Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Guest Post "The Latin Mass Saved My Life"

A friend of mine has written an elegant testimony on how the Traditional Latin Mass brought him to faith, delivered him from sexual sin, and taught him the meaning of manhood. It is a touching story from a man who has pondered these matters deeply. But I will let him speak for himself:

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Current circumstances in the Church have moved me to write something that is deeply personal, having defined the course of my life for the past three years. While I can choose to reel in anguish and despair regarding the restrictions imposed by Pope Francis in Traditionis Custodes, I will instead try to use this time as an opportunity to look back on how far I have gone in my relationship with Christ, the eternal defender of Tradition, and remind me to keep hoping in Him and His promises, however trite that might sound and how hopeless the situation for us traditional Catholics might be both at home and abroad. I won’t dwell on the full details of my conversion story. I will also leave the doctrinal and canonical dissection of the motu proprio to Catholics far more competent than me, although this essay will reflect my views regarding this issue.

I grew up in a single-parent, lapsed Catholic household—a rare combination of circumstances in the Philippines. However, it is hard not to breathe the air of a (still) strong Catholic culture and imbibe its influence in your worldview and personal morality. I went to Catholic school all my life, since my non-practicing Catholic mother made a lot of sacrifices to make this possible. Despite her issues with the Catholic faith, she believed that the Catholic Church did a good job at teaching moral values. In fact, she had me baptized on my grandmother’s birthday, who opposed it. Suffice to say, my grandmother had an even less favorable opinion of the Church than her. The Holy Spirit does work His graces however men might oppose or ignore His gentle inspirations. I credit my mother’s fateful decision to baptize me for being reconciled with the Church much later. More on that story shortly.

Growing up in the Philippines in the 2000s was coming to age in your typical JPII conservative Novus Ordo environment—the liturgy was celebrated poorly (I still cringe at the sight of chasuble-albs), cheesy homilies, wreckovated parishes (granted, this wasn’t as bad in the Philippines), and an insistence on seeing all of Church doctrine and history through the lens of the Second Vatican Council. We were taught, as I suspect like our American Catholic brethren back then, that the versus populum orientation was superior than ad orientem, since it welcomed the community to worship with the priest, and that no one understood the Traditional Latin Mass; hence, the matrons in front had prayed the rosary instead. Of course, we were also taught that ecumenism and religious freedom for all were good for the Church. Yet this being your JPII conservative milieu, we were also taught the Church teaching didn’t really change and that the Catholic Church was still the true Church. This was back before Google, and so I agreed with everything my diligent religion class teachers taught me. But even then, with the little knowledge I had of tradition in books (for one, I only learned about the heresy of modernism in Pope St. Pius X’s biographical entry in a book about the saints), I already saw the ruptures in what the Church has taught and done before, and even more so in how the Philippine hierarchy behaved toward non-Catholic sects. While the Philippines has never had a shortage of lay apologists, the hierarchy seemed to be locked in an overly conciliatory, even obsequious, attitude toward sects like the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) and Members Church of God International (MCGI), two homegrown churches, given how they have always viciously attacked Holy Mother Church and poached thousands of souls from her. Somehow, I thought, we were the true Church, yet at the same time we had no official response for the rapacity of these false preachers.

When it came to my life at school beyond religion classes and First Friday Masses, I found it quite difficult to keep up with my peers socially. They talked about their fathers playing basketball with them or otherwise doing something that a father and son should do together. I guess this lack of a father figure made it difficult for me to make friends and open up to people, especially when talking about my unique situation of not having a father in the first place. It didn’t help that my mother told me to tell everyone that my father was dead (I still do not know where he is or if he is even alive). Moreover, my introverted and reserved nature didn’t help. I certainly did not have a healthy model of masculinity, despite being enrolled in an all-boys school.

