@BoiseBishop goes to the liturgical zoo. Attempts to forbid “ad orientem” worship, kneeling for Communion, etc.

I am at a point where I can react now, in a measured way, to the astonishing chutzpah of Bp. Peter Christensen of the Diocese of Boise since 2014.  Some time back he told priests of that diocese that they cannot celebrate Mass ad orientem and that they should inform him of the use the 1962 Missale Romanum.  The paper of the Diocese of Boise has this:

Now that the story is out and about, I think I can write about it, because priests of that diocese had written to me about it. I didn’t want to give them up.  Peter Kwasniewski – who has already forgotten more about liturgy than 99.99% of bishops ever knew – reacted HERE.

The first thing Bp. Christensen notes is something from GIRM 387, namely, that bishops should “regulate” and be “vigiliant” over the liturgical life of the diocese.  Fine.   I wonder how he has dealt with liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo over the last years, or how he has respected Redemptionis Sacramentum in matters of kneeling and reception of Communion.  Just wondering.  I wonder, to that end, how vigilant he has been in insuring that the seminarians of the diocese all seven of them in total) have been in a) learning Latin according to the dictates of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 249, which requires that all in priestly formation be “very well trained” in the Latin language.  I wonder if he has qualms when someone attests to him during an ordination that seminarians were well-trained when they don’t know the language of their Rite.   So you suppose he will be equally concerned about priests using the short Second Eucharistic Prayer on Sundays?  GIRM 365 says it should be used on weekdays.   Surely Bp. Christensen saw that when gazing with admiration at GIRM 387.

Rhetorical questions.  Perhaps people in his former see of Superior and present see of Boise know.  I don’t.

GIRM 387 does NOT make the diocesan bishop into a demi-god.

Next, the bishop says that there is “disinformation regarding liturgical matters” in the diocese and he is – the irony is thick – addressing that…. with his own disinformation.

He goes on.

Under point #1 he says that priests must form the faithful.  Okay.   However, he adds this: “Sources such as independent websites and social media platforms that are unaffiliated with the Holy See or the USCCB are not to be considered trustworthy or appropriate for catechesis.”  Risible.   Frankly I and a few others have over the years done a hell of a lot more than either the Holy See or the USCCB in liturgical catechesis.   Couple that with the fact that the USCCB still can’t get a key paragraph, GIRM 299, translated correctly – even after Rome explained the Latin to them, leads me to purse my lips and to move along.

Under point #2 he attempts to impose versus populum worship in the Ordinary Mass according to that same GIRM 299.   This is a howler.   He quotes a faulty translation that the USCCB used and then stuck to – mendaciously – after Rome explained the grammar of the Latin.  I know I am “unaffiliated” but I’ve written about that many times over the years.  HERE  Christensen – or whoever advised him – ignorantly or duplicitously – depended on that faulty and long-exposed translation of GIRM 299.    This is not a good situation.  If the bishop of a diocese wants to claim powers beyond his station, he would do well to know what he is doing.  However, maybe he just consulted a staffer.  He picked the wrong guy.

Going on Christensen claims: “[T]he overwhelming experience worldwide after Vatican II is that the priest faces the people for the Mass, and this has contributed to the sanctification of the people.”

WHAT?!?

Can anyone, anywhere, looking around at the state of the Church today, especially in wealthy Western countries, and at the Pew Research survey about belief in the Eucharist, read that claim and not simply laugh aloud?   Furthermore, gratis asseritur gratis negatur.  There is zero proof to back that up and a heck of a lot of evidence to the contrary.

Christensen goes on with an attempt to parse the rubrics of the Mass, and say: “There has been at attempt to justify the ad orientem practice because the Order of Mass indicates places when the priest should face the people.  (However, it never asks him to turn away, as the preconciliar Missal did).”  Puhleze.  As if he knows the pre-Conciliar Missal.  If the bishop read Latin with the comfort that can. 249 requires – and he was ordained in my native place at the disastrous St. Paul Seminary of the day – when the 1983 CIC was in effect, he might be a little less sure of himself.

Later he delivers the chestnut about the priest having his “back to the people” which is too facile for a response here.

