Novus Ordo as Used Car Lot?

In general, I don’t want to know anything about the personal lives or thoughts of actors or other celebrities.  If I go to a movie, I don’t want to know that the person on the screen is really a moronic mouth-breather who thinks that guns should be banned even as his character hides from incoming rifle rounds behind a particle board cupboard and shooting everyone one in sight.  I recall the title of a book by…. not sure who… after Barbara Streisand uttered some idiotic political chatter: “Shut up and sing!”

To my point.  I’ve been deluged with notes about the conversion to the Catholic Church by an actor whom I don’t really know anything about. His name is apparently pronounced “Shai-ah”, Shia LaBeouf.   While working on a movie about St. Pio of Pietrelcina, he got interested in the Catholic Faith and in the Vetus Ordo and – bammo – he did something that Francis would probably have told him not to do, he became a Catholic.  And, worse, he prefers the Vetus Ordo.  Oooops!

Enter from the Olympian Middle, Bp. Robert Baron, newly the residential Bishop of Winona-Rochester, media personality, host of – pace Alfred Hitchcock – Bishop Barron Presents.  What is more natural than that His Excellency should interview the newly converted actor?

Often in interviews with actors you are left with a certain dissatisfaction.  “Where’s the beef?”, as it were.  I think at one point, the Bishop got a little more LaBeouf than he was ready for.

Here is a snip from the longer interview.  Frankly, LaBoeuf is wrong in his thinking about the Traditional Latin Mass about the priest “activating” the congregation. He’s new at this, after all. But he is onto something.

“Latin Mass affects me deeply.

“How come?”, Barron asked very quickly, with perhaps a touch of alarm?

“Because it feels like they’re not selling me a car.”

Of course Barron goes to the zoo with a cliché about people being passive spectators at the older form of Mass.   But then he gets the idea of the “sacred” just right.   Again… he is the spox of the Olympian Middle.  Ironically, in the longer video, he talks about how it is Catholic not to “throw anything away”.   Actually, it is a pretty good conversation.

As a convert myself, I am all for this young man and wish him all the very best.


This, from Beans… he blocks me so this is a screen shot I picked up from someone.

In the interview, LaBoeuf did not speak about the Novus Ordo with contempt. He spoke honestly about his feelings about it, and positively about some Masses in the Novus Ordo. However, LaBoeuf put his finger on a problem. Beans is smart enough to get where this is going, so he resorts to a lie, to smear LaBoeuf.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. ArthurH says:

    The old Father Barron would have gotten it immediately; Bishop Barron, not so much.

  2. monstrance says:

    So this is The Springtime we have been waiting for !
    The Holy Spirit is awesome ! He put this young convert right in the Bishops kitchen to proclaim the beauty of the Traditional Mass.
    Thank you Good Bishop for producing this video.

  3. jhogan says:

    While I have heard some things about him, I am glad he converted because of a movie about saint. How God reaches each us is truly amazing!

  4. summorumpontificum777 says:

    It’s truly wonderful to hear Shia’s heartfelt words about the TLM and its beauty and transformative powers. It’s also so nice to hear him name-check the ICRSS/ICKSP as well as the seminaries where he trained. Such a beautiful rejoinder to all of the attacks upon the TLM wing of the Church over the past 13 months. This comes at a time when the TLM faithful, laity and clergy, are bruised and battered, and needing all the help we can get. Love them or loathe them, Hollywood is a powerful cultural force. God bless Shia for speaking up for the TLM and using the platforms that he has by virtue of his film career. In times of great crisis, God is known to sometimes raise up the unlikeliest of saints and deliver the most unexpected gifts.

  5. ProfessorCover says:

    The interview is well worth watching. My eldest daughter’s husband showed it to her and her comment was:
    “He says that the NO mass “artificially activates” people and it’s like the most accurate thing I have ever heard in my life.”
    To me this is what is going on, instead of allowing people to experience this reenactment of Calvary and respond to it in their own way and/or as God moves them to respond, the NO tries
    to force it. The priests and religious forced nothing on Shia Labeouf, they just met him where he was (close to if not on the doorstep of Hell) and let him respond. The rosary played a big part in it. Anyway, the pain in this man’s life was clearly real and devastating.

