QUAERITUR: Tired of outdated liberal liturgy, bad doctrine, no TLM. What do we do?

From a reader:

I’m a 28 year old, white, married, male with 3 children, a decent job, two degrees in Theology and an ever-growing chip on my shoulder. I know enough to know that there is always a “storm period” after Mother Church meets for ecumenical councils and that we are presently in the midst of our own.

Great encouragement and hope comes from the new, young and faithful bishops, priests and seminarians. Perhaps the winds have shifted?

Nevertheless, I am still all but forced to sing terrible ‘80s folk music at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; Overzealous, more-than-middle-aged, short-haired, skirt-suit-wearing, professional church ladies continue trying to tell me a) that the Old Testament episodes are stories and b) when my children can receive the Sacraments; priests do not use the Sign of the Cross at funeral Masses because there “might be non-Catholics there”; I must “filter” seemingly every homily I hear. I won’t go on since I’m sure you understand.

TLM has not returned [HERE] as of yet. I am growing fatigued by the current state of affairs and while my faith is in no danger, my charity and patience certainly are. Besides prayer and waiting for this “rebellion in the nursing home” – Card. Schonborn’s words – to die, what ought we to do?

I do understand.

You can move. You can stay put and suffer and wait. You can try to effect a change.

Perhaps you could organize a group of like-minded people who want the older form of Mass. Then pick a parish where the priest is most likely to be sympathetic, and then make the formal petitions for what you want.  Be sure that you include pledges to cover all the expenses for the changes you want and the promise to be involved with the life of the parish.

In many places changes have been brought about by lay people who take initiative.

Also, begin to pray and take on mortifications such as fasting, asking Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy, to intercede with her Son the Eternal Priest to move the hearts of the priests you deal with to greater fidelity and flexibility.

You can pray to St. Joseph too, perhaps using the Bux Protocol.

In the meantime, pray for and promote vocations to the priesthood.  See if there is a local Serra Club chapter.  Work with the Knights of Columbus.  Do something to promote and support sound vocations to the priesthood!

God helps those who help themselves and there is strength in numbers.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I sometimes remind people that Jesus was probably not more comfortable at the first Mass than we are at some of ours.

  2. Burke says:

    ‘priests do not use the Sign of the Cross at funeral Masses because there “might be non-Catholics there”’

    Really? I’m sure these ‘non-Catholics’ who attend occasional services in this parish have probably seen the sign of the cross before, on TV if not in church. And some of them may even use it themselves. Father ought to get out more.

  3. lelnet says:

    In fact, once you find a local parish with one or more priests who might be receptive to instituting regular celebration of the Extraordinary Form, you may find yourself getting more fulfillment in your faith life even by their existing celebrations of the Ordinary Form. (Which doesn’t mean you should stop asking for EF masses to be put on the schedule…just that you might well find that the change of venue alone gets you a big portion of the way to where you’re trying to go.)

    My wife and I will be praying for you, and for all those so situated. We were there once, too, and quite recently, and we hope that all might find the same relief from modernist pabulum.

  4. HighMass says:

    Ironic this post is about what we are going through where we live. Went to our new pastor the other day and met NOTHING BUT WALLS and Oposition, on why we don’t have the TLM,we were having them until recently but are without a Priest….but have found another Priest but…..again walls and plenty of them.

    We ask for prayers for this situation because truthfully the TLM is not received well….not by the faithful but by many of the clergy.

  5. tealady24 says:

    Please do what Fr. Z. says! Pray, pray and pray some more!
    Prayer is so powerful, and we don’t believe it.

    The NO masses are a mess! Latin is the only way to go; and they are truly so few and far between. I know people who travel 2 hours + to be a part of these beauties.
    If I see one more member of the laity prancing around on the altar, you’ll hear me screaming way up here in Pennsylvania.

    Remember it’s faith that moves mountains.

