We need a “pandemic of prayer”! We need an “epidemic of enterprise”! We need a … SYNDEMIC!

At FNC my good friend Fr. Robert Sirico has some thoughts about Francis and the cruel attack on people who desire traditional sacred liturgical worship.


My emphases and comments:

Pope Francis should let Catholics pray like Catholics

Too many spiritual shepherds want to contain traditional worship as if it were some kind of virus

A growing share of Americans—three in ten—identify as “none.” Or, none of the above when asked about their religious affiliation. Houses of worship are emptying, and those still left in the pews probably expect their spiritual shepherds to welcome more prayer, not less. [Even as the demographic sinkhole opens up under the Church many “spiritual shepherds” would rather see a smoking crater than a sheepfold full of happy Tradition oriented Catholics.]

It’s what makes Pope Francis‘s recent ruling to restrict prayer in the Catholic Church so odd[Maybe this is the same as what Minnesotans mean by “interesting”.] The current pope is known to some as the “Who am I to judge?” pope, but now seems to have no problem judging faithful Catholics who pray in ways he simply does not like[That’s it, isn’t it.  It’s not just the traditional rites that he doesn’t like, he doesn’t like the people who like them.]

Pope Francis told bishops from the Czech Republic in 2014 that he “cannot understand the younger generation” who flock to the old Mass. [What would a person versed in Jesuit spirituality say about moving dramatically and suddenly in way that affects a large group of people that you, self-admittedly, doesn’t understand?] A couple of years later, the pope wondered to an interviewer why so many young Catholics prefer to praise God in Latin on Sundays. “Why so much rigidity,” Francis asked. “This rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else.” And in 2019, Pope Francis ridiculed young priests who wear traditional cassocks along with the white collar—even suggesting they have “moral problems and imbalances.”  [As Yoda might say: “Working out our own problems, we are!  Hmmmm.]

Stereotypes may often be shortcuts to the truth, but not always. And certainly not in this case. In my experience, it is not just the elderly who like the smells and bells of the Church’s old rituals—a great many young people love traditional worship. I joke that my old parish’s Latin Mass is the “teen Mass.

Yet last summer the pope released a letter that restricted the use of that Mass. It marked a disappointing departure from his predecessors, and a peculiar use of the papacy—as if the pontiff were leading a new presidential administration that reverses executive orders of prior presidents from different political parties.  [Or one caudillo those of another.]

But popes aren’t presidents. [Neither are they caudillos.] The papacy is supposed to eschew politics and instead focus on the spiritual needs of the faithful. That was the late Pope John Paul II’s approach. As was Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s. Both noticed an increasing number of faithful were spiritually enriched by the Church’s old rites and rituals.

Francis’s recent predecessors both generously expanded opportunities to believers who worshipped the old way—not simply because it is old, but because it is beautiful and true. “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too,” the pope emeritus wrote in 2007, “and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” At that time only a little more than 200 Latin Masses were celebrated in the United States. Today, more than 650 venues reportedly offer the old form of worship in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia.  [I would say a lot more than that, because many have been quietly started and just continued under the radar.]

Perhaps the most draconian implementation of the pope’s restrictions on communities dedicated to the old Mass came just last week—yes, at the onset of Christmas festivities—from the cardinal archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich. A progressive on many things, Cupich is wont to align himself with many of campaigns of the left such as conflating intrinsic moral evil with prudential policy matters. [The typical lib/dem M.O.] No matter how you view it, no Catholic should give keeping the minimum wage just the same moral weight as protecting life in the womb. Of course, Cupich’s conflation gives cover to prominent pro-choice Catholics, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.  [Merely for a fuller view of the picture, there’s a PETITION to get him to resign: HERE]

But that “consistent ethic of life” idea wasn’t Cupich’s. It originated with his late predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who was also a hero for political liberals—but who also happened to be the first to expand opportunities for Chicagoans to worship the old way. Priests at St. John Cantius Church on the city’s west side seized that opportunity to restore the sacred in all things, and then watched the faithful flock from all over to what had been an all but abandoned parish. It grew from merely 30 in 1988 to more than 2,000 families today. The church itself was even voted the most beautiful in the country, and perhaps that had a lot to do with its beautiful liturgies.

When I was pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we had a very similar experience. It, too, was on the verge of closing in 2012, but as we sought to restore the sacred in the liturgy (we, like Cantius, celebrate both the old and new Masses) our school grew from 68 students to about 400 today—and it’s still growing.

In this moment of the “nones,” some of the most remarkable growth in the Catholic Church seems to come from churches where the liturgies are “ever ancient, ever new.

Too many spiritual shepherds now want to contain that contagious growth as if it were some kind of virus. But perhaps what the Church—and our world—need most right now is a pandemic of prayer.

Fr. Z kudos.

Yes, a pandemic of prayer.  But also an epidemic of enterprise.