It would be unfair to say that it was this Catholic environment that led me to losing my faith in my adolescent years, since many classmates didn’t, yet it is safe to say that my lack of exposure to a Catholicism that was consistent in what she said and what she did hardly contributed any defense to my teenage brain’s exposure to anti-Catholic and anti-religious arguments. I uncritically gobbled up the New Atheists’ arguments, even if I had not read any of their books (I still haven’t up to now). This was around 2005 when Filipino households started being hooked up to the internet; Google searches provided all the semi-educated arguments I needed. I have always been well-read, ironically, but this did not lead me to buttress the things I learned from my religion classes with arguments from Catholic sources. I reveled being an atheist in a deeply Catholic society and considered other classmates in the same boat as fellow enlightened souls (or rather, purely material beings). I was so arrogant that when I was 14, I declared to myself that I was officially an atheist on the very day of my Confirmation. I did go through it since it was expected of me and I rationalized that I was curious about ritual. My appreciation with ancient, arcane rituals in general and pre-modern aesthetics kept me appreciative of the Latin Mass and the surface beauty of Traditional Catholicism.

Long story short, I (expectedly) fell into existential despair and sexual sin. I had to follow my mother to the United States in 2014 at age 21 after she married my stepfather some years before that. This led me further into social withdrawal and a rapidly metastasizing anomie. I made few friends and struggled relating to American culture, which surprisingly I found to be very welcoming of outsiders. As I got into my mid-20s, I realized that I could not keep living like this. There must be a reason for living, for striving for something, for working toward some end, even if during that time I did not realize I was made to fulfill that end. I knew it didn’t mean going to graduate school, given that I had wanted to pursue an academic career originally, since I learned early on how adjunct professors were underpaid in this country. So at first I thought that I could find my purpose with being financially independent. Furthermore, I knew I had to move out if I was going to have any chance to start my own life, like Americans of my age. This gave me a direction in life beyond finding a job so I could fund my worldly interests, but that wasn’t enough. At this point I still didn’t know the answer. 

Not that I connected the dots immediately, but I also felt that I could not let my addiction to porn and masturbation to define me for the rest of my life. I hated myself for my inability to wean myself off it. Around this time, I also saw how broken American society was with regards to marriage and family. However, there were two things that kept me intrigued about Catholicism. One was the fact that I was surrounded by (nominal) Protestants, and I was trying to look for Catholics with whom I shared something at least. Another was that I never lost interest in the Latin Mass. I have known about it even before Summorum Pontificum, interestingly also thanks to Google. I still cannot explain in natural terms how this interest grew over time while in the States, but one explanation might be that I was looking for beauty (and good and truth) in all the ugliness I found myself mired in.

The opportunity to attend a Latin Mass finally came to me on a trip to New York City in November 2017, over at the Church of Holy Innocents. I didn’t understand anything, nor did I know that something called a missal existed. I did know it was different from all the other Masses I have attended in the past, both as a believer and a skeptic. It did conform to my aesthetic tastes, of course, but I came home with something more than shallow art appreciation. To be sure, I was already reading about Catholicism again, especially regarding the aftermath of Amoris Laetitia. I can’t remember exactly what came first and how everything came to be, but immediately before this I was already entertaining doubts regarding issues like same-sex marriage, the transgender movement, and no-fault divorce. As an atheist then, I found out at last that the only axiom in secular ideology was change, and this did not satisfy my intellectual convictions; after all, I had stopped believing in God because that was the “truth”. However, I did not navigate my way back to the Tiber right away, partly because of the issues with Amoris Laetitia, seeing that the liberals were winning, and also because the bad spirit was still trying to confirm me in my vices. 

