Friday, May 15, 2015

Guest Post: Latin Mass Prejudices

The following is a guest post by a friend and fellow blogger Kevin Tierney. Kevin posts regularly at Catholic Lane. Unam Sanctam Catholicam's has regularly promoted his excellent series of articles introducing Novus Ordo attendees to the Propers of the Extraordinary Form. We are grateful for this lovely post on the question of the Traditional Latin Mass and why calls for a "better tone" among online defenders of the TLM are meaningless.

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"I love the Latin Mass - but at the same time, how much preservation does it really need? It isn't as though it's going to disappear from the face of the earth."

This is an query sometimes posed by Catholics who are perhaps sympathetic to the Traditional Latin Mass but don't get what all the hubbub is about. It is a serious question and it deserves an explanation.

I don't think traditionalists are calling for the Latin Mass to be "preserved." In the worst case of trad fantasy booking, Francis could re-institute the 1984 Indult, and it would last only as long as he is breathing. The culture has changed. There was a time where it was an open question if the Latin Mass would go away. That time is long passed. The Latin Mass will definitely be "preserved."

But is the Latin Mass at least equal to the Novus Ordo? I think that's where the interesting question is. According to Vatican II, Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum (amongst many others) the answer is an unqualified yes. It is an approved form of worship within the Church, and like all of the liturgical life of the Church, it is worth cherishing and celebrating.

Does that sound like the way the Latin Mass is treated? The answer is an unqualified no. According to Robert Cardinal Sarah, Summorum Pontificum is not a reality within the dioceses of the world because a spirit of exclusion exists within Catholics who celebrate both forms. They weaponize the liturgy with hate and malice. Those are interesting words, but they don't convey the reality of why those words in Summorum Pontificum are often pious aspirations.

In several dioceses here in America, there is a de facto ban on advertising the availability of Latin Masses on websites, parish bulletins, etc. Other times there are countless hurdles being placed for celebrating the Latin Mass, including the bishop determining for himself whether or not someone is "competent" to celebrate it, something Ecclesia Dei has made clear is wrong. Saying the priest should tell the bishop to go screw while he appeals to Rome is nice in theory, but is probably going to make life quite difficult for the priest, and his congregation. In any such case, when priests have their visas revoked for saying that both the faithful trads and bishops need to be more accommodating towards each other, that is not faithful to the spirit of the Magesterium.

There is also the fact that individual traditionalists have to live up to a pretty ridiculous standard. They are not just ambassadors for themselves in all they do, but for the Latin Mass and all of Tradition as well. Any negative behavior can and will be attributed to the Latin Mass by popular bloggers, thinkers, and quite a few priests and bishops. When a random conservative Catholic blogger (both politically and religiously) is a jerk, nobody says that's because of the Novus Ordo. But with the Traditional Latin Mass it is another story. It is automatically assumed that the Latin Mass is the source of the divisive views, and that the Latin Mass contributes to a spiritually rotten subculture. That any one individual trad says "I don't do this!" doesn't make any difference. To say "such is life, deal with it", is true, but those outside the Latin Mass have the luxury of knowing that it will never be so with them. 

So given those realities, should anyone be surprised that when I hear "the biggest barriers to expanding the Latin Mass are bitter internet commenters" I roll my eyes and view them completely out of touch? Yes, everyone needs to be nicer to each other, more understanding, and promote true reconciliation. But do you think that message of reconciliation is going to be very effective in parishes where a lot of this crap takes place? There's a cold reality: every trad could be a saint and a paragon of tolerance and acceptance, and the situation today would change only at the margins, if at all. Once basic obligations are being done, then maybe the call for better tone can be taken with a shred of credibility. Right now, it has zero credibility.


Anonymous said...

My father attended the traditional Latin Mass in one diocese regularly as well as being a founding member of his local parish just down the road in the diocese where he lived. He had a big family and sent us children to the parish school (not to mention he also sent a lot of Washingtons, Lincolns, Hamiltons, Jacksons, Grants, and Franklins to the Church and school).

Before he died (fast developing cancer), he wanted to have a requiem Mass at his local parish (there have been several TLMs at the parish for weddings and Sunday Masses).

The parish priest said that he would need to get permission from the bishop to have the Mass. As we know, no he didn't. This along with the statements of "we don't really have the resources to do such a Mass," or "the setup of the church doesn't lend itself," were red herrings.

