A Bishop calls on his brother Bishops to celebrate the Traditional Pontifical Mass, TLM

A few bishops have blogs.  A few blogs of bishops are worth looking at.   Here is a blog post on a bishop’s blog which every bishop should read.

Most Rev. Thomas E. Gullickson is the Papal Nuncio in Switzerland.  He has a blog called Ad montem myrrhae, a reference to the Song of Songs.

His Excellency wrote and specifically mentions other bishops and cordially calls them out.

My emphases, comments:

I guess it would be fair enough to say that blogs are within the scope of propriety even if in a very public sphere they offer personal, bordering on intimate, reflections. With the wonderful celebrations at the Basilica in Fribourg on 8 December, I guess you could say that my heart is overflowing and I must speak.

2017 here in Switzerland has gifted me with three occasions, all of them Marian, to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass: in Fischingen, a Pontifical High Mass on the occasion of a pilgrimage for the Fatima Centenary, a Missa Praelatitia in Sankt Pelagiberg for the Holy Name of Mary, and now for the Immaculate Conception a Pontifical High Mass in the Basilica Notre Dame de Fribourg. These three moments have had their positive, yes warming and reassuring impact on my heart. No doubt a person has to do something to prepare his heart to receive them in this way, but in any case, the Tradition, or should I say the Blessed Mother has won my heart in most delicate fashion.

Without having such a chair, I’d like to say ex cathedra, [NB] that the Vetus Ordo is how a bishop is meant to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] The Traditional Latin Mass in all its solemnity really carries the bishop. The above picture captures it quite well, as I sit front and center, with my old knees covered!, while the subdeacon reads the Gospel in French, I listen waiting to preach my homily. With the Novus Ordo, we were taught in the seminary at Mass practice or in homiletics to be sharp, to be proactive… in the Vetus Ordo, the liturgy, with Christ the High Priest, Mary with all the angels and saints, carries me in most attentive fashion and challenges me to allow myself to be changed, transformed, really made over to Christ Jesus. The liturgy carries the old man in me and makes me an icon of something of which I am not worthy and for which from beginning to end I repeat my Domine, non sum dignus… and my miserere nobis! [WHEW!  Yes.  So true, also for the lowly priest.] It is so right and so age appropriate!

It took me really too long to let go and allow others to carry me through this experience. Obviously, a priest who celebrates his daily low Mass or a Sunday High Mass, Missa Cantata, without assisting ministers, well, he has to be at the top of his game, so to speak. I just want to go on record that bishops get the better part of a free ride, even if they should really interiorize it all by memorizing a goodly part of the liturgy.

Bishops, do yourself and the Church a favor by accepting the invitation should it come your way and doing your little, old part to let this great icon shine forth from the heart of Christ’s Church!

From the bottom of my beady black heart I thank Bp. Gullickson, whom I met once years ago when he was, if memory serves, still Bp-Elect.   He put it well.

He allowed others to do the work.  Bp. Gullickson sees things from a perspective I can’t see, but he explains himself: the bishop always has to be proactive.  And if as a priest he didn’t celebrate the older, traditional Mass, solemnly, then he is used to doing almost everything.   It can be a foreign notion to them. let the sacred ministers do their roles.   One of the things that the Novus Ordo beats into a priest is that he has to be doing something.  He has to be in charge.   The older, traditional form keeps the celebrant under close reins.  That’s a huge advantage to a man who really wants to pray.

I think that some bishops are afraid to accept invitations to pontificate in the traditional form because a) they may not know Latin well and bishops rarely are willing to show that and b) because they think that the ceremonies will demand a great deal from them.

However, there isn’t all that much Latin for celebrants in the solemn forms that people will hear: a greetings (easy), a couple of orations (a little harder), the preface (needs some practice), the Pater Noster (he should know that anyway) and that’s about it.   If the bishop just allows himself to be steered around by the MC and the sacred ministers, he doesn’t have to “work” so hard to be “proactive”.  In fact, the last thing that MCs need in a Mass is a proactive bishop.

I warmly second Bp. Gullickson’s call.   Please please please, Your Excellencies!   When you are invited, please say YES!   You should not go to your grave without having celebrated the Roman Rite truly as a bishop, and that means the traditional Pontifical Mass.   Just says YES!   You will get all the help you need (or accept) and, if you relax and are a little docile, it’ll be the greatest of experiences.   Talk to some of your brother bishops who are known to pontificate traditionally once in a while.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Just Too Cool, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Ms. M-S says:

    Should not knowing Latin well appear at first to be a stumbling block, it can be pretty readily dismissed. There are no native speakers of Church Latin so no one has a foreign accent when praying in that language. Few people in the congregation could say the prayers any more easily, and most of us welcome a slow, careful delivery. At any rate, the prayers are addressed to God, and He understands what we say no matter how we say it.

  2. Pingback: TVESDAY AFTERNOON EDITION – Big Pulpit

  3. Ave Maria says:

    Marvelous! I was speaking with a friend yesterday who belongs to a FSSP parish and she was saying what a difference it has made in her spiritual life. She said that she never prayed the Mass before as she does now where she feels so in tune with Christ all through the Mass and takes that with her the rest of the day. My brother also has moved to be near a FSSP parish and he is learning by leaps and bounds and has a holy spiritual director now too. I wish I could be in such a parish! In the Novus Ordo we of the laity are to be active, stress active, participants but not of the activity so much of prayer as of doing something. Mass on Sunday had 4 little girls as servers, a woman lector, many women EMHCs, etc. There is the 4 hymn sandwich and small bits of silence here and there where you just sit and do nothing. The priest is the center of attention and sometimes it seems he is on stage. I am blessed , though, because I can sometimes get to a Sunday noon TLM and our bishop–while he may never offer that form himself–does allow it and some of our younger priests are learning it. I am grateful for that.

  4. RichR says:

    In fact, the last thing that MCs need in a Mass is a proactive bishop.
    LOL! Very true. As a server at our EF Mass and someone who will soon be trained as MC, I would encourage bishops to actually look at what is required of them in the 1962 Pontifical Mass. It’s a lot less than they may think. Yet it really is a unifying ritual that reminds people of the diocese that they are a flock with a shepherd given to them from the good God.

    [One thing that the older form of Pontifical Mass manifests, with all the different roles and offices, is that when the diocesan bishop celebrates, the entire diocese celebrates in his person.]

Comments are closed.