GUEST POST from a priest: “The Holy See has become a dumpster fire, and the boldness of the Gospel is wanting.”

GUEST POST: From a priest reader of this blog…

I am grateful that your ministry serves as a voice for many faithful and Traditional Catholics. I have come a long way from hostility to the usus antiquor to being convinced that Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum has given believers an enclave of sound doctrine and authentic worship.

By now, I am sure you have read the Pontifical Academy for Life’s Humana communis on how we ought to respond to the Wuham pneumonia. But it’s exactly what’s deliberately left unsaid that is so distressing.

There is not a single mention of God or of our Lord Jesus Christ.

All hopes, instead, are placed in a vaccination to eradicate the virus and new “human community” that will supposedly emerge from this pandemic.

The language of “mindfulness” caught my attention, too, as if it is offered as a substitute for prayer and recollection. No room is left for grace to do its work, and there are no summons to turn to the Lord and ask Him for healing, as if 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the elephant in the room that has been poached simply to remove the inconvenience of repentance and conversion of life.

If the United Nations had a “secretary for culture,” this document looks like it could’ve been written by them rather than the legates of Christ.

Are the dicasteries of the Holy See more interested in looking “respectable” the secular age? (Cf 1 Cor 1:18-2:16)

“this image”
Click for larger

When I look back on the Church’s history, plagues were often met with public penitential liturgies and processions of repentance. I will never forget when I saw this image back in high school–before I became a Catholic–which suggested to me the very spiritual vigour that defined the Catholic Church.

Modernism denies the immanence of the supernatural; is it a latent or residual Modernism that causes our prelates to dismiss the possibility that God is chastising us?

The very fact that the Church is not engaging in an examination of conscience suggests to me a certain hardness of heart.

The Church’s Tradition – relayed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 675 – speaks of a general apostasy at the twilight of history; though I’m sure the idea crossed the minds of Sts Thomas More and John Fisher in Henrician England, or Cardinal von Galen during the Third Reich, it would still be worthwhile to ask ourselves again, at least in the spirit of preparation and at most in the spirit of vigilance, whether those long-dreaded days are upon us. And, if not, how will we fare when that Day does come?

I’ll come right out and say it: The Holy See has become a dumpster fire, and the boldness of the Gospel is wanting.

As a priest, I know the power of Holy Mass, of prayer, of preaching, and of the indwelling Holy Spirit which makes the bombing of Hiroshima look like a firecracker; I simply wanted to vent to my brother-priest and to give voice to the many, many lay people who, with greater frequency, look to the Patriarchate of Moscow rather than the Bishop of Rome for boldness in the witness to Jesus Christ.

What we often read in the Lives of the Desert Fathers, I say to you: “Abba, give us a word.”

Meanwhile, now’s probably a good time for me to read St Augustine’s The City of God.

Fr. Z responds:

Here’s my word: Euge!


You have put your finger on several sore spots, including one of the sorest of all: Modernism.

I very much like your image of the dumpster fire juxtaposed to the Mass as atom bomb v. firecracker of the next paragraph.

As priests we must follow in the High Priest’s path: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49)

Since my Je m’accuse post, I’ve paid greater attention to traditional preparation prayers before Mass, including…

Ure igne Sancti Spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum Domine: ut tibi casto corpore serviámus, et mundo corde placeamus. … Enkindle, O Lord, our hearts and minds with the fire of the Holy Spirit: that we may serve you with a chaste body and please you with a clean heart.

Brother, I have another word for you.


It’s time we get religion.

You were moved by that image from the “Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry” of Pope St. Gregory in procession against the plague, when St. Michael appeared over the tomb of Hadrian, now Castel Sant’Angelo.  Gregory and the plague afflicted inhabitants of Rome got Religion.  They both got it and they got it, if you get my drift.  They understood and they acquired it.

I mean, of course, the virtue of Religion.

We have to get really serious about the virtue of Religion.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines religion in the glossary toward the back of the newer English edition, “Religion: a set of beliefs and practices followed by those committed to the service and worship of God. The first commandment requires us to believe in God, to worship and serve him, as the first duty of the virtue of religion. (Cf. also CCC 2084 and 2135)

The Angelic Doctor says that Religion is the virtue by which men exhibit due worship and reverence to God (STh, 2-2a, 81, 1) as the creator and supreme ruler of all things, and to acknowledge dependence on God by rendering Him a due and fitting worship both interiorly (e.g. by acts of devotion, reverence, thanksgiving, etc.) and exteriorly (e.g., external reverence, liturgical acts, etc.). The virtue of religion can be sinned against by idolatry, superstitions, sacrilege, blasphemy, etc.”

