Monday, April 14, 2014

Here's Your Sign: Bishop Turns to TLM as "new shape and form" to Save Church.

Interior of St. Walburge's Catholic Church 

(Full Article)

Here is the most interesting portion of the article:
But now the Bishop of Lancaster has announced the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which celebrates the traditional Tridentine Mass, could be conducting services in the church by the autmun. “The future of St Walburge’s Church came into very serious question in the light of much fewer people at Mass in this vast and yet most beautiful church,” said Bishop Michael Campbell in a statement read out at Preston churches on Sunday.
“The arrival and presence of the Institute at St Walburge’s will enable the sustainability and care of this magnificent church so that it can be open each day as a shrine or centre for Eucharistic devotion and adoration.”
St Walburge’s was built in 1847 and its spire is the third tallest in the UK. But falling attendances - a cause for concern within inner Preston - meant it could have faced decommission.
There are some voices - even now - who tell me that the presence of the Catholic Church in inner Preston is finished,” added Bishop Campbell. “I cannot agree. We need to be here in a new shape and form and at the same time to strengthen our missionary presence and vitality.”
 Imagine facing a future where the presence of the Catholic Church is "finished".  Now imagine you are responsible for making the difficult decisions of what to do?  The Bishop of Lancaster apparently facing just such a scenario, decides to take drastic measures by bringing in something "new"!  A new shape and form!  In this case, the Extraordinary Form in the shape of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  What does the good Bishop expect from this move??  A strengthened "missionary presence and vitality".

But I thought the New Mass...???  Well don't you fret.  
St Walburge’s will continue to celebrate the Ordinary Form Mass on a Sunday for as long as there is a need.
 For as long as there is a need.  Prophetic words indeed. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why I Will Not Attend A Traditional Latin Mass

My journey from casual interest to uncompromising devotion of the Traditional Latin Mass did not occur overnight.  You could even say that it was a reluctant and intimidating journey.  Still I cannot hide my affection for that which I was missing my whole life.  My prayer is that all will experience the deepening of faith through the intimacy of the Latin Mass.  I have tried to explain this deep commitment of love and faith to those whom I feel are willing to listen.  Unfortunately I find myself battling the same fears and misconceptions again and again.

I don't know Latin. 

I don't know Latin either!  I have this book called a Missal that contains Latin on the left page and English on the right.  I have yet to meet a member of our parish who knows Latin either.  I can say that after years of praying the Latin Mass I am very familiar with the prayers and responses in Latin.  If I forget my Missal I still grab the red Latin/English booklets provided at the back of church, I still prefer a guide.

I don't know what to do!

Now you know how Protestants feel!  Just kidding, kind of.  For being basically the same Mass it's a remarkably different experience.  A Catholic who has faithfully attended Mass for the past 20 years might still struggle during Latin Mass, with the priest facing the altar and the long periods of silent prayer.  When do you sit/stand/kneel/respond?  Hint:  It's all in the Missal.  Don't worry, nobody is critiquing your reaction time, the focus remains on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It's always great to see new faces, why wouldn't it be?

Everyone else looks like they've been going for a long time.

You got that right!  People who participate in the Latin Mass are likely to be regulars, committed to their Catholic faith.  Most women will be wearing modest dresses and a noticeable number will be covering their heads with some form of veil.  Men will be wearing dress pants and shirts.  In the summer most will still be wearing pants.  Do some wear more casual clothing?  Yep.  Does anyone really care?  Nope, as long as it's modest.  Believe it or not, but the regulars don't notice you unless you sit in the front 2 rows because your likely taking up preferred spots! ;)

I don't feel welcome.

A complaint I hear often from people who have never actually attended a Latin Mass.  Usually they heard a story from someone else online or they have had indirect contact with a family that they know attends the Latin Mass yet feel that family was not friendly enough.  I try to be friendly and smile, but I'm there for an intimate hour with God almighty and He is the focus.  Just keeping track of my kids takes my full attention.  I find the silence and reverence very welcoming, I'm able to focus on prayer with God, which is why I'm there.  Eventually you will find time for socializing and forming friendships, it's just going to be outside of Mass.

Everyone is "stuck up" w/ "holier than thou" attitudes. 