Three months later, in January 2018, I got back to attending Mass willingly after 10 years, forcing myself to wake up on an early Sunday morning with nothing else but the desire to learn more about the Old Rite, and see what followed from there. The rest of it is the Holy Spirit’s story. Slowly, I realized that the TLM was the expression of Catholicism that didn’t present itself to the world with "ifs" and "buts." Rather, it seemed to shout and assert that the Church was the Bride of Christ, that what she was doing was True Sacrifice, and that she opened a portal to something beyond the altar, beyond this world. It was a whole worldview packed in a couple of gestures by the priest, who as alter Christus was the main actor, since he alone had the sweet yoke of re-presenting the Sacrifice of the Bridegroom, ipse Christus, giving back to the Father all the good that He has magnanimously imparted to the universe. Obviously, I did not immediately work out the various arguments from Tradition about the fittingness of all of this, but it was this self-consistent blueprint I saw embedded within the Old Mass that eventually bridged the gap I perceived between what the Church has always taught and what she was currently doing. 

In connection to the brokenness of my family, the ruin of my manhood, and my lack of purpose, the Mass of Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Pius V taught me that the world runs on order and reason. For one, nothing is superfluous in the Mass, as all its parts contribute toward properly disposing its participants into truly participating fruitfully in the Sacrifice at Calvary. Not only is there beauty in the vestments, the chanting, and the sweet whiff of Latin, but also the prayers express a frank admission of man’s frailty and pleads deliverance from his sinfulness through the economy of salvation as revealed by Scripture and Tradition. It is the whole of salvation history summarized in a few sublime gestures and movements. It communicates through its succinct beauty that the only Beauty, the only Good and Truth to pursue for, is what the Mass points to, to where it derives its beauty from in the first place, and to whom the priest offers the perfect worship. For one, I remembered reading the Roman Canon in an older English translation, and I couldn’t help but tear up not only because of how emotionally moving it was or how powerful its poetry, but more importantly on how it systematically elevated the whole liturgical action to the presence of the Divine at the moment of Consecration.

Thus, it is futile to look for worldly honors, riches or other vain pursuits, since they are at best means to that end we were all created for. Moreover, there is no need to wallow in the brokenness of original sin and its consequences, from our immediate parents up to our first parents, since the death of Christ, the Logos, has already freed us from the chains of the Serpent. Before my conversion I had already accepted that all children needed a father and a mother, yet I eventually realized that only Catholicism had yet to cave in (doctrinally at least) on issues regarding marriage and family. More than being moved by a merely anthropological sense of tradition—and in my case the determination of a child to not repeat his parents’ mistakes—I made the connection between tradition and how it was principally handed over from the previous generation to the next through the family. And it is through the basic unit of the family that we are made members of a larger reality—civil society and the Church. The traditional family is not only the poster child of conservative talking points, but it is the smallest organ in a mystical body that extends to Heaven. 

Intimately connected to this, the Latin Mass has also showed me on how to be a man, which is something I never learned from my absentee father. The exclusive presence of men in the altar coupled with the meticulous rubrics in the Mass is enough to dispute the self-defeating claims of gender ideology, if only in deed and not in word. Both the fixed and proper prayers of the Old Mass are suffused with the spirit of virtus understood in the classical Roman sense. It moreover introduced me to saints who were manly, courageous, and resolute, yet at the same time humble enough to model their lives to the image of the archetypal Man. Real men, tempered by Christian moderation and virtue, are neither toxic nor reap destruction upon the weak, but rather use their strength to fight for what is right and just, for what is truly good, even at the expense of suffering for it. And who else would point them to this than Jesus Christ, whom they see suffer, die, and rise in glory through the priest every Sunday? With this the Latin Mass led me to that other great sacrament, Confession. Through the work of patient priests in the confessional I was able to be freed from sexual sin, and confirmed that a man could truly subject his carnal desires with the Spirit’s grace and His gift of reason. 

I can say this with confidence: the Latin Mass saved my life, and hopefully will save my soul. I would not have written this essay or have even known Boniface and other Catholic friends had I not made an effort to go to a Low Mass one Thursday evening in New York. I think it inappropriate to say that the Latin Mass was my “gateway drug” to Catholicism, but it is true that it all started from there. I am not suggesting that the Latin Mass will always inevitably lead to metanoia or even that it is the panacea to the current crisis; certainly, it is but one tool that the Spirit uses to penetrate hearts walled off and imprisoned by sin. Yet I do think that the restoration of the liturgy is the key to unraveling the current crisis. 

