ASK FATHER: How to support priests? Prepare for underground Church?

From a reader…


Father – how can we support our good priests and seminarians, knowing how they are targeted by some in the hierarchy? It seems that the ability for the laity to influence the Church has declined over the centuries and power has been so consolidated that we are almost powerless. But it is our Church too and our sons and daughters mistreated, especially the seminarians. Are we going to need underground Churches as in England after the schism? But it is our own hierarchy that is corrupt, not a secular power – what can we do to prepare for the days ahead?

Good points.

How to support priests? Tell them when they are doing a good job. An “atta boy” can be a boost. I know that each time a get an “atta boy” in the form of an email or donation or something from my lists, it bouys me up. We don’t do what we do for praise, but some positive feedback helps us know that we are getting through. We pick ourselves up and redouble our efforts.

Underground churches … I think that there is great wisdom the Latin phrase: “Si vis pacem para bellum… if you want peace, they prepare for war.” It is better to have everything in place and not need it, than to need it and not have it in place.

Therefore, I suggest that people network with a solid, sympathetic priest and make some preparations against the day when we are harassed from the public square and driven out of our properties and into the streets.

It is a good think the think about various scenarios and imagine responses. That way, when something happens, we are not wholly off guard and unprepared.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I was just thinking about this. I do think terrible times are ahead for Catholics. That was always in the cards but this current mess has helped that along. (As Father suggests ) I too think Catholics would do well to attach themselves to a good priest/parish. Also be active in promoting devotions and the proper use of the Sacraments.

  2. TonyO says:

    There may well come a day when priests are not “allowed” to keep the seal of the confessional, and for that reason are hounded by the public authorities. Or (like in California now) priests are hounded for contributing toward proper treatment of someone suffering from SSA or from transgender dysphoria. Until that day comes, it is even more likely that many of our good priests will suffer at the hands of bishops who are far from good.

    I have seen that when priests are getting heat from up above, they really need the loving support of good lay people to help them keep up the good fight. This includes verbal support, like the “atta boy”s that Fr. Z mentions. But it ALSO means seeing husbands and wives who stay together in the hard times, and who raise their kids properly in the faith. Seeing parents bringing their pre-teen AND TEENAGE kids to confession. When they see this, they know that the message they have spent untold grief to “get out there” is being heard and taken to heart.

    One last point: invite over for dinner priests who are no longer your pastor or parish vicar anymore, with whom you have built relationships. When priests visit their own parishioners, they have to be slightly on their guard about parish matters. But when they are with families who are not part of their parish and therefore over whom they have no direct responsibility, they can “let down their hair” a little bit more. They can relax better.

  3. Andrew says:

    For secret communications with priests, in order to avoid the bishop understanding your covert messages, use Latin.

  4. Michael Haz says:

    The TLM parish to which I belong was “underground” for several decades following Vatican II. During that time, a span we refer to as the “Weakland Era” the faithful met in borrowed churches, in backyard tents, in motel conference rooms, in peoples’ homes, etc. for TLM Mass celebrated mostly by older, indeed often very elderly, priests who revered the traditional form. Very under-the-radar. The core group worked for years to obtain from the diocese a church to use as a venue for the TLM.

    By God’s grace, a church was secured in the Post Weakland Era. The buildings underwent costly repairs and the required de-beiging of the once-beautiful interior. Our once-underground parish has grown exponentially in membership. Full pews most Sundays and days of obligation.

    If we have to go underground again, we will, but now with decades of strength and growth behind us. We will not perish.

  5. fmsb78 says:

    I attend Mass in a SSPX chapel located inside an old house built in 1890. The walls are cracking and it could well fall apart in some more years… Just saying this because I already feels like Underground Church every Sunday.

    In addition to good words (we all need them sometimes), let’s also remember of all Priests, specially the ones near us, in our daily Rosary and ask the intercession of St Pius X for the vocations. Our Lady of Good Success said the devil will attack specially the souls consecrated to the service of Our Lord.

  6. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    “It is a good think the think about various scenarios and imagine responses. That way, when something happens, we are not wholly off guard and unprepared.”

    Indeed. It is good to think this way, Fr. Z.

    Due to some seriously troubling occurrences which happened to me and may have been carried out in unison between government entities and possibly misled “Catholics”, I have also been thinking this way. Please allow me to share for the good of others – although I am a private person who does not like sharing such information.

    I may have been the victim of unlawful surveillance , harassment, attempts at entrapment, and intimidation by certain entities. This surveillance, apparent harassment, etc. occurred in public places, and it also occurred in and around Catholic Churches and Adoration Chapels.

    On one occasion, I was drawn into what had many appearances of a staged purse-snatching. This was done while I was praying a holy hour at a downtown Catholic Chapel in a medium-size city. (As of this writing I cannot prove this. Proving that a government entity committed a wrong is nearly impossible. But one can often quickly identify bad acting by those who appeared to have staged the event. That is what I observed – apparently bad acting.)