The virtue of Religion can be sinned against also by omission, neglect.   NB: The Dumpster Fire’s Holy See’s omission of reference to God in their document.

At the top you mentioned your growing appreciation of the traditional forms of our liturgical worship.  I respond that that Summorum Pontificum was the most important thing that Benedict XVI gave to the Church in his too short pontificate.  It will have the longest and most profound consequences.

Why?   Because of the knock on effect created when priests learn to say the Traditional Mass.  It changes the priest and how he sees himself and understands his role at the altar and in the Church.  It kindles a fire that spreads from him to those who in the congregation.

Why?  Because lay people begin to experience our sacred liturgical worship on a new, deeper level.  There’s more “fuel” more “sustenance”.   This has its own knock on effect in their sphere of life.

Why?  Because WE ARE OUR RITES!

We are facing huge changes in the Church.  We had to face them anyway, but COVID-1984 has accelerated the process.  A demographic sink hole is going to open up under the Church in these USA and swathes of “Catholics” will disappear.  Those left will be of a traditional leaning together with converts from Evangelical backgrounds and well-rooted charismatics who are enthusiastic about their Faith.

There will be some frictions, but these groups will find each other out of need.  The result, I predict, will be amazing.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the key to the future.  It must become widespread and frequent and beautifully executed.  Only after a significant period of stability with the traditional forms will the real “mutual enrichment”, as Benedict XVI called it (or “gravitational pull” as I have called it), manifest its effects.  Until then, avoiding any impatient tinkering, we must have an increase in celebrations of our traditional worship, which means more than just Holy Mass.

We need all the traditional devotions and other rites as well.


Our rites shape us from the outside in and the inside out.  They inform us and give us our identity.   In order to have an impact on the world, which is our Christian duty, we have to know who we are.  Hence, we need solid CULT, CODE and CREED.   Worship, Catechism, and Law.

Every good initiative we have as a Church must begin in and return to sacred liturgical worship.  This is clear because of the necessity of the virtue of Religion, which must order our lives, orient us.

No initiative we undertake in the Church can succeed without it being rooted in our sacred liturgical worship.

However, our collective sacred liturgical worship is presently in a state of cataclysmic disorder.   Therefore, our collective observance of the virtue of Religion is not well fulfilled by the Church.   I believe with all my heart and mind that we, collectively, cannot in this present state fulfill properly our obligation to God according to the virtue of Religion, that virtue which directs us to give to God what is His due.   Hence, according to the hierarchy of goods which we all must embrace, we are, collectively, disordered.

Nothing we can do as a Church will succeed in this state of affairs.  We have to see to our worship of God.

The use of the TLM will help us to correct our downward trajectory.

The knock-on effect that learning the TLM has on priests is remarkable.  That knock-on effect spreads like fire outward, beyond the sanctuary to congregations.

We are making progress, and that progress will speed up even as the eucatastrophe striking the Church is speeding up.   You will recall Tolkien’s term.  There are disaster which, like the felix culpa, result in some unexpected, hardly to be predicted good that result, some unexpected blessing.

So much more has to be done.  An alarmed Enemy is fighting back and fighting hard.

The revitalization for the Church through a restoration of our Catholic identity will require nearly heroic courage from priests.

Priests will need to work hard to acquire tools that they were systematically cheated out of in their formation.  They will be intimidated.  They will fear that they can’t do it.

They can do it, but it will take hard work and support from others.

Graces will be given in this undertaking, because the connection of the priest and the altar is fundamental to the Church’s life.

No other thing that the priest does is more important.

Priests must also be willing to suffer attacks from libs, many of whom are not malicious but who are blinkered and nearly brainwashed.

Next, it is going to require nearly heroic courage and spirit of sacrifice from lay people who must support their priests and encourage them in projects that they will be reluctant to undertake.  Lay people must also be ready to engage in their parishes on a new level.

Remember, friends, that we are our rites.  As the Church prays, so do we believe and live.

Everything that we are and do as a Church flows from and returns to sacred liturgical worship.