Like everyone else, I remain a sinner and still struggle with many faults. But I am thankful for the Lord for delivering me from sexual sin and the social isolation it brings with it. Now, I am making friends with lots of Catholics, more than I ever had, and also enjoyed dating for the first time free from the clutches of pelvic degeneracy. I am still introverted, but I found out it’s not reason enough to build walls around myself especially when others were reaching out to me. I was also able to start a career that enabled me to support myself, and will hopefully allow me to support a future family as well. Through the Latin Mass, I learned how to bear hardships for love of Him who suffered for me, and to embrace the painful process of change to be a better man. 

Yet despite my personal testimony and that of many others, Francis and the rest of the Spirit of Vatican II crowd keeps plotting to suppress it. Beyond possible envy at the sight of the growing number of (especially young) Catholics who take refuge in the Latin Mass to escape the modernist wasteland that has defined the Church today, they know on an intellectual level that the Mass of All Time is the cornerstone of everything Catholicism has stood for before the 1960s. Or rather, what it has always stood for and will stand for beyond their blighted clerical careers. Its enduring, continued presence stings them as a living rebuke of the failure of their project of bonhomie with the world, the saeculum, forgetting as they do their sworn duty to bring the world into the saecula saeculorum instead with the angels and saints—or else vainly thinking that they can achieve both. In a protean world ruled only by Baphomet’s diktat of solve et coagula, the Mass points to its archetype, the unchanging, eternal Word, and confidently proclaims him as its one true King, against the pretensions of the prince of this world garbed in various disguises. 

The illicit suppression of the Latin Mass is proving to be the greatest challenge to my faith as of yet. A part of me wants to scream and express my wrath acerbically in social media; another part of me even tries to whisper that all I did in 2018 with the help of God was all for naught, and I might as well give in to despair by going back to my old vices. Yet wouldn’t this prove Pope Francis right in claiming that the Latin Mass is only a source of discord among the Church Militant, with few good fruits to show of its work? Wouldn’t that be too easy for our critics, who say that our attachment to it is mere nostalgia and vapid aesthetics? I am trying to cling to hope, seeing this as an opportunity to prove to Him that He has truly changed me, and that I will follow wherever He leads. Bad popes come and go, trends die off eventually, and heresies will have their day of reckoning, but Christ’s promise endures. He has shown this through the refusal of the Latin Mass to die in the decades after the Council, when the de-christianization of society was not as apparent, and how it still produces countless gifts for the Church despite every threat of suppression. This might be, after all, a rebuke to us by Christ, for being at times prideful, clannish, and bitter, as our enemies claim us to be—but doesn’t He always subject those whom He loves to suffer? Nothing impure will enter His presence; Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God (Mt. 5:8). 

I can barely muster words of comfort for my fellow Catholics, for I still do not know how we can effectively respond to this latest attack against Tradition. At least for me, I hope that all these trials in the Church (which have advanced in a worrying pace beginning with the Amazon Synod in 2019) means that the Devil is running out of time; hence, he has been hard at work round the clock to destroy the Church. Anyhow, anything I say will be repeated and better expressed by others. Yet we must resolve not to let this latest saga from the Vatican—from this papacy—be a cause of scandal for us. Let us pray more, let us accept suffering more, let us go to the Latin Mass more. The Spirit will lead us to more concrete ways of responding to the modernists, but let us respond to malice with charity, to detraction with humility, and to abuse with patience. And may faith, hope, and love remain in us the selfsame chalice that bears the blood of Christ, which he poured out for the salvation of souls, so that when this dark cloud finally dissipates, we can again say with confidence in our churches: Introibo ad altare Dei, qui laetificat juventutem meam (Ps. 42:4). 