    Now, one might ask, what would be the motivation to stage/fake a purse snatching? Logically deducing, one may conclude that certain entities may stage a purse snatching as an alternative (and unlawful?) “search and seizure” – they may want to see if they can provoke an onlooker or nearby person to show their cards, so to speak. Do an internet search about what they did in Detroit with a staged purse snatching.

    As far as unlawful surveillance goes – anything with a microphone and camera that is connected to the internet is surveillable, and it is nearly impossible to prove that you are being surveilled. This includes home phone, tv., car microphone, etc., that are connected to the internet. Home phones can apparently be hacked via the internet and become merely a live microphone and everything uttered can be recorded and saved.

    And why would anyone surveil an upstanding Catholic layperson, priest, bishop, Cardinal, etc.? You might think, “who cares, I’ve done nothing wrong!” Well, it might be good to re-consider that thought. One reason for surveillance may be so that they can discover and record partial-truths and then twist those partial-truths against a person. The devil and his minions often uses partial-truths against people. Another likely reason is that surveillance makes entrapment and harassment very easy for those with bad intentions. There are liberals employed in surveillance positions. Always keep that in mind.

    And, related to this, one must be aware of the possibility of there being many plain-clothed government-employed surveillance persons in public places, including Churches/parishes, throughout the U.S. Do they attend Mass? From what I have experienced, yes, they appear to. Are they good people? One hopes so, but again, liberals are employed in these positions.

    Priests should especially be aware of this possibility – plain-clothed persons who may intend to entrap a priest in one way or another. The entrapment may not even be to make the priest commit a crime; it may be entrapment to produce partial truths (false evidence) which can then be used against the priest by those with bad intentions.

    The events that occurred to me caused me to think “about various scenarios and imagine responses” to the fast approaching loss of liberty to practice authentic Catholicism in the U.S. One solution to this problem of the quick deterioration of many cities into liberal enclaves may be for authentic lay Catholics to move to a city or state where they can be at least somewhat assured that their liberties will be extended for the longest period of time. I have no idea where that may be. But then again, Jesus says it is not good to flee sometimes. So, maybe that is not a good idea.

  7. Joy65 says:

    AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN have a Mass (es) offered for Our Church, ALL Priests, Consecrated Religious Brothers and Sisters, Deacons, Seminarians, our Pope, Bishops, Cardinals and all discerning a vocation to and preparing for the Priesthood or Consecrated Religious Life, ALL married people and ALL single people. Do this at your own Parish or a nearby Parish. Masses are not that expensive and need to be offered more often not just for the deceased but for those of us still living and the needs of the world.

    IF every Catholic in the world did this imagine the change we would see in our world and in our Church. We need to do this ASAP!

  8. Philmont237 says:

    I’d like to keep a portable Mass kit in my house in case priests do eventually have to go underground. My brother-in-law also happens to be a priest, and tends to forget his. So when it visits our house he will be able to use it.
    However, what all needs to be in a portable Mass kit to have a valid Mass in the Extraordinary Form? What about the Ordinary Form?

  9. Fr_Andrew says:


    This is a very good idea, but I would warn you that often priests are overbooked with Masses as its stands. Spiritually there is nothing better, but practically if everyone who knew a priest ran down to him and gave him a stipend for a Mass or Masses, it might complicate the priest’s life significantly.

    I constantly have about 5-6 months of Masses in front of me, and occasionally I need to offer a Mass for benefactors, or even my own conversion or the inspiration of the Holy Ghost for a tough task ahead.

    The best way to support good priests is by your own sacrifices and prayers, by attending daily Mass and uniting these prayers and sacrifices to that of Our Lord. Offer an occasional Mass for priests.

    Pray especially for the unfaithful priests.

    If you want Masses offered ask a good priest if he can take a Mass offering or if he is in need of stipends to help support himself, don’t just dump a bunch of Mass intentions on him without asking.

  10. Fr_Andrew says:

    To add, I would agree with Fr Z here : encourage your priests by supporting them and thanking them.

    We don’t seek such attention. It’s not part of the desire of a good priest, who often wants to go unnoticed, but it helps. Two extremes exist : fanning over Father and neglecting to show your appreciation of what he does. Be somewhere in the middle.

    It’s relatively easy to suffer the taunts and comments. Pitying a man who calls you a pedophile and rolling with that punch is relatively easy. Heck I think even taking a real punch or two for the Church or Christ if that’s what Providence wants is a relatively easy thing to suffer, since you know you are fighting for those great realities and it’s worth it.

    The real problem comes when the faithful, even good Catholics, are too blazé about their faith. When you come into the penalty box and not that you have big sins, but that you’ve clearly not made any serious efforts, or perhaps when Father does all of this hard work, spends his own income to make his apostolate work and never gets a thank you or even acknowledgement or “atta boy”. That’s tough.

    Worse is when you whisper or plan behind Father’s back. If you have an issue and it’s serious, address Father in person in private. If it’s not suck it up and offer it up for his conversion, but don’t go telling every last soul you can find.

    It’s easy to give Fr Z that boost with a note or item from his lists, and you should. But do the same for the priest who hears your confessions, who says Mass for you, who Baptizes your children. At the very least say thank you every so often and not just in passing.

