QUAERITUR: How to obtain more celebrations of the TLM in the diocese? Holy “lío”!

From a reader:

As you know on 30 April 2011 the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued the instruction Universae Ecclesiae of 30 April 2011, to clarify some aspects of Summorum Pontificum.

The two sections of this document that are of interest to our local Una Voce chapter are provided below:

21. Ordinaries [in general, diocesan bishops] are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. [In Latin: Ordinarii enixe rogantur… Ordinaries are strenuously asked…  The adverb enixe is from enitor which has to do with “to force one’s way out or up” as in climbing a mountain or as in giving birth to a child.] This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin[8] and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

In the past the Traditional Latin mass when offered in our diocese has been on an ad hoc basis. That is on the initiative of an individual priest who is interested in saying the Latin Mass and takes the time to learn to say it.

It is desired that a more organized and integrated approach to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass be instituted in our diocese based on the application of UE 21 and/or UE 22  [Desired by whom?  The local bishop?  I assume this means that the Una Voce group desires it.]

Our Una Voce group (and I suspect other readers) would be interested to hear your thoughts on how to best bring these ideas forward to our local bishop. Be assured of our continued prayers for you in your ministry to the Church.

First, thanks for the prayers.  I need them.

One of the things that people hear from bishops when they ask for more (or one) opportunities to attend the Extraordinary Form is that “there are no priests available” or “all the priests are busy”, etc.

The first mistake was going to the bishop for this.  According to Summorum Pontificum, pastors of parishes can make this decision without the permission of the bishop.  People keep making this mistake.

So, my advice is that you identify several priests in the area who are willing to say or learn to say the older form.  Ideally, they will be the pastors of parishes, rather than assistants who have no power.

Then, make sure that they have all the training and materials they need.

Then, once everything is copasetic, start gathering what can be seen as a stable group, as described in Summorum Pontificum  5 § 1 and UE 15.  Note: A stable group doesn’t have to be of persons at just one parish or in its boundaries, etc.

Then, talk to the pastors about getting the Mass on the schedule in a regular time slot in the target parishes.

If this is not possible, then find some location where the priest is amenable.  Remember: You already have identified your pool of priest celebrants.  Even if you must eventually involve the local bishop, you still have a group of priests who are ready to help, thus taking that excuse off the table.

I always think that organizing this within the diocese is the best first step.  Only if it can’t be done with priests from the diocese should you start thinking about trying to get to bishop to allow one of the specialized groups to come in, which is complicated.

However, even though I started with the identification of priests, the real first step is the identification and commitment of the lay people who are going to have to do all the work and pay all the bills.  A great deal can be accomplished by a few people who will commit their time, talent and treasure to a project.  A great example of this is what has been going on in New York City at Holy Innocents in Manhattan.  There, a small group with drive eventually brought about a daily TLM at the parish, often a Missa Cantata with excellent music.  They even started Sunday Vespers in the afternoon.  The key, the sine qua non, was the dedication of the lay people, then the creation of the pool of celebrants, the supplying of all the materials, and the wooing of the pastor.

If you eventually have to get permissions from clerics, then make sure beforehand that the decks are entirely cleared for action for and aft, that the shot lockers are full and that the slow match is lit and smoking in the tubs.  Which you’ll then be able to deal with any maneuver or broadside and respond at close range with your boarding party when the time is right.

Sorry, I channelled my inner Preserved Killick for a moment.

Be far more cordial and pleasant than Preserved Killick ever was!  Had it not been for his singular talent in making excellent coffee he’d have been back in regular duties in a trice.

Now, back to your point about Universae Ecclesiae stating that “ordinaries are strenuously asked” to provide training and help for priests.

Realistically, most bishops are going to blow this off.  It isn’t on their radar screen.  Again, they will say that there is no interest.  They will say there is no time.  They will say that there is no budget.  They will say, perhaps, nothing, and ignore you.  That’s most bishops.

Therefore, you have to take the advice of Pope Francis and take matters into your own capable hands.  Frankly, lay people are better at completing projects than priests and bishops are anyway.  You need to create some holy “lío” as Pope Francis talked about in Rio.  Create a ruckus.  In this case, however, I don’t mean protest, though that would also be great.  I mean take matters into your own hands, get all the resources together and then be of service to the bishop in fulfilling his responsibilities according to Universae Ecclesiae.  When he says “There is no interest!”, be ready with the list of the stable group.  “There are no priests!”,… well, bring them to the meeting.  “There is no budget!”, get out your check book and show him a budget for bringing in a priest from St. John Cantius or the FSSP to do the training for several priests at the same time.

Be ready for every objection.  Anticipate and plan.

After every meeting, write a summary note back to the bishop so that you have a record, in writing of what happened.  Keep copies of everything in case, one day, you have to write to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

You also need to approach this on a spiritual level.  Get as many people as you can to commit to praying for this, for fasting for it.  Ask your guardian angels to hang out with the priests and the bishop whom you have to get on board.  Invoke St. Joseph, if need be to help according to the now famous Bux Protocol.  Ask Pope Francis’ favorite Mary, Undoer of Knots – who is also Queen of the Clergy – to help.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, O'Brian Tags, Preserved Killick, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices, Universae Ecclesiae and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. HighMass says:

    Thanks Fr. Z for the advice….I know it isn’t good to complain….nor does it do any good to whine…..it is so sad we have to ask for Holy Mass in the E.F. even if there is an assistant pastor who would be willing to say the Mass…..lets face it…..the Mass in the E.F. is so hated….by the liberals in the church. Pope Benedict made it quite clear and cut through all the red tape so we who wanted the Mass in the E.F. should have no barriers.

    We had a good start were we live, then priests were up for transfer (assistants), when the next group came in we had an (assistant) who KNEW the Mass in the E.F. and said Mass, poor fellow he became ill 2 yrs ago and that has been the end of the Mass in E.F. (they were High Masses once a month) on Sunday evenings……
    We now have a Pastor who is doing all he can to make sure all we have is the N.O.

    Don’t mean to be cynical…this is why groups like St. Pius X exsists! Its ok to have guitars, etc for Mass….but ask for the Mass of Ages E.F. you are looked at like you are from mars…..

    Sorry to vent….but can relate to this article so well….I ask for Prayers in our part of the World that GOD sends us a Priest to say this Holy Mass.

  2. acardnal says:

    Wise recommendations, Fr. Z.

    I myself have paid for a diocesan priest to receive training in the EF at the FSSP seminary last May and I am pleased to do so for any other interested priest in the diocese. I like your idea of bringing a trainer to the diocese so that multiple diocesan priests can be trained at one time. More cost effective!

    I learned today while listening to Relevant Radio that seminarians at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD are allowed to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with their bishop’s permission in 4th Year Theology. Unfortunately, I could not locate a similar course at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. I hope that Fr. Robert Barron, the rector, will offer courses in the TLM/EF and Latin. A search of their website revealed zero results for either.


  3. HeatherPA says:

    If you have offered to pay for your parish priest to go to the FSSP training (including airfare) and he refused, is it all right to approach another area priest?

  4. TraditionalCatholicGirl says:

    I asked my local parish priest if we could have the latin mass in our parish, since we still have a beautiful high alter from when the church was built in 1872. He said no, because he doesn’t know Latin. I attend a FSSP chapel for the EF, but it would be nice to not have to drive 1 1/2 hours each way for mass every Sunday.

    Getting to the point, is it possible to have a guest priest who is able to celebrate mass in the EF come to the parish and do just that? I would love to hear more than guitar and tambourine in the choir loft these days.

  5. Hank Igitur says:

    These are very good suggestions. However sometimes there is a top down approach in the diocese which ensures the TLM cannot flourish: allowing only one monthly Mass at 5am on a weekday in a remote location, a bishop telling a newly ordained priest to lessen his interest in the TLM, or a bishop stating that “no Masses for special interest groups will be permitted” (illegal to do so, I know). In our city the diocesan seminarians have been forbidden by the rector to attend the TLM in an FSSP parish on even a single occasion since it may “infuence their vocation”. Hopefully sheer persistence and good preparation will win out over time in favor of the Mass of the Ages.