I don't really understand this thinking but I hear it the most.  I think it has to do w/ wearing nice clothes?  I dress nicely for Mass because I am before God and He deserves the outward respect that I would give any high priority event in the world.  I presume the "holier than thou" reference has to do w/ the commitment to Catholic doctrine.  I think the reason I hear this complaint the most has a lot to do w/ individuals fear of facing reality - the truth of their spiritual situation.  To see others at least outwardly living the faith should be moral support, something to be admired!  Instead piety is scorned and the people presumed rigid and judgmental.  Just because someone appears to be glaring at you or giving you a dirty look, doesn't mean they are assuming the worst - it might be your own insecurities.  Even my wife has thought this about people at our parish, where I perceived nothing.  Even if it were true, it's no different than anywhere else in life so get over it.

It takes so long. Boring!

Does it?  Yes Latin Mass tends to take 1.5 hours rather than the 1 hour maximum of most Novus Ordo Masses.  This is one argument that I don't understand because I never felt this way.  Time flies when your having fun!  I think time would pass slower if I wasn't assisting with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by following the prayers diligently in the 1962 Missal.  To offer one's self w/ Christ up on the altar requires a lot of focus.  Besides, what else is Sunday for?  But that's for another post.

The Latin Mass is for foreigners & old women.

Where do these assumptions come from?  Brief observation from years ago most likely.  I know this was the propaganda line presented to me, this was the lens that I viewed the TLM through.  Sure there are foreigners who attend the Latin Mass - go anywhere in the world and you can step into a Latin Mass and know you will recognize this Mass.  Are there old hat ladies in the front row?  I'm sure, but I looked around today and most were younger than me (34).  Small children and babies were everywhere.  Remarkably quiet in the church all things considered.

My children would never sit through it quietly.

Yes this was a big hurdle for my kids, though they never sat through the Novus Ordo quietly.  One fear was just how quiet the sanctuary gets during the TLM, and how noisy my kids get.  Many Sundays were nonstop battles to keep the little ones contained and quiet.  Somehow we still left each Sunday looking forward to the next.  Kids need to learn to behave in church and the earlier the better from my experience.  My 4 year old and 5 year old give me the most trouble during Mass each week, but that's normal for their age.  If they act up too much a trip to the back is made for some stern words and a time out.  It's not as bad as it seems, I never notice other kids misbehaving but I hear about it from other parents.  It's a tunnel vision thing I think.

They don't accept Vatican II - Basically SSPX - Novus Ordo viewed as invalid. 

Having grown up in the Vatican II era, never knowing anything other than the "New Mass", I was thoroughly propagandized into believing that V2 came about because of the problems with the "Old Mass", that if not for the changes 50 years ago the Church would be even worse off than it is today.  You might even call it the establishment response it's repeated so often.  I would say almost all accept V2 as valid - but erroneously implemented and corrupted by modernism.  I share these beliefs.  SSPX?  Well I definitely see them in a different light, especially after getting to know a few personally.  They are good Catholics in communion with the Catholic Church.  But that's a different topic.  Is the Novus Ordo invalid?  Nobody thinks that. It's a myth, never met anyone who admits it at least.  I will attend a Novus Ordo when I must, but I prefer the TLM whenever possible.  I feel the liturgy is more Christ-centered and the risk of exposing my children to scandal is far less. Sorry if sharing that with you ruffles your feathers.

I sincerely hope this helps dispel some of the misconceptions regarding the Traditional Latin Mass.  My love for the Latin Mass developed over time and against all odds.  If you find yourself reading this post and doubting my words, just remember I was you.  I am probably viewed as the most arrogant, most rigid, most judgmental Latin Masser in the pew!!  It's just not the case I promise.  I struggle as all people do to be more Christ-like.  You probably are a better Christian than me.

I had originally included a line in this post suggesting that the TLM was not kindergarten.  I removed this portion as it was easily misinterpreted as labeling those who do not attend the TLM as somehow spiritually immature.  I did not intend this so it was removed.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

 Schola Sancta Caecilia

High School Schola at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish - Grand Rapids, MI.  Absolutely excellent!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Teenager To Traditionalist: My Story Again

Sunday afternoon during the summer of 1991 I was playing with my brother in a half destroyed barn in the backyard of the house my mother rented.  My mother was calling from the backdoor of the old yellow farmhouse, it was time for church.  Why now?  Why would we want to do that?  Why did she suddenly want to start going to church?  Thanks but no thanks, don't ruin our fun.  This was how I felt at 12 years old.

