True Confessions: How the Latin Mass Deepened My Faith

Why would millions of people journey for hours to a Mass? Why would they stoutly defend it against charges of being ‘strange’ or ‘pharisaical’ or even ‘schismatic’? Why does it attract such devotion from people of every race, color, age, nationality and language? In this fourth in a series of  five weekly articles, our Regina Roundtable members share their own deeply personal experience, to explain why the Latin Mass is so compelling and deepens their faith.

Neal in West Virginia: The TLM has absolutely deepened my faith.  The presence of God at Mass is unmistakable, and the extreme reverence only reinforces that.  In addition, my 1962 Missal has such wonderful devotions that you would never find in a modern missal.  Practicing traditionally has made me feel God’s presence in my life in a way not even remotely felt before.

The TLM has absolutely deepened my faith.  The presence of God at Mass is unmistakable, and the extreme reverence only reinforces that.

Linda in Wisconsin:  Yes. I read the Missal. Oh, my.  The beauty of the prayers there.  This liturgy is a saint-maker. Our ancestors, going all the way down to the beginning, prayed these very words. It calms me down. When I get stressed at how much is changing for the worse in our times, the TLM and its ancient beauty calms me, comforts me and by its very survival assures me that what is sacred and important never disappears. And never ever will. 

Oh, my.  The beauty of the prayers there.  This liturgy is a saint-maker. Our ancestors, going all the way down to the beginning, prayed these very words.

Robert in Chicago:   Well, my faith has become “richer.”  I’ve been made aware of so many devotions and sacramentals that we can do each day that deepen my faith and keep me “on the straight and narrow.”  I’m more aware that God loves us and has created us to live eternally with Him.  His Mother is always there to help us and the Rosary is the most powerful prayer (and weapon) we have.  All of this is new to me. 

But mostly…I’ve rediscovered the Sacrament of Confession.  What an amazing gift the Church has in this Sacrament.  St. John’s has priests hearing Confessions whenever the church is open, even during Mass.  The lines are long, and I find myself going to Confession almost every week.  I need to hear that God loves me and is ready to forgive me, no matter how often I fall-down.  All of the priests are compassionate and not at all condemning or judgmental, as liberals would have you believe.  It has become a form of spiritual therapy for me.  When I was growing-up, we rarely heard about the need for Confession.  We did not make a first Confession before our First Communion.  I didn’t go to my first Confession until several years after my First Communion.  And remember in the 70s, there was “group absolution,” “face-to-face ‘reconciliation,’” etc. 

I’ve rediscovered the Sacrament of Confession.  What an amazing gift the Church has in this Sacrament.  St. John’s has priests hearing Confessions whenever the church is open, even during Mass.  The lines are long, and I find myself going to Confession almost every week.

Steve in Washington: There is a timeless depth to the TLM and associated prayers and practices.  There is a profound comfort to praying the prayers of the Saints — and of my ancestors long ago — without the attempts to be “relevant” to the modern age, which is transient and falling and needing direct warnings. 

The timelessness is a reminder that there have been terrible times in the past as well…and we just need to pick up our crosses as they did. There is an aspect that is disquieting, though.  The Church used to speak with such clarity, confidence, and directness:  once you start immersing yourself in tradition, it can be painful to see the difference.

There is a profound comfort to praying the prayers of the Saints — and of my ancestors long ago — without the attempts to be “relevant” to the modern age, which is transient and falling.

Neil in Washington: Yes, I would say that the TLM has deepened my faith. Because this form of the Mass is still new to me, I pay closer attention to what is happening on the altar and what is being said as part of the liturgy than I otherwise might. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is never ho-hum for me. I want to know what’s happening and I try to follow along in my missal.

The idea of beauty is central to the Traditional Latin Mass. The TLM strives to make everything beautiful: beautiful church architecture, beautiful vestments, beautiful church furnishings, beautiful music, and beautiful ritual—because it takes seriously the idea that Jesus Christ himself, the one in whom and for whom all things, including beauty, were created—is among us at every Mass offering us his Most Holy Body and Blood. If God himself, the creator and author of beauty, is among us, offering us Himself, the most beautiful thing there is, then it stands to reason that we should respond by offering the most beautiful things we have.

