, and I think most of us know situations where that is indeed what is happening right now. But that is certainly not the intention of Summorum Pontificum, nor is it, I think, really viable in the long term given the tremendous interest in the EF which now exists among so many seminarians and young priests.

  12. Athelstan says:

    Anilwang writes: “I firmly believe that a NO that actually conforms to Vatican II will ultimately triumph…”

    I tend to agree – for better or for worse. It seems hard to imagine a 21st century Church where the TLM becomes the effective norm once again. Even for many serious, devout, orthodox Catholics, it may be a bridge too far, especially given that the language poses a barrier that once was not felt. On the other hand, so much of what has happened in the last several years that was once unthinkable. Perhaps a radically transformed Church *could* experience such a thing. I wouldn’t want to rule it out completely. It just seems unlikely – so far.

    But what I could see is the TLM reaching a kind of critical mass fairly soon that ends up exercising a very powerful gravitational effect on the Novus Ordo…one such that, perhaps in a generation or two, could set the stage for a comprehensive reform that brings it much closer to the EF in form and matter. It could be still largely in (faithfully translated and eloquent) vernacular, and even retain the current lectionary; but it might restore the traditional collects and propers, dispense with the banal offertory, eliminate options (such as one or more EP’s), and see the return of ad orientem celebration of the canon and reception on the tongue as the norm. Chant might even become somewhat common… That would be massive progress, unthinkable until now. Perhaps similar things could be done with the other sacraments. And the traditional mass would remain as a lodestar for those of us, lay and priestly, who want full access to the mass in its essentially ancient form.

  13. kat says:

    “We need a Marshall Plan for the renewal of our Catholic identity, and the New Evangelization. The key to any renewal of any aspect of our Catholic lives must be our liturgical worship. ”

    Along with many other things that need to happen, we need to CATECHIZE THE CHILDREN in the Truth. I am currently reading a book called “The Mary of St. Martin’s”, which is about the Foundress of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. (Don’t know if the order still exists.) They began in Baltimore in the 1800’s. And the Sisters always began with the young. They primarily worked with poor families (and in those days of segregation, with the black children who were not allowed at the white children’s catechism classes, sadly). But they worked with the children in order to convert the families!

    If we want the Church to regain Her identity, we must catechize the young; let them be raised in it, and then they will raise their children in it, etc.

  14. CJD89 says:

    Look at this! http://www.cantius.org/go/webstore/product/summorum_pontificum_report/

    Perhaps Father you would be interested in this book of data by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. This book compiles data about the growth of the Traditional Latin Mass- I’d be curious about what it has to say.

    Perhaps this will put our questions to rest!

  15. Mark R says:

    Folk Masses were trend also.

  16. Tom Ryan says:

    Folk Masses were trend also.

    A different kind of trend there MarkR

  17. brassplayer says:

    Of course, any academic peer reviewer would also ask to see the breakdown of Traditional Latin Masses vs. non-Traditional Latin Masses per year. As well as the source of the data, obviously.

  18. granitroc says:

    Dear Father Z,

    Being a scientist, your graph got my curiosity up. I too observed the non linear nature of the data and noted the irregular time stream (x axis). So, I converted the data in an Excel spreadsheet and re-graphed it. Couldn’t get it to display in this comm box, but the bottom line is the trend fits a nice exponential trend (statistically a real good fit too). By my estimate, there will be a thousand TLM said every Sunday by Mid 2019. Impressive, but not soon enough!.

  19. TomW says:

    While I’m encouraged by the trend, I’m a bit discouraged at what’s actually happening here in Pittsburgh, which had an indult Latin Mass community prior to the MP, but have seen very few, if any additional Latin Masses since at other parishes. In essence, the creation of the indult was a way to segregate and contain TLM. Unfortunately, the diocese is a bit progressive, so there aren’t a lot of priests interested in or promoting the Extraordinary Form. Still, I’m encouraged, as the growth of the EF in other diocese combined with the biological solution will eventually lead to more EF Masses here.

  20. leonugent2005 says:

    Please take this comment in the spirit that it is intended. if it was possible for Paul VI to weep, it is also possible for Benedict XVI to weep. If a council of the church can come crashing down what about a moto proprio. Ultra liberalism is what hurt Vatican II. Ultra conservatism is not the golden mean

  21. Former Altar Boy says:

    I’ll consider it progress when there is at least one TLM in every Catholic Church EVERY Sunday. And I don’t think a “well said” NO will be the ultimate outcome unless tabernacles are returned to the center of the altar, the celebrant turns around to face it during Mass, and NO priests start preaching orthodox doctrine and not the “no sin, trust your own conscience, feel good” pap of the past 40 years.

  22. Andrew says:

    The biggest period of growth seems to be in the 2008-2009 period, and while I am no statistician, I attribute this increase to Summorum Pontificum, that brilliant motu proprio, from Pope Benedict.

    Removing most of the restrictions on the celebration of the old liturgy, have done wonders for it.

    Still the growth in the period when one needed a bishop’s permission to have it, is testament to the fortitude of many traditional Catholics, who patiently requested this of their ordinaries, often not receiving the permission they desired immediately, and in many cases, outright refusal.

    This in spite of the fact that it would have been easier to have attended the Old Mass in SSPX chapels, and other groups not in communion with the Holy See. This is in fact what many had to to before the 1984 indult.

    Nothing good is gained without sacrifice and privation on the part of the individual, and all of us can now bask in the glory of a new era, where the Church intends to protect the traditional rites.

  23. Is the growing number of TLMs a good thing? Before you throw stones at me, listen.

    My FSSP chaplain and I were discussing the impact of Summorum Pontificum. He is convinced that the FSSP is hurt by Summorum, because bishops refuse requests from the FSSP to implant new traditional parishes on the grounds that the diocese now has the possibility of celebrating their own Latin masses. Of course they rarely ever do, but when bishops cave in and offer a TLM in their diocese, it’s usually at some inaccessible location with no parking at 7:00Am in the morning, celebrated by a priest who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Then there’s the other side of the coin. The FSSP is not just about the Latin mass. It’s also about orthodox catholicism. You can have all the Latin masses you want, but if there isn’t a proper catechesis, the positive impact will be quite limited.

    So to answer my own question: The growing number of Latin masses may actually be harmful to orthodoxy if a great number of these masses are aimed at shutting up orthodox-minded Catholics and keeping them at the margins of Church in order to lessen their impact.

  24. CSED says:

    To give credit where credit is due:
    The graph appears on the website of Coalition Ecclesia Dei, which for over 20 years has patiently compiled information on the growth of what we used to call “Indult Masses”, now technically
    Masses in the “Extraordinary Form”. See ecclesiadei.org, and please keep us up to date with
    information on new Masses, time changes, and so forth.

  25. Joanne says:

    “TLM reaching a kind of critical mass fairly soon that ends up exercising a very powerful gravitational effect on the Novus Ordo”

    Ditto (and yay! for) this. It IS possible for the OF Mass to be reverent and beautiful. I assist in such a Mass every week at my EF/OF parish. The tabernacle was returned to the main altar when the current pastor came to the parish. The Eucharistic Ministers were let go upon his arrival. He has since had the altar rail reinstalled. He wears Roman vestments and a biretta and omits the sign of peace and the presentation of the gifts from the Mass. Several women, like myself, wear chapel veils. The OF Mass at this parish is a faithful translation of the EF and it’s really lovely. Even those of us who don’t assist primarily in EF Masses can be grateful for the growth in number of EFs, because (I think) they will result the kind of reverent OF Masses I see becoming more the norm. I think the resurgence of the EF will also help us to recover our distinctly Catholic identity as well.

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