My mother was one of 7 children raised during the 60's by Polish immigrants who settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Growing up I remember only what I perceived about my grandparents and my own parents.  I remember my grandma's house was always full of religious pictures and statues, we always prayed before we ate, and we always went to church on Sunday if I spent the night on Saturday.  I never remembered going to church with my mother and father, just my grandparents.  Sure I heard some stories, like how my dad blurted out, "I really need a joint" after Mass in the car with my grandparents, and how my mother kicked him and he said, "ouch, why did you kick me?".  I remember thinking it was a funny story.

During their 5 short years of marriage, my dad (raised Episcopal) would butt heads with my mom over the need for attending church.  She kept quite a few old love letters and years after the divorce she showed them to me, I was surprised by his written candor about love and God (topics avoided in our relationship).  The Charismatic movement was sweeping through the Church at that time and my mother recalled attending an event where my dad was prayed over.  "He was almost slain in the spirit" as my mother put it.  But apparently that did not bear fruit as their marriage and spiritual lives collapsed in a world filled with drugs and infidelity.

After the divorce my brother and I remained with our dad who was granted primary custody and the house, my mother ran off with a semi-pro golfer to Georgia.  Thankfully after 6 months she had a change of heart and returned to the area, irregular visitations and all the very unpleasant things that come along with broken families ensued for the next 13 years.  My dad and mom both remarried - both to fallen-away Catholics.  My dad once told me he hated being Catholic "because you have to go to church".  My mom found herself unexpectedly pregnant and after canceling her scheduled abortion, she hastily decided to marry while on vacation in Florida.

Life with my dad was devoid of religion accept for the occasional cursing of God's name.  My mom was a much more spiritual person, even though she was not attending church she did make an effort to talk to us about God and provide some kids books and movies based on stories from the Bible.  Around age 13 we became convinced by our mother to move in with her, it was a very abrupt move.  Later I would regret moving, so would my brother who moved back and forth several times leaving me feeling stuck with my decision.

Providentially it was during this time that my mother was slowly feeling the pull to return to church.  An old friend of hers planted the seed by simply saying, "you know you should be going to church".  I remember being confused about what to do and say at church but after several years of spiritual warfare I found myself going to church almost every Sunday.  Even my step-dad attended, though only because of my mother's persistence.  We eventually became Confirmed Catholics through the CCHD program.

Turning 18 meant getting out of the house and getting started on my own life.  At this point I had a steady job and a steady girlfriend, though the Holy Spirit had been kind enough to lead me to a Catholic girl who accepted my newly found desires to avoid co-habitation and pre-marital sex, at least to some degree.  It was during this period of my life that I recognized how important my Catholic faith was and how lucky I was to spend time with my mother who's strong religious convictions had guided me very well.  I would drive across town on Sundays to meet her or my grandma for church, though it was difficult when they weren't present, I felt like I was alone.

Occasionally my now long term girlfriend would meet me for church on Sundays but since she didn't live with me it was more convenient for her to attend with her family.  I was asked repeatedly by my grandpa to help usher but I was reluctant to make the commitment.  I did eventually join the ushers as a way to avoid sitting alone and to get more involved with parish life.  I flirted with the idea of being a Lector or 'Eucharistic Minister', but these were not for me, finishing the remaining Precious Blood on my communicant line seemed quite heroic to me (I would often get a thank you from the EMHC).

Thanks again to my mother I had also developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament through attending the once a month hour of Eucharist Adoration.  I spent the time praying and reading which I found very beneficial.  I learned to pray for the desire to better my life which in turn led me to Confession for the first time since Confirmation.  I would call it a watershed moment where I suddenly realized what it meant to truly be Catholic.

We were always forced to sit in the 2nd or 3rd row during Mass so until I started ushering I never realized that the experience from the back would differ so much from sitting in the front.  Nobody sang or responded in the back, people were constantly trailing in late and leaving early.  I often wondered why they endured week after week when it seemed as if they didn't want to be there!  I would often chuckle as late comers would ignore the usher's gesture to sit in the open seats near the front.  I also had a lot of time to observe the overall behavior of the parish congregation.