If God himself, the creator and author of beauty, is among us, offering us Himself, the most beautiful thing there is, then it stands to reason that we should respond by offering the most beautiful things we have.

Rosa in New Jersey: The TLM has led me deeply into the meaning in the Mass. In the TLM, as in, say, Dante, every single word has deep significance. In the depths of the quiet of this beautiful Mass, the church seems to fill with angels, and I feel the prayerfulness of the entire congregation as a force that surrounds us all.

God led me back, with my intellect and my heart together. As a young girl, I’d lived in France, and had felt powerfully drawn to the adoration chapels in the beautiful churches I so often visited. It was as if I always had known I’d one day become Catholic. The TLM, I thought, and still think, joins me to all of Christian history. These words I pray today were on the lips of a mighty army of faithful Catholics, spanning century upon century and I am one with them in prayer. I also found understanding by reading the works of many fathers and doctors of the church, and profound guidance in the works of John Henry Cardinal Newman.

God led me back, with my intellect and my heart together. As a young girl, I’d lived in France, and had felt powerfully drawn to the adoration chapels in the beautiful churches I so often visited.

Larenne in New Jersey:  The Latin Mass saved us. My husband and I went through RCIA together. He received his sacraments Easter Vigil 2006 and we were married on May 20th the same year.  I learned more about Catholicism in one month with Fr. Pasley than I did my entire time in CCD. I couldn’t believe how much I was ignorant of. It’s a crime and a crisis of my generation.

I learned more about Catholicism in one month with Fr. Pasley than I did my entire time in CCD. I couldn’t believe how much I was ignorant of. It’s a crime and a crisis of my generation.

Rebecca in Montreal: I rediscovered a depth and beauty that I had lost after moving to Canada and away from the Eastern Catholic liturgies that I loved so much. The Novus Ordo felt lacking, and it was a major turn downhill after having grown up in the wonderful Maronite and Melkite rites with the beautiful vestments, the smell of incense, and the mystical chanting.

I rediscovered all that in the TLM, and  saw that the Roman Rite could equal the Eastern ones in magnificence. I was also happy to have a break from all the outrageous abuses I found in the common Novus Ordo Masses. I had never received Communion in the hand till I attended Mass in France, and it was something unheard of in my country.

I rediscovered a depth and beauty that I had lost after moving to Canada and away from the Eastern Catholic liturgies that I loved so much.

David in Virginia: In recent years, not only do I attend the Traditional Mass almost exclusively, but I am a “master of ceremonies” for a Sunday High Mass here in northern Virginia.  I direct the other servers, and attend to the priest.

The whole of Christendom was built in Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, around the Faith, the Mass as I knew it as a child, the customs and rhythms of the liturgical year. It is the Mass that has been the center, not only of my Faith, but of my heritage. It is how I worship, it is who I am. No one can ever take it away.

The whole of Christendom was built in Europe during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, around the Faith, the Mass as I knew it as a child, the customs and rhythms of the liturgical year. It is the Mass that has been the center, not only of my Faith, but of my heritage. It is how I worship, it is who I am. No one can ever take it away.

True Confessions: My Fight For The Latin Mass

In this fifth in a series of articles, Regina Roundtable members discuss their personal experience with people who do not understand their love for the Latin Mass. While this is sad and troubling, the good news is that these attitudes are softening, as Catholics are re-discovering their lost heritage — all over the world.

Robert in Chicago:  I’ve been labeled a “Catholic fundamentalist” (which is impossible, theologically), “wanting to drag the Church back to the 1950s,” and most hurtfully, “obsessed with externals instead of the Gospel.”  In other words, “putting on a show.” 

These people don’t realize that we’re worshiping God.  Anyone can sit and read the Gospels, but showing how much we love God in an “external” way, I believe, is very pleasing to Him. 

I’ve also been told that people who attend the TLM are “close-minded, judgmental, bigoted,” etc.  The exact opposite is true: I’ve never met anyone who fits those descriptions, in fact, we have many discussions in which there is disagreement.  It’s the “progressives,” I believe, are the ones who are most intolerant and dogmatic.  What a great irony!