Click here for a Spanish version of this article

Monday, July 19, 2021

Nine Reflections on Traditionis Custodes

Ha so did you hear there's this thing called Traditionis Custodes that Pope Francis issued? Papa Francesco sure stirred up some lio with this one. If Francis is concerned about the growth of traditionalism that rejects the post-Conciliar Church, giving the SSPX their single biggest marketing boost of all time is certainly a strange way to show it. 

Many people more astute than myself have already commented on Traditionis Custodes extensively, so I will try not to repeat their talking points. Here are my nine reflections on the new motu proprio.

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First, on the antithesis between Francis and Benedict. Some are saying this isn't a repudiation of Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum. They are arguing that those who are saying so are being unnecessarily partisan and dramatic. Have these people even read these documents? We need to start by realizing that Summorum Pontificum did not "legalize" or "allow" or "liberalize" the Traditional Latin Mass. It did not make the Latin Mass available by positive decree; rather, it stated the principle that the Latin Mass could never truly have been abrogated and, therefore, by consequence was (and is) always allowed. Traditionis Custodes, on the other hand, completely repudiates that principle. It's not just that it suppresses something that Benedict XVI allowed; its that by presuming to suppress the traditional liturgy by papal dictate, it contradicts the principle elucidated in Summorum Pontificum while giving no explanation of why or how that is possible. But that's par for the course these days; the modern magisterium creates continuity by merely declaring it (see "The Phantasm of Fiat Continuity", USC, May, 2016). We are to accept continuity and harmony exist merely because we are told it does.

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Francis's motu proprio was issued out of concern that traditional communities foster a divisive spirit, believing that they alone are "the true church." What does this even mean? Does this refer to traditionalists who literally think the Church presided over by Francis is a false church? That Francis is a false pope? Or perhaps it merely means the belief that Traditional Latin Mass reflects the authentic heart of our faith? It's hard to say. Traditionis Custodes does not elaborate on what the false premises affirmed by these divisive traditionalists actually consist of. It is impossible to determine when and whether someone is guilty of thinking they are "the true church", as the document provides no explanation of this new and dangerous schism, which is nevertheless so grave as to justify suppressing an entire rite. It is meant to cast suspicion on an entire subsection of the Church.

The crux of the matter is this: there is a subtle transmutation being wrought upon word "schism", morphing it from a canonical status into an attitude. It is very difficult to pin the canonical state of schism upon somebody; it is extremely easy to accuse someone of having a "schismatic attitude." I think most uses of the word "schism" I see on social media these days are in the context of an attitude rather than an objectively existing canonical state. Basically, "schismatic attitude" has become the catchphrase to denote anyone who posts mean things online about the current regime. Its definition is so broad it means nothing; its used the way Wokies use the word "racism."

Also, the fact that the Holy Father is taking punitive action against an attitude is horrifying. And this isn't even speculation; Francis says plainly in his accompanying letter that his edict is prompted by "words and attitudes."

As for real schism, the number of traditionalist groups or parishes who have gone into schism during the pontificate of Francis is zero.

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But if there are traditional Catholics who literally believe that they and they alone are the "true Church," they must number only a few thousand worldwide. And apparently we are to believe that this tiny sliver of a demographic poses an existential threat to the unity of a communion of one billion believers?

But fear not! As a remedy, we shall herd every catholic who loves in a Latin Mass into one or two parishes in a diocese, place draconian restrictions on them, functionally ban them celebrating in new parishes or even with new priests, and then we're going to let them stew in an age of social media. Sounds like a winning plan for unity. 

The harshness of this diktat is only surpassed by its sheer imbecility.