And then he lets fall a good one: “It was clearly the mind of the Council that the priest should face the people.”  It was?  It was also the mind of the Council that Latin and Gregorian chant should be retained, that priests read their office in Latin.  The missal used at the Council was John XXIII’s 1962 Missale Romanum.  And get this: “During funeral rites the coffin of a deceased cleric is to be positioned in the way he was in life at Mass: facing the people.”   PUHLEZE!   NO.  That’s not why, for centuries, priests and bishops lay in state with their heads toward the altar.

Think about this.  The custom of orientation of the body of priests, which has been done for centuries in a certain way, has its origin in the newfangled, modern imposition of Mass facing the people?  Does that sound right?

In the Latin tradition, deceased laypeople are usually placed before the altar with their feet toward the altar, that is, their bodies facing toward the liturgical East, whence for some two millennia Christians have believed Christ would return. This orientation of laypeople results from at least the 12th c. The 13th c. liturgist Durandus affirms this usage. For clergy, it is otherwise.

Priests are usually placed in church with their heads toward the altar. This would not have been the way that the priest said Mass, but rather the way that the priest taught and conferred blessings. Also, in the Greek East, the bodies of laypeople and priests and monks were placed in different locations, lay even outside the sacred space. It could be that the Greek use influenced the Latin Church usage through S. Italy, which had a strong Greek presence. However, even in the Catholic Encyclopedia we read: “the bishop (or priest) in death should occupy the same position in the church as during life, i.e. facing his people whom he taught and blessed in Christ’s name.” Again, this was NOT the priest’s position celebrating Mass! Greek priests were, of course, behind a screen, the iconostasis, and Latin priests were at the ad orientem altar, facing together with the people the liturgical East. But they preached and blessed facing the people, to whom they had to turn around to preach and to bless.

But Christensen warns about disinformation.

In #3, Christensen completely blows off the rights of people under the Church’s universal legislation in Redemptionis Sacramentum to kneel for Communion.  He says that there should be no prie dieus for people or Communion rails.

In #4, he misses the accurate way of citing Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum and then asks priests as a “matter of courtesy” to be made aware of such celebrations.   This on the surface seems reasonable.  However, I think there is something else behind it.  More later.

In #5, priests are not to add elements of the Extraordinary Form to the Ordinary Form.  Okay.  However, I would be far more interested in how he is handling the abuses of his priests in celebrating the Ordinary Form, introducing their innovations with no history, rather than fretting about things that priests did at the altar for centuries.

Send this man some emergency drinkware!

Yes, I am piling on a bit here.  But for pete’s sake when is the episcopal bullying going to end?

Lemme sum up a few things.

After talking with some canonists and having seen these attempts again and again over the years, this bishop is obviously wrong about a lot of things and he cannot do what he is attempting to do.

However, as one canonist friend said, and this is surely the truth, “he owns all the cards, the dice, the table and the room.  It’s not right, but it is what it is.”

About informing the bishop about saying Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum.

As I have put it, it doesn’t make any difference if the bishop is wrong and operating outside his powers.  A priest can have the law and reason and tradition on his side all day long and twice on Sunday.  In the end, a bishop who is a bully can crucify a priest in a thousand ways.   It comes down to power and the imposition of will through threat of reciprocity.  Priests, in the end, barely have the right to Christian burial (with their heads toward the altar), but that’s about it.

Let’s leave this sorry mess and move to happier thoughts, like worldwide pandemic.

I’ll turn on the moderation queue for this.

Please share this post!
Share

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Pò sì jiù and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to @BoiseBishop goes to the liturgical zoo. Attempts to forbid “ad orientem” worship, kneeling for Communion, etc.

  1. Joy1985 says:

    Father Z, I totally understand where you are coming from.
    I was born in 1965 so I have never been to a Mass in the Extraordinary Form only those in the Ordinary Form. There are no Masses in the Extraordinary Form near me. I go by what is allowed by the Church: both Forms are fine, both Forms are acceptable and both Forms are allowed. Also receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion while kneeling is allowed in many places and it is done. Receiving in the hand or on the tongue are both allowed. I prefer on the tongue.

    I DO understand the differences in the Forms.

    Maybe I am being simple about this but will Jesus ask us which Form of Mass we went to? Or will it matter to Him that we kept Holy His day, went to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and actively participated, went to Confession regularly and received Him in a state of Grace and loved our neighbor?