We are our rites.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Cri de Coeur, Hard-Identity Catholicism, HONORED GUESTS, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kent Wendler says:

    Not directly related to these notes, but they made me think of how God knows our needs and sometime responds to our prayers even before we know and pray for them. Consider this excerpt from a secular press article:

    “‘Our team also tested uninfected healthy individuals and found SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in more than 50 percent of them. This could be due to cross-reactive immunity obtained from exposure to other coronaviruses, such as those causing the common cold, or presently unknown animal coronaviruses. ‘”

  2. arga says:

    Dumpster fire? More like a holocaust. The depth of corruption in the Church is breathtaking, and Arch. Viganò sees it, and has the courage to report it, more clearly and effectively than anyone. See his latest interview (July 25) with Tosatti over at Church Militant. Not for the faint of heart.

  3. JustaSinner says:

    The dark one seems to have won… we’re just dancing around that issue at this point.

  4. michele421 says:

    I can’t attend a TLM as the only one in this diocese is too far. Realistically, that’s unlikely to ever change. I dearly love the Novus Ordo. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. I’ve tried, again and again, to transfer some of that love to the TLM, as I can, watching on streams. It doesn’t work. For me, I’m afraid, the TLM will always be “The Liturgy of the Wandering Mind”. I’m sure there must be many others like me. Will there be any place for us in this Brave, New-Old Church?

  5. TRW says:

    Michele421: It can be difficult to “follow along” at the TLM. As a recent convert, my first two experiences of the TLM were similar to what you describe. I have attended several more masses in the EF and I found it VERY helpful to have a missal. It made a huge difference for me. I’m not sure that a live-stream would be that useful in becoming more acquainted with entering into it, as one isn’t actually there. Maybe you can’t force yourself to experience it differently, but learning what the different elements of the EF are might help in making it seem less alien. Someone gifted me an old missal and it really helped me to focus on the TLM.

  6. Sandy says:

    Bravo “guest priest”! God bless all you holy priests who are trying to serve the Lord and minister to your flocks. After a second “lock down” by our dictator governor, I feel more angry and let down by our bishop who does nothing to provide some way for us to receive Jesus. Since we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in Holy Communion, depriving Catholics of worship has an even more profound meaning than for others. Sorry if that sounds elitist; I miss Jesus!! This points back to Rome because we got this liberal bishop from Francis.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Michele421,

    Basically, the TLM is a superset of the NO. If you focus on what you already know about the Mass from the NO and find those things within the TLM, your brain will, for instance, get to the Sanctus and say, “Hey, I know that!” The two forms of the Mass follow the same global outline, with a few important differences.

    Finding the NO within the TLM will remove most of the confusion and help you to see the added richness in the TLM. For many newbies to the TLM, finding the NO within the TLM should be your goal at the start so that you don’t feel as if you are on foreign soil. Then, once you have a foothold and mental pegs into the TLM, looking for the similarities and differences between the TLM and NO Mass can be a rewarding search.

    The language barrier (everyone should learn Latin, sigh) can be solved by getting a good Missal or downloading and printing the Mass of the day from a good Internet site.

    I know articles have been written comparing the two forms of the Mass. Two good ones for beginners may be found, here (the first link has flow charts):


    The second site is very helpful for those who get lost in the TLM (I like the blog’s title, too). These are only a few sites among many. Some are much more technical.

    Maybe I should make a play-by-play for secular types who are coming back to the Church from watching football on Sunday mornings. I can call it, The Chicken’s Guide to the Latin Mass. Is that a million-selling title or what?

    The Chicken

  8. michele421 says:

    I’m only pursuing this because I’m sure many others have at least some of the same problem as mine. I do understand the parts of the Mass and I can discern the NO in the TLM, even though (as it seems to me) its beauty is covered by layers of verbiage or stifled by silence. A Missal does little good as I invariably get lost, frustrated and end up in a much less than worshipful frame of mind. I believe the bottom line is that while some people find beauty and reverence in the TLM, and this helps them to worship God, others have the same experience with the NO. Surely there is room enough in the Church for both.

  9. TRW says:

    michele421: It sounds like maybe you just don’t care for the TLM. I don’t know that that is necessarily a problem, unless you feel like you should like it. That’s another can of worms.

  10. Luminis says:

    That article has been removed. I would like to read it. Can you tell me where I may be able to find it? Thank you

  11. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Tolkien also spoke of The Long Defeat. Its felt like The Long Defeat for a while.