  6. jenne says:

    I have lived in different places and in one I literally wept tears of prayer and petition during the dancing part. I can’t describe the different things that would happen just to let me know that Christ was consoling me. Nothing crazy but enough indicators. The final one was when the parish had to retire the ceramic cup and dish and use approved newly purchased and blessed chalice and paten (?). The grumblings were palpable and no one knew from whence the directive came. I was taking pictures and looked a little out of place in my joy. My prayer at the time is “If you (Jesus) come then I do too.”
    We have moved and have learned how important it is to find a good parish. The kids are what I worry about the most. They absorb everything around them!
    Travel when you can to where the Mass is what you want your kids to experience in all the riches of tradition. Even yearly can help in fact it may show your kids just how important it is if you can make it a pilgrimage.

  7. heway says:

    You can scream and be frustrated all you want but unless you get off your royal American and effect change in your parish it won’t happen. For the past 2 years every other Saturday, myself, my 84 y o husband and others (all over 55) attended a catechetical upgrade. Where are the people who are 28 yo?? When my boys were babies, we attended choir and made significant changes. That choir attendcane continued for 30 years. Come on, don’t complain – act!

  8. anilwang says:

    You might also try an Eastern Catholic Church or Latin Rite churches that are influenced by the Eastern Rite (e.g. Polish and Ukrainian). You might have to deal with a different liturgy and inconvenient times and might have to adjust to some non-English and non-Latin chants and prayers, and lack some Latin Rite devotions such as the Rosary, but they should be as safe as any TLM.
    Eastern Catholic Churches (at least in my area) tend to be smaller and harder to find. I was surprised how many there were in my own neighbourhood.

  9. eulogos says:

    Is there a Byzantine Catholic parish anywhere near you? That is how I finally dealt with this.
    In a diocese where there are, still, liturgical dancers at major celebrations at the cathedral, and in a parish where the pastor openly expressed his disdain for the old mass, I didn’t think I would really get anywhere with asking for one. Also, the two priests say 7 weekend masses for 4 “worship sites.” Really I would have been happy with a ‘reform of the reform’ type NO liturgy in English. Actually, at that point I would have been satisfied with just a little bit more reverence and solemnity, but this just was not going to happen. The pastor did at one point ask the music director to schedule one more traditional hymn a week at the mass I usually attended. I was happy when they announced “Faith of our fathers” until we got to the second stanza in the Gather hymnal, which starts “Faith of our mothers…” (As if they were not already included until the words were thus changed.)

    Luckily there are three Eastern rite Catholic parishes within easily reachable distance from me, two Ruthenian and one Ukrainian. I now belong to one of the Ruthenian parishes and have attended there for five years. (after more than 30 years as a Latin rite Catholic, since I was 21).
    It is an older parish with few young people and who knows how long it will still be there? But for now, it is a place where I can always worship. Yes, they did make some changes in the translation of their liturgy which went in the wrong direction, since they are always copying Rome but 20 years behind…. (From “For He is gracious and loves mankind” to “For He is good, and loves us all.” ) I was not happy about that at all. But overall, the words of the liturgy are magnificent, and full of theological content, and we sing them all. Usually in English, but with occasional parts in Church Slavonic, which I am enjoying learning bits of. I have not formally switched rites because I think I am still Latin rite in my theological slant, and in other ways, but the difference between Byzantine and Latin is far smaller than the distance between the parish I went to and real Catholic worship.
    If this is possible for you, I recommend it.
    Susan Peterson

  10. Johnno says:

    Just had another recent episode with this sort of thing… For awhile I’ve been free and usually work late in the night. But I figured, hey, why not attend early morning mass tomorrow? Maybe I’ll make it a regular thing. So I did…

    It’s been awhile but the biggest change I noted was that the front doors were locked, odd I thought, isn’t there morning Mass? Well, turns out yes, there is, but no longer in the Church, but rather the small Chapel room, I guess because very few show up… but the room was packed with roughly 20 people. As it turns out, what happened next confused me!

    When time came after consecrating the host and wine, before the part where the priest elevates it, “This IS Jesus, the Lamb of God… Happy are we who are called…”, a ciborium was passed around the room containing the Eucharist hosts, like a basket, and everyone picked one out on their own, and no, they were not all Eucharistic ministers either… I figure they do it this way because the room is too small for the priest to go around distributing communion or to form a line. Everyone picked out their host, held it up and continued after the priest “Lord I am not worthy that… etc.” And consumed it.