    I do support you Father and all Priests who celebrates Mass in either Form.

    Father you and every Catholic Clergy needs our prayers and our support. We need all of you. I pray for all of you DAILY and purposefully. God Bless y’all!

  2. In re the gushing alleged “response” to the bishop’s instruction that appears to its right: when I first read it, it made me angry. But then I thought: if these “spirit of Vatican II” guys are really in the ascendancy, and if that is a real response from one of the priests, why isn’t the author identified? Or, if it wasn’t a real response, why was there the need to make one up?

    The day this came out, by the way, Idaho was struck by a rather significant earthquake (6.5). We haven’t had an earthquake that big for almost 40 years.

  3. ReadingLad says:

    Let us pray for Bishop Peter. Father Z has alluded in the past to the responsibility of priests for the care of the souls in their charge, and how they will be held to account for it at their judgement; what extra scrutiny will be reserved for a bishop, who has the care of priests in his charge?

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    The bishop’s “clarification” is the quintessence of “gas-lighting.”
    How, why, does this sort of behavior not only continue, but flourish? And how, why, does it continue to astonish and wound me?

  5. Hidden One says:

    There are traditional prayers for the pope.

    Is there one for a diocesan bishop that might be applicable in this situation?

  6. Fr. Kelly says:

    Ditto everything that Fr. Z said (and Peter Kwasniewski)
    Another particularly ironic point is this:
    Now, when he is requiring his priests to say Mass sine populo, how are they to celebrate versus populum, without the people being there?

  7. Sayomara says:

    Dr. Taylor Marshal made a comment the other day about how if your thinking about becoming a priest, don’t become a diocesan priest and make sure to research your orders before joining. This seems to why he would give that advice

    [With respect, Taylor Marshall should stow it and stick to what he knows something about. He is way way way out of his lane.]

  8. Felipe says:

    Someone should send him a kind note from a parish community committee that his message doesn’t sound very pastoral or accompanying. He makes people feel unwelcomed and his tone makes him sound like a Pharisee. We are all the body of Christ, right? Lol Maybe all those rules apply to pagans and lukewarm heterodox catholics

  9. monstrance says:

    Interesting photo on the Archdiocese of Boise website.
    Bishop’s ordination Mass – Archbishop Sample of Portland on his left and Archbishop Vigano on his right.
    Evidently it didn’t rub off.

  10. Kerry says:

    One is reminded of the scene from the movie, The Untouchables, when Ness (Costner) and Malone (Sean Connery) are looking for ‘good apples’ at the firing range. When the first man stumbles over his own tongue, and before Andy Garcia come out, Malone says, “There goes the next Chief of Police”.

  11. Bthompson says:

    @Benedict Joseph:
    I was having a conversation with some friends back on fat Tuesday and we were talking about this very sort of thing. I opined that both husbands and clergy can benefit from the biblical admonition that fathers ought not provoke their sons (and sons not grieve their fathers): A father can be tough on his son and require the son to set aside his own will at times, so long as the father is also fair. The son may not like it, but he will probably be ok in the long run (especially if the father instills the appropriate and true understanding of “why”).
    However, if and when a father is unjust to his son, it is a betrayal. Even (and in a way, especially) if the injustice is petty/slight (or seems so to the father), or even if–God forbid–he is actually abusive in some way and the son comes to expect mistreatment, every betrayal still unavoidably stings due to the nature of the relationship.

    I’ve made parochial decisions that were stressful, I’ve made decisions that were unpopular and divisive, I’ve made decisions that rested on little more than that it was my decision to make, but the choices I regret (and made me run to Confession) are when I had been unjust.

  12. pjschmidtmn says:

    I personally know many priests and bishops who count Bishop Peter Christensen as a friend. I do not know him personally, but hope that those who do would exercise prudent fraternal correction in this matter. In a time such as this when we are deprived of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in person, why would such a callous and misguided policy be disseminated?

    [Yes, of course! He is not without his gracious points. He was a priest of my native place and went to the same seminary that I started in (I finished in Rome). A close friend of his was my mutual friend the late and greatly lamented, Bp. Paul Sirba, a classmate of Christenson, along with several other of my priest friends in my home diocese. Sirba was the best of men and one of the finest priests I’ve ever known. If he was a friend of Christensen, that says a lot for him! If I recall correctly, Bp. Christensen is also a gifted painter. I think he “writes” icons, too.]

