To gladden the heart and encourage the brethren: Another First Mass in the Extraordinary Form

Some time ago I asked seminarians and new priests to drop me a line about what their real preference would have been for their First Holy Mass: Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form.

More and more new priests are opting for the Extraordinary Form.  Some of them – and those who helped them – are now facing what can only be called persecution.  This too shall pass as the Biological Solution continues its inexorable work.

That said, I picked up from NLM that a new priest of the Society of Jesus, said his First Holy Mass in the older, traditional Roman Rite:

Fr. William V. Blazek, S.J., newly ordained for the Jesuit Chicago-Detroit province, celebrated his first Solemn High Mass (Extraordinary Form) on June 24 (Nativity of St. John the Baptist) at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton, MA. Serving as deacon was Fr. Charles J. Higgins of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. Serving as sub-deacon was Fr. John Rizzo, FSSP, visiting from his assignment in Australia.

There are links to more photos at NLM, but here is a glimpse to gladden the heart and encourage the brethren.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices, Year of Faith and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Southern Baron says:

    This isn’t the first new Jesuit I know of celebrating in the EF. Even as some members of the Society have gone in some strange directions in the past few decades, there has always remained a more orthodox contingent who do not think that the Society’s history of cultural flexibility requires theological ambiguity. Judging from some current seminarians I know, there will likely be an increasing number of priests fluent in the EF with ‘SJ’ behind their names.

  2. Mike says:

    I went to grade school with Fr. John Rizzo. He comes from a great, big, and big-hearted family. Wonderful to see him here.

  3. JonPatrick says:

    That is good news for 2 reasons – that he is a Jesuit and secondly, that this is happening in the Archdiocese of Boston. The traditional Mass has had a tough going in Boston. I recently read of the closing and imminent de-consecration (if that is the right term) of beautiful Holy Trinity Church, where the EF Mass was held for many years. So it is nice to hear good news coming out of Boston for a change.

  4. Bea says:

    That’s wonderful news.

    I think one of my sons went to a retreat with Fr. Rizzo. He’s written a number of books and booklets and made either CDs or DVD’s. I saw some advertised as I was surfing the net. I hope I can find that website again.

    “Biological Solution” Ha, ha, Fr. Z. Sadly, at this point, this seems to be the only solution for our “Diocesan Biological Solution” as it seems to be 4 years away. I hope my husband and I can hold out that long.

    Long Live Christ the King
    Long Live the EF/TLM

  5. Jim R says:

    Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is the oldest parish in Newton (a Boston suburb) was neglected for a long time and poorly wreckovated (luckily only to a small degree) by its long term prior pastor and was slated to be closed in Boston’s restructuring. Oddly MIOL had several million dollars in its coffers from sale of valuable land in Wellesley where they have a cemetery. A high ranking member of the Archdiocesan closure team was a parishioner at nearby St. Philip Neri in the wealthy Waban neighborhood of Newton – a church much smaller than MIOL with no handicap access and limited parking. Surprisingly SPN was to be kept open in the initial process while MIOL was to be closed. When all this came out the decision was reversed, MIOL was kept open, SPN was closed and the money at MIOL used for a beautiful renovation. The Lord does move in mysterious ways. Deo Gratia. MIOL has supplanted Holy Trinity as the Latin Mass site in Boston. Fr. Higgins deserves a hearty round of applause (preferably not during Mass, though he says a beautiful Mass) for all he has done.

  6. mamajen says:

    I will obviously never be a priest, but opting for the EF for a first mass seems like a no-brainer to me–an extraordinary mass for an extraordinary occasion. God bless these new priests. It must feel so special saying that first mass.

  7. Jim R says:

    One more thing, thought you might like the pictures from the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes website:

    Now if we can only convince Fr. Higgins to do something with the wall behind the High Altar that was painted “Catholic beige” in the 90’s – a return to the older decorated red or even the gaudy gold of the 70’s would help accentuate the beautiful altar . But, that is a very minor concern…..

  8. Jason Keener says:

    I hope that as the Great Restoration takes place in Holy Mother Church that the Jesuits will also be restored to their former glory! There are signs of hope! St. Ignatius, ora pro nobis!

