Brick by Brick. TLM by TLM.

16_01_12_propoganda_posterThere is a bit of head scratching going on in traditional circles about whether attendance at TLMs has either hit a plateau or, like Sisyphus’ rock, is rolling backwards.

Here is post from the charming and erudite Prof. Joseph Shaw of England’s Latin Mass Society.

Let’s see:

61 Traditional Christmas Masses in England and Wales

See the whole list of Christmas Masses here, and Masses for the Epiphany here.

The Latin Mass Society is advertising a record number of Masses in the Extraordinary Form being celebrated this Christmas. Counting Midnight Mass and the Mass of Christmas Day, there will be no fewer than 61 celebrations this year. This represents an increase of 11 since last year.

2012 – 44
2013 – 50
2014 – 50
2015 – 61

It is interesting that there was not increase between 2013 and 2014. In many ways I have the impression that there was something of a pause in the development of the Traditional Mass around that time. [Hmmm… what happened then?] But that is over now, and it is not difficult to see where the growth has come from. We have a whole group of new centres for the celebration of the Traditional liturgy coming on-stream this year: the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Preston, the Fraternity of St Peter in Warrington, the Friars in Gosport, the Oratory in York, a new EF Mass venue in Bedford, and so on.

Who would have thought, ten years ago, that there would be celebrations of the Traditional Mass for Christmas in six churches in the Archdiocese of Liverpool?

That there would be a Traditional Mass for Christmas in places like the University Chaplaincy at Leeds, or Portsmouth Cathedral?

That there would be traditional High Masses – with celebrant, deacon and subdeacon – in five different places for Christmas? In Sheffield, Birmingham, Warrington, New Brighton, and Gosport.

We have a long way to go, in making the Traditional Mass genuinely available to Catholics in England and Wales. But thanks to the tremendous work of the priests who love this Mass, and to the faithful who support them – including the Latin Mass Society – we are moving in the right direction.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an ‘Anniversary Supporter‘.

Brick by brick, my readers, brick by brick.

However, I will remind you about what I have written before.

Summorum Pontificum was a game-changer, people.  Priests don’t need permission to use the older books.  Pastors don’t have to crawl with their trembling beggar bowl and cringe before the lord bishop.

Also, don’t hitch all your hopes for a bright future only on specialist priests of the FSSP or ICK.  As good as they are, and they are great fellows and the groups are wonderful, I hold that the real reform will being when more diocesan priests learn the older, traditional Form and use it regularly in their parishes.

We must NOT be complacent with one Mass at a reasonable time at one parish.  We must NOT allow ourselves to be shoved into ghettos or concentration chapels.  No.  Take it over the borders into new territories.  Invade!  Be the maquis!

MORE MORE MORE!  That’s what we need.

I had a note from a young parish priest in my native place of Minnesota about his recently implemented TLM.  He wrote:

OVER 200 attended our EF Mass tonight. More than double our highest attendance and not to mention, my awesome young school principal (largest elementary in the TC) was in attendance with her 4 or 5 kids and husband.

And to you who haven’t yet been to Holy Mass in the traditional, Extraordinary Form… what are you waiting for?

As I have written in the past, you have been given what you need to get what you long for.   Stop moping about.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Be The Maquis, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Tom says:

    Speaking of a sample of one (my) parish, it certainly is alive and growing.

  2. majuscule says:

    Even though I’m in the US I support The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

    They sent me a red plastic credit-card-size card for my wallet that states “I instruct as a Catholic that in the event of my death a Requiem Mass and all other liturgy be celebrated…” etc.

    In the UK they will even help people with this!

    Of course I don’t expect them to assist with this in the US, but I have added contact information for a local priest who will.

    I wonder of one of the Latin Mass societies in the US might take something like this on? Friends who have seen my card want one, too!

  3. kurtmasur says:

    Fr. Z, I think you forgot to include the words “Hagan lío!” in your post!

    If indeed the feathers of the bishops will be ruffled by our efforts to expand the TLM, then “may they forgive Pope Francis for encouraging the flock to ‘make a mess'”… as Francis originally stated, hehe.