  13. Fr Jackson says:

    Thank you for providing this commentary, Father. You’ve described perfectly the difficult landscape for today’s priests.

    [I’ll add a response comment, below.]

  14. Ipse Dixit says:

    The gushing letter of support purportedly written by a priest is hilarious. If it is genuine, the priest is a brown-noser of the highest order, and is probably hoping to be made Vicar, or already occupies that post or a similar one. The inclusion of the letter shows great insecurity about the bishop’s diktat, and instead of adding weight, it reinforces the vapidIty of it all. The heading of item #2 struck me as the way a communique from the central committee of a Communist party would read. Fr Z asks questions about the bishop’s other liturgical interests (or neglect or worse) the answers to which undoubtedly would reveal a great deal. But the memo alone makes it clear that Pete is the worst boss ever. Tone deaf. Self congratulatory. Arrogant. Self-rightous. Ignorant of history and his own Rite. A perfect distillation of most U.S. bishops. it makes perfect sense for this to be happening in the midst of our other trials.

  15. Suudy says:

    Regarding formation of priests, we have a young priest (less than 2 years since ordination) from one of the diocesan seminaries that is very well versed in Latin. He even seems to positively prefer to use it. Indeed, he has introduced during Christmas some 2am Latin masses. He also occasionally sprinkles in Latin during mass. And he pray over my son–who has been having some behavioral and social issues–with a Latin prayer of exorcism (and lest anyone get up in arms, we are pursing secular means as well). He is also probably the most reverent, focused, sincere priest I’ve ever met personally in my lifetime. It will be a sad day when he moves to a new parish. So, yes, there is hope.

  16. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The bishop has to be obeyed when he regulates the public worship of the diocese. [So long as the bishop’s “regulations” are in keeping with universal legislation. And, remember, his preferences or desires are not truly regulations. They are suggestions, nothing more.]

    However, that doesn’t mean that the pastors can’t privately talk to him and give him a piece of their mind. I imagine there must be a few in the Boise diocese who will have a private chat with their Ordinary and explain the concept of “micromanaging” to him.

    After all, the bishop cannot be everywhere at once. So, he needs to show more trust in the pastors, unless he plans to run the parishes himself. [Good point!]

  17. misternaser says:

    Seven total seminarians, eh? I’ll wage that this will be the diocese’s largest number of vocations for a long time to come. Clearly, the people have been so sanctified that going forward they won’t even need priests.

  18. Pingback: SATVRDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  19. JTH says:

    I count my blessings our bishop supports the TLM, and permits ad orientem in novus ordo Masses in my parish.

  20. JonPatrick says:

    Concerning #3 for those of us of a certain age where kneeling and getting up from a hard floor can be painful, perhaps this uncharitable banning of kneelers provides that little bit of suffering that we can unite with Christs suffering on the cross. So maybe this action is helping us get to heaven? I’m sure that is why the bishop is doing this (NB tongue in cheek)

  21. Amerikaner says:

    So much for the diversity of flowers in our Lord’s garden. More shepherd please, less dictator.

  22. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I would be curious if there is any evidence on paper of this Bishop promoting the usual progressive “unity through diversity” tripe.

    I doubt he would appreciate the cognitive dissonance.