  9. disco says:

    Jim, Fr Higgins had a study done to see how much it would cost to restore the look of the sanctuary to its original. It’s my understanding that the cost would be quite prohibitive (in the millions). I’m not on the finance council or anything but I can tell you that he has a lot of pressing issues on his plate what with the cemetary and the belltower leaking. He knows better than anyone that the sanctuary needs work and I trust him to do it right just as soon as resources allow.

    I’m proud to have Fr Higgins for my pastor and I pray that he remains the pastor at Mary Immaculate for many many years to come.

  10. acardnal says:

    If I may say, newly ordained priest Fr. Blazek, SJ appears to be a rather mature man. Does anyone know his vocation story?

  11. ghp95134 says:

    US Army RANGER School graduate!! HooAH!!!

    Found this from a comment at Rorate:
    “…He served as an Infantry Officer in the First Gulf War and is a graduate of the US Army Ranger School.”

    Hopefully he will wear his RANGER Tab on his biretta and on the left shoulder of his cassock.

    –Guy Power
    US Army Ranger School, Class 14-80

  12. cjcanniff says:


    I’m a student at nearby Boston College, where Fr. Blazek was studying before his recent ordination. I do not know him personally, but I would see him around campus on occasion. My first encounter with Fr. Blazek was last August while in Madrid with a group of students and priests from BC for World Youth Day. We were staying at a Jesuit high school in Madrid along with students of Jesuit schools from around the world who were in Spain to see the Pope. I frequently saw Fr. Blazek walking about the campus tending to the medical needs of the pilgrims. I learned from a mutual acquaintance that Fr. Blazek had served in the army and earned an MD after his honorable discharge from the military. However, I am not sure how he found his way to the Jesuits after those two experiences. All I can confirm for you with my story is that he is indeed a “rather mature man” as you put it.

    Also, I occasionally attend Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes during the school year, and I can say that Fr. Higgins – whether I go to his OF or EF Masses – is invariably more reverent than the priests saying Masses organized by Campus Ministry at BC. I’m very fortunate that Mary Immaculate is only a few stops from campus on the T.

    And, Fr. Z, you will be happy to know that Fr. Higgins is always in the confessional before Mass and that there is always a line of people waiting to confess.

  13. acardnal says:

    @cjcanniff : Thanks for that info.

  14. acardnal says:

    FYI, there are plenty of photos at both and here and

  15. cathgrl says:

    Does “rather mature” mean old? Because he’s 47.

  16. nemo says:

    Love Fr. Rizzo–a holy priest. It is so nice to see him again!

  17. Supertradmum says:

    cathgirl, 47 is not old, it is hopefully a mature age.

  18. Horatius says:

    25 or more years from this holy priest, a picture of virtue, will set his parishioners and charges ahead by as many years, but exponentially. He looks like a one-man antidote to watered down lukewarm quasi Catholicism. God bless him.

  19. RuralVirologist says:

    If we gathered together all the priests in our diocese who are able to say the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, we’d not have enough to have priests taking the deacon and subdeacon roles.

    Can a permanent deacon (e.g. one with a wife) be a deacon/subdeacon in a High Mass? Just in theory – in practice the deacon’s wives often give the sermons, and wouldn’t allow their husbands to be a deacon at High Mass unless they were given the role of subdeacon.

    If the natural progression through the various orders has priests-to-be first be subdeacon, then deacon, and then, after ordination, the priest, the way things are happening is in reverse – first Low Mass, then assisting as deacon/subdeacon at High Mass (or being supported by more experienced priests taking those roles.)

  20. irishgirl says:

    This newly ordained Jesuit was a US ARMY RANGER? Double Oorah!
    How cool is that?
    And how wonderful to read that his First Mass was a TLM!

  21. RV: I understand that a deacon is a deacon, and can serve as one. And that an instituted acolyte can serve as subdeacon.

  22. RV: Henry Edwards is quite correct. By the way, an instituted acolyte serving as subdeacon is often referred to as a ‘straw subdeacon.’

