ASK FATHER: A priest asks, “Is it okay to learn how to say the Traditional Latin Mass?” Wherein Fr. Z rants.

From a priest…


Is it okay to learn how to say the Traditional Latin Mass?

Where are we at with the whole overblown, skewed notion of obedience and authority today that it would enter into a priest’s mind that it might to wrong to learn to say the TLM.  Not to say the TLM publicly in defiance of authority, though that will come to pass, I predict.  But just to learn how to say it?    This points to a whole other problem in the Church today, but I digress.  Back to the topic…

Not only is it okay to learn to say the TLM, it is NOT okay NOT to learn to say the TLM. 

I would, had I power, oblige every priest of the Latin Church, the Roman Rite, at least to learn it.

Why?  Not just because by learning it you learn more about your priesthood.

Why?  Not just because by learning it you will change the way you say the Novus Ordo.

Why?  Not just because by learning it you will spark a positive knock on effect among the people you serve.

Why? Not just because by learning it you will be better positioned when the lunacy of Taurina cacata has come to an end.

I am convinced that one of the reasons certain bishops and priests seem determined to suppress the TLM and isolate, marginalize the people who want it is because the TLM unsettles, disturbs, annoys, irritates, needles, vexes clerics involved in one of the sins that cries to heaven.

Even if these bishops and priests have never seen or been to a TLM in their lives, they know that the TLM would remind them of what the Novus Ordo does not: sin, guilt and judgment.

The TLM reminds priests in a sobering way about their failings as men and as priests, that they are unworthy sinners who, by the grace of God alone, can stand at the altar to renew the sacred mysteries.  This is one of the Church’s precious and encouraging gifts to priests.

Contrary to the claims of those who hate the Traditional Mass, it is the best antidote to clericalism that there is.

We are our rites.  A priest gains inestimable riches and insights into who he is at altar through a knowledge of and use of the Vetus Ordo.

Liturgy is doctrine.  This is part of the reason why certain powers that be and the wormtongues behind them want to suppress the Vetus Ordo.

Say you want to change certain doctrines, not evolve organically and consistently, but just change.   With me?

The first thing you would have to do is change the way people worship.  Change how they pray, and over time over time you change what they believe.    In the Vetus Ordo the changers perceive an obstacle to changing the Church’s doctrines, especially in the sphere of sexual morality.   Therefore, they must restrict access to public celebrations of the TLM and keep as many priests as possible from learning it.   Make sure the liturgy in churches and seminaries emphasizes – on a good day – the Resurrection aspect of the Paschal Mystery and eschatological joy for everyone.  Make sure people don’t hear too much about propitiation, sin, guilt and judgment (concepts consistently stripped out of the orations of the Novus Ordo).

Cut them off from their roots in what their forebears believed and built.

Atomize them into smaller and smaller communities, each with its own liturgical expression, each with a language that keeps them from praying together as one.

Dumb it all down.

Isolate and bully.

You’ll get your way eventually.

Or so you think.

This, from men who don’t know how to say the TLM.

They would be slightly less hypocritical if they actually knew what they were trying to suppress.  They just know what they’ve been told about it.

And there is always that which whispers in their ears that they should get rid of because of… you know.

QUAERITUR: Is the rise of energy to suppress the TLM and the acceleration even at high levels of trying uncouple, so to speak, the Church’s teaching about sexuality from procreation just a coincidence?

They won’t get their way.  They can always hurt us more, but it won’t, in the end, work.

I don’t believe that the Vetus Ordo can, over time, be suppressed.  That toothpaste is out of the tube now and no amount of oppression will get it back in.

This is a battle over Catholic identity.  Catholic identity, not globalist NGO identity, will win.

Am I wrong?

Think about it this way, Fathers.  The Lord said that the “gates” (Greek “pylai“) of Hell will not “prevail against” (katisxusousin) the Church He would found.   “Gates” don’t attack.  “Gates” are defensive structures that are attacked.  It is the Church that is on the attack against Hell’s gates.  Hell cannot defend itself forever.  Hell defends itself with a powerful hellish onslaught.  A strong offence is a good defense.  But Hell cannot win this one even though it seems that, by attacking constantly, the demons are the attackers.

Even with the Novus Ordo only, properly celebrated, by priests who are devout, brave, focused, with laypeople – though fewer and fewer – trying live their vocations in the state of grace, the Church will, in the end win.

Through no fault of their own, priests and lay people are being sent into battle with only part of the armor and weapons available and they’ve never been fully trained to use them.