I quickly found myself in a state of perpetual distraction, I started to notice things that I was previously oblivious to, such as the absence of "us men" from the Creed.  Abuses in the liturgy were usually minor but they were regular.  I also tired of the hand holding and hand raising during the Our Father, something I found to be a moment of anxiety every time someone reached over to find my hands folded together.

Reflecting on the distractions I encountered each week, I felt relief when my Sunday obligation was fulfilled.  I longed for something more spiritual and intimate but the priest was seemingly incapable or unwilling.  I would complain to the other Ushers about the apathetic state of the laity, cringe at the utter lack of reverence, especially during communion, and fight back the feelings of hatred for the protestant radio music that continued to replace traditional Catholic hymns.

I'm now 34 years old, that was 10 years ago, back when all my friends were former Catholics, when everyone in my family grew up Catholic but no longer practiced. I understood that what we have is the One True Faith, I couldn't imagine ever denying what I knew in my heart to be right, but at the same time I couldn't hide the fact that I knew something was seriously wrong in the Church.

EWTN became the first sign post for me, where I was able to watch Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's old programs, where the Mass was prayed in the most reverent form I had ever witnessed. But when I tried to share some of EWTN's media with my parish, it was rejected by the pastor for ridiculous reasons. Feeling defeated I decided to "shop" the other Catholic churches in the local Diocese.

I always assumed my parish was similar to other parishes, but I quickly learned that it was actually more conservative than most I had visited. I finally stumbled on an old polish inner city church with a priest who seemed to be genuinely dedicated to his vocation. He prayed Holy Mass with a level of reverence and orthodoxy that I had never seen before, this instantly became my new spiritual home, praise God! But the regular Mass time was 10:30 am and at 23 years old I found it difficult to get up early enough to make it some days, which is when I first decided to "check out" the Latin Mass because I had seen some things about it online and I had always found EWTN's Mass more agreeable.

I sat towards the back that Sunday and picked up one of the red English/Latin Mass translation booklets. I had no idea what I was doing and felt extremely intimated by the silence and attentiveness of the parishioners. I remember sweating heavily because I was so nervous, but I quietly followed along best I could, standing and kneeling whenever everyone else did (kinda like a protestant who visits a Catholic Church). What shocked me was the prayers, just reading the prayers of the Mass I couldn't believe how deep and beautiful they were, how much they dignified our Lord and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! I also felt a tremendous sorrow for the loss of this Mass, asking myself, "why didn't they just translate this into English and keep it exactly the way it's written in this booklet"? At that time it was the only "indult parish" to be found anywhere within 100 miles of West Michigan.

I would never be the same after that day. Still I wasn't ready to embrace the Traditional Latin Mass completely because I had been what I would now describe as, propagandized by every source in the Church, that those who attended the Latin Mass were judgmental - holier than thou type people, mostly foreigners and old women, who were clinging to something that nobody understood or desired anymore. That Vatican2 came about to solve all the problems because of "that Mass".

Needless to say, as time went on I found myself missing the 10:30 time slot for the Novus Ordo and catching the 12:30 Latin Mass. While the Latin Mass goes longer, that was never an issue for me, I always felt bad when people left early or yelled at the priest when Mass went over 1 hour anyway.
What I'm trying to say is that it wasn't an overnight conversion, it took several years of prayer and soul searching for sure. One thing that became clear, I couldn't ignore how I felt leaving the Latin Mass on Sundays vs. how I felt leaving the Novus Ordo, even the reverent one by the same priest at the same Church.

Eventually I married and my wife and I would refer to those who attended Mass at 12:30 (Latin) as "Latin Massers". Funny enough, we both eventually had to admit that we were Latin Massers too. The week we decided to attend the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively was the most liberating and wonderful decision we ever made. Every day I think about Sunday, about going to Mass, I long for the intimate union with Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I long for the opportunity to assist in praying the Mass, something I never understood with the Novus Ordo (with all it's focus on lay participation). I literally can't wait to go to Mass, I would go daily if it was offered, I would literally find a way to go daily. When we go on trips we plan it out in advance, how far we will have to drive to the nearest parish offering the Latin Mass!

Our 4 children (and one on the way) deserve the best, and I don't want what happened to my parents and friends to happen to them. I know that this Latin Mass is more than just something from history, it's everything! Receiving Christ on our knees from the consecrated hands of the priest, stepping out of the world and into something truly otherworldly, the closest thing to heaven I have ever experienced.