    However, I cannot understand the sentence:
    ” Just in theory – in practice the deacon’s wives often give the sermons, and wouldn’t allow their husbands to be a deacon at High Mass unless they were given the role of subdeacon.”

    Firstly, a layperson is forbidden to preach at either Form of the Mass, at least in the Latin Rite (I have no idea about any of the Eastern Rites, but just cannot imagine it.) For the OF, see GIRM #66. [The celebrant is to preach, or he may delegate it to a concelebrating priest or to a deacon, or in certain circumstances, to a bishop or priest present who cannot concelebrate.] I’m told that back in the 70s or thereabouts, having a female religious ‘give a reflection’ was a ‘wink-wink’ way around the prohibition.

    Secondly, as a woman can never be a priest or deacon (or acolyte), i.e., in major or minor orders, no woman can serve in the sanctuary at the EF. Which is why in a mixed schola (laymen and/or clerics plus laywomen), the women cannot sit in the sanctuary, while the men may, which can make the logistics of the chanting…interesting.

    Thirdly, why would the wife have anything to say about her deacon husband functioning AS the deacon at a High Mass?

    (Fr. Z, have I misread something here?)

  23. RuralVirologist says:

    Thanks, Henry and Patricia – what I wrote was a bit unclear. Sorry – I don’t always write so as to be understood by people who don’t see the complete set of thoughts in my mind at that moment, and flu is making my brain more muddled, and my outlook on life more negative than usual. I was being facetious, while still reflecting the actual abuses at many churches. Thank God not all. But the deacon’s wife is sometimes Queen of the Parish, ranking higher even than the priest and his wife, who didn’t have a very public profile (I’ve been in a diocese where the bishop tolerated wives as long as outsiders didn’t find out. Whichever lay reader was doing the readings at the cathedral simply read them from their seat; communions was often enough self-service with the chalice on the altar for those who wanted to self-intict. The bishop wasn’t at Mass at the time.) Hence my remark about the wife wanting to be subdeacon – otherwise she’s completely left out, quite inappropriate for a Queen. Highly unlikely that such a pair would tolerate an EF Mass, though, so the situation is only hypothetical. The nuns at our old hospital chapel wouldn’t have put up with an EF Mass either, as lovely and holy as they were. Nor, I imagine, would Sr Patricia Fresen, who was a regular visitor there when she was a prof at the local seminary, before she went on to become a bishop. I wonder how much of a long term impact she had on our priests, who are far behind the rest of the world in their cooperation with Summorum Pontificum. While she never gave a sermon at the chapel, I did belong to a parish once where the laity gave 50% of the sermons.

  24. RV: I’ve been in a diocese where the bishop tolerated wives as long as outsiders didn’t find out.

    Surely you don’t mean wives of priests? A Catholic diocese? If so, the liturgical situation you describe calls out to heaven for the fruits of Summorum Pontificum.

  25. RuralVirologist says:

    Wives of priests. Catholic diocese. Latin rite. I’ve been told it’s not that uncommon in Africa, but don’t have stats to show. I am also not sure if these wives are wives in a legal court document sense or were married in a traditional (and potentially polygamous) way with exchange of sheep and cows – we don’t differentiate much any more, and both a recognised forms of marriage. I know children exist – they made headlines once. I’m not sure what the new bishop has done with the wives – I’ve moved on (but kept the Rural moniker). The cathedral was actually quite ready for SP – untouched by post-VII alterations seen elsewhere – except for the new altar to allow for versus populum. The bishop was certainly old enough to have been able to implement it in a snap, had he wished. A quick survey of our non-emeritus bishops at the Catholic Heirarchy site shows that the majority were appointed bishop by Pope Benedict (so I’d have hoped for a better response to SP), and the earliest ordination of one of our bishops as a priest was 1967. Three are not old enough to remember the Mass before 1970. Have we lost those skills? I hear about pontifical Masses in the US and UK and elsewhere. I hear about newly ordained priests choosing the EF for their first Mass. It’s enough of a struggle to organise an EF Mass here. At least we have a bishop who is supportive, in spite of opposition that is apparently quite strong. We’re getting there.

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