    I felt that this was ‘self-communion’ which is never allowed as it must be something you are given and should only receive, so I didn’t take communion that morning as I simply passed the ciborium on… Is this an abuse that I witnessed? There’s really no reason why they can’t hold it in the Church either, given all one needs to do is flick on the switches for the lights and the microphone… I’ll try attending again and seeing if this was just a one-off thing, though I doubt it. I’ll probably have to talk to the priest afterwards too… It’s just getting ridiculous now…

  11. mamajen says:

    Father’s answer is spot on. There are many of us who are in the same boat. I think that by doing what you can to maintain your traditional beliefs while also remaining humble, you can set a great example for others, and that can in turn effect change. The church I attend frustrates me greatly, but I suck it up and go anyway. I have noticed good little changes here and there. My husband and I have taught our young son to genuflect, use “praying hands” and (more or less) behave in church. It’s so darn cute seeing a little kid exhibit reverence…but it also gets people thinking, “hey, if he can do this stuff, why aren’t I?”

    There actually is a traditional parish in my area but a) it’s not particularly convenient for us as a family and b) I have always been adamantly against isolating myself with only like-minded people–I don’t feel like that’s the answer.

  12. PhilipNeri says:

    I always urge folks to stay in their parishes and work to effect change. Obviously, there are going to be cases where things are so off-kilter that no sane Catholic could possibly stay. . .BUT. . .if it’s within the range of tolerable suffering, stay and work for change. If tradition-minded Catholic flee at the first sign of ad-libbing or liturgical dance, who’s will be left to stand up and shout, “NO!”

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  13. mamajen says:

    @Fr. Neri


  14. Mom2301 says:

    I completely understand what you are going through. I am struggling right now with whether we should stay at our local parish where the creed has been excised from the mass. Stay and try to effect change or move on for the sake of my 3 young children. It truly is a trial and I often feel very much like I am the only one who cares. For that reason I look forward to reading Fr. Z’s blog and some others as well because it reminds me there are many good faithful Catholics out there. The blessing is that it has made my prayer life as strong as it has ever been. Remember: Even to the death fight for truth and the Lord your God will battle for you. Sirach 4:28

  15. acardnal says:

    Sorry, Fr. Philip Neri OP, I disagree. If one has a discussion or two or three with the pastor and he says “no”. Move on. Pastors who say the proposals “will disturb the harmony of the parish”, “the offertory will suffer”, “we’ve always done things this way”, “we are in accord with the spirit of V2” are not going to change – especially those in their 60s and 70s who received poor seminary formation. Liturgical dance alone is enough right there to move to another parish after writing a letter to the bishop. And I cannot stand priests who ad lib. Remember Fr. Z’s aphorism, “Say the Black, Do the Red.”

  16. Mom2301 says:

    Fr. Neri — How does one determine if the craziness is too much to stay put. This is what I have been struggling with because I see the point of trying to effect change but…I have children who need to know and experience their faith. The real one. Since our priest is a very active member of Call to Action, I feel like I’m just talking to a brick wall; we aren’t even in the same ballpark.

  17. acardnal says:

    Mom2301: if the priest is involved in Call to Action, get out now! And notify the bishop. You as a parent are responsible for your children’s catechetical formation – not the parish, not the pastor. YOU! That is the teaching of the Church.

    CCC #2221, “The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.”
    #2223, “Parents of the first responsibility for the education of their children. “

  18. acardnal says:

    Call to Action is spiritual poison.

  19. Mike says:

    As said above, if it is just you in the wilderness try an Eastern Catholic parish. Odds are they are more latinized than the local Latin Church, too.

    If there are more of you, band together and form a Latin Mass group. If it can be done in Winnipeg, it can be done anywhere.