We need a syndemic, both prayer and strong action.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, whom I quoted elsewhere today told the men he was recruiting:

“All you who hear me, make haste to calm the wrath of Heaven! Leave off imploring His goodness with futile lamentations or mortifying yourself with disciplines, but rather take up your invincible shields. The clamor of arms, the dangers, difficulties and fatigues of war, these are the penances that God imposes on you.”

There is no way that St. Bernard would have wanted me to STOP with mortifications and INSTEAD take up arms.  He would have wanted BOTH.

Prayer and action.

Grace and elbow grease.


ACTION ITEM! Be a “Custos Traditionis”! Join an association of prayer for the reversal of “Traditionis custodes”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Maximillian says:

    “When I was pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan…”
    Grand Rapids, Michigan was where the late, great Del Shannon was born.

  2. Pingback: We need a “pandemic of prayer”! We need an “epidemic of enterprise”! We need a … SYNDEMIC! – Via Nova Media

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    He makes it clear it’s personal, he doesn’t try to hide it. All during his papacy, bad things often are said or done by him during Feast Days or important days. Unfortunately they are always scandalous things or against tradition in some way. I’ve often hoped someone would do a dot-to-dot connection of these events. Example, the vile “Traditiones Custodes” came out on July 16, Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. He did something nasty on the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception once, there are others. These things are no accident. Add to this all the negative things he has said about the faithful, those who love the Roman Rite. Or the mockery, his rejection of the many spiritual bouquets offered to him when he was elected, his pulling the hands of a praying altar boy apart and mocking him, saying “Are your hands stuck together?”.
    Yes, it’s personal. He’s made that clear. And now so has Cupich.
    What they came out with days before Christmas this year was intended to be not only hurtful, but to try to steal joy from Catholics and inflict special harm mere days before the celebration of the birth of Christ. There is no possible way even rabid papal apologists can deny the malevolence in that.

  4. summorumpontificum777 says:

    This is an informative, erudite piece. Kudos to Fr. Sirico. My overall reaction to Traditionis Custodes, on the other hand, is more along the lines of what might come from his brother Tony’s character Paulie on The Sopranos.

  5. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  6. Not says:

    We have ALL made our Confirmation! We all are wearing that invisible armor. We have a history of Popes who are Saints and unfortunately more bad Popes. We are warriors and we are RIGHT! Vatican II tried to silence us, it failed. Vatican II tried to silence Father Peyton and the Rosary, it failed.
    As the expression goes.. by their fruits you shall know them. Our baskets are full, young families and old, multiple generations dedicated to the TLM, true vocations coming from those families.
    Pope Francis and his minions have a basket with a couple of dried tasteless raisins.

  7. Pingback: We need a “pandemic of prayer”! We need an “epidemic of enterprise”! We need a … SYNDEMIC! - Catholic Feed

  8. The Astronomer says:

    Some many senior members of the hierarchy are motivated by Spite, which also happens to be the purported name of the demon that possessed the pseudonymous Robbie Mannheim in the famous 1940s case that inspired The Exorcist.

    Members of the hierarchy who are strong proponents of the “James Martin Issue” and/or Modernism have the POWER to impose and enforce heresy, but not the AUTHORITY. Cardinal Bernardin was known for his use of archdiocesan vicars as ‘enforcers,’ but he did not have the authority to bluff, threaten, or intimidate Catholics into accepting heretical novelty in the name of the Second Vatican Council.

    This is where we start beseeching Heaven for a combination of Saint Pius X, Saint Athanasius, and Saint Peter Damian.

  9. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Pope Francis today criticized the Magi for their ‘rigid adherence to an ancient outmoded prophecy’ and for paying attention to ‘frivolous and fearful’ dreams.”

  10. krc2019 says:

    Perhaps a group should say the rosary, in latin, in front of the Cathedral in Chicago once a week.

  11. mo7 says:

    Our family came to tradition just as Francis became pope and my kids were entering their young adult years. I am grateful for that bolt of grace which has steeled us thru recent years. My kids see it this way: the clergy of a certain age see the disaster their life’s work has produced and in their pride are playing out their bitterness tantrum-style. Their intractability in the face of kids who love God and His church in it’s traditional form and live the faith causes the kids to have little respect for them whom they would otherwise defend to the enth degree. In the words of a diocesan seminarian I know, who upon being asked, answered with an admirable display of restraint out of charity: ‘F1 doesn’t inspire me’.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Excellent points by Fr. Sirico and Fr. Z, and by Suburbanbanshee, Not, The Astronomer et al.

    Kathleen10 raises an interesting point about establishing boundaries with the incident of Mr. Bergoglio grabbing the altar boy’s hands and pulling them apart while mocking the boy. If that cruel showboating stunt occurs again the boy’s parents should have Mr. Bergoglio arrested for assaulting a minor.

    Prayer and action indeed.

    Fr. Sirico also authored “Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.” The moral case for a free economy also involves establishing boundaries: private property, legally enforceable contracts, and regulation that is appropriate rather than the meddlesome bureaucratic central planning that breeds corrupt atheistic socialism.

    May the Mass of Ages ever increase.

  13. Pingback: RECENT POSTS and THANKS! | Fr. Z's Blog

Comments are closed.