Still,  we will, in the end, win the day.  As Samwise said, “But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”

If God be for us, who can be against us?

That said, we also want God’s glory to be multiplied.  The loss of a soul to Hell means that much less joy in Heaven.  If we can win the day, eventually, with Novus Ordo, imagine what we might do together also with the Vetus Ordo.   This was Benedict XVI’s vision, not just a Marshall Plan against Hell’s defense-offensives , but a way to even greater glory in Heaven.

I’ll drag my fingers off the keyboard now and let you chew on that.

Fathers, learn the Vetus Ordo.  I’ll help.  And remember another thing Sam said, “It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish!”

Lay people, encourage your priests.  Do everything you can to help them, by prayer and by material support.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. summorumpontificum777 says:

    I often find myself shaking my head at the fact that there are kids in my own family (who attend mainstream, weak-identity Catholic high schools) who have far more knowledge about and experience with the TLM than many priests and even bishops of the Catholic Church.

  2. mater101 says:

    Alleluia Baby!! Truer words Never spoken! ……..
    And we must give an atta’boy to the priests at EWTN..for incorporating more and more the sacramental aspects of the TLM, insofar as they are able, ( incense, sacred music, Latin, chanted prayers…etc ) . Thanks for the pep talk Fr. Z ……we need all the visual and auditory vitamins we can get.! Blessings…

  3. IaninEngland says:

    With all due respect, not just “okay”, but

    *absolutely vital*

    I should think.

  4. Not says:

    I remember Fr. Z when you gave an account of a NO Priest who learned the TLM and after saying the TLM decided he must leave the Priesthood, because he realized he had entered the Priesthood for the wrong reasons. What a powerful declaration of what being a Priest is and does.

    [Yes, the TLM can be a strong cup of coffee for a priest whose formation was less than optimal. Leaving the priesthood…. whew. I remember reading something about this from a saint, perhaps St. Joseph Cafasso? What happens if a priest, once ordained, either discerns or admits that he didn’t have a vocation. On the one hand, he DOES have a vocation, because a) he was “called” to orders by the Church – literally – and b) he is ordained. So, the question becomes “How do I save my soul, now that I am ‘stuck’ in a vocation I don’t want?” A thorny problem that, for Cafasso, involved suffering and perseverance rather than track shoes. This is all serious stuff. No matter what, the ethos, culture, identity, genius of the Vetus Ordo is that it keeps the Cross at the core of all we do. Those who carp at the TLM and think that it has been surpassed by the ecclesiology of Vatican II, with its People of God language and emphasis on the Paschal Mystery, don’t get that all that stuff is already in the Vetus Ordo. It’s just that in the Vetus Ordo, the Passion is not obscured by the Resurrection.]

  5. Andrew says:

    Perhaps not unrelated to the question: Canon 249 might be mentioned which mandates that priestly formation is to provide that seminaries teach students not only their native language but also make sure that they understand Latin very well.

    [Clearly this is a big problem. I know one priest, pretty well-known, who practically wet his pants at the thought of having to deal with the Latin. How these men were cheated, cheated, CHEATED! And the people of God suffer today as a result.]

  6. KateD says:

    It may seem counterintuitive, but I have found when I persevere with a clean heart in the good and holy thing that makes someone upset, at a point they almost miraculously turn on a dime.

    When I am being screamed at and called names but don’t respond in kind, when I am willing to endure their hate filled invectives, the hot blast of their breath and spittle in my face as they scream at me or to be pushed and pulled, lifted up off my knees and commanded to stand or swung on in violence, and remain calm and loving…often times they will suddenly make a 180. It’s really weird, it doesn’t make sense and so I attribute it to God working on them. I discovered this praying on the sidewalk. I was more than capable of physically (and verbally) defending myself. But I laid it down and put myself in the hands of God to do with me what He willed for the sake of the babies. I have been screamed at, charged and swung on numerous times…but never touched. I have watched the fist come for my face and not connect, though I never flinched nor backed away…I just looked in the aggressors eyes and prayed for them…I prayed that I wouldn’t get hit, too…lol. I’m no masochist. But I know what I can do, what I’m physically capable of and I know how that can and has been used by the enemy to portray prolifers as the violent ones. Nope. These babies are being torn limb from limb feet from where I prayed…the least I could do is take one on the chin…But it never happened.