  6. Joe says:

    “Shut Up and Sing” was written by Catholic convert Laura Ingraham, a commentator on Fox News Channel, Father.

  7. MB says:

    Praise God! Shia LaBoeuf played the voice of Cody in the animated movie “Surf’s Up” which was my son’s favorite when he was little. We probably watched it 200 times together. I’m overjoyed to hear that Mr. LaBoeuf has found a little peace. Welcome home brother!

  8. Gaetano says:

    Faggioli finds it “disconcerting” that a bishop would fail to correct the “disparaging of the liturgy *of the church* (not “my taste vs your taste”) as it has been celebrated by the church (all popes included) since Vatican II.”

    Does he apply the same obligation when people disparage the liturgy of the Church as celebrated before Vatican II?

  9. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Kudos to Shia for achieving a sort of new Catholic trifecta…
    1. Convert to Catholicism
    2. Become a TLM proponent
    3. Irritate the heck out of Maximus Phaseolus.

  10. Cornelius says:

    I have had the most decidedly negative views of this man, i.e., just another aggressively self-righteous Hollywood leftie, cast in the same mold as Sean Penn – so this is truly astonishing.

    Just goes to show – never write people off. You never know what God is up to.

    I too wish this man well and hope it’s a case of seed being sown on fertile ground and not among rocks.

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Padre Pio is the kind of saint who refuses to pray an inch when he can pray a mile. But I think also that Shia LeBoeuf was wanting to find some help when he accepted the role. I am glad to have him as a new brother.

    I do wish people wouldn’t dampen the natural, healthy enthusiasm of converts.

    Here’s the thing. He’s an actor, who can’t help but study interactions between people. So of course he sees that Padre Pio and other priests do pull people into Mass… in the sense of how the staging works.

    Not necessarily mystically, okay. Just as a performance thing, where you get into it and get away from yourself… but yes, it does help prayer, and a mystic like Padre Pio probably did do it mystically.

    This is one of those things that you don’t necessarily want to say straight out, because it makes people self-conscious. Like a centipede thinking about where to put his feet.

    But if someone at Mass, like a priest or a server, or even an OF reader or cantor, does his job correctly, following all the cues and also being reasonably reverent… it helps pull other people into prayer, just as it helps you pull yourself into prayer. Not standing in other people’s way, not getting in your own way by being flustered, trying to recover smoothly from problems — it all helps.

    Same thing, in a way, with an experienced congregation. In a non-mystical way, a congregation assists a priest and any ministers, much as an experienced and sympathetic audience assists a performer. But performance is more toward the person, whereas in liturgy everybody is working together with Christ, in Him and toward Him.

    Everyone is a junior partner in this, and it certainly doesn’t compare to the power of God and what He is doing, whether or not we “feel the Holy Spirit” or have mystical experiences consciously. But although God does not need our help, it is possible to help each other by doing our own jobs right.

    Anybody who has done group stage performance has sensed this mysterious human pulling-together; and it’s really really obvious that it’s a pale imitation of Mass that sort of points toward Mass, as Mass’ reality points toward the greater realities of Heaven and eternal life.

    Art and performance are not everything, but this is something they can teach. I hope it has helped; but I’m afraid it might have confused people. If you’ve never noticed it, you’re probably really good at it.

  12. Give Bishop Barron his due: he actually sits down and listens and talks; not the faux “dialogue” where all the usual suspects and syncophants are rounded up, everyone nods their heads, and then the prelate smiles and says, “how refreshing to hear new voices!”

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    In plays, lesser actors use charisma and stage presence as a tool to glorify themselves… and that’s the model a lot of the more foolish/misguided priests will follow. But greater actors use it as a tool to help present the play.

    But Mass is a thing in itself which is greater than a play, and the Sacrament is greater than any individual human being. So what people do is join themselves to Christ, and entrust themselves into Mass. It’s not so much stage presence as self-emptying, or… total commitment of self to God.

    Being self-conscious is a sort of holding back of the self, involuntarily. With enough experience and practice, you can get over it and just trust that it will be all right.

    And being prayerful and reverent, and focused on God, or constantly refocusing on God when one gets distracted at Mass, is also a form of trust that God will make it all okay.