  20. Rachel K says:

    I am surprised to notice there is one option missing here- doesn’t anyone get a reverent, correctly done Ordinary Form Mass?
    Maybe I was very fortunate (blessed) with the priest we had for 33 years in our parish when I was growing up. He was reverent and orthodox. He always talked about the Holy Ghost. We received Communion kneeling, on the tongue, with the paten, on the sanctuary step. He did not do the sign of peace. He worked 50 weeks of the year and organised a stand-in priest to carry out all of his Masses etc while he was away. He took one day off per week and offered parish Mass that day too. He heard confessions twice a week. He had benediction every Sunday afternoon. Each week in his sermon he reminded us that divorce, abortion and contraception were morally wrong. He visited parishioners and saw the children in the primary school regularly, where he asked them about their Sunday Mass attendance but was always kindly. He did not use altar girls or Extraordinary Ministers and always purified all the communion vessels himself during a silence after communion which cultivated a prayerful thanksgiving. Once a month we sang the ordinary of the Mass in Latin plainchant.

    This all with the “Novus Ordo”.
    So, it can be done! I really believe, because I experienced it over many years, that the OF can be reverent and beautiful. I also knew other priests subsequently who offer very reverent Masses in the Ordinary Form.
    I think this is an important point because it is after all the “Ordinary” form of the Latin Rite- it is not going to go away however much some may wish it would. I do not think the EF will expand very greatly partly because I don’t think in some ways it serves us in our time as well as the “New” Mass.
    Perhaps this is a controversial thing to say? I am heartily keen on the beauty of the Latin chant, being a trained classical musician by trade, but to me the blend of that with the more modern words/ translation/transposition hits the mark.
    Any thoughts?…

  21. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Some of this stuff should be brought up with the bishop. Avoiding the Sign of the Cross and thus depriving the deceased of being buried decently and properly, and then saying it’s for the sake of non-Catholics’ fragile little tempers? No. Just no. Non-Catholics are not vampires or unseely Little People; they’re not going to be driven off, shrieking.

    And if they were, you’d want to use the Sign of the Cross, wouldn’t you?

  22. Sword40 says:

    We have been working doing the things that Fr. Z suggests for over 4 years. So now we have a once a month TLM at our local parish, a weekly TLM in Tacoma, WA being hosted by the ethnic polish parish, an FSSP full blown parish with all the Sacraments (and bells and whistles) being hosted at St. Alphonsus in Seattle, WA. There is also a twice monthly TLM in Port Angelus, WA and a twice monthly TLM in Bremerton , WA.

    It is a real “rollercoaster ride” getting these things done. Things can go “wobbly” on you real quick i.e. Altar boys or lack there of, your priest gets tired and needs a weekend off or over-books himself. You find yourself locked out of the Sacristy. The propers didn’t get printed; and on and on.

    Do I regret any of it? Not on your life.

  23. keithp says:

    I have had similar experience to the OP as well as many commentators…
    When I politely broached the subject of TLM at my then Parish, the Pastor laughed and said, “We don’t do that here. If that is what you are looking for, this is the wrong place.” Fortunatly, I’m near a men’s religous that celebrates a NO that is relatively orthodox. When the provincial is the celebrant the NO is impeccable.

    We did have a TLM temporarily at this Shrine with the men’s religious. But, that recently moved out.

  24. mysticalrose says:

    @Fr. Nero: it really does depend on whether or not you have children. I am not usually a proponent of church shopping, but parents only have a few short years to instill the faith in their children. Truly heterodox places could destroy their burgeoning faith.

  25. mamajen says:

    @Rachel K

    I was blessed to have that experience growing up, too. In fact, we are lucky to have several very good, reverent, “old fashioned” priests in my area. TLM wasn’t something I really knew about until I was older, and I have to admit that at this time I prefer a very reverent NO because I do not understand Latin.

  26. mysticalrose says:

    it really does depend on whether or not you have children. I am not usually a proponent of church shopping, but parents only have a few short years to instill the faith in their children. Truly heterodox places could destroy their burgeoning faith.

  27. jacobi says:

    To the 28 year old fed up parishioner,

    You could start by telling the elderly ladies, and gents for that, matter to mind their own business
    and show good example by,

    – refusing to sing the the trendie hymns
    – make the sign of the cross on all appropriate occasions
    – bowing at the appropriate time during the creed
    – giving the sign of peace only to those adjacent to you
    – receiving Holy Communion only from a priest or deacon, not a lay distributer
    – receive after a sign of reverence, i.e. a bow if no kneelers are present
    – kneeling in prayer after Communion
    – refusing to applaud during Mass – regardless

    and so on. The power of good example is great and is all many of us have at present.