    I believe I stumbled upon the mystical axiom that Saint Theresa of Calcutta described: “I have found the paradox that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

    There was a woman, the mother of a sidewalk prayer partner, who was incredulous and ENRAGED that I attended the Latin Mass and wore a veil. I listened to what she had to say and told her, “You know, what you described has not been my experience. I’m sorry that was yours. I can understand why you would be so upset. It sounds awful”. Then I told her the time and place of the TLM and invited her to come. She did. We had coffee and visited. She became a regular member of the TLM community and began to wear a veil! She went from being unhappy and just kind of generally nasty in disposition, to being joyful and contented. It was really a beautiful transition.

    The Latin Mass is a salve to the Church. It is pleasing to God. When first administered to a festering wound, the antiseptic qualities sting a bit, but in time as the wound heals and the subject is restored to health, their vitality returns and they are able to be joyful once again. What good is a “doctor” who doesn’t know how to heal people or who covers up a festering wound without treating it for fear of causing the patient to be in discomfort during the cleansing out of the puss?

    We live in a wounded world. FOR GOD’S SAKE, Fathers, Keep applying that salve!

  7. Maximillian says:

    “Not to say the TLM publicly in defiance of authority, though that will come to pass, I predict.”

    Oh no! No. No. God forbid such disobedience should ever happen.

  8. Chrisc says:

    Fatherz and other priests, can you explain why this hesitancy exists within many faithful clergy members? Bishop Parkes writing Rome to ask about the Latin mass locations in Savannah seems similar. Why is there a kind of timidity, wherein the clergy think they need permission to learn something?

  9. Chrisc says: Why is there a kind of timidity

    There can’t be a one-size-fits-all answer.

    However, a couple of components must be considered.

    First, these days we see the nasty, squishy fruit of a sense of obedience among diocesan clergy that is redolent of religious life rather than secular priesthood. That’s a serious problem Bishops aren’t abbots … or at least most of them aren’t. Priests are not brothers in vows.

    Second, it is possible that a kind of effeminacy pervades. I don’t mean the sort of effeminacy that results in lisping or homosexual inclinations. I mean a weakness of spirit. Contrast St. Joan of Arc with the sniveling Dauphin.

    What might have produced that weakness?

    Here’s a thought. Years, maybe decades, of seeing that the bishop does NOT have your back, in a fight. That he is with you “win or tie”. That he will throw you to the wolves if there is a controversy. It is demoralizing. Think of what the Dallas Charter did for the moral and identity of priests, especially because the bishops exempted themselves.

    One of the best priesthood ordination sermons I ever heard was from the late Bp. Robert Morlino. In a sense, it was a terrible sermon at first, rambling over current events, etc. Then he got onto Job! “Where is he going?”, thought I. Then it happened. He looked at the ordinands and said that when Job was afflicted, he cried, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” He went on to say that, they were going to have to stand up in the pulpit and elsewhere and say things that people don’t want to hear. The affliction will begin. That’s when they have to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

    From that moment, every priest there who was compos sui knew that this bishop had their back and wouldn’t dump them because of whiners in a parish or because of the local newspaper. Morlino had a backbone of steel and he didn’t let the haters get to him.

    A bishop can be all pious and full of nice stories and even erudite in his preaching and writing, but it he doesn’t back his priests in moments of trial, he is zippo, niente… worse than niente. He is a false shepherd.

    I think these two factors have eroded priestly identity in the secular, diocesan priesthood in many places. And those dioceses that had good strong bishops… there were more vocations and a healthier body of priests.

  10. Lurker 59 says:

    1.) If it is not a sin for a child to learn (and even to play-act out the Mass), it surely is not a sin for a grown adult to learn the TLM.

    2.)Read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” to understand why learning TLM is imperative.

    I’ve been poking at the issue of obedience for a few years now. It is defiantly a pre-VII problem and what we have now is sort of the overripe squishy fruit of that. It is a sort of epistemological despair compatible with the post-war years — we don’t believe that knowledge (especially spiritual knowledge) of what to obey is ontologically possible so we are just going to obey whatever authority is above us and call that obedience.

  11. TonyO says:

    Why? Not just because by learning it you learn more about your priesthood.

    Why? Not just because by learning it you will change the way you say the Novus Ordo.

    Why? Not just because by learning it you will spark a positive knock on effect among the people you serve.

