The Other End of the Spectrum

A few days ago we wrote about the wonderful and remarkable response of a Virginia pastor to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. His response was open, supportive, and educational. Now I present another response from a pastor in the Midwest that is equally remarkable, if for the exact opposite reason.

A reader sent me a copy of the correspondence that he had with his pastor resulting from his inquiry about the 1962 missal at his parish. This reader asked that he and his pastor remain anonymous to prevent any embarrassment for the pastor. The reader told me "he's not a bad guy, to be honest. i think he's just tired & wants to retire."

I present the letter here with names and places removed to protect anonymity, but the letter and its contents are genuine and otherwise unaltered. (my emphasis)
Thank you for your Email of July27, and especially your interest in our liturgy. I see little or no chance of the Mass being celebrated at (the parish) according to the 1962 Roman Missal. That Mass is presented in Summorum Pontificum not as the ordinary way of celebrating the Eucharist but as the exception and extraordinary way of celebrating the Eucharist. The Mass celebrated in this way is celebrated at several Churches in our Archdiocese. Archbishop XXXXX has pointed to these Churches as the place where the Latin Mass will be celebrated in our Archdiocese, and not in the ordinary parish churches.

One of the central themes of the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council is that the Faithful should be led to a full, conscious, and active participation in the Eucharist:
Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people” is their right and duty by reason of their baptism
In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else;(Par.14)

Having been ordained in 1962 I celebrated the Eucharist according to the 1962 Missal for several years before the changes of the Second Vatican Council were implemented. So I remember very vividly mumbling, in a language that I did not understand , with my back to the people, who were reading a translation of the Mass in their missals, or praying their rosary in English. Certainly, anything but an active participation in the Eucharist. I also remember the great joy that I experienced when I was able to celebrate the Eucharist in English and hear the people in the pews responding to the prayers with real understanding. I don’t ever want to go back to the pre-Vatican II celebration of the Eucharist.

Much of the Eucharist is prayer, and prayer is so important for our Spiritual life, but prayer is communicating with God and I don’t think one can communicate well in a language that is not understood. I think that is what the Fathers of Vatican II had in mind when they published the Constitution on the Liturgy.

I want to thank you again for your interest, and hope that this short response explains my position.
Where to start? So, this pastor's response is esentially, "I do not care that the pope stated that 'the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962.' I don't like it and I am not going to do it.

His response is so riddled with errors, I am more sad than outraged. How many priests and pastors out there, 'feel' the same way? I say 'feel' rather than 'think' because this was not a thought out response, I seems to me that it was all emotion. How is it the a pastor can hold in such disdain the first mass he ever offered? How is it that a pastor can so misunderstand what active participation truly means? How is it that a pastor can completely disregard the Pope's command that pastors should do what they can to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the faithful. Sad.

I know that for every pastor such as the one in Mclean, Va, there will likely be two or three that 'feel' the way that this pastor does. This type of response just serves to remind us that the motu proprio is not a cure all, but rather the first round of a much needed, but long and painful, course of therapy.


  1. Up here in ultra liberal Maine the bishop has stated in emails that he is not interested in promoting the TLM and we should be happy with the 2 indults currently in place within the entire state.

    Our local Jesuit priest has made no mention of the moto propio and likely never will. Basically it is up to individuals to scout out likely priests and ask, perhaps using code words, if they will consider saying the TLM.

    Maybe I'm being pessamistic, or maybe realistic, but will the universal indult really change anything?

  2. People who want the Mass are going to have to be very militant about getting it. That will probably mean going all the way to Rome (Ecclesia Dei commission). This is not something that is just going to fall in our laps. We HAVE to fight, like it or not.

    "Only by being radicals of the right will Catholics have the dynamism to withstand the radicals of the left and to conquer the world for Christ."

    --Pope Pius XI

  3. And you have to remember that Summorum Pontificum is NOT an indult! An indult is something granted by permission. No, Benedict XVI said that EVERY priest has the RIGHT to offer the True Mass WITHOUT interference from his local bishop. People need to realize that the indult of JPII has been superceded by this motu proprio. Get the indult mentality out of your head and fight for what is rightfully yours!

  4. I'd have to agree with the previous two comments. The MP didn't extend the Indult, it freed the Mass.

    Provision is made for appeal. No satisfaction at parish level, go to bishop. Unsuccessful there, go to Rome.

    The pastor has neither the competence nor the authority to interpret the documents of the Second Vatican Council in opposition to the pope's own determination.

    An aside: Do the math. If he was ordained in '62 the he's in his late sixties. (The National Catholic Reporter crowd). It seems that the opposition will be greatest among that particular demographic.

    Good luck and don't give up.

  5. I think folks need to be patient. For a vine to bear fruit it must be cultivated. It does not pop up out of the ground fully grown with grapes dropping off.

    The real question is how will things have changed in 5 years from now. That is were I see hope.

  6. Please folks, remember that if you carefully read the document, it gives permission for the priest to celebrate the Mass of John XXIII, at which the people may be admitted. Secondly it mentions offering it on a regular basis should a stable community request it. One question I would have: Suppose a priest is already tri-nating (saying three Masses on a Sunday) which is the canonical limit, what is the priest to do with a request for a 4th Mass?

  7. If this priest was in the seminary before 1962, why was Latin a language he did not understand?

  8. I think the (or at least "a") root of this attitude is a fundamental misunderstanding of prayer. Does God speak to us in our native language? Perhaps, sometimes. Is it not, however, more often in "sighs too deep for words"? It is indeed small to think there is only one form of prayer.

    I knew what was going on in a Catholic Mass said in Latin before I was even a Catholic not because I understood Latin but because the mood and movements made it obvious. From there I learned the Latin. To this day my personally deepest prayers are in the little Latin I know. Perhaps that displays a bias on my part, I don't know.

  9. Oh yippie....just what we need to show the love of Christ "militant", radical Catholics..." Demanding? Fight for? "Rightfully yours" What????? Get over yourselves!

    Pope Benedict has given us a beautiful reminder of the depth and breath of our faith--these comments are, I believe, bastardizing the intent.

    Tell me, is there something 'missing' for you at the Mass as it is celebrated? If there is, I submit that perhaps you don't understand as much as you think you might.

    Sign me,

  10. I'm the parishioner who received this pastor's response. Get-a-Grip has a valid point, but I'm not looking for "something more" because I'm "missing something" in the current Novus Ordo. I was born in 1970, so the only Mass I've known is the N.O. I have no problem with the N.O. as it's celebrated at my parish, because there are no major (or even minor) abuses going on (that I know of). But I do feel "jipped" out of not being taught Latin, and participating in the TLM Mass as I've found it in the indult parish in my Archdiocese. There's a deep reverence there that is NOT found at my parish. My parish is the average parish, I suspect. Not too much wackiness going on; tambourines & keyboards & drums at Mass (for the folk & youth Masses), and a robed adult choir for the more "formal" Mass that we celebrate on Sundays. I'm in discernment for the religious life; a "2nd career vocation." Visiting the different monasteries in my discernment, I've witnessed a solemn reverence at these monasteries that is sorely lacking in the average (and my) parish. People arrive and depart like they're attending a pop concert. Some talk out loud DURING the Mass. Where's the reverence?! And if we are truly a universal Church, what's wrong with having (and understanding) a universal language? The TLM is not the ultimate answer to non-reverence. I've heard of folks mumbling the rosary during the TLM or reading the parish bulletin; they're just "there." Non-participation occurs at both TLM and N.O. Masses. But in my experience, what the TLM has that the N.O. doesn't is inherent reverence and awe. A sense of the sacred. Why are we so afraid of it?

  11. I agree with ROBK... the document isn't even IN FORCE yet and we're expecting TLM parishes to spring up full grown from the ashes of liturgical abuse... yes, we have to do our part to build the future that we want for our faith, but we also need that greatest of "virtues"... PATIENCE! There is very likely a reason that BXVI asked for a "review" in three years... he likely envisions that it will take at least that long to begin taking hold... and that will only be the beginning.


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