  23. Percusio says:

    I regret not being able to read all the comments here. I appreciate the first ones I read as they were very thoughtful and charitable. In this case I also read the red, which is a little turned around, instead of those who are supposed to do the red. In any case. Obviously what has been said/written prior is greater proof of the falsehood of the bishop’s communication. I admit I am not sure of a couple of things. First, was the bishop’s directive aimed for the most part at this particular time as it has been reiterated at this time? Second, have public Masses been suspended in his diocese? If the latter is the case, then strictly speaking, Masses are “private”. If “private”, then there is an even greater use of his authority in governing which form the priest says in his private Mass. I know this is not a very strong argument, but there seems something further disordered and not focused on the true end of every Mass. There is something else at work here. The bishop should praise God that his priests are saying private Masses with the priest being the representative of the people, calling them all together, uniting them to himself, and presenting himself before God through, with and in Jesus Christ. It is as if one sees a sort of Hell on earth in these times. The great division that has been created, abuses aside as they can never be justified, with the sacred and Holy Mass. Look at all the fighting over God’s “property”. I am not here taking sides, but just being observant. Those who follow the Ordinary Form against their brothers who follow the Extraordinary Form and vice versa. Then within each there is fighting as to the way in which the particular forms are to be said, or “acted” out. The permissiveness of anything goes has not created a more peaceful world, unless a person finally succumbs to the thought that anything can in fact be done. Then within those who follow the Extraordinary Form. Look at the disagreement among themselves. “Oh, it was a big mistake and wrong to make changes from the 1955 rubrics and adopt the 1962 rubrics. There is too much difference and we should go back to 1955. This incrementalism started the whole ball rolling downhill.” Everybody has their opinion and supposedly the Catholic Church must somehow accommodate everyone’s opinion. Why in the first place does everyone think that everyone else should follow their opinion? I shall give my opinion here and I suppose this is the basis of the difference of opinion. Why not just be obedient to the valid and lawful teachings of the Church and with a majority of humble hearts our Lord will hear our prayers and lead the Church back on the right road. This is not, “Can’t we all just get along?” But it is loving what has been given us, defending charitably what has been given to us, not defending our opinions but as embracing directives from the Lord. I guess that is too simple and puerile. It is obvious. Without taking sides, the facts are obvious, the introduction of a “New” Mass has caused factions and divisions. The Masses are in fact so different that it enables sides to be taken and choices to be made and opinions as to what is better. How is it possible that people would fight over which is better if in fact there were not significant differences? If two people fought over which was better though they had chosen something identically the same, we would call them contentious, and people who just want to argue for the sake of arguing. But we would see them as disordered. For me, I see a foreshadowing of Hell in all this. An incredible well thought out plan which has caused division within the Church Herself. Though it is sick, one can still see the highly intelligent plan that has brought us to this point. Not the intelligence of any human person though. Sorry, too long. I’ll try to refrain the next time.

  24. FrAnt says:

    Reading the “Clarification” was more like listening to Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff. For the record, the gushing letter of appreciation for the bishop’s clarification was most likely written by his secretary.

  25. Antonin says:

    Seems like an out of place directive given the current state of affairs with masses cancelled, etc. Whenever I see large articles like that printed by an authority, I wonder what problem gave rise to such a detailed response. These things rarely appear out of thin air. Some specific situation or controversy usually triggers things like these especially given the reactive tone of the entire article,

    There are many other questions that I would think chanceries should be thinking of moving ahead besides these ones none of which seem overly pressing to me..

    I know our priest at the Divine Liturgy ore Covid 19 panic and mass quarantines was suggesting that holy water dispensaries may be eliminated. Standing water being a site for bacteria.

    I don’t think mode of reception will be affected and he didn’t think so.

    The sign of peace doesn’t happen at Divine Liturgy anyway but may have to be eliminated in the future,

    Even shaking hands after mass. Our cultural form of greeting may be irrecoverably lost.

    I also suspect that you will see communion under both species completely eliminated.

    Devotional practices like touching or kissing icons may need to be rethought.

    Even confessional boxes with poor ventilation. Maybe other kinds of architecture – a reconciliation room with screen.

  26. TonyO says:

    Percusio comments Why not just be obedient to the valid and lawful teachings of the Church and with a majority of humble hearts our Lord will hear our prayers and lead the Church back on the right road. as the lead in to a further comment. But I will take it as the springboard to comment about Bp. Christensen’s new world order: he seems to have missed the forest for the trees.

    The reason for distinction, precision and clarity about how to say the Mass is not for the sake of being obedient to rules (though it does that too), it is for the sake of greater charity in people, greater love of God. The reason a priest should care about both how and why he “turns to the people” is not so that he can conform to “rule A or rule B” with perfection, but because the whole Mass of the Latin Rite is a well-wrought prayer designed to lead people to be like God, think like God, and love like God (insofar as it belongs to humans to do so) – at least, it ought to be so. Unless one thinks God is sloppy or indifferent about particulars, one should conclude that it belongs to to be careful and to take care about particulars. Given this fact, it can indeed be the case that one Form of the Mass is better than the other, and while it is actually fairly easy to argue and establish one Form is better than the other with respect to X purpose, and worse with respect to Y purpose, it is also manifestly possible that one Form is better simply. (Or, if you prefer, better with respect to the ultimate goal, greater charity.) So, the fact that the Church has approved both Forms does not lead to the conclusion that the Church is representing that it is impossible for one Form to be better than the other. It IS possible, and we are ALLOWED to think that.

