ASK FATHER: Help for a blind priest who wants to learn the Traditional Latin Mass – UPDATED

From a reader…


Can you help with finding a way for […] to find proper pronunciation? Our Bishop will not allow him to say TLM unless he can “prove” proper pronunciation. He currently uses the apple translator app, but needs a means of slowing it down. Please point any technological assistance his way.

Firstly, I am glad the people are seeing this post.

Next, it is NOT unreasonable for a bishop to desire that priests pronounce the Latin properly.  As a matter of fact, good canonists (such as the late Card. Egan – not a great friend of things traditional) said that the ability to pronounce the Latin properly was the key to being “idoneus” as per Summorum Pontificum (along with being in good standing, etc.).

I had started a project many years ago to help priests with pronunciation.  PRAYERCAzTs.  I have a page.   It lay fallow for quite a while, but I have there some good foundational recordings.

Also, I am willing regularly to record the Latin, spoken and chanted, for orations at request.



Originally posted 4 January 2021

From a reader…


Please help us get a Latin Mass in my diocese. Father is
willing to learn, but needs technical assistance. He is blind.

I don’t know how to help in this case.  In any case, Father is going to have to memorize… as all priests should anyway.

However… perhaps Father’s Guardian Angel wanted to help me.  I just remembered a story from a few years back… HERE

Extraordinary Form missal to be produced in Braille for the first time

An Order of Mass for the older Latin form of the liturgy is to be produced in Braille in what is believed to be the first of its kind.

The Latin Mass Society is working to produce the missal with the help of the UK-based Torch Trust, a Christian charity that supports people with sight loss.

Joseph Shaw, LMS chairman, said the idea for the Order of Mass came from supporters. “It is demand-driven,” he said.

He said that LMS was also preparing a large-text “Bishop’s Canon”, which contains the Canon of the Mass and other important texts, for use by priests with poor eyesight.

Braille was invented in the 19th century by the French Catholic musician Louis Braille. He had been a pupil at the world’s first school for the blind, which had been set up decades earlier by Valentin Haüy, another Catholic, in Paris.

A Braille missal already exists for the new English translation of the Mass. The Xavier Society for the Blind, an American organisation, has produced Braille versions of the Catechism and the New American Bible.

That is something you might look into.

Do any of you readers have any ideas?

BTW… yes… Angels are helping…

I just saw that, today, 4 January is World Braille Day.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Jack007 says:

    Apparently the issue of vision impaired priests has been addressed in the past. In my collection I have a 1921 Pustet Missale Caecutientium. It resembles a Defunctorum but considerably thicker as it has votive Masses as well. The font is HUGE. It has some canonical proclamations related to the limitations of afflicted priests.

  2. WVC says:

    This is so motivating! God bless that blind priest. Any priest with eyesight just lost a good chunk of excuses for not learning the Latin Mass.

    My guess is this priest has an excellent memory, but even so some braille cards of propers could be discreetly placed on the top of the altar to help with some sections? Knowing nothing of braille, is it easy to read with the last 3 fingers (assuming thumb and forefinger are pinched together)?

  3. Mike_in_Kenner says:

    For a priest who is not totally blind, try obtaining a copy of the old Missale Caecutientium. It has very large print, and only has a few Mass formularies: a few Masses of the Blessed Virgin, and a few Masses for the dead. Copies can sometimes be found in the online used book stores. A seminary or university library might have a copy. It may not be the exact solution needed for the priest mentioned in the original post, but for priests with failing eyesight it might be just the right thing.

  4. Ellen says:

    If that’s Father Jamie I am going to go to his Mass as soon as he learns it.

  5. grateful says:

    “perhaps Father’s Guardian Angel wanted to help me. I just remembered a story from a few years back… HERE”
    …”BTW… yes… Angels are helping…
    I just saw that, today, 4 January is World Braille Day.”

    Angels just love to “show-off”
    Thank You Angels!

  6. Jack007 says:


    Great minds think alike! :-)

  7. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  8. MaryHelen says:

    Electronic glasses/goggles are available for people with very little vision. The two brands I am familiar with are eSight and IrisVision. My legally blind 86 year old step-father uses IrisVision, which costs about $3000. ESight is about twice that amount. If Father has something like macular degeneration and has some vision these new glasses/goggles could help him read again.

  9. WmHesch says:

    SRC by decree of 12 Jan 1921 “Instructio pro Sacerdote Caecutiente” gave extremely detailed instructions for blind or visually impaired priests… he was limited to votives BVM and daily Requiem (both of which should be memorized by all priests- in case future circumstances leave them bereft of books)

  10. kimberley jean says:

    Pronunciation is important. One old chestnut that’s been tossed around for decades is that people were ashamed by Cardinal Cushing’s sloppy and unintelligible Latin at the Kennedy funeral..

  11. Torpedo1 says:

    As someone who’s a daily braille user, this is an awesome post! In answer to an above commenter’s question, yes, you can read braille with your last few fingers, though it takes practice to be able to do that. I was discouraged from using my left/dominant hand when learning braille… even in the 80ies… go figure. Now, I’m really skilled in reading right-handed, but I always have to practice with my left. Really, I should be reading two-handed, but I’m lazy and haven’t put in the time.

  12. WVC says:

    @Torpedo1 – Thanks for the info. Watching folks reading braille is like magic to me. Human ingenuity and determination are marvelous things to behold.

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