  28. Joy says:

    It is a challenge when you have kids, who look up to the priest and wonder why he doesn’t say what’s in the Missal, especially since I have taught them the Mass; when we all snicker at the words of some songs (can’t rightly call them “hymns”) – is it OK to laugh at “Abba, Father, you are the potter….”, or should I mention that one in confession? :-) It is a fine edge, one I have a hard time riding. For now we are staying put, with occasional trips to orthodox parishes, and I am trying to effect change, but the other orthodox family (yes, that’s it!) has left for another parish.

    A sign of some hope last weekend: I was sacristan, scrambling for an altar server, and no one had lit the candles. It was noisy as usual, with conversation – I noticed the unlit candles about 2 minutes prior to the start, and got the lighter, strode up with purpose, and as soon as I bowed to the altar …. SILENCE! Now my new motto is “I have a Light, and I’m not afraid to use it!”

  29. I tell people that, if they truly believe their souls, and those of their children, are endangered by the antics of the local church, and that if all attempts at resolution have failed — MOVE!

    That’s right, pack up your old kit bag, take the wife and kids, load up the minivan, and get the hell outa Dodge City, like Abraham leaving his home (and presumedly, everything and everyone he ever knew) for the land that God would show him.

    At some point, you’re done fighting. It is the moment when you realize that you have your own soul to save, and the assurance that those under your roof may do the same. Only you can decide when that moment comes. When it does, “cometh the hour, cometh the man …”

    Come to the Diocese of Arlington, one of the last bastions of sanity in the Catholic world (well, uh, most of the time). Not only is the economy relatively stable, which means getting a job won’t be as hard as elsewhere, but we have some of the finest priests in the known universe. There are also EIGHT locations where the TLM is celebrated every Sunday. (Personally, I recommend St John the Beloved in McLean, but people might think I’m prejudiced.) You may be rejected elsewhere, but we’ve got “plenty good room” for you in northern Virginia.

    Y’all come now, y’hear?

  30. acardnal says:

    I lived in the Diocese of Arlington for 24 years and I agree with your sentiments EXCEPT for one thing: the traffic there is horrendous!!!!!!!!!! Now I’m back in the Midwest and love it.

  31. acardnal: I’m from Cincinnati myself. You’re right about the traffic in the DC area. That’s why I don’t live in the suburbs, but right in town.

  32. PhilipNeri says:

    Fr. Hollywood-types usually receive a great deal of reinforcement from sympathetic parishioners. If all the ad-libbing pastor ever hears is “Kudos,” then he will always believe that he is doing the Right Thing. Even if you are the lone voice of dissent against his narcissistic rambling, you are planting a seed of doubt in his mind. And even if he receives that seed as further confirmation that he’s on the right track–“That crazy right-wing freak thinks I’m bad, so I must be good”–something deep down in his conscience knows better. The secret is simple: Fr. Hollywood knows he’s wrong to warp the liturgy. He knows this. He knows the rubrics. He knows that his protests against the Evil Vatican are futile. And he knows that his generation of mewling dinosaurs is on its way out. He won’t go quietly; his ego won’t allow that! But. . .he knows he’s wrong. And if faithful Catholics abandon his parish and leave him to his Spirit of Vatican Two peace bong and polyester dancers, then he feels justified in continuing his charade b/c there’s no one left to challenge him.

    The key is to protest in love. Make yourself a vital part of the parish. Believe that and act like you are a serious member of the parish. Why should anyone take your protests seriously knowing that you are ready at any moment to run scared? Why should anyone think that you really believe all that rubric/dogma stuff when you act as though you have one foot in a lifeboat ready to bail? Who gets more attention: the occasional visitor who constantly whines and complains about “minor deviations” from the missal, or the family who faithfully attends every event, contributes to the parish, volunteers, sings, etc. and has something serious to say about the way their community worships?