I can tell you that my heart is on fire for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a way that it never was before, it's a fire that never ever fades either.  A total focus on prayer and Christ, my children see it, they recognize it, and like the fathers of the Church and the saints, they love it! If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for my family, and apparently it's good enough for many other young and large families, because more than half of the community is under the age of 40, with husbands and children everywhere (a stark contrast to the fatherless attendees and gray haired old ladies that populate your typical Novus Ordo).

I would challenge anyone to commit to a Latin Mass at least once a month for 6 months, it's everything you ever longed for as a Catholic, despite what you might have heard from sources that offer little relief to the spiritually starved.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I'm A Registered Traditionalist

Ideology within the Church seem to be evolving.  Decades ago it was right vs. wrong.  Then it turned into right vs. left!  In the last decade a new divide is forming of tradition vs. attrition.  I guess if you look far enough into the past you really can see the future.  Hopefully in this case history will repeat itself because I for one would really appreciate the clarity of right vs. wrong. 

Since Summorum Pontificum we have seen a steady stream of interest in the Traditional Latin Mass.  Blogs and Social media have helped spread news and information that otherwise would never have made it to the public via mainstream outlets.  Despite the decades long propaganda campaign of Vatican 2, the virility of the Traditional Latin Mass is once again finding favor while today's Novus Ordo Mass is being seen as impotent in comparison.

So it comes as no surprise that Catholics who consider themselves devout by Vatican 2 standards would have some animosity towards Catholics who find many failings with the post-conciliar Church. After all, the whole reason for the council was to fix all the problems that existed at that time right?  Just try and place any blame on Vatican 2 for the state of the Church today, you will find yourself being chided for questioning the motives of priests and bishops, warned that you may be sinning, and reminded that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.

Yet are we supposed to sit back and do nothing?  Should I continue to participate in the denigration of the Sacraments by receiving Holy Communion from some women who laughs under her breath because I desire to genuflect even while submitting to the bishop's norm of Communion in the hand for the sake of "unity".  Should I pretend that my kids are not scandalized by this behavior?  I refuse to maintain a forward looking only mentality, there was a time when things went horribly wrong and it wasn't very long ago. 

Lately some in Catholic media have trained their sites on the growing influence of traditionally minded Catholics, in hopes of discrediting them.  Meanwhile their comment boxes and forums are inundated with "Trads" who apparently have too much zeal for the Faith, so much so that they actually comprise a large portion of their own audience!!  Perhaps it's this trend of Traditionalist influence that is to blame for the diminishing donations to some well known Catholic media outlets?  These are the people speaking from both corners of their mouths, attempting to cater to everyone, praising the faithfulness of  Latin Mass attendees, but finding nothing beneficial there themselves.  Managing the decline only works for so long, eventually you lose the war to attrition.

Friday, August 16, 2013

When I want to know what the devil is up to...

I check out "locutionists" like Maria Divine Mercy and  These sites are all to reminiscent of Shepherds of Christ down in Clearwater, Florida.  While I do believe it's possible that unknown knowledge is passed to these "seers" I find it very much fulfills the warning to avoid those who provide hidden knowledge or knowledge of the future.  Even worse is in these latest instances, the "messengers" remain anonymous because temporal circumstances demand it, thus avoiding any real critique.

A little bit of truth goes a long way, easily covering for the carefully sown deceit planted by the devil.  While other more able minded individuals have analyzed the many reasons these "private revelations" are false, I'd like to comment on an obvious and repeating trend; In all these communications, many instances can be referenced where there is frustration or complaining in regards to the faithful's reception of the lies.. I mean messages.

While I must admit I have searched out and hoped for the next Fatima, I find nothing today that even reaches the believability of Medjugorje or Garabandal (which I have come to believe as false after many years of discernment).  If God himself chose to communicate through anyone, would not every word have profound meaning?  Yet endless ranting is produced in all these instances.  If God wanted a certain message revealed, would his Church stymie his efforts at the lamenting of his Blessed Mother?  I think not.  Yet these are the themes repeated by all these "visionaries".

I do find myself spending time reading the musings of these sites now and then, but I consider myself on a reconnaissance mission because knowing a little bit about thy enemy's tactics can be helpful in the battle for souls.