  12. roma247 says:

    @The Masked Chicken–there’s already a book like that…

    It’s amazing how much information is packed into such a small book, and with beautiful art to boot.

  13. Pingback: MONDAY LATE EDITION – Big Pulpit

  14. Gaby Carmel says:

    It used to be that one clicked ‘share’ and only a specific article appeared on Facebook. But for a while now, the ‘share’ button brings up to the whole blog page, whatever the date of the entry one wishes to share.

    Can this be reversed, so that simply clicking ‘share’ would be sufficient to share a single, definite entry? (I hope I have explained myself clearly…). Thank you!

  15. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear roma247,

    Good to know about the book, but I like my title, better :)

    Dear michele421,

    To some extent I can empathize. Among my academic disciplines is musicology (part of which is the study of music history). In graduate school I had to study opera and its history. It really is true what Richard Gere said about opera in the movie, Pretty Woman:

    “People’s reaction to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic. They either love it or hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.”

    I am in the latter category. I appreciate opera, but it is not something I would listen to while driving. On the other hand, one of my former performance teachers is an opera lover. They have, I believe, a subscription to Opera News (I have seen them reading it).

    I have played in the pit orchestra for many musicals, such as West Side Story (twice), Camelot, Bye Bye Birdie, Anything Goes, etc. Some of the tunes are very appealing (who can listen to, One Hand, One Heart, from West Side Story without a tear).

    I imagine that the difference in appreciation between opera and the Broadway musical is similar to the difference in appreciation for some people between the TLM and the NO. Here’s the thing, though: Broadway musicals came out of opera via the Italian, Commedia dell’arte (which really found a home in France in the late Seventeenth Century), and the English Burlesques, and Operettas in the mid – 1800’s. Opera and musicals, such as in the case of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas can, in fact, many times be interchanged with a few small changes. Although one may love the the Broadway musical and feel little enthusiasm for opera, nevertheless, it helps one understand the musical better by being familiar with opera.

    There is a sense (not to put too fine a point on it) in which, just as the Broadway musical had to wait for the experimental adaptation of the Italian opera style into an English setting (originally, in England) before it arose, one must wonder if the development of the NO is not a reflection of the rise in dominance of the English-American influence after WW II, with its focus on action and pragmatism.

    Reading a missal is not too dissimilar to reading an opera libretto.

    The Chicken

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    The “Pontifical Academy for Life” managed to churn out an eight-page document with zero, zilch, nada references to God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible. It did reference the gospel according to Laudato Si twice and Querida Amazonia once.

    This is not a Catholic document, it’s a Frankfurt School essay.

    “Solidarity extends also to any efforts in international cooperation. In this context, a privileged place belongs to the World Health Organization (WHO).”

    *chuckle* The Soy is Strong with this essay.

  17. Blaise says:

    Fr Z, I followed your link to your J’accuse post and found I could not post a comment there – perhaps it is too old and locked down after a certain time.

    Michele421, if it is still published or you can find an old copy I recommend “The Mass in slow motion” by Ronald Knox as a way to appreciate the TLM. That said, I think the wandering mind point is something many can suffer in both rites (in which “many” I include myself). I find a missal helps me, in both rites, to participate actively especially in the Canon/ Eucharistic prayer by making the priest’s prayer truly my own as well. (Or by allowing me to reflect on EP I in the Novus Ordo while a priest who feels no compunction in giving a wandering 15 minute sermon prays EP II “because EP I is so long / takes too long”).

  18. mpsguard says:

    Dear Fathers,

    ‘All hopes, instead, are placed in a vaccination to eradicate the virus and new “human community” that will supposedly emerge from this pandemic.’

    That statement possesses a great deal of irony. It is my conviction that God is permitting our latest tower of Babel, this latest modernist human anti-God project, possessed of hubris and self-referential arrogance, to crumble in on itself. In the process He is also separating the chaff from the wheat as He does from time to time in order to rebuild the community of believers. The only kind of “human community” that God wants is the Mystical Body of Christ.

    Fr Z makes mention of a faithful remnant. Pope Benedict XVI alluded to that also. it seems like an inevitable outcome of God’s intervention.

    At that point the process of re-evangelization can start, which, by the way, was supposed to be one of the key pastoral outcomes of Vatican II – evangelization of the world in preparation for the end times by the priestly people of God. We have endured quite the opposite since the end of Council, but God will achieve His end one way or another.

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