    (And similarly, a parent taking care of a kid is also doing the thing he/she should do, and is not distracting but is helping. So thanks.)

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    But anyway… there’s no such thing as a “passive spectator” at a live performance of anything. Doesn’t happen. They’re with you or against you, and sometimes even leading you and giving you their all. Half the work of performing is trying to sense and work the audience while also doing everything else.

    And nobody understands how it works, but yes, you can call people together with your back. Or anything else…but you don’t have to look at an audience to work with them. Sheesh, opera singers do arias while laying down and looking at the ceiling. Do you think they don’t feel what the audience is doing, and aren’t working them as hard as possible?

    So yes, I’m sure LeBoeuf saw stuff in film of the kinetics of Padre Pio saying Mass, which the average person would not be consciously aware of. He didn’t start acting yesterday, and I’m sure he’s a ton more knowledgeable than somebody like me. Everything a saint does, is probably a lesson for someone who is ready to see it.

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Argh, the more I talk about this, the less I say.

    Being a cantor or being in a church choir is like the opposite of being a public singer or secular choirmember.

    A performer performs and works the audience. A cantor/choir draws together with the congregation/other singers, and pours it out toward God, and pays attention to God.

    And I think that being a priest is also something like the opposite of being an actor.

    But I do think that priests draw the congregation towards God, even and especially unconsciously, and without sensing it or meaning to do it.

  16. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “Beans” was the name of an obnoxious, goofy child side character on the TV show “Even Stevens” that starred Shia LaBoeuf when he was younger. He was almost always antagonizing Shia’s character.

    If you put this stuff in a novel no publisher would agree to print it. Reality truly is the best comedy.

    [There it is.]

  17. Mike says:

    The “Sell me a car” line is actually priceless. My 20-something son got it right away.

  18. Benedict Joseph says:

    Mr. LaBeouf spoke the plain simple truth. It appears those who offer the Novus Ordo have never had it occur to them that it has descended into a “performance art” and that no one is allowed — pardon me — to shut up.
    How can we offer God worship and thanksgiving if we are never still in His presence?
    Our Church has become a conversation pit, and quite deliberately so, for with all the yacking who can listen to that still small voice?
    After sixty years we can no longer pretend that was exactly the purpose of those who pulled the strings behind the scenes.

  19. TonyO says:

    From Suburbanbanshee

    This is one of those things that you don’t necessarily want to say straight out, because it makes people self-conscious. Like a centipede thinking about where to put his feet.

    But if someone at Mass, like a priest or a server, or even an OF reader or cantor, does his job correctly, following all the cues and also being reasonably reverent… it helps pull other people into prayer, just as it helps you pull yourself into prayer. Not standing in other people’s way, not getting in your own way by being flustered, trying to recover smoothly from problems — it all helps.

    Yes: you are trying to not stand in people’s way.

    Having been an altar boy, and trying to learn to be a good one: you learn that you are most successful when people don’t even notice you – not that they don’t SEE you, of course they see you – but in seeing you, they see your actions as entirely directed to helping the priest do HIS stuff. The lay person assisting at mass, if he should begin to notice the altar boy, should then immediately notice the action of the priest. And ideally, the same should happen with the priest: we should cease to notice what he is doing as “that’s what the priest is doing” and instead attend to what God is doing, through the priest.

    I have been a lector at OF masses, way back in time, and I know that it is far, far harder to achieve the above in such a role. You have to enunciate the readings clearly and smoothly, and provide inflection so that the author’s sense comes through fully, and yet NOT be dramatic and self-glorifying about reading the passage: you want the congregation’s whole attention on what is read, not on you. This takes a really significant amount of practice and self-discipline…and even so, it is easier for any priest to accomplish than for any lay person. And, again, easier for men than for 99% of women. I remember one of the podcasts with Fr. Z singing (I think) a psalm where he does this: his diction is phenomenal, but not in the least bit operatic / dramatic. Mass isn’t a stage performance where you want to PLEASE the audience.

    Which gets me to choirs. My family has provided many cantors and choir members for decades (not me, they pay me to shut up), and again they learn NOT to sing like it’s a stage performance: you are helping people pray, which means getting out of their attention so God can get their attention. For that reason, putting the choir in the front of the church is about the stupidest, craziest idea around.

    I am not a professional, but I suspect that in order to make the NO mass “work” as well in terms of doing the mechanics in such a way as to get out of the way of people praying, you have to effectively UNWIND many of the normal details of normal NO masses (e.g. the priest facing the people), whereas in order to do it effectively at the Vetus Ordo all you have to do is say the black and do the red properly, without TRYING to be a stage performer.

  20. Hugh says:

    LaBoeuf (the beef? Great!):

    spot on.

    When you’re trying to sell a car, it helps if the tyres are not dead flat.

  21. Hugh says:

    I mean, I’m partial to beans (but not Massimo “Beans” ): nevertheless boeuf takes it à chaque fois.

    Fr, couldn’t you trot out an ecumenical recipe of beef and beans (not Massimo, though … not being a cannibal)? I think this is the moment. My pots and pans are ready. The stove is fired up and a good red has been uncorked … but I have to pop off to Sunday Latin Mass and direct the choir first in Canberra, Australia.

    God bless.

  22. Hugh: beef and beans

    Well… I don’t do ecumenical except for full-bore Catholic and then see what happens. But, since ecumenism takes patience, there is a recipe that slow cooks for most of the day, stracotto di manzo con fagioli.

    This is not hard, it just takes a while. It involves marinating cubes of beef in red wine (a good one… remember final results) with oil and a couple of clove nails and juniper berries. Leave for a couple hours. Save the marinade. If you have guanciale, better. That or salt pork… or whatever you have. In “lardons” into the French oven or similar. Get them going and brown the beef a little at a time, removing it, not overcrowding so that it steams. Remember some salt and pepper along the way. Get chopped onion going in the same pan. Deglaze. Rejoin the beef and the marinade. Join some crushed tomato. Simmer for a couple hours, adding some water it needed. Put in the pre-cooked beans (borlotti, whatever). or pre-soaked beans (which go in earlier) and a couple of bay leaves. Reduce heat and check back in an hour or two.

    There are certain Boeuf Bourguignon tendencies here, which leads me to suggest Julia’s version. Always good, though maybe less appealing on a hot August day.

  23. Lurker 59 says:

    “..a congregation assists a priest and any ministers, much as an experienced and sympathetic audience assists a performer. But performance is more toward the person… ”

    This is why it is commonplace post VII to

    1.) Reject ad orientem.
    2.) Reject private Masses.
    3.) Tape photos of people to the pews during COVID-19.

    The way the NO Mass is done (not is) in many places is because it is viewed as performance — it is a celebratory theatre about what God did in the past the hinges on the personality of the presider to gather the congregation into the shared experience of the spirit. Again, not how the NO is but how it is done in most places.

    It makes perfect sense that an individual trained in the skill of acting can see the problems with the NO, particularly when done intentionally as “entertainment”, are because it is just not that good and hobbled by its own internal structural problems.

  24. Hugh says:

    Sounds delicious!

    Merci beaucoup!

  25. Not says:

    When we watch classic movies ,I always look up the actors and actresses. (sorry the females call themselves actors now) ,to see if they were or are Catholic. There was a time in Hollywood when Catholics made converts. Also the work of the great, should be Saint Bishop Sheen.
    P.S. Barbara Streisand, Hey Babs, Love your voice, but only when it is singing.

  26. Sevens Dad says:

    What does “Olympian Middle” mean? I don’t get it.

  27. hwriggles4 says:

    A short note about movies:

    I did see the “Father Stu” movie at the theater earlier this year with two of my Catholic brothers. I went to see it primarily because after The Columbia included an article on the backstory I wanted to see how Father Stuart Long’s story was portrayed.

    About performers – I am not too crazy about Mark Wahlberg’s political views, that didn’t deter me from seeing the film. I liked how the story was done and the MAIN reason I liked the movie was it was refreshing to see a Hollywood movie about a Catholic priest that was NOT a “Law and Order” episode where 90 percent of the public could guess the plot. I had to give Wahlberg credit for the time he spent on the “Father Stu” movie and putting his own funding into the movie.