    That said, I pity the poor priests of Boise who have to obey this Bishop. For, other than orders in contradiction of law or morality, (or orders beyond the writ of his authority), they do have to obey. Their obedience to odious and wrong-headed directives will be hard to bear – but all the more meritorious and effective for gaining graces from God for their flocks. So we should certainly pray that these priests be supported by grace to do what God is asking of them, and pray that God change the bishop, or change the bishop’s mind (either being possible with God.)

    I don’t much like Taylor Marshall and I don’t follow his writings, but he does (sort of, backhandedly) have a point: becoming a diocesan priest is a leap of faith, because you cannot know what future bishop you will get. But those who are called to it SHOULD do it, and should make that leap of faith. I would suggest, though, that maybe (at least for some) being called to be a diocesan priest does not specify for WHICH diocese, and there are better and worse dioceses to be a priest in.
    I wonder, what would happen if the better dioceses attracted all of the good candidates from the whole region, leaving the terrible dioceses to languish with few to no seminarians? Would those awful dioceses ask for “missionaries” from the “wealthy” dioceses that properly train and support their priests and don’t have a shortage of priests?

  27. CasaSanBruno says:

    If God made us in order to offer Him right worship, the prelates who overstep their authority and exercise it in such like instances to impede it will have a lot to answer for. There’s a very old saying, “Everyone has to bring his own hide to the market.” Let’s pray for the bishop and those who counsel him.

  28. Percusio, yes, the suspension of public worship in this diocese was announced on 3/17, and all churches were locked up the day the governor’s stay-at-home order issued. The bishop’s instruction actually came out at the end of February. The decision to publish it in the current issue of the Idaho Catholic Register was probably taken at that time, before Coronamadness intensified.

  29. AAJD says:

    The book I published just over a year ago on sex abuse in the Church also had very firmly in mind my own concern for defending priests like Fr Z and others from episcopal tyranny, not least in matters liturgical. (That’s one reason I went with the publisher, Angelico, which has been a good friend to liturgical tradition.) As he puts it, a bishop “owns all the cards, the dice, the table and the room. It’s not right, but it is what it is” and from that monopoly on power the “bishop who is a bully can crucify a priest in a thousand ways. It comes down to power and the imposition of will.” That unchecked power has played a large role in the sex abuse disaster and the liturgical disasters that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote about and Fr Z has been writing about for so many years now. Writing as a long-time defender of the classical Latin liturgical tradition (see here: https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/11/08/a-response-to-the-ncreporters-toxic-attack-on-the-latin-mass/), I have been making the argument for some time now that monopolies on power are untraditional, unhealthy, untheological, and unhistorical. They need to change, for many reasons, not least so that nonsense from Boise and other bishops can be challenged and where necessary ignored without fear of retaliation. Local communities need and deserve to have the freedom to recover the riches of the Latin tradition that have been so sorely and sadly lost in so many places.

  30. Discerning Altar Boy says:

    I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by some people at NLM and 1P5. What does thid solution do except take away good priests from dioceses that desperately need them?

  31. Zephyrinus says:

    Dear Fr. Z.

    I am most grateful to you for turning on the Moderation Queue.

    Otherwise . . .

    To Bishop Peter Christensen: May I, respectfully, my Lord Bishop, suggest that you are wrong ? And, in which case, after you have reflected, will you please publish your new thoughts ?

    Thank You.

    in Domino

  32. Fr. Jackson: difficult landscape for today’s priests

    First off, thank you for everything you are doing and how you are doing it. You have made so many good contributions, especially in your work at your parish and also with your splendid book, Nothing Superfluous. I thought of your book today in reference to Bp. Christensen, as a matter of fact. I think someone should, in charity, send Bp. Christensen a copy with a kind note.

    Also, the difficult landscape….