    On a serious note, I myself have already tried to present the idea of having the TLM to a few priests back in my hometown diocese, and almost universally 1) the priests (with the exception of the Bishop) had no clue what the TLM was, and so I had to explain that it was the “original Mass” before the NO came along, etc., and 2) when they finally understood what I was talking about, their next question was a big “Why?”…. as if implying that having the TLM was something illogical or irrational that doesn’t make sense. Indeed, it seems that for all the progress the TLM has done, there is an utter lack of awareness of the TLM’s existence by a huge percentage of priests, let alone faithful. (True story: I once invited some very devout college-aged Catholic friends to the TLM where I am currently living [they are very devout, and even go to daily Mass]…but, they had never been to a TLM before, and I’m not sure they even knew what it was…they had told me they had been to a “latin Mass” before, but I was sure they meant a NO latin mass….so anyways, as we sat there a few minutes early waiting for the TLM to begin, they couldn’t help but notice that things were a bit “different” [you know, altar ad orientem, 6 candles, the picture frames with the prayers, many women and even the little girls wearing veils on their heads etc.], and so they shyly asked me, much to my amusement, “sorry if this is a dumb question, but, is this a catholic church??”… I think their reaction is a testament to the differences between NO and TLM environments being as different as night and day!, but I digress).

    Anyways, going back to the “why?” question, I was honestly not expecting such a response from the priests I approached, so I admit that I was caught off-guard. I guess the TLM has become so second-nature to me that it is as if somebody asked me “Why?” with regards to washing my hands or brushing my teeth. The explanation that I came up with was that the TLM could be an excellent source of catechesis and evangelization (or part of the New Evangelization, rather) for both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

    I figure that other unsuspecting NO priests would react similarly with a big “Why?”, so I would like to ask other readers here as to how they would handle a similar “Why?” question from NO priests?

  4. baileymxd says:

    Amen, Father! This is definitely more on the lines of what I am witnessing, rather than some of what Msgr Pope opined the other day.

    We have a few [young] priests in our diocese that either have transferred from the FSSP or considered the order before decided on the call of the diocesan priesthood, SPECIFICALLY TO inform their flock of the beauty and spirituality of the TLM. And it is working profoundly.

  5. joan ellen says:

    Mons. Pope’s TLM Evangelization emphasis on the other thread brought many comments to Fr. Z’s Post. Not only many, but also lengthy comments…a most encouraging ‘sign’ for the future of the TLM.

    From that post I came away with 2 words Pray & ‘honey’…i.e., use patience & prudence. A 3rd word…cards… as in Mass cards, from another commenter, in the pews that give an explanation of the Mass….sights, sounds, postures, etc. also as a way to “inform their flock of the beauty and spirituality of the TLM.”

    These 2 posts are most helpful & hopeful in essence & practicality re: the TLM. God is good. ;)

  6. joan ellen says:

    Sorry, baileymxd…I meant to give you credit from your sentence above and the phrase which included ‘beauty and spirituality’.

  7. RichR says:

    Despite many efforts here in Bryan/College Station, TX, no EF Masses are available. We have plenty of LifeTeen Masses, Spanish Masses, and folk music Masses, Protestant-style P&W Masses. However, for those of us who have a more formal temperament there is nothing available.

    I’ve given up trying to convince my kids Mass can be beautiful and traditional.

  8. JDBenedictH says:

    I’d be interested in seeing how attendance at those Masses has changed over the years. The data for that is incredibly more difficult to obtain, but it would give a better indication of what the raw numbers of attendance are. More Masses and fewer people at each Mass are a compatible couple, technically speaking.

  9. Michelle F says:

    I am a founding member of one of two Latin Mass Communities in my diocese (eastern USA). My group got started in September 2013, and we have had almost no success in getting regular Novus Ordo Catholics interested in the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m glad it’s growing in other places, and that growth gives me hope, but if you were looking at the statistics in my area, you would think the TLM was fading.

    We went from 1 TLM in 2007 to 5 TLMs by the Fall of 2014. Then we had one priest retire, one who was transferred out of the diocese (part of a religious order, so he won’t be back), and one priest who simply quit offering the TLM by the middle of 2015. That cut us back to 2 TLMs.

    One priest started driving half-way across the state to offer the TLM once a month, so that got us back to 3 TLMs.

    Then, the priest who had quit offering the TLM started again. That put us back up to 4 TLMs.

    We now have a priest who is an older man and a convert, recently ordained, who is trying to get the TLM started in his parish, and who is willing to drive one third of the way across the state to take care of the needs of our Latin Mass Community. That could get us back up to 5 TLMs or even 6 if his parish accepts the Mass, but right now we are at 3 TLMs.

    So, it looks like we are losing ground in our efforts, and perhaps we are, but who can tell when everything is so unstable in our area?

  10. Michelle F says:

    I lost track of my count at the end of the 5th paragraph above. We have 4 TLMs right now in my diocese, not 3.

  11. rmichaelj says:

    To make the TLM available obviously requires priests willing to make it available. My observation has been that in general younger or newly ordained priests tend to be much more open to the TLM than older more settled priests. With that in mind I always make it a point to mention the beauty and spiritual gifts to every seminarian I meet. Not only are they more likely to be open, they are still in training and can request additional instruction before they have to take on the responsibilities of a parish.

    My answer to the “WHY?” question is what was mentioned above as well as to add that the TLM helps me to fulfill my vocation as a father to pass on the Faith to my children.

  12. TxBSonnier says:

    As someone who came into the church at St. Mary’s in CS, I’m curious which parishes/Mass times have the “folk-music Masses and Protestant-style P&W Masses”? While I would *love* to see a regular EF Mass in my hometown, it’s not like it’s crazy liberal there either unless things have gone far from what it was when I moved two years ago. I’ve seen nothing but reverent “by the book” use of the OF in my time there, and there is the vocation boom to match. Yes, let’s add the EF but I think they’re more generally concerned with keeping up the infastructure to maintain 6 weekend English Masses, 200 person daily Mass attendance, and 6 day a week Confessions at one of the four area parishes. They are not yet a beacon of traditionalism, but they are one of the better examples I know of OF done right.

  13. PTK_70 says:

    @RichR…..pray for this to change in April.
    With all due respect to Fr. Z, I submit that scheduling one usus antiquitor Mass at a regular Sunday hour in a readily accessible, prominent parish is preferable to scheduling six such Masses spread out in various corners of the diocese and said on Sunday afternoons. I grasp the value of numbers, but let us remember that the idea behind Summorum was not for the old to usurp the new, but rather to facilitate “an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.” How can that really happen when everywhere you look the usus antiquitor is pushed to the margins of parish/diocesan life? And how can the celebration of the extraordinary Form buttress the celebration of the ordinary Form when the former is kept arm’s length from the latter? God forbid, but if this isn’t properly managed, we might witness the emergence of something like a Sunday afternoon counter-Church.

    So my prayer is for more acceptance of Mass celebrated according to the older Form and the older Rites. My prayer is that the celebration of the ordinary and extraordinary Forms side-by-side on Sunday morning will become more commonplace.

  14. Gratias says:

    Father Z said:

    “And to you who haven’t yet been to Holy Mass in the traditional, Extraordinary Form… what are you waiting for?”

    This is a very powerful request. The laity, I know I do, loves to be asked to do concrete things for the Church. Here in the USA it is getting better, but the Latin Mass is essentially gone from Latin America thanks to bishops like Pope Francis. The essential missing element is teaching Latin in Seminaries. Brick by brick, it is hard work to rebuild His Church but together we can do it.

  15. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    And in London (England) on the day of the Epiphany, (which of course is not quite the Epiphany in the OF!) there were three Low Masses and two Sung Masses (one of which a High Mass) in central London churches. Further into the suburbs, such as Clapham Park, even more. We have much to be grateful for.

  16. Thorfinn says:

    I know this has been mentioned before, but it can’t be mentioned enough:

    If you lose your local TLM, do not give up. There is an established process to petition pastor, bishop, and Vatican to provide the TLM. Use it. Be prepared for the possibility, have a list of regular attendees, and use the process. Think of the Catholics who, today or in the past, wait months, years, decades to hear any Mass at all. Ask the Communion of Saints in Heaven for their intercession – I’m sure they appreciate the TLM!

    There is no reason there can’t be one TLM in every parish – at least in every parish that has multiple Masses. There is no reason the TLM can’t replace another morning Mass – it doesn’t have to be ‘extra’.

    Priests can learn enough Latin to offer Mass. They used to all over the world 50 years ago. One priest I know learned (in all his ‘free time’ – yeah right) to say the OF Mass in a relatively obscure language (I forget which) to offer one Mass a year in that language for a few parishioners.

    The people can go to a TLM even if they don’t want to. They did all over the world 50 years ago. Suck it up, buttercup — we’ve dealt with decades of torture from Marty Haugen & Friends. (At least the TLM is Catholic.) Spanish speakers can (and do!) go to the TLM — Latin is closer to Spanish than English and they might understand more than they do from the Spanish some priests attempt — to say nothing of the minority language groups less likely to have a dedicated vernacular Mass in their primary language.

  17. ncstevem says:

    My sense is that the % of semanarians/newly ordained priests wanting to celebrate the TLM will continue to increase. However not until like minded priests reach positions of power (bishoprics) in greater numbers, will there be a greater # of priests willing to celebrate it.

