[Note: For whatever evil reason, my computer will not let me format the paragraphs correctly on this post. My sincere apologies to all of you!]
Occasionally I get emails and questions from you Readers. Recently the following was sent to me:
“If you don’t mind my asking: other than prayer and fasting (!), what have you found most helpful in working toward the goal of a Latin Mass? Whom do you work with, make contacts with, and how do you present the idea to the parish or the diocese? I’m struggling to find inroads to accomplish this here where I’m at. Thanks for whatever you can share.”
First of all, thank you, dear Reader, for the question! I do have a few thoughts and ideas. For those of you who are interested, read on. For those of you who are not, I’ll see you next post.
Traditional Latin Mass Question and Response
In our diocese, we’ve been working for about ten years to get a Traditional Latin Mass here every Sunday, and we’re still not there! (We currently have a priest willing to celebrate every fourth Sunday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan.) So I can fully understand your plight, and here’s what I have to offer.
Yes, of course prayer and fasting should be your top priority in promoting the Latin Mass. While I am not always able to fast because I’m A. wimpy, B. usually pregnant, or C. forever nursing a baby, my husband in particular is always fasting for this very thing. In particular, he fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays for this intention (and others).
I point this out not to embarrass him, which I know I just did, but because many of us simply need to hear that there are real men out there actually sacrificing for their families in a tangible way. They are fasting. My husband thinks that the Latin Mass is worth fighting for on a spiritual level. So he really abstains from food two days a week, and it’s hard some days, especially when the office brings in donuts and pizza.
In any case, the single most important thing, after prayer and fasting, is to have a priest who either wants to celebrate the Extraordinary Form, or who is willing to learn. And this is likely out of your hands. Fortunately here, about ten years ago, a good friend of mine was ordained, and he wanted to learn. So we made it happen. We paid for him to go to Chicago, to St. John Cantius, to learn. When he returned, he was able to offer weekly Friday masses. After a few years, he was transferred, but another priest here offered to celebrate the monthly Sunday mass.
Along the way, we’ve had to pay for other things – vestments, books, other liturgical items. I point this out because if you want it to happen, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible. Pay for everything. Willingly. Find others who will help, if possible.
Not only should you be willing to pay for everything, but you also should be willing to help out in every way possible too. Fortunately we’ve got some great families around here who help out at every Mass. For example, a couple of dads are permanent ushers. My husband trains all the altar boys and is permanent sacristan. You want it; you gotta do it.
And it’s not always easy. Do I like the fact that my husband is busy for a full half hour before every Mass and at least that after Mass? Nope. Because it means that I’ve got to herd and corral 7 children by myself while we wait for him. But if it means worshipping at a TLM, bring it on.
Also, what about music? The beautiful thing about the TLM is that one need not suffer through horrible, Marty Haugen jingles complete with guitars and tambourines. Thank God. But it isn’t always easy to find musicians. When you do, pay them well, if possible, and send them yearly to the Sacred Music Colloquium put on by the Church Music Association of America. In fact, go yourself. You won’t regret it.
Finally, there are two more things you can do. Write a brief letter to your bishop kindly requesting a TLM. Do it annually until it happens. And don’t expect results over night. (For anyone interested, I’d be happy to show you an example of a letter. Drop me a line.) And secondly, keep educating yourself on the TLM. The resources are inexhaustible. I’d particularly recommend anything by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.
Speaking of Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, have you read this yet?
Lastly, take heart, dear Reader! So many more people are looking for a deeper, richer experience at Mass. All over the world there has been an upsurge in both TLM Mass attendance and those desiring to attend a TLM. Hang in there. We’re a young crowd with lots of babies. It’s not going away.
P.S. I realize there’s a formatting issue with my paragraphs on this post. I’ll see if I can’t get my Web Master to take a look at it. My apologies for any difficulties in reading.
This last week my family and I moved to a new home. Deo gratias.
As you can imagine, I am busy unpacking.
So today I offer 3 articles that you should read. They all come from New Liturgical Movement. And if you have a spare minute, do yourself a favor and read one of them right now.
Here they are:
I’m sick of ugly buildings. Are you? David Clayton spells it out for us HERE. And I’ve added two photos for your contemplation.
2. Do you have sons? If they are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, what kind of seminary would you have them attend? Dr. Kwasniewski writes about this by showing different vocational videos. One is demanding and requires sacrifice; the other is wishy-washy and features happy-go-lucky seminarians and cardinals. Click HERE for it.
3. Why, oh why, can’t we get this right at Mass? Music matters. Music becomes a part of us, and if we continually fill ourselves with emotional schmaltzy jingles, then that’s what we’ll become.
Cardinal Sarah gets it. You should just read what he writes HERE about Gregorian Chant. My husband has been reading this article out loud to the children (well, and me too) at supper.
You might also consider buying both of Sarah’s books.
And one more thing. An invite.
If you happen to be in the Bismarck/Mandan area, and would like to experience the Mass of the Ages, come to Christ the King Catholic Church this Sunday, October 28, at 11:30am.
Fr. Nick Schneider will offer the Extraordinary Form the Mass. You know, the Mass that St. Maximillian Kolbe celebrated. The Mass that St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about. The Mass that St. Therese the Little Flower loved.