Neal in West Virginia: My first experience of TLM was in Charleston, WV, where the Monsignor had decided to do one every few weeks for a while.  It was a high Mass, and was the most beautiful and holy thing that I had ever witnessed.  I felt that I had found what I was looking for and had decided to drive to Charleston (about an hour’s drive) as often as he would do it.  Unfortunately, after only a few times, he ended his last TLM by bashing all of the traditionalists, telling us that we should be ashamed of ourselves and stating that he would never do another one again.

The Monsignor ended his last TLM by bashing all of the traditionalists, telling us that we should be ashamed of ourselves and stating that he would never do another one again.

I actually missed this Mass, but when I called to find out when he would be doing it again, was told very coldly by the secretary that “Monsignor won’t be doing that anymore.” I then found an FSSP priest who did one weekly in Lexington, KY (a two hour drive), but quickly found that it was not practical to attend every week.  I tried to go to the Novus Ordo Mass at my home church, but had a harder and harder time bringing myself to go and fell out before long.

Rosa in New Jersey: I’ve not found resistance, but I have found incomprehension. I’ve also encountered people who profess nostalgia for the TLM, but who declare that others in their families “wouldn’t go for it.” The greatest criticisms I’ve heard have come from priests, one of whom said it would be celebrated in his church “over his dead body.” 

The greatest criticisms I’ve heard have come from priests, one of whom said it would be celebrated in his church “over his dead body.”

Neil in North Carolina:  One of my older brothers, who briefly attended seminary in the 1970s, made some rather snide and critical remarks when he found I was attending the TLM. I think he considers the use of Latin and the ad orientem posture of the priest in the liturgy to be relics of a bygone day and devices to exclude the people from participation in the liturgy, devices that transform Catholicism into an elitist mystery religion complete with magic words and formulas that only the properly initiated can use.

One of my internet friends has expressed some puzzlement. She says that she “has heard” that some of those who attend the TLM and promote it want to segregate people by gender and economic status and judge others on the basis of whether or not they belong to the “right” parish.

Personally I find these arguments absurd, but I am beginning to discover is that some of those who object to the TLM actually object to the cultural, economic, and political baggage attached to the Mass, which has nothing to do with the Mass itself.

Critics of the TLM will sometimes assume that supporters of the TLM are wealthy, elitist, racist, and sexist, which has not been my experience. Based on my observations of the TLM community at St. Ann over the last several months, I would say that the vast majority of those attending the TLM do so because they find it more reverent, more beautiful, and more in harmony with the historical traditions of Catholicism than they do the reformed, post-conciliar liturgy.

I would say that the vast majority of those attending the TLM do so because they find it more reverent, more beautiful, and more in harmony with the historical traditions of Catholicism than they do the reformed, post-conciliar liturgy.

Neal in West Virginia: When I first discovered the TLM, I asked my parish priest to do them, and he made it clear that he did not like it and did not like traditionalists.  Other than him and the aforementioned Monsignor, the most I get is a cold look, or a “oh, you’re one of them” looks.  Any other priests that I have spoken to have been somewhat condescending and taken an attitude of “well, that’s all fine and good, but you know the Novus Ordo is the correct Mass, right, etc., etc., etc.”

It was only when I met Fr. Tuscan in Nitro (Editor’s Note: See Regina Magazine article here) and Fr. Borgmeyer in Huntington, that I met priests who respected it and WANTED to do it.  I am under no illusions.  They are diocesan priests and probably feel the same way as the others, but at least they show great respect to us traditionalists and are giving us the TLM.

I have heard a few complaints about “rad trads,” but interestingly enough, it was from people who then learn that the TLM is much more beautiful, and who end up attending with us.

David in Virginia: No, only bad attitudes, which seem to be diminishing as one generation passes. And yet I still hear about “fifty years of suffering” from those who are in their thirties, which I find rather amusing.

