[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.
Here we are, on the threshold of this great season of Lent. Have you thought about it yet?
Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays
In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent. They have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima. They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter. Today, we’re at Quinquagesima Sunday. Clear as mud?
Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia. (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.) All of these things were meant to get you thinking. Sober up, people! How are you going to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
(Want more on information on these pre-Lenten Sundays? Click HERE for a New Liturgical Movement article.)
The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving
If you’re not already setting aside a specific time every day to pray, you need to. I am the mother of six little children. If I can do it, you can. And if it’s at all possible, make that prayer time the first thing you do every day. Get up before everyone else. If you’re new to this, start small. Start now.
For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse? Every day? If not, start small. Start now.
Fathers, are you blessing your children every day? If not, do it. You represent Christ in your household, and your family needs you to set the example. (Bless your wife too; she needs it.)
Are you accustomed to daily prayer already? Consider adding Night Prayer. There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber. It’s in both Latin and English. And it’s beautiful. (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)
For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day? If not, do it. Consider a family rosary.
And finally, go to confession. At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season. If you’d like a challenge, consider going every week or so.
Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent. In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot. And we need it. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.””
Do you have something in your life that needs casting out? Try fasting. Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus? Try fasting.
If you’ve never done this before, start small. Start now. Give up one meal a week.
There are many ways to be creative with this one, by the way. If you’re pregnant and cannot fast, consider eating one meal in a way that you wouldn’t like. For example, you’re having an egg sandwich for breakfast, eat all three pieces separately – toast by itself, egg by itself, and cheese by itself. It’s not as fun. You get the idea.
This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially. If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.
The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving. During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:
How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?
The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer. Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income. If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%. For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop. This would be a true 10% tithe. (The word tithe means one tenth.)
If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.
The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice. For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month. Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.
In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you! Just take the first step.