And there’s a potluck afterwards, if you want to stay and visit. I’d love to meet you.
So, when I recently read on New Liturgical Movement about the reprints of five books, put out by Os Justi Press, which is Kwasniewski’s republishing entity, I immediately took notice and clicked over to Amazon and threw one in my cart.
Let me advise you, run over to NLM, read the article, and do yourself a favor and buy one or more, especially if you homeschool, and especially if you happen to be studying the English Reformation, for two of the books are historical novels written by Robert Hugh Benson.
In an email to a friend of mine Kwasniewski wrote, “These two novels by Benson are simply the best unit studies for the periods of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. We read them aloud in our family and couldn’t put them down. My children have returned to them. They make this crucial piece of Catholic history come alive.”
I need no convincing that these novels are excellent, as I am already a fan of Benson, having devoured Come Rack! Come Rope! a few years ago. But I’m also excited about the little book on vocation discernment that Kwasniewski is also reprinting. It’s called Vocations by Fr. William Doyle, and really, you should go read the description of it on NLM.
What am I reading right now?
In the end, I want to thank Dr. Kwasniewski for his hard work in putting out good material for us to read. My husband is currently reading Pius Parsch’s The Breviary Explained, also reprinted by Os Justi Press. It’s excellent, and I’m learning so much, as my husband likes to read passages out loud to me.
And I’m reading Kwasniewski’s Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis, and honestly, right now, it’s making me mad. I feel as if I’ve been cheated out of our rich Catholic heritage. Maybe I’ll do a book review of it later on.
My husband is a bit of a nerd when it comes to reading things about the old Mass. You know what I’m talking about, right? The Traditional Latin Mass, the Extraordinary Form, the Usus Antiquior, the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of Pius V…it’s got so many names, I can’t keep it straight.
He’s always yakking about people I don’t know too, like Dr. Peter Kwasniewski. Except that no one can pronounce this guy’s last name, so Peter is affectionately referred to as “Peter K” in our household, which is confusing to others, because then most people think we mean Peter Kreeft.
As an aside, I actually had the nerve to ask Dr. Kwasniewski how to pronounce his last name, and he graciously, phonically spelled it out for me as follows: “Kwash-nee-ev-ski.”
In any case, since I can’t help but to eventually be interested in things that my husband chatters on about, I decided to read Kwasniewski’s book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness. After all, I had come across this man many times, as he writes for the New Liturgical Movement, a blog that I enjoy perusing, even if I don’t understand half of what I read. (New Liturgical Movement is linked on my sidebar, if you’re curious.)
Well, let me tell you, I just finished reading this book, and it’s a gem. A breath of fresh air. Chock-full of stuff I never thought about before. For example, have you ever thought of having a Marian receptivity to the Mass? I haven’t, and there’s a whole chapter on this, and it’s excellent.
So, if you’d like a challenge and are interested in things that our culture considers backwards and foolish, I recommend this book. It’s really worth it. And furthermore, to give you a sample of just what’s in this book, I’ll mention a few things that I learned below.
What did I Learn From Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness?
So, the name thing. What to call this old Mass, that is foreign to most of us and has twenty different names? This is downright confusing to us amateurs, just trying to figure things out. Well, Kwasniewski advises us not to get caught up in terminology wars. He states, “The official documents of the Church use multiple names…each name conveys something important that the other names do not convey.”
In my words, maybe all these names for the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) are like all the names we have for the Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Advocate, Counselor, Holy Ghost. They are all important and serve to reveal something about the third Person of the Trinity. We use different names for different occasions. It must be the same for the TLM too, and I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
The second thing I learned from reading Kwasniewski’s book is that I’m really not as backwards and foolish as I thought for preferring the TLM over the New Mass. Kwasniewski states, “Pope Benedict XVI established equal canonical rights for the two “forms” of the Roman Rite.” It’s perfectly legitimate to have a preference.
When I read that, I was reminded of Pope Benedict’s somewhat well known quotation about the TLM, which Kwasniewski explains in his book, and states as follows:
“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” Pope Benedict XVI.
In other words, it’s a good thing to want to know what it was like for the vast majority of people in the history of the Church the pray the Mass. Just how did St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, and my favorite, St. Therese the Little Flower, experience the Mass? It was the TLM that formed these great saints after all.
But in the end, however, it has not easy for me to learn about the TLM, as I’m fairly new to it and this stuff takes time–indeed a lifetime–to learn about, especially if one lives in area where the TLM is not readily available. I was comforted, in fact, when Kwasniewski compares it all to the call of Abram out of Ur to Canaan. “It prompts the development of new faculties of seeing and hearing; it requires an exodus from our surroundings of pop culture and intellectual fashion; it calls us to a strange land, like Abram being summoned from Ur to Canaan.”
Yes, I can understand that. It’s unsettling to walk into a strange land–the strange land of the Traditional Latin Mass. But for me, anyway, it’s been worth it. And Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness has been a great blessing and a help.
Would you like to experience this Mass of Ages? Come and see.
In the Bismarck area, Fr. Nick Schneider offers the TLM once a month at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan at 11:30am. The next one will be Sunday, February 25th.
There is also a Facebook page for the Latin Mass community. Click HERE for that.
And in the meantime, pick up Dr. Kwasniewski’s book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness.