I received word a few weeks ago about a move that was to be made in the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida, by the local bishop, to reduce the celebration of Holy Mass using the 1962 Missale Romanum.
Now I see that the news is out (HERE).
I am sure that many of you readers here would like to offer your choicest unfiltered and unedited spittle-flecked comments about the Bishop Lynch, of St. Petersburg, who is now 74. We are not going to do that here.
However, I will comment on a some things. I hope that you who have traditional leanings will read this and take these words to heart.
First, there may be some things about the St. Petersburg situation that we don’t know. I note with interest the careful language in Lynch’s letter. For example, he designates a parish as “a” center for use of the Extraordinary Form. He doesn’t say “the” center. Remember, Summorum Pontificum is still law. Pastors of parishes can, without permission from the bishop, implement Summorum Pontificum in their parishes.
Also, I note that he says “few” people are using the Extraordinary Form. Okay, there’s “few” and there’s “few”. “Few” can be a lot less than who go to the Ordinary Form, but the number is growing. “Few” can be a small number that doesn’t seem to be involved or growing. There are other options, too. I don’t know which it is in this case.
Next, Lynch mentions “economic viability”. Bottom line, if you want to keep a church open, you have to pay the bills. That means, friends, stick a crowbar in your wallet and pay for what you want! If you want a priest, nice vestments, regular Mass and sacraments, you have to pay the bills. No ticky no laundry. This is a hard fact. Unless of course you and Father are content with a rock in the field at the edge of the forest. That might be what we are headed toward in the not too distant future, but for now we have better options if we are willing to work and pay for them.
If people want something badly enough – even a church – they’ll pay and work and sweat for it.
Not only that… SHOW UP. Be determined to go when things are going on at the parish. If there are “few” people attending, and, on Sunday, you yawn and stretch and say, “It’s sort of far to drive to get to St. Fidelia. I’ll go to nearby St. Ipsipidsy!”, you haven’t helped the cause. If you haven’t been showing up, don’t gripe if they point and say “FEW!”.
Also, don’t gripe when they point and say “Few!” if you haven’t been doing your best to bring more people in. Be inviting. Bring people. Try to fill those pews. You know what? It isn’t Father’s job to do that. IT’S YOUR JOB. You are the people out in the world, commissioned to bring the Gospel to all the corners and edges of your lives and the people you encounter. Dedicated lay people, with a cooperative priest, can work wonders. I saw this in, for example, New York at Holy Innocents. It has taken oodles of time and sacrifice on the part of a few lay people, but that congregation, for the Extraordinary Form, has grown beautifully. And when you talk to the people who made it happen, they will tell you what it took: show up and bring more people.
Back to the Lynch Letter. Yes, there are inflammatory phrases. The bishop clearly does not like the Extraordinary Form. I suspect as well that he may dislike the people who like the Extraordinary Form. He doesn’t like the people. But this wouldn’t be new news. So, pray for him. Gang up on him by praying also to his Guardian Angel to help him in these last few days of his term as diocesan bishop. You might also ask St. Joseph to guide him into making good decisions regarding the people who want the Extraordinary Form.
Moreover, do not forget that the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” remains a resource for groups who want to get something going if the local parish priest and the local bishop are less than cooperative.
Which brings me to another point.
The Lynch Letter says that few priests can say the older form of Mass, especially because of their lack of Latin. Yes, and that is the fault of the bishop and those who trained those priests. I refer everyone to canon 249 in the 1983 CIC which requires, it doesn’t suggest, that all seminarians be very well trained in Latin. If they aren’t, then at the time of their ordination, when someone stands up to attest that the men are properly trained, they had better cross their fingers behind their backs, but that requirement is simply being blown off and bishops are to blame.
But this is like crying over spilled milk. It’s time to get one with business even bishops won’t. Take a more positive approach, lay people. Take matters into your own hands. You must get resources into the hands of priests to help them learn the older form. Keeping in mind that priests have a lot to do, make it easy for them. Lay it all out on a silver platter for them. In Madison, where I hang my hat, we have an organization (established before I arrived) to support the spread of the Extraordinary Form. HERE (please drop in and give a tax deductible donation! – 501(c)(3)). We recently made an offer to pay for a couple priests to go to the FSSP training workshop and two priests of the diocese took us up on the offer. You can do the same. Offer to Father to pay for his trip and training. It could make all the difference. More priests, more Masses. But that means that you need to be inviting and helpful for the priest and you have to pay for it.
I guess it depends on how much you want it.
We are now living in a time when people who were hostile to traditional Catholicism (including doctrine) are, after some years of lying fallow, surging back to the fore. They will wipe you out if they have half a chance. Don’t give it to them… especially by being known as the “few” who don’t show up.
Remember, a large percent of the men coming into the seminary these days and who are being ordained right now are open to what you want or already onside. Help them. Help them help you.
Finally, I suggest that you also review what have written before along these lines (HERE). Then, do a real examination of your circumstances and make a plan.
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