    Bottomline: if you want to be taken seriously as a faithful Catholic in YOUR parish, then you had better be a faithful Catholic who takes HIS/HER parish seriously.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  33. “[I]f you want to be taken seriously as a faithful Catholic in YOUR parish, then you had better be a faithful Catholic who takes HIS/HER parish seriously.”

    Yep, tried that, more than once over the course of my adult life. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

    You will excuse me, Father, but no amount of pious talk will change the reality that such a point exists, the one where saving yourself really does become more important than saving everybody else, including those who do not want to be saved. Even our Lord told his disciples that sooner or later, enough was enough, and to shake the dust off their feet when leaving such a dire place.

    If I “want to be taken seriously as a faithful Catholic,” I’ll do it for the Lord, not for a bunch of effete pseudo-intellectuals who passed their prime decades ago, if they ever had one.

  34. Joy says:

    I agree that one should try, but I’m with manwithblackhat – there is going to come a point, and it will be different for everyone, when you must leave. Where I am, I truly am “the lone voice”, for all the others have left for greener/more orthodox pastures. The congregation enjoys the ad-libbing, etc… That is what they are used to, with their favorite priest being one who could totally re-write the Mass (he was quite creative) on the fly – well, he’s laicized and married now, but this is what they are accustomed to. They honestly don’t realize it is not OK for Fr. to do pretty much what he wants to – and why shouldn’t he be able to? Then there is this one lone voice….

    There is frustration that can be handled, but I do believe (especially when you have your childrens’ souls to consider) when you are “it”, even in a small parish, the uphill battle one must fight can seem too daunting. If I didn’t have children, the fight might be kind of fun (in a rather sadistic sort of way), but I do have children – so my point of departure must of necessity be a little sooner since I must take care of their souls too.

  35. Indulgentiam says:

    PhilipNeri: ” Bottomline: if you want to be taken seriously as a faithful Catholic in YOUR parish, then you had better be a faithful Catholic who takes HIS/HER parish seriously.”

    With all do respect Father you may not be aware of the dichotomy these abuses set up in a child’s mind. We take home the brush fires of disrespect for the Sacred and lukewarmness that these abuses start. We battle ALL week long to put it out. At some point we realize that this Church is not helping us teach our children the faith, rather the opposite. We are left with no choice but to leave in order to protect our children and our sanity.

  36. AnnAsher says:

    Dear good, faithful, holy, Fr Z, the Serra Club? No. Just … No ( for lack of charitable words). What do the Serra’s DO ?! I’ve seen them meet, raise $$, spend $$ – no fruits. Their website offers a host of modernist double speak. No.
    Poor Man who wrote – I feel your pain. I’ve sacrificed things of comfort in order to afford driving 3 hours on Sunday ( round trip) to TLM

    [I have had positive experiences of Serra clubs. I am sorry you have not.]

  37. AnnAsher says:

    @Indulgentium- I ditto your experience. It is awful to have to counter act the words of the priest in my kid’s minds! How it creates question of the faith/doubt. How it undermines what ought to be authority in the priest. We parents have to be very careful today.

  38. PhilipNeri says:

    Well, obviously there are going to exceptions in extreme cases. . .that’s why I said earlier that you have to make a prudential choice about how much suffering for change you can tolerate. Too many Catholics I know abandon a parish after one or two visits b/c they don’t like the vestments or the way the celebrant gestures, etc. I’m not suggesting that anyone put their family at risk of falling into spiritual despair if the pastor is an outright heretic. All I’m saying is stick it out and try to change things. You might have a positive effect; you might not. But these parishes need charitable, faithful Catholics to stick around and help.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  39. mysticalrose says:

    Sorry, friends, having trouble with my iPhone. Please excuse the repitition.

  40. Supertradmum says:

    My dad was president of Serra Club for many years and raised money for many seminarians, some of whom are now priests. They have days of prayer and Mass together as well. Without them, several poor young men from Mexico and the minority communities would not be priests.

  41. nemo says:

    There are many fine comments posted, but in the mean time the 28-year-old writer might view the TLM daily or Sunday on http://www.livemass.net/LiveMass/Live.html

    High Masses resume the Sunday after Labor Day.

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