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Even if there is a real threat of schism, it is exceptionally bizarre to suppress a legitimate rite because of such concerns. Canonically speaking, it is persons, not rites, who are the objects of legislation in such cases. Consider this nugget of history:

During the pontificate of Bl. Pius IX, Chaldean Patriarch Joseph Audo was frequently at odds with the Vatican. Most notable was his efforts to bring the Syro-Malabar Catholics of India under his jurisdiction, sending the Bishop of Aqra, Mar Elias Mellus, to India as his envoy in 1874 to accomplish this. Mar Elias was actually excommunicated for fomenting schism there. This did not stop Joseph Audo, who continued to consecrate various bishops without prior consultation with Rome in the following years, effectually setting up a rival hierarchy in India. In September 1876, Pope Pius IX finally threatened to excommunicate the Patriarch and the bishops he had consecrated if they remained disobedient. Patriarch Audo finally submitted to the pope, who then commended him for his compliance and recognized all his episcopal appointments outside of India. Bishop Mellus also reconciled with the Holy See and went on to become the Bishop of Mardin.

This story is noteworthy because the promotion of the Chaldean rite in India was directly linked to the establishment of a rival and schismatic hierarchy in a blatant usurpation of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Nevertheless, Pius IX made no attempt to limit the use of the Chaldean rite, despite the serious threat of schism. Canonical penalties were imposed against the persons fomenting schism. A rite itself is not the proper subject of these types of canonical penalties. I hope more commentators and canonists start pointing out how truly bizarre the rationale of Traditionis Custodes is in this regard (Thanks to my friend Konstantin for making me aware of this story).

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Francis's accompanying letter says, "Most people understand the motives that prompted St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI to allow the use of the Roman Missal, promulgated by St. Pius V and edited by St. John XXIII in 1962, for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The faculty—granted by the indult of the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1984 and confirmed by St. John Paul II in the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988 was above all motivated by the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of Mons. Lefebvre."

This is demonstrably false. The indult was not set up to heal the schism with the SSPX. Rather, the indult was set up to create a home for the faithful who loved the Latin Mass but nevertheless did not want to follow the SSPX into formal schism. That is to say, the object of John Paul II's legislation was the faithful who did not want to join the SSPX; but Pope Francis says that the object of John Paul's legislation was the SSPX. This is a colossal blunder. Rorate Caeli has an excellent piece documenting the way John Paul's intent is mischaracterized by Francis.

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Despite the motu proprio's insistence that the abuses in the Novus Ordo be checked, we all know that will never happen. If Francis is really concerned about Catholics dissenting from Church teaching, then Traditionis Custodes is like pulling the speck from the traditionalists' eye without removing the plank in the eye of the Novus Ordo. Polls consistently show that 89% of Catholics reject papal authority to teach on the immorality of contraception; 51% reject papal teaching on abortion. And 69% of Catholics do not believe in transubstantiation (source). Is the Holy Father distressed about this? Is he going to take decisive action against these people?

Of course not. The double standard does not invalidate the weight of Traditionis Custodes (whatever that may be), but it does destroy any pretense of good will on the part of the Holy Father, and it destroys any likelihood that the faithful will receive this with docility. In the face of such brazen injustice, the prospect of traditional Catholics just rolling over and accepting this is ridiculous. This is just going to cause more trouble. And it was 100% avoidable. What a waste. Talk about fights that did not need to happen.

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As for you self-hating trads who are saying, "We asked for this and we're getting what we deserved," and "the Holy Father's assessment of traditionalism must be correct", I can't imagine what sort of mental torture you must put yourself through to square these circles. I understand that traditional Catholics can be toxic; I've whined about it just recently. But if you think the bad attitudes of a few online traddies merits the global suppression of an entire rite—and not just any rite, but the preeminent historical rite of Latin Christendom—then you are infinitely more unbalanced than the boogey-man trads you are wringing your hands about. This is akin to amputating a hand to fix a hangnail.

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One of the most laughable passages in the accompanying letter is where the pope says, "Whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements."