    I am so weary of how traditional Catholics are treated like the Church’s … excuse me… “n-word”, how we are constantly shoved to the back of the bus or forced to drink at a different water fountain, just because we prefer the Church’s entirely legitimate traditional rites. St. John Paul called our desires “legitimate aspirations” and even commanded by his Apostolic Authority that bishops should respect and be generous to these people. They weren’t and, today, many of them still aren’t.

    I think they are terrified. They, too, see that there is a demographic sink hole opening up under the Church in these USA. They also see that TLM’s are stuffed with young people and that their younger clergy, who weren’t twisted by evil hell hole seminaries of the bad years, want their Catholic Tradition. I think they are afraid that everything they’ve been doing is being proven to be inadequate for the times. I believe many of them are also afraid of this liturgical tradition because they don’t know it! You fear what you don’t know. Also, I think that in many cases, when they do know something of the tradition, they are afraid of it because the content of the prayers and the gestures of the rites convey things that were systematically stripped out of the Novus Ordo. They’ve had it hammered into them – and we priests too – that our chief role is to be a nice guy. Preaching about sacrifice, sin, guilt, propitiation, judgment, consequences and penance isn’t fuzzy and warm.

    It is as if some of them belong to a different religion. It pains my heart to say that, but I cannot for the life of me otherwise explain what their hatred is of the traditional Roman Rite that gave us everything we now have!

    Fr. Jackson, the rest of us here in the back of the bus have to rise up and resist.

    But another thing that pains my heart is how sometimes people – priests too – who love the traditional Roman Rite shoot themselves in the feet when they are not lined up in a circular firing squad. We need to close ranks, set aside small differences, and treat each other with charity.

    Anyway, thus endeth a secondary mini rant.

    For everyone out there… if you don’t have this book, you are really missing something special.

    Nothing Superfluous: An Explanation of the Symbolism of the Rite of St. Gregory the Great US HERE UK HERE

  33. docsmith54 says:

    The rubrics are clear enough. Benedict’s instruction on TLM and the (tweaked) 1962 Missal is clear enough. What is not clear is what canonical documents made ad populum even permissible and which one caused the removal of the communion rails (which maintained the sanctuary as we knew it.) Almost all the abuses are traceable to these two illegal changes. Bring back the rood screens! (JK)

    I hear comments directed to priests after Mass, and you never hear how observant he was – mostly you hear comments about his homily.

    The bishop is a scatterer of sheep.

  34. Pingback: Fr. Z’s Gold Star For The Day: Dr. Peter Kwasniewski | Fr. Z's Blog

  35. JMody says:

    Fr. Z, regarding this comment, one could consider the following – the sinkhole is opening, the numbers are dropping in both the pews and the coffers, and they must seriously worry. What could they do to reverse this trend? They will try EVERYTHING EXCEPT the Traditional rites of the Church and traditional hard preaching — even if all they wanted was full coffers, they still won’t stoop to THAT. You say they fear it because it is new/foreign to them … but at some point everyone that wants to win wants to turn things around. Are NONE of them the least curious about tradition? About how they got through seminary without Latin if it really was required? Do they not reflect on “some laws really matter but others can be ignored”? No, they don’t, and they fear anything traditional. They want to squash it. They will not even tolerate questions — look at the different overtures with SSPX over the years, and anything questioning the sagacity and goodness of Second Vatican Council writings is off the table.
    But then, do they not fear hell? Do they not fear that a day will come when they have to explain what they did, how many souls they let drift away? The total lack of concern on this line indicates one of two things — they either do not believe what the Church teaches deep in their hearts, minds, and souls, OR they are all blitheringly incompetent. But an incompetent person would still have fear if he believed, so incompetence cannot be the answer (apologies to Belloc and his comment on lasting a fortnight).
    No, the real question is this: given that they have lost what supernatural Faith they ever had, what will it take for them to open their eyes, put down the ideology, and at least TRY a respect for Tradition? This pandemic isn’t getting through to them, not yet, so I cringe to think what it will take.

  36. Fr. Kelly says:

    Fr. Z.
    Thank you for highlighting Fr. Jackson’s comment and plugging his excellent book.

    I am proud to have had him as my rector for a year. He did much to cement my vocation to the priesthood.