  28. The Vicar says:

    So Shia’s interview w/ Bishop is racking up a half million views and headed for a million. That’s how many views fishwrap gets in a decade.

    No wonder Max Beans is flailing.

  29. robtbrown says:

    La Boeuf is onto something. The primary reason for liturgy is the worship of God. The salvation of men is always secondary.

    Once the primary reason is usurped by the secondary, the liturgy begins its descent into superficiality.

  30. NancyP says:

    @TonyO, I completely agree (as a choir member who has stood uncomfortably on/just off to the side and front of the altar for many years) that the choir shouldn’t be anywhere that might become the focus of attention and distract from the Mass. Having said that, one big obstacle to making this happen is The Sound System (at least in churches that were created with The Sound System in mind). Somehow the purchasers of The Sound System don’t seem to get it right much of the time, leaving the choir that is trying to do the right thing struggling to be properly heard and frustrating those of us who want to sing from our pews because we can’t hear the choir or piano/organ well. But this is a topic for another Father Z blog post (at least I hope so).

    Welcome home, Mr. LaBeouf. I can’t imagine diving into St. Pio’s amazing/difficult/saintly/oh-so-Italian/famous-like-an-actor life and not being compelled to learn more. This saint’s intercession stopped bombs from falling during WWII, for starters.

    My own family’s encounters with St. Pio’s (legacy? influence? I’m not sure there’s a word for all of it) hold great meaning for us. My husband and I (young and dumb) were stationed in the Italian region where St. Pio lived out his vocation. A contract priest (an Italian priest who said Mass on our base) gave me a third-class relic of (then) Padre Pio and told me, very emphatically, that he had met Padre Pio and knew he would become a saint. That was how we first discovered the story of Padre Pio. We made sure to tell our children about Padre Pio’s life…and felt very comforted when we were stationed in Italy a second time and saw a beautiful new statue of St. Pio in downtown Gaeta, Italy, upon our arrival there.(You can see similar statues in many other Italian cities and towns – he is understandably very popular) Three of the four of us managed a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo not long before we moved back to the States two years later. (Our son was cleaning headstones with his (old school) Scout troop at the American cemetery in Anzio during that Memorial Day weekend.)

    We also weren’t surprised when our son chose St. Pio as his Confirmation patron saint. The boy who was fascinated by WWII and traveled all over Italy with his parents and sister couldn’t help but be interested in St. Pio’s role in protecting San Giovanni Rotondo in some amazing ways…and think about how St. Pio could pray for and protect him.

    I don’t watch many films (okay, I did see Top Gun: Maverick this year – I married a Navy man the year before the first Top Gun film came out, so…) but I am looking forward to seeing Mr. LaBeouf portray one of our family’s favorite saints.

    Kudos to Bishop Barron for giving Mr. LaBeouf the opportunity to tell his story and share his love for the Traditional Latin Mass.

  31. Fr. Reader says:

    This metaphor of the car lot resonates in me.

  32. robtbrown says:

    I had a relative who had a used car lot. He was semi retired from being head of used car sales for a huge dealership.

    He told me the key to honest used car sales is what happens at the auto auction, where most used cars are purchased. He had solid knowledge of the value of cars at the auction and wouldn’t “buy a car unless (he) could steal it”.

  33. Danteewoo says:

    I am waiting for this actor to marry the gal (his “partner,” according to Wikipedia) he is living with, or to separate.

  34. Joe in Canada says:

    at first Beans said SL had become Protestant because of that one line. Is this the New Evangelization? What a …
    Anyways, it’s Lebeouf, not Leboeuf. Probably from it though.

  35. Hugh says:

    The signal, not the noise, is that while Beans says he’s “truly happy” at The Beef’s conversion, he’s absolutely furious because the fashionable LaBoeuf has said it’s via the Traditional Mass. (With His Lordship Bishop Barron siding with Beans in the interview, as Fr Z correctly observes. Body language!)

    I’ve seen the glazed look so many times when I’ve told priests, or even just ordinary Catholics, that I worship at the Traditional Mass. I’ve never seen the shifting of the bottoms and arching of the backs and the conversation change to the weather so quickly. Except when I start disputing anthropogenic catastrophic global warming since about 1850. Then it goes straight to fluffy kittens.