Larenne in New Jersey: My parents were devastated that I didn’t want to get married in the church I grew up. They were happy that my husband converted, but they were really disillusioned with our decision. However, my mother’s father was ecstatic! He knew all the Mass parts and was pretty much the only one aside from me who sung the responses!

Meanwhile, my whole family has since followed suit. Each has become devout and increasingly dismayed at how carried away the Novus Ordo became.  When they can, they now attend the TLM. It took a few years, but they caught on! How could they not? 

After their initial devastation,  my whole family has since become devout and increasingly dismayed at how carried away the Novus Ordo became.  When they can, they now attend the TLM.

Linda in Wisconsin: I’ve never experienced anything negative toward the TLM from friends or family. I wear a veil to the Novus Ordo Mass. I’ve had nothing but encouragement and compliments from parishioners. Many ask me where I get my mantillas. Seems like they want one too. (Never any negative anything from Father, either. Not to my face anyway.)

I think it’s the TLM parishes that have a future. That’s where all the young families and children are.  You don’t see that many children in many Novus Ordo parishes. It’s not rocket science to do the math.

The TLM is ever ancient, ever new.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve found the pearl of great price buried in a field — first by coming home to Holy Mother Church. Then by finding the Liturgy that has helped me remember, and discover, who I am. 

The TLM is ever ancient, ever new.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve found the pearl of great price buried in a field.

Rosa in New Jersey: For as long as I’ve been Catholic, about 20 years now, I’ve assisted at a TLM every Sunday. The Mass is now written on my heart, and it guides every moment of every day. You asked about the importance of the music in drawing people to this mass: Quiet weekday masses can be deep and holy; however, the glorious music of a Sunday solemn Mass or Missa Cantata seems to me to give glory to God, who is beauty itself.

Rebecca in Montreal: I usually hear praises of the beauty of the TLM. Some people do express a support for the Novus Ordo as making them feel part of the community, but I will leave this as being a difference of opinion. I have heard a few complaints about “rad trads,” but interestingly enough, it was from people who find the TLM much more beautiful, and who end up attending with us. Older people are surprised to find that the younger generations are interested in the Mass, in modesty, in veiling, reverence, and weekly Confession.

All in all, people have been positive about the TLM, and the group of people attending or interested in attending keeps growing. The biggest problem is not people disliking the TLM, but rather never hearing about it, or where to find one!

I think, before re-evangelizing the world, we need to re-educate Catholics about their own faith.

I think it’s the TLM parishes that have a future. That’s where all the young families and children are.  You don’t see that many children in many Novus Ordo parishes. It’s not rocket science to do the math.

What Happens When a Priest Learns the Latin Mass

by Rosa Kasper

Although the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass had always been the center of Father Paul Sumler’s priestly life, the truth is that he hadn’t considered celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form. That is, until one Sunday when John Morrell and Mark Holly from the Latin Mass Society of Beaumont, Texas approached Father to ask if he would be willing to do so.

 “At the time, I was still recovering from major surgery, so I asked them to call me in three or four months,” Fr. Sumler explained. “And then I promptly forgot about my brief encounter with them until they again approached me again three and a half months later.”

He invited the men to lunch with him at the rectory, so he could hear their story.

 “At this point I was perplexed as to why they wanted a Latin Mass, but I was willing to listen to their reasons,” the priest added.  “The luncheon meeting ran almost two hours as they spoke and I asked question after question. They told me they had approached a number of priests in the Beaumont Diocese and each priest gave various reasons for not wanting to offer the Traditional Latin Mass.”

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“I was perplexed as to why they wanted a Latin Mass, but I was willing to listen to their reasons. After they left, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.”

Impressed with their articulate, authentic Catholic spirituality and love for the Church, Fr. Sumler told the two young men that although 50 years before he had been an altar boy for the Latin Mass, he would now be starting from scratch if he should offer this Mass.

“After they left, I wondered what I had gotten myself into,” Fr. Sumler remarked.

As it turned out, the Latin Mass Society covered the expenses of training workshops, including his travel expenses so in June 2011, he spent five days with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb., under the tutelage of Father Joseph Lee.

