From a reader…
Maybe this question is too broad, but here goes: What is so difficult about saying/learning the EF? My pastor recently mentioned that he simply does not have time to learn the EF well enough to say it himself (he is open to it and even attended some local Juventutem events, but he is the sole priest in charge of two large parishes). As an outside observer, I realize that learning how to pronounce the Latin may be a bit difficult, and a priest needs a bit of help learning where to start, but isn’t everything the priest says and does in a TLM (especially a low mass) provided in the books? And if not, couldn’t new books be written to provide for details in the margins or more clear directions in the priest’s native language to guide him right though? It seems that a lot of smart and not-so-smart men learned to say mass over the last 500 years, I would presume the same should still be able to hold true today.
There are a lot of factors to consider.
First, many priests are up to their eyeballs in tasks. One more task gets to be daunting. We have to have compassion and patience when considering their time.
I know, I know… this is a really important task, and it touches on the very identity of every priest of the Roman Rite. Who are we if we don’t know our Rite? And we don’t know our Rite, if we don’t also know the Usus Antiquior, the TLM, which is arguably the expression of the Rite which is richer and has the greater track record by far. Hence, many tasks a priest has on his plate ought to be set aside for this more important project. But we all know what human nature is like.
Another aspect is, surely, that many priests have heard that it is sooooo haaaaard to learn the older Mass, and, not knowing Latin well or at all, they are simply intimidated. Moreover, some intimidated priests who are serious and pious, in their desire to do it well and without mistakes, hesitate to start because they are afraid they won’t do a good job of it. Of course a lot – and I mean a lot of really dumb priests in the past learned how to say Mass and the world continued to spin on its access. If they could do it, we can do it.
There’s one guy I know who is pretty nervous about the whole thing. I’m about to ship him a box of Depends with a sharply worded note.
REALLY! It’s NOT THAT HARD!
There is a Latin phrase: Fabricando fabri fimus… we become carpenters by doing carpentry. We have to get our of our heads and get our hands dirty, as it were. Also, we mustn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That’s a killer.
It really helps some men to be shown what to do, one on one. Listening to recordings of the Latin can be useful. Doing a workshop, if possible, can be productive.
Priests should be encouraged, enjoined, badgered, beckoned, cajoled, urged, wheedled, exhorted, implored and pressed to learn the older form, for his own sake, and for the sake of the congregation he serves.
Also, be willing to step up and provide anything and everything he needs.
Father says, “I don’t have the books.”
You reply, takingthe paper from your pocket, “Here are several editions, Father, which would you like?”
“I don’t have the right vestments.”
“Father Z says that Gammarelli in Rome is not too expensive and they do good work. Which colors would you like? I’ll order them.”
“My Latin isn’t very good.”
“Here are some great resources. Let’s work on it together. I’ll bring the wine and cheese.”
The knock on effect of knowing the traditional ways pays back a thousand fold all the efforts paid to learn them.
Fathers, you CAN do this! You SHOULD do this! Your life as a priest will change once you know the older form and people will be grateful for the ongoing dividends your efforts will provide.