I have many connections to those that understand the ins and outs of Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum and not to mention just plain common sense and pastoral sensitivity. They all stated that there is no need to ask permission from the bishop.

I contacted the bishop of my father's home diocese and he didn't return my call. I contacted the TLM diocese, and the Vicar General stated, "come to where your dad is welcome." So, we had his requiem Mass in that diocese.

I wrote a letter to the bishop of the home diocese asking in effect why is it that TLM-goers are still treated with prejudice? His obtuse reply was that there needs to be a "stable group" to have such a request granted and that it is proper for parish priests to get permission from their bishop.

More of the same... not only are TLM-goers discriminated against in life, it happens in death as well.

Anonymous said...


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

The revolutionaries actualised their conspiracy at the Second Vatican Council and they desired that the revolution within the form of Catholicism would result in a new church - one that emphasised a supposedly mature man and his desires on earth - and to do that they had to kill the Real Mass and substitute a Lil' Licit Liturgy in its place because one is largely learnt the Faith via the Mass.

This has been the belief of Raider Fan for a very long time and the strident opposition to the Real Mass only confirms Raider fan's suppositions.

Yes, the Lil' Licit Liturgy is valid and yes, it is changing the Faith of Catholics.

Peter Miller said...

Ah yes, the perpetual cycle of traditionalist self-inflicted maltreatment. Abused and mistreated? It's probably because you deserve it. Complain about the abuse? Quit whining and be thankful to get anything. Push back against injustice? You're just proving how nasty you are and why no one should give you anything. Abused and mistreated again? What do you expect after how you've acted? Trying a "friendlier" approach? There's still some anonymous guy on the Internet saying nasty things. Accommodating to a specific request? Bring me another rock.

As Mr. Tierney points out, trying to appease our critics and meet their demands can be somewhat of a fool's errand. The ones making such demands are typically not all that sympathetic in the first place, or particularly interested in the success of their assigned task. It reminds me of the media after an election, lecturing the Republican party on what it needs to do to stay relevant, or secular reporters during a conclave dictating the terms of what the Church needs to do in the future to survive. "If you would only ___(insert thing I hate here)___, then you would be much more respected/influential/successful in your efforts to ___(insert thing I like or don't mind so much here)___." Does anyone believe that meeting this demand or jumping through this hoop won't bring us face-to-face with another hoop?

In my experience, most Latin Mass attendants don't see themselves as part of a movement for which they are responsible for PR and expansion efforts - but Catholics doing what (at least until recently) Catholics have always done and believing what Catholics have always believed. That drive is not going to go away, and neither - it appears - is the irrational animosity it has engendered.

Anonymous said...

Yet another excellent article! A very helpful follow-up article could be how to practically live the Christian admonition to remain detached from the world. An obvious example that comes to my mind is for Catholics, at the very least to reject what is antithetical to a Catholic life, such as being in the habit of watching anti-christian television shows (e.g. Modern Family) or quasi-pornographic shows (e.g. Game of Thrones). Yet, as obvious as this seems to me, I marvel at how many (indeed seemingly most of my same-age peers) Catholic youth don't find any problem with staying steeped in a "post-Christian" culture. Christ so clearly said that where our treasure is, there also is our heart, yet as we invest ourselves in this culture we somehow are unable to see that we have put our hearts in the world; it seems that we are now honoring Christ with our lips but our hearts are far from Him.

Many times Michael Voris has reminded us of Saint John Eudes' comments that God sends us deficient leaders as a judgment for our worldliness. So, while I found myself thinking of Pope Francis and the Hierarchy as I read this article; in truth I should have been thinking of myself and all the laity whose worldliness have resulted in such a harsh judgment.

In the end the BVM's immaculate heart will triumph!

Kevin Tierney said...


As the person who wrote the article, interesting suggestions! I think Christians must be separate from the world, but at least aware of what's going on. While I don't suggest being a Modern Family fan, I do suggest understanding the way gay marriage is presented there for example. It's a tough balance to achieve.

As far as practical things, I'd say one of the small things we can do is that, to the best of our abilities, have family dates where you participate in the liturgical life of the Church outside of Holy Mass. Things like Family Adoration, Benediction, reading the Office of the day, talking about it, etc.

It might take 10 years to really immerse yourself into the Catholic life, but doing so I think is a pretty strong bulwark for people against the secularizing trends of the world. A Church infested with heretics and a world hostile to God don't sound so surprising when you read about how different people have encountered it for over two millenia.