    “That is not what I meant at all. You do not understand it at all.” (Prufrock/Eliot)

    Suck it up, Beans. But I’ll continue to pray for you at the Traditional Mass, as I ought.

  36. TWF says:

    You don’t know the circumstances, nor any conversations he may have had with his priest since converting. I also wouldn’t turn to Wikipedia as the definitive authority on the status of an individual’s sex life….

  37. ScottW says:

    Every time I hear my fellow trads whine about Bishop Baron and his unfairness to the TLM, I want to remind them that some years ago he joined an online conversation with the traditional community. But Church Militant had been relentlessly hammering away at his “hope that all men can be saved” comments, and he was mercilessly savaged by the commenters. It was shameful! His – very reasonable – response was that, if this is what the TLM produces, he needed to steer people away from that, for their own good.

    He has an enthusiastic following among thoughtful young people, that is growing and providing excellent tools for evangelization. This is not the guy you want fighting against you. But, you reap what you sow!

    It’s going to take some serious kind and loving outreach from genuine lovers of tradition to turn his heart. I hope and pray he encounters it in his new position.

  38. oakdiocesegirl2 says:

    To Hugh and Fr Z: When you asked about beef and beans, I immediately thought of Chile con Carne, common fare in California.
    Additionally I am fortunate to be registered at St. Margaret Mary Oakland parish, the ICKSP location where Shia Leboeuf learned the TLM. I wonder if our parish attendance will rise now. We sure could use it.

  39. TonyO says:

    He has an enthusiastic following among thoughtful young people, that is growing and providing excellent tools for evangelization. This is not the guy you want fighting against you. But, you reap what you sow!

    I have a lot of regard for the good things that Bishop Barron has done. I live in an area where I have seen him at certain (NO) masses, and he is just fine as celebrant, too. I don’t want to bring him down.

    But I believe his GENERALLY negative view of the TLM itself (not just with the people attached to it) long pre-dated any specific interactions he had online with TLM groups. I believe that while he doesn’t hate the TLM itself, as “a mass”, he also has effectively little-to-no actual sympathy for those who are attached to it, and (much more importantly) he has not been willing to grant to the TLM movement that its adherents might claim on their part any basic issue of significance, e.g. unwilling to engage whether the NO actually approved by Paul VI did or did not follow Vatican II; unwilling to engage whether the NO does or does not damage a sense of sin & guilt for which we need repair; unwilling to grant as a feasible topic of study whether the TLM as practiced might be objectively better than the NOas practiced; unwilling to address the ABSOLUTELY UTTER AND COMPLETE LACK of any attempt, in any diocese in the world, to ensure the survival and widespread use of Latin and gregorian chant, as explicitly directed by VII, etc.

    In other words, while he allows room for the TLM movement to be not per se sinful, he grants it no more value than as a mere personal taste, of no more significance than a personal preference for “How Great Thou Art” over “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus”. And his unwillingness to consider whether it might be more than that IS NOT a result of his treatment by TLM adherents from his online ministry like Word on Fire.

    Secondly, since Church Militant has a MUCH wider audience and following than the TLM, his being savaged by followers of Church Militant should not normally accredited to the TLM movement. (Admittedly, that part of the Church Militant crowd that would be likely to harass Bishop Barron on account of his militant personal opinion (sometimes expressed far more firmly than as if it were merely his personal opinion) that all will be saved is likely to have a somewhat higher percentage of that portion of Church Militant that ALSO consists of TLM adherents, but it’s still just a portion.)

    And just recently Bishop Barron went off on the idea that God “fired” (his word) the prophet Elijah, for killing the false priests of Baal. Lots of people other than TLM adherents are picking up on this one, too. It’s a pretty ridiculous opinion.

    It is NOT too much to ask, that a bishop (a) teach “what the Church teaches, AS the Church teaches it”, straight up, without adding weird and highly controversial opinion (unless doing so separately and CALLING it “my personal opinion, not Church teaching”). And (b) be willing to engage with a movement as large, as sincerely devout, and as forthrightly encouraged by Pope Benedict, as the TLM movement is, without treating it as a frankly weird second cousin that is best kept in the cellar when company comes.

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