Ed Pentin, still the best, working English Vaticanista hands down, posted at the NCReg an interview with Robert Card. Sarah. The Cardinal talks about the book, to be released in English in March.
I’ve read it already (advance English copy and French). Fathers, especially, it is WORTH your time!
The take away…
Your Eminence, why did you want to write this book?
Because the Christian priesthood is in mortal danger! It’s going through a major crisis.
Some important points.
[…] there is a deep flaw in their formation. The priest is a man set apart for the service of God and the Church. He is a consecrated person. His whole life is set apart for God. And yet they wanted to desacralize priestly life. They wanted to trivialize it, to render it profane, to secularize it. They wanted to make the priest a man like any other. Some priests were formed without putting God, prayer, the celebration of Mass, the ardent search for holiness at the center of their lives.
[T]hey wanted to muzzle Benedict XVI. I must confess my revolt at the slander, violence and rudeness to which he has been subjected. Benedict XVI wanted to speak to the world, but they tried to discredit his words.
All these polemics are a diversionary tactic to avoid talking about the essential, the content of the book.
[T]he real problem in the Amazon is not the ordination of married deacons. The real issue is that of evangelization. We have renounced proclaiming the faith, salvation in Jesus Christ. Too often we have become humanitarian assistants or social workers.
The West is out of breath. The West is old, with all its renunciations and resignations. It waits, without perhaps being aware of it, for youth, for the rawness of the Gospel’s demand for holiness. So it waits for priests who are radically saints.
A few points of my own.
First, on the final clipping above, I have had recently a few conversations in which the topic of saints for our time has come up. Where are the saints for our time? Has not God always raised up saints in each time when the Church was in need of great reform?
Couple that with the old chestnut that “we get the priests we deserve”, and we have a rather grim prospect.
But we must never be downhearted about even grim prospects.
Of all the universes God could have created, He created this one, into which He called us into existence at exactly the right point in time and with exactly the right set of tools to carry out our little piece of His overarching, divine Plan.
If we dedicate ourselves to our state in life, as it is hic et nunc, here and now, God will give us all the actual graces we need to fulfill our part in His economy of salvation.
It is an honor to have been called by God to live in these difficult times. Fidelity and the pursuit of His will bring greater graces than if our paths were smooth.
As for priests, just as a war-fighter in dire harm’s way is in the safest place spiritually he can be if he acts out of duty and love of God, family and country, so too the priest. Even if the priest is trodden on by his more powerful clerical brethren and unfairly attacked by world-mired laity, he is in the safest spiritual place he can be if he acts out of love of God, Church and patria. Perhaps this is why old soldiers and old priests tend to be great friends.
Next, while the world swirls and ebbs and crashes about us priests, I take note of the old Carthusian motto: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis… While the world spins, the Cross stands still. The Cross, therefore the Sacrifice of Christ, is the fixed point of the fullness of time. The priest and the Cross are inseparable, for the whole reason of the priest’s priesthood is to offer sacrifice, to renew the Sacrifice of Calvary as alter Christus, in persona Christi capitis.
If the myriad options for the priest in this heaving world are confusing, and if there have been deep flaws in the formation of priests – as Sarah and Benedict hold – there is one thing that the priest can always do, without dependence on the permission or approval of any other, to shore up the dikes and battlements, to fill in the gaps and the breaches.
He can learn the Traditional Latin Mass.
A compelling reason to learn it, Fathers, is because, clerical and lay alike, we are our rites. Who is the Roman Catholic priest if he doesn’t know his own Rite? Who is he? If you don’t know your Traditional Roman Rite, then you don’t know the Roman Rite.
Next, an nonagenarian priest friend of mine, has recounted to me what it was like at an all male Catholic academy and on the campus of a Catholic college when the changes to the Mass started to hit in the 60s. He described how the attitude of the cadets and students changed almost overnight. They began to lose discipline during Mass. They started showing disrespect to the priests beyond mere young male testing.
That’s an anecdote. But a telling anecdote. I couple it with the remark of the late Card. Heenan. When he saw the demonstration of the future Novus Ordo Missae, he quipped that men would not want to go to it.
My nonagenarian priest friend described the TLM as being like a suit of armor. It both stands on its own and it protects the one who wears it.
As an aside which isn’t an aside at all, if there is a crisis in the Church and the priesthood, it is also due to a crisis of masculinity in the Church and across society.
Fathers, you don’t need permission to learn the TLM. You don’t need permission or approval to learn it and to say it.
Time and again, priests have told me that learning the TLM changed them profoundly. They began to grasp aspects of their priesthood which they hadn’t gleaned before. In turn, that produces a knock on effect in other aspects of their work, in particular how they celebrate the Novus Ordo. Congregations note the differences. The knock on effect continues to knock.
For some of you priests out there, learning the TLM will be difficult. Things that are worth pursuing usually are.
One thing that will be hard to overcome is the lack of Latin.
Ohhhh how the Enemy our souls brilliantly maneuvered his agents when Latin was eradicated from schools and seminaries!
The Enemy doesn’t want you to learn the TLM. At all cost, the treasury door – nay rather, armory! – must remain slammed and barred. You must be denied your priestly patrimony! A thousand distractions will assail you. Doubts will pop up. The demonically oppressed, even your pastors or bishops and other clergy, will undermine you or persecute you or bully you into giving up. This will happen to many of you. When it does, invoke your angels and Mary, Queen of the Clergy, to protect you.
You can do this. Latin isn’t a mystical Eldorado that only a few can attain. As my old mentor Fr. Foster, famous Latinist, used to quip facetiously but factually, “In ancient Rome even the dogs and prostitutes knew Latin.” Over the centuries, countless priests of room temperature IQ learned Latin for the Mass. They didn’t have to dissertate with the eloquence of Leo the Great. If St. John Vianney could do it, so can you. And most of you may wind up being good at it.
Remember: Latin is a language, not multivariable calculus. The subjunctive is just another mode of speaking about things, not the Collatz Conjecture or the Large Cardinal Property.
Well… it might be that last one.
I am firmly convinced that no project which we undertake in the Church will succeed unless it flows from, is connected to, and returns to our sacred liturgical worship.
By the virtue of Religion, we have to order our acts rightly. This means pleasing worship of God. Benedict XVI’s gift to the Church in Summorum Pontificum, was precisely intended to bring about a healing and renewal of the whole Church through a renewal and healing of her worship, such that we can create a bulwark in the face of future tumult.
Fathers. You can do this. It will be hard. It has to be done.
One way to respond to what Card. Sarah and Benedict XVI wrote, and to respond to The Present Crisis in the Church, and to give something beautiful to God and his people is to…
… learn the Traditional Latin Mass.
Give it to yourselves.