  6. Bruce Wayne says:

    You mention Holy Innocents in Manhattan and that rang a bell so I checked. It is the parish that Fr. Rutler has been transferred to from Our Saviour by Ab. Card. Dolan. His weekly emailed reflections over the summer touched on how much Our Saviour changed over his years there. I especially appreciated how he mentioned the music was just terrible when he arrived with applause a common feature but that within a short time the choirmaster and choir he had would have been horrified if they had been subjected to applause for their attempts to glorify and worship God in reverent song and chant. I am a big fan of his (except for some aspects of his politics). When I first moved to NYC I was involved in a young adult men’s reading group initially of Augustine’s Confessions with Fr. Neuhaus in the lead and then of lives of saints and patristics with Fr. Rutler. Many good memories and anecdotes come from those meetings. So I am pleased to hear that the parish is establishing another base for the EF in Manhattan. I would attend it at St. Agnes parish every now and again and in the last 4 or so years at Our Saviour Fr. Rutler had started to at least occasionally hold the EF. Additionally, as I have mentioned before, Rutler proves that the OF can also be a thing of liturgical beauty.

  7. Precentrix says:

    Can I stress the spiritual aspect even more?

    True story… I live in a diocese where the (new-ish) bishop is not opposed to the EF and is learning (re-learning?) it himself, while a weekly Mass in the EF has just been added to the cathedral timetable. However, I also live in a remote-ish part of the diocese, where there is no means of heading over to a neighbouring parish without a boat/plane/helicopter/being able to sail on one’s cappa like St. Raymond of Penyafort. Consequently, we haven’t thus far been able to benefit from this friendliness, since our pastor is not of the same attitude.

    So we prayed. And we arranged the occasional visit, e.g. for All Souls or something… and we have at least one chap who knows how to serve it properly, several other adult servers learning (their main problem will be learning the Latin and just doing everything more ‘properly’), and a half-trained schola cantorum on standby. And we kept praying.

    And then our bishop swapped our curate with his secretary (they were ordained together) and as soon as we knew who he was sending, there were little victory dances. Father just arrived, and we didn’t even have to suggest or hint, let alone ask, because *he* brought up the subject (without actually knowing any of us, though he met me once before). Now all we have to do is keep praying because we know that Father’s timetable is going to be full enough as it is!

    Te Deum laudamus…

  8. Scott W. says:

    Then, make sure that they have all the training and materials they need.

    Anyone got links/sources for getting the bare-bones to make a TLM fly?

  9. Skeinster says:

    There used to be an FSSP instructional video. Is that still available?
    Just scattershooting, as a long-time attendee, not an expert: you would need Mass cards, someone to correct Fr.’s Latin while he’s training, the EF rubrics, proper vessels (no glass, pottery, etc.), trained servers. Assuming you’re starting with a Low Mass.
    I know everyone loves Trad vestments, but they are not essential, to start. Maniple needed, though?
    And the “red books”- the little paperback missalettes. Plus, the propers for the day, if possible.

  10. APX says:

    Does SP apply to Catholic universities? I go to a very liberal catholic university. We don’t have a priest for a chaplain, just some lay woman, and we have Mass once a week (not well attended) offered by a different priest each week. I have a small group of people at school (but it’s also a small group who attends Mass each week) who would be interested in having our priest come offer a low Mass even once a month, if possible.

  11. iPadre says:

    To brother Priests: as one of the younger priests in my diocese said, “We need to network.” One knows hoe to offer Low Mass, another Missa Cantata, another Hight Mass, deacon, sub-deacon. One parish has a choir that knows how do do it right. Let’s train one another so that we all know how to do everything. I’m working on getting a class together for priests who want to strengthen their Latin. What can you do for your brother priests?