    The worst of it, our Mass carries us through. But it’s certainly a big help to know that the faithful are supporting us, even when we’re frail creatures that make plenty of mistakes.

    As for what priests can do a friend of mine and priest wrote for the SSPX magazine an article on the Missa ad vocationes ecclesiasticas petenendas. It’s a nice meditation on that Mass.

    I think priests should say this votive Mass, and the one that follow is Missa ad vocationes ecclesiasticas servandas early and often.

  11. Malta says:

    Don’t think it’s easy being Catholic:

    I’m the only Catholic in my family; I’m under scrutiny. I converted after a “miracle” happened to me while an atheist student at the University of Michigan. I now proselytized, in a gentle way, my faith.

    I have a relic of Blessed Pro, an original part of the coat he was shot in:

    I was more happy in a worldly way as an atheist, but feel a million times more peace as a Catholic; but I’ll tell you, I have also suffered for my continued faith.

  12. Joy65 says:

    Fr_Andrew , THANK YOU I understand what you are saying about Masses being offered. In our Parish there are many weekday Masses that have NO intentions listed for them. Not all Parishes I’m sure are this way but many will request for the weekends and they forget about requesting for weekday Masses.
    Our Masses are requested through the Parish office. Father here truly doesn’t deal with taking Mass requests. The Parish Secretary and office volunteers take care of recording the Masses requested and listing them in the bulletin. When Father offers Mass he takes notice and reads the Mass intentions for that particular Mass.

    Yes Daily prayers, Sacrifices, Daily Mass attendance, Holy Hours in Front of Our Lord are greatly needed and I do as many of them as I can.

    Again THANK YOU Fr_Andrew. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

  13. Sonshine135 says:

    From an ex-GI’s point of view, your Priests are the officers of the Infantry and the regular parishioners are the foot soldiers. What every good Infantry needs is an Artillery Battalion ready to provide cover and fire for affect. Work with your Priest to determine the appropriate number of rounds and the grid coordinates upon which to place said artillery rounds.

    In other words, praise your Priest, but more importantly, find out from him what he needs. If he could use a little laity support in an area, he will let you know. Otherwise, lock and load with spiritual ammo in the form of prayer, and be ready to stand by him when the SHTF.

  14. Muzhik says:

    Joy; One option is to arrange for a mission priest to pray for your intention. I learned about this when I was investigating having “30 Days of Gregorian Masses” said for my parents. (This is where the priest offers 30 contiguous days of Masses for the soul of the intended person. This usually involves a stipend of $300 — $10/day.) Check if you have any local seminaries that work on training priests for foreign mission work. These places will have contacts in the missions where the missions can really use the stipend.

    (These places also usually have looser rules regarding the number of masses that a priest can say in one day, out of necessity. In the US a priest, unless authorized by the local bishop for cause, can only offer 3 masses a day. That would cover, say, a morning mass, a funeral mass during the day, and an after-work mass, a mass for children, a wedding, etc. That makes it difficult for a typical priest in a parish assignment to commit to an extra mass for 30 days.)

    Malta, you are truly blessed. Blessed Fr. Pro is a favorite of mine. I consider him to be a patron of actors, because of the disguises he used to minister to the faithful during the Cristero Rebellion.

    Philmont237, I’m with you. I bought the smallest portable Mass kit available at the time; designed so that it could be worn as a fanny pack making it inconspicuous and easy to carry. Most portable mass kits I see for sale seem designed to be carried like small or medium-sized suitcases. Difficult to carry in a hurry, and meaning the priest can’t really carry anything else. Look for a kit that’s small enough to be tossed in a backpack.

    (Remember when the priests offered a mass by the side of the road on an altar of snow a few years back, when the busses coming back from the March for Life got caught in a blizzard? They were able to do that because one of the priests had a portable mass kit that he tossed in his suitcase, along with a bunch of hosts and some wine. Think of all the natural disasters that are happening now and will happen in the future, how such a small mass kit might save the day — so to speak — and plan accordingly.)

    If Fr. Z should approve, I will provide a link to my webpage where I have a document I prepared that details what kind of wine can be used validly and licitly in the Mass. I developed the list as a way to encourage local agriculture (using local wines, and all that) and wound up learning more than I EVER wanted to know about winemaking. With that you should be able to go into any store selling wine and buy some that can be used for Mass. Also, if you don’t have any or enough hosts carried with you, my discussions with a number of people lead me to believe that IN AN EMERGENCY it would be possible to use a commercially available matzo THAT IS KOSHER FOR PESACH (PASSOVER). These matzos don’t have any flavorings, or even salt, and are only made of wheat and water. Communion hosts are matzo. Otherwise, check online for instructions on how you can make hosts for Mass.

    One other suggestion: make “book safes” that can be used to carry a pyx for the priest to use to carry the Blessed Sacrament where needed.

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  16. David Collins says:

    Another option for having masses said, Joy65, is going to the Aid to the Church in Need website ( and there you can have as many masses as you want said by poor priests. They ask for a donation of $10 per mass. Really, you can go to any missionary society’s website and they will always have a way to have masses by one of their priests out in the boondocks.

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