    Ad multos annos Pater!

  37. Johann says:

    I had a discussion with a priest recently, asking whether it would be appropriate to only make a spiritual communion (my Bishop banned communion on the tongue to the Wuhan virus outbreak) as I don’t like taking communion in the hand (I have not done so in years). He became livid, [An hint that he is lacking charity.] and stated that Jesus gave communion in the hand [He doesn’t know that. And evidence points to the opposite.] and that before Vatican II the faithful were treated as “inferior” because the Priest “turned his back to them” while celebrating Mass. [Ahhh yes, that unbeatable combination of ignorance and arrogance.] He stated that I shouldn’t “deprive myself of the Sacraments” although he respected my decision to make a spiritual communion instead.

    Was the priest correct about how Christ gave communion? How do I counter his other points? [He is wrong about just about everything you say he said, except that it is your decision (which he did NOT in fact respect).]

  38. misternaser says:

    Father, please consider turning this “mini rant” into a post so that more readers might see it.

  39. TonyO says:

    I believe many of them are also afraid of this liturgical tradition because they don’t know it!

    I think this is true, Fr. Z, but what I don’t understand is: WHY? I am not yet 60, and I assume that I am still (a bit) younger than most bishops. And yet I remember this and that from pre-Novus Ordo times. I assume that even the young-ish bishops could also remember some of it, if not the whole of it, if they wanted to. The older bishops should have been raised into their teens and early 20s with the TLM, and should have been brought up to love it. Presumably, loving the mass would have been part and parcel with their call to the priesthood, for many of them.

    Yes, I get that seminaries since VII have been the hell-holes you (and others) have described, brainwashing priests to believe stupid and false things about the past. And so I get how younger priests, those who never had TLM when they were young, could be warped by disinformation into believing TLM is “bad medicine” by idiot and malicious professors. But how was this imposed on those who actually lived with TLM, many of them serving daily and Sunday Masses that way? How could “the Latin Mass was evil” be affixed into the brain of so many bishops who (presumably) started out in the seminary loving it? I fear that the true answer, for far too many, is that they willingly gave up and gave in to the pressure of the brainwashing professors, their sycophantic instinct overcoming common sense and their own interior graces calling them to the Mass. And THIS explains why they are so horrifically nasty-minded to their fellow priests who love the TLM: they can’t stand the evidence and testimony of these good men showing that they failed their calling, that they betrayed their Church, that they should have resisted the siren call of “getting ahead” by kow-towing to the blithering false theology and liturgical abuse of the Nouvelle crowd. The internal guilt from having accepted the patent lies of the malice-mongers squeezes out the generous spirit JPII called for about TLM, and causes them to make things much worse than mere neglect.

    Only God can know for sure if any specific bishop or superior is acting out of this backdrop. But it would (in part) explain some of the behavior, which is otherwise odd and difficult to fathom.

  40. disc.s.thom says:

    It reads like the rallying cry of a dictator, seeing that revolution is near at hand, deciding he will gather as many of his loyal soldiers to his side, only to cause them to die while he grasps at his last moments of waning power.

  41. Joy1985 says:

    I just continue to pray purposefully and specifically DAILY for all Catholic Clergy, Consecrated Religious, Seminarians. They all need our prayers and we definitely need them.

  42. mwa says:

    Bizarrely, much of the text of point 2. in the Bishop’s statement seems to come verbatim from an article on paulturner dot org, the blog of a priest of the diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, posted on 6/9/2016:
    “The Order of Mass does indicate places when the priest should face the people, but it never asks him to turn away as the preconciliar missal did. The GIRM presumes that the priest is celebrating mass at a freestanding altar. It was clearly the mind of the council that the priest should be facing the people.
    There are priests who prefer ad orientem. I am convinced that they mean well and find it a devout way to pray. But the overwhelming experience worldwide after Vatican II is that the priest faces the people for the mass, and this has contributed to the sanctification of the people.
    There are some historical churches with fixed altars where the priest does not have the option of facing the people. I think the rubrics in the Order of Mass are for those situations, where he needs to be told when, at least, he should face the people.”
    For what it’s worth, the nuptial blessing even before the council was always said facing the couple, not facing the altar. God can be addressed when facing people.”

    [Interesting. Thanks.]