    In addition to these issues pointed out by Fr. Z, which are clearly important, I was reminded yesterday of yet ANOTHER reason the pope and his merry band of thugs are insisting not only that priests SAY the NO mass, but that they AFFIRM its “uniqueness” and its being “the Mass of VII” when clearly it is not the mass demanded by VII. This was given in a political context, but it applies equally well here: By being forced to hear lies, and not respond with “That’s a lie!”, and even more by being forced to repeat the lies, a person’s soul becomes damaged. When their will is at least partially implicated in accepting the lie, their souls are corrupted and minds trapped into falsity. They become severed from Truth, and thus UNABLE to bear Truth. A quote from Theodore Dalrymple:

    In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.

    After now 2 generations of priests being force-fed The Big Lie, and now 2 generations of bishops being selected ONLY from priests who repeat The Big Lie, it is not only not surprising that the priesthood is emasculated and the bishopric even more so, it is slightly surprising that even A FEW of the bishops are NOT.

    But (like the Soviet empire), a regime founded on lies cannot long survive. The only question is how long it will take before it tumbles down, and how many souls it will take with it. And what will take over after it fails: in the political order, we see massive efforts toward a One World Government. In the religious context, we are seeing equally massive efforts toward a One World Religion (not, in the least, Catholicism), (shades of Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World). The modernistic version of ecumenism is either part of Lenin’s “useful idiots” or intentionally aimed at just this.

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  13. ex seaxe says:

    I agree that every priest would benefit from learning the 1962 Mass if, as they should, they have enough Latin to understand it. But it is important that they appreciate that the 1570 Missal and its descendants are based on a curial official’s Mass without a congregation. And it thus lacks the pastoral dimension called for by Session XXII of the Council of Trent. They need to also consider the way in which the rubrics were changed in 1965 in order, without disrupting the texts, to restore the role of the pastor in leading the worship of his flock.

    [I’m reject this claim about lacking a “pastoral dimension” (whatever that means). Somehow parishes developed, churches were full, missions expanded, people received the sacraments and good formation. As far as “changing the role of the pastor in leading”…. yeah, that’s worked out really well. No, this is all vapor.]

  14. AndreaM says:

    I’m taking a break from doing cartwheels! Today I learned that Fr. Steve Mateja will be assigned to a Parish we attended quote a while ago (before moving to FL and meeting Fr. Palka).

    This is from December 2021:

    “‘Traditional Latin Mass, it would bode every priest well to read through the Mass and see the prayers that are said by the priest. That alone will help you appreciate the beauty of priesthood and what takes place at Mass.’

    Fr. Steve’s first public High Mass will be at historic Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church in downtown Detroit at 7:00 PM on Friday, December 3.”

    Our children love reverence, and are leading us into the beautiful TLM. I am so humbled and grateful that our young Catholics love this. Praise be to God!Our children REFUSE to be cheated!

  15. AndreaM says:

    (Sorry for the misprint of quote instead of quite, and I might add that Church is St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Lake Orion, MI).

  16. ex seaxe says:

    Indeed there were full churches and good formation – but these were fostered by devotions, Benediction, Vespers etc and strong preaching, and (certainly in England) by pastoral visiting. We swung from an awareness that Mass contributed only to piety to thinking that with the expanded role of the Mass it could achieve everything (ok that’s exaggerated). [This is so unreal that I don’t even know how to respond. Where does this sort of thing come from, I wonder.] Pastoral visiting was killed by television, and all other services dropped in favour of more Masses. [Sequitur… aut non?]
    As you know, Trent longed [?] for general Communion at every Mass from the elements consecrated at that Mass, and commanded instruction at Mass on the texts of that Mass ‘lest the hungry sheep look up and are not fed’. [Sounds “pastoral” to me.] Neither was [… what…] the common practice in my youth in the 1950s, neither is [… what…] even alluded to in the pre-1962 Missal. [Frequent Communion? You know about Pius X, right?] A crucial mistake, which preceded 1969 and even VII, was to relax the disciplines about fasting and abstinence, people need simple rules even if they cause discomfort, or perhaps especially if they cause minor inconvenience. Tribal rituals have a strong bonding effect, [… reduction of the supernatural fruits of the practice to tribal bonding… seems a bit modernist…] simply gathering with others (particularly for adult men) forms communities, so under pain of mortal sin we got them to attend Mass, even if they stood outside smoking until the Offertory and headed for a bar directly after the Our Father!

  17. Boniface says:

    I’ll go one further and say that not only is a good idea for priests (even those lacking permissions under current rules) to learn the older form of the mass – it’s good for lay people, even those unable to assist at one!

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