    For that to happen, more of the old guard will have to retire.

    I think the level of interest in the TLM on the part of the laity will have less of an impact in the future (10 – 20 years from now) on how many celebrations of the TLM there are. The shortage of priests will result in fewer options for the laity to shop around for a church.

    Already happened at a smaller parish in the state where I live. The pastor of a rural parish started celebrating a weekly TLM 10 years ago. Two years ago, he decided to stop celebrating the NO Mass – all his Masses are the TLM now. If a Catholic in the area wants to go to a NO Mass, he’s got to drive some distance to get there.

  18. Mr. Graves says:

    One NO priest I know would be willing to say the TLM but wasn’t trained for it in seminary. He doesn’t speak Latin (except for some traditional prayers) and doesn’t know the rubrics. Where does a middle-age diocesan priest go to learn the TLM?

  19. Gregorius says:

    You know, reading through the discourse on this subject lately, perhaps a good web apostolate to start up is an ‘online war-room’ dedicated to making plans to start up and support TLM initiatives all over the globe.
    Individual users could (anonymously, except for location) submit their individual situations and ideas, and other users (who have already gone through the process) could give advice as to what works and what doesn’t, and individuals can form their plans from there.
    It could also house promotional resources geared towards folks who either have no prior experience with the TLM or who don’t see what the big fuss is about.
    It would, most importantly, be a place to network and find like-minded individuals.

    And to put my money where my mouth is, I’m willing to do this work myself if y’all think this is a good idea. Any takers?

  20. Michelle F says:

    Thorfinn said:

    “There is no reason the TLM can’t replace another morning Mass – it doesn’t have to be ‘extra’.”

    Objectively speaking that’s true, but I was surprised to discover that in my diocese, the bishop has required that the TLM be celebrated as an add-on to the regular Mass schedule. Our priests are forbidden to replace a Novus Ordo with a TLM. Other bishops might have the same restriction in place in their dioceses.

  21. Michelle F says:

    Mr. Graves said:

    “Where does a middle-age diocesan priest go to learn the TLM?”

    The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), which is in full communion with Rome, offers training for priests. You can read about their training program here:

    They also have training materials for priests, altar servers, and sacristans available on their bookstore website, here:

    Depending on where the priest is located, he might be able to find a priest in his own or a neighboring diocese who would be willing to meet with him and help with his training.

  22. Hans says:

    And to you who haven’t yet been to Holy Mass in the traditional, Extraordinary Form… what are you waiting for?

    Well, I have been back when it was the ordinary form, and I still remember wondering as a child why suddenly we were praying in such insipid (not that I knew that word yet, but that was the sense of it) English.

    Now, however, because of the play of personalities within my parish and between my parish and an adjacent parish, I find that I can be more effective in promoting more reverent use of the ordinary form, even the use of Latin in it, if I’m not equated with “THEM”. Nonetheless, I can preach for confession, that a marriage is only between one man and one woman, that abortion — far from being a right is a peculiar form of abuse of women, and be thanked by parishioners and never hear a complaint; quite different from the experience of some of my classmates. There is much hope, but there is also much history to overcome.

    Indeed, the young priest who first sponsored me for formation to the permanent diaconate was interested in more Latin in the ordinary form, and perhaps even in the extraordinary form, both by his own inclination and encouraged by me. But first he needed to learn more of the Latin, and then he became ill to the extent that he was unable to complete his term, and now is even unable to say Mass except as a concelebrant because he can’t say a whole Mass by himself. (Please pray for Fr. Jim.)

    His replacement was antithetical to anything Latin, the improved English translation, and pro-life activities, just as a sample. (He chased one group that helps women in crisis pregnancies out of the parish, for instance.) I did as my former spiritual director had said: I kept my mouth shut, completed formation, and was ordained. Fortunately for my sanity, the replacement priest retired (are you surprised?) after a few years.

    The current pastor is not opposed, but he has other concerns. The other deacon in the parish, a decade my senior and who spent time in a seminary in the late ’60s, is vituperative in his opposition to the extraordinary form (see the personality conflicts above), but is less opposed to Latin in the ordinary form, for instance. For the time being, one interest must give way to another.

  23. Thorfinn says:

    “in my diocese, the bishop has required that the TLM be celebrated as an add-on to the regular Mass schedule. Our priests are forbidden to replace a Novus Ordo with a TLM. ”

    That explains a great deal.

  24. Maineman1 says:


    Have you formed a group of like minded people to promote this Divine worship?

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