This is a frighteningly reductionist view of the liturgy. There is a certain attitude amongst conservative Catholics that the only thing that matters in the liturgy is a valid Eucharist. "It's still Jesus!" they would predictably intone, as the balloons ascended and the sanctuary was filled with the strumming of guitars. This represents a radical minimalist view of the liturgy, reducing the Mass down to its most barebone  component and rejoicing that we at least still have the sine qua non of the liturgy. Pope Francis evidences a similar view with this quote: the entire liturgical tradition of the West is boiled down to just the Roman Canon. "What are you complaining about? You have the Roman Canon." If that's the pope's view of continuity, then literally nothing in the Church is safe from his novelty. I hope more people realize what a horrifically reductionist hermeneutic this is. It's as if after years of feeding my children healthy, balanced meals, I suddenly throw them outside and tell them to eat insects. And when they complain that they can't survive on insects, I dismissively say, "It's still protein."

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"What are we to do?" That's really what everyone wants to know. To this I shrug. I don't know. But I will say two things:

(1) Traditional Catholics have a tendency towards scrupulosity. We worry way too much about rules, about minutiae, about jots and tittles. And the current situation just exacerbates scrupulous anxieties. This development has put many of us in extremely challenging dilemmas that no Catholic should ever have to be in. No Catholic should have to pit pope against liturgy, obedience against worship, fidelity to tradition against the living magisterium. In these dilemmas, we cannot afford to be overly scrupulous. I'm speaking to laypeople, but also bishops and priests. We are way too litigious in the West. With all the shit going on in the world and the church, with civilization falling apart and the Church in total chaos, with all the confusion and misinformation and lies and double-standards being vomited forth from the hierarchy on a daily basis, do you really think God is laying the responsibility entirely on your shoulder for determining the precise canonical status of that independent chapel? Just do what you need to do and don't worry too much about the fine print. 

Also, I said "shit" just to irritate the scrupulous people who, in a post about this crisis, will think complaining about the word "shit" in the combox is the best use of their energy.

(2) As awful as this situation is, I always try to remember that the Mass is not my faith. It's an integral part of how I live my faith, but my faith is much bigger than the Mass. I make this point because people will message me and say "This is damaging my faith." I don't know if they really mean that, in the sense that this is making them believe in God less; sometimes I think they just mean "This is making it challenging for me to live my faith." The Latin Mass is an absolute treasure. But God doesn't owe you the Mass. He gives it, and He can remove it. If deprivation of access to the Latin Mass actually makes you lose your faith, what would you have done in Japan all those centuries when the Catholics there had no Mass? Or in Elizabethan England? Would you have simply lost faith? Many of the Desert Fathers didn't even go to Mass at all; nor immured nuns in the Middle Ages, nor many of the hermits.

God is still on the throne. Jesus is still risen from the dead. I am still redeemed by His blood and incorporated into His body through the sacred font of baptism. Has any of that changed? No. None of it has changed, and therefore my faith is unchanged. I don't mean to diminish the importance of the Mass in any way; but if your actual faith in God is predicated upon a certain level of access to the Traditional Mass, where will your faith be when it becomes even more difficult in ages to come? I am not insulting you if your faith is being challenged. Rather, I am challenging you to go back to the basics, the unchanging truths that no prelate can touch. Have faith in God. And I'm not talking about "Have faith that the Traditional Latin Mass will triumph!" or "Have faith that some future pope will reverse all this." I mean have faith that God is with us, that the blood of Christ had freed us from sin, and that in Him we can live a life of grace and holiness—even if these disorders are never remedied unto the very ending of the world.

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I'm praying for all of you, wherever you are and whomever you are! Just last month I posted about this blog's 14th anniversary. What a different world it was then! Summorum Pontificum had not even been issued. My blog has outlived the entire Summorum Pontificum era. Insane. But now more than ever it is important to patronize and support good traditional Catholic blogs. I'm not going anywhere; remember, even if the hierarchy has control over the exterior forms of our worship, it has no control over my spiritual life (see "Into the Woods", USC, May, 2018). Even though those forms of worship are meant to nourish my spiritual life, they can't ultimately be identified with it. The life I have in Christ is "an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven" (1 Pet. 1:3-4). And that will never be touched, even though a pope worse than Francis should destroy ten times as much. Christus regnat.

Click here for a Spanish language version of this article.