  12. raitchi2 says:

    “However, even though I started with the identification of priests, the real first step is the identification and commitment of the lay people who are going to have to do all the work and pay all the bills. ”

    So how does this work when the lay group loses the priest (ex. he get’s transfered)? Does the lay group keep the possesions that they made or are the somehow Church property? For example could the group decide to reject the priest which started serving? Could they move to another parish?

  13. Angie Mcs says:

    “It would be nice not to have to drive 1 1/2 hours each way for mass each Sunday”.

    That’s certainly true. My husband and I make that trip every week, and on Days of Obligation, and since it involves expressways in a major city, we sometimes get stuck in horrendous traffic, and see awful accidents. The other drivers can be quite aggressive, the cars are bumper to bumper and the minutes pile up. I cross myself as soon as we pull out of the driveway! We sometimes even just miss the beginning of mass. Not a good way to compose oneself or to prepare for confession.

    Yet people come from all over to attend, families with babies and many children. I don’t know where they live but to all of us, it’s worth it to be able to attend the TLM. However, it’s sad that this is the situation, that these masses aren’t close by for everyone, and that people do have to drive so far, especially with little children. How nice to be able to walk from home or to have a shorter, safer drive. This really should be changing – for those of you who want the EF, please keep trying.

    I’m sorry Father Barron isn’t introducing this at his seminary. As a well known public figure, he should be able to get this accomplished, and he should see the need and importance. The key is more priests who know the EF. Why not start in seminary?

  14. Palladio says:

    Pope Benedict 16 explicitly stated the priest need not know Latin to say the Mass in Latin.

    I know that can shock many, but we celebrate mystery, we do not, of course, ‘understand’ it, in Mass. This is true whether the Mass (in the Roman Rite, in Latin) is in the vernacular or the always-already- there Latin of which all vernacular versions are JUST translations.

    All the best in your desire to participate in the TLM.

  15. TraditionalCatholicGirl says:


    I didn’t know that bit of information! Thanks for passing it on.

    I want to introduce the EF of mass into my parish, but I have no idea of where to start. It would be nice to have a parish that offers the EF closer to my area. Maybe a flier campaign? I asked the choir director if it would be possible to reintroduce the old Latin hymns and parts of Mass, but they blew over my request and ignored it. Any advice as to learning chant and starting up a schola? Many thanks!



    P.S: Also, what is a good website for obtaining the items necessary for celebrating the EF of mass, such as the proper chasibules, patens, etc?

  16. Palladio says:

    Dear TraditionalCatholicGirl,

    “Fight the good fight” etc. You are in my prayers.

    Your P. S. first: FSSP online is one place. Saint John Cantius, Chicago, also online, is another.

    If you can already read music (sight singing), chant is a snap (technically speaking). Lots of free scores online. Chant is as good as it gets, as far as I am concerned: Google. Re Schola: http://musicasacra.com

    As you are a self-professed “girl,” I have every confidence that, if anybody is going to carry on Sacred Tradition, it is our young Catholics. Check out Juventutem Boston: http://juventutemboston.com It is looking to open chapters in other cities. That’s Fr. Z in the picture, by the way. One reason I have that confidence is that, in a group, it will be denied little if anything by most older folks, prelature included. Dum spiro spero.

    God bless you, my friend!

  17. Precentrix says:

    Scott W:

    You might see http://www.sanctamissa.com for a start? There are tutorials for priests and servers online and a link to the shop run by the canons at St. John Cantius where you can buy bits and bobs.

    And looking, apparently there is now a tutorial on how to do traditional Confirmations (in case any bishops are reading this)!

  18. Precentrix says:

    TraditionalCatholicGirl – you can also get all the resources from there.

  19. Dan says:

    acardnal: “Unfortunately, I could not locate a similar course at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. I hope that Fr. Robert Barron, the rector, will offer courses in the TLM/EF and Latin.”

    Let me confirm for you that both of these things are already offered at Mundelein Seminary.

  20. acardnal says:

    Great news!

    I searched their website for both Latin and EF Mass courses and was unable to locate any.

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