ASK FATHER: How to convince a priest to learn the Traditional Latin Mass?

From a reader….


Our vicar is a very devout priest from Poland but today I heard him saying “the ordinary form is enough for me”. What do you suggest to do in order to convince him to offer the Holy Mass in the extraordinary form of the roman rite?


How to convince a priest to embrace the extraordinary form. Hmmm.

First, recognize that most priests are busier than they would like to be. The demands of the office are huge in the best of times – and there are always those things that priests wish they could attend to, but just don’t have time. Few priests go to bed at the end of a day thinking, “Yep, I’ve pretty much done everything I wanted to today.” I suppose that could be said of just about everyone.

If a priest looks at the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass as “one more thing to do,” it can be daunting. If he can look at it, however, as “this will enrich my priesthood,” then you might be on to something.

First he’ll need exposure to the extraordinary form. Is there one celebrated regularly nearby? At a convenient time? Could there be an opportunity for you to say, “Father, Ss. Processus and Martinian is offering a High Mass for the feast of St. Cuthbert next month on a Tuesday evening. We’d love to take you – you can sit in choir, and not have to do anything – then we’ll take you out for a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. There are six of us going, and we’d love to have you join us.”

Don’t be pushy. If he says no, or digs his heels in, then back off – and pray. Pray for him.

Would it be possible to bring in a priest from outside to offer the extraordinary form at your church? Or maybe even invite in a priest familiar with the EF to have a chat with your priest? Nothing confrontational, just a chat. Sometimes priests, depending on their formation, get some wild ideas about what “those priests” are like. Meeting them, and coming to know them as just men, as good men, as normal men can wear down some of the misconceptions. Of course, make sure that the priest in question IS  a good and normal man.

Unless he expresses an interest, don’t flood him with books, DVD’s, articles – the flood of material a priest receives is often overwhelming and it can be easy to just simply ignore unsolicited literature rather than engage it. Speak to him openly and honestly about your love for the EF, and what it has done for your relationship with God and your faith life.

And pray. Keep praying for him, even if he digs his heels in. Prayer can truly move mountains.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    My guess is that this priest is from Poland, where the Ordinary Form may be celebrated in such a way that it is indeed enough. I myself would have nothing more than an academic interest in the Extraordinary Form if the Ordinary Form were celebrated properly.

  2. stephen c says:

    What Geoffrey said.

    As for me, I don’t have much influence in my parish or my diocese. I am not the sort of person with the type of energy that makes people think hey that person there is a wonderful Catholic Christian. There is almost no chance, consequently, that my wishes will be punctiliously respected, at some unknown future date, as to the form of my funeral mass, if I even am lucky enough to have one.

    That being said … I probably won’t mind if the local priest ignores my wish for a funeral in the usus antiquior. Which, since my local priest is the one who took the priestly vows, with all that responsibility, it is up to him, if I have to have a funeral, whether that funeral is in the preferred usus antiquor or whether my funeral will be whatever will pass, the year of my death, for an acceptable funeral liturgy. I pray that the priests I know will become holier, every day, and will show that in their celebration of the holy liturgies …. but it is up to God to answer that prayer.

    But it will be very unkind of said priest – and I would not want him to be unkind in such a small matter – if, whenever that day happens (if it happens: I do not rule out, even as old as I am, living until the days told of in the Book of Revelation, where some people do not actually die … to change the subject slightly, one would prefer not to live to a very advanced age, such long life is often a punishment, we are not all Saint John the Evangelist, but I might, God forbid, be one of the desolate people whom God allows to live too long on this earth) …well, I will be saddened if, on the day of the mass celebrated with the good of my eternal soul as the priest’s intention ( and if the mass is not celebrated in the usus antiquior ) my beloved “Eucharistic Prayer 1” is NOT said (quietly or not), with all those “younger than any of us saints” whose names I long ago memorized – Mary and Joseph, the faithful-to-their-last-day-on-earth apostles (all except the apostle known as Iscariot) (feel free to stop reading here if you already know the prayer) – and Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, Juan el Baptista, Esteban, Matthias and Barnabas, Ignacio, Alejandro, Marcelino y Pedro, Felicidad y Perpetua, Agueda, Lucia, Ines, Cecilia, Anastasia …
    (nobody ever had better friends praying for them)

    (Cornelius was for a while the hardest in that list to memorize so I tried to remember, week after week, the first Cornelius of whose existence I was aware, that guy with the Yukon sleigh pulled by immortal French poodles ( a connection to Joan of Arc? don’t laugh …) and miniature Saint Bernards (an obvious reference to, of course, the original Saint Bernard) whom one saw every Christmas on a semi-Japanese television show that starred, of all people, a very distant version of our beloved true-hearted Saint Nicholas ….).

    (my favorite free short book on the internet is “Saints of the Canon”)

  3. Fr. Reader says:

    There are other ways that show the direction, rather than the goal.
    Fr, this stipend is for an intention, can we have the EP1 in that Mass, it helps us to pray for the dead (or, I have devotion to St Cyprian, or any other reason)…
    Me and my friends have been rehearsing the Gloria, can we sing it this Sunday (instead of that ugly piece of pop music we suffer every Sunday)?
    Fr., we brought a cake and a bottle of wine for your birthday.
    Fr., that window is broken, we can have it repaired…
    Some vestment need some washing, or some fixing, we can do it easily.
    We bought this beautiful cd of the monastery of Silos and this one by Adele, they can help you to rest.
    But obviously depends on the relationship between the parishioners and the priest. Often the problem is not the priest, but the parish council head or other active ministers.

    Also, please, those more interested in traditional things, show concern for the works of mercy, really, and do not criticize day and night priests and bishops you do not like. Even if this criticism is done in private, it becomes well known that for a certain group of people 80% of their conversation is about how bad others in the Church are. This creates a negative predisposition in the priest, even if he will not say it. Do not become Novus Ordo Watch. I know not everybody is like this, but I see it often.

  4. Hidden One says:

    I know from experience that when the lay people in their parishes who are known to like traditional things befriend the lay people (including parish staff) who like especially nontraditional things, and when they are also the people who authentically defend and thank and invite to their houses the priests whom other lay people critique the most (for sloppy liturgies and whatever other actual and perceived faults)… those things get noticed, in a very good way, by both other lay people and by clergy. These things, combined with much prayer and patience, really help a lot.

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