Father Sumler describes the time as a “spiritual boot camp,” involving eight and a half hours days for five days straight. He offered his first Sunday Low Mass one month later. He then attended a Missa Cantata High Mass training workshop in 2012. Since then he has been offering a Sung High Mass every Sunday at 9:30 am.

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Father Sumler describes his time with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska as a “spiritual boot camp,” involving eight and a half hours days for five days straight.

 A small number of his parishioners attend the Extraordinary Form Mass, Sumler explained, but most come from various other parts of the Beaumont Diocese, including many young people and home schooling families.

“Thanks to the Augustinian Fathers who pastored my parish for 60 years, I inherited a beautiful church,” Fr. Sumler observed. “During my time as pastor, we have renovated a number of lovely statues and placed them back in the church, much to the happiness of the people. The interior is quite beautiful and conducive to prayer. The Rosary is prayed before each Sunday Masses.”

Fr. Sumler characterized his Latin Mass congregants as deeply spiritual, committed Catholics, the integrity of whose faith had been damaged by liturgical abuses so common in many Novus Ordo parishes.

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Father Sumler characterized his Latin Mass congregants as deeply spiritual, committed Catholics, the integrity of whose faith had been damaged by liturgical abuses so common in many Novus Ordo parishes.

“The spiritual impact of the Extraordinary Form has had a major impact on me as well,” Fr. Sumler noted. “I have learned to let Jesus say the Mass. I don’t have to worry anymore if I’m holding people’s attention. Jesus, through the Mass and liturgical actions, can speak for Himself, and the people do not have any need for my innovations.

“I cannot imagine my life without this beautiful Mass.  In addition to the Sunday Sung Mass, I offer a Low Mass Tuesday through Friday at 12:10 pm,” Fr. Sumler concluded. “I will always be indebted to encountering John Morrell and Mark Holly. To them I say ‘thank you.’”

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“I have learned to let Jesus say the Mass. I don’t have to worry anymore if I’m holding people’s attention. Jesus, through the Mass and liturgical actions, can speak for Himself, and the people do not have any need for my innovations.  I cannot imagine my life without this beautiful Mass.”

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A Return to Reverence in Missouri

One Priest’s Story

Q. Father Jeffery Jambon, tell us a bit about your background.

A. I was born in 1971 in New Orleans, and graduated from Archbishop Shaw High School, an all-boys high school run by the Salesians of St Don Bosco.

Two weeks after graduation in 1989, I joined the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut. After many years of study, I was ordained a priest on December 22, 2001 in St Mary Major, Rome by Cardinal Severino Polletto, the Archbishop of Turin, Italy. Up until 2010, I studied and had assignments around the world — in Dublin, Ireland; Salamanca, Spain; Gdansk, Poland; Germany; Santiago, Chile; Sacramento, California; Edgerton, Wisconsin and Quitana Roo, Mexico. When Pope Benedict XVI asked that the Order be refounded, I decided to discern an exclaustration period and served for a time in my home diocese of New Orleans.

In 2012, I became the full time chaplain of the Benedictines of Mary in Gower, Missouri, in the diocese of Kansas City / St Joseph run by Bishop Finn. The Benedictines of Mary are a Latin Mass community of nuns faithful to the spirit of St Benedict. In late June 2013 — while remaining full time chaplain—I became pastor of St Patrick’s Catholic Church in St Joseph, Mo. St Patrick’s is a trilingual parish, with Mass in Latin, English and Spanish. 

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The Benedictines of Mary are a Latin Mass community of nuns faithful to the spirit of St Benedict. In late June 2013 — while remaining full time chaplain—I became pastor of St Patrick’s Catholic Church in St Joseph, Mo.

Q. Tell us about the history of  St Patrick’s Parish in St Joseph, Mo.

A. St Patrick’s parish was founded by Irish settlers in 1869. It was the 3rd Parish built in St Joseph, Mo at the time. The growth of St Patrick’s is the story of the prosperity of the Golden age of the Catholic Church. Nuns were present (from St Mary’s of Lockport, New York). They staffed a school and a vibrant parish. This was the reality of St Patrick’s back in the 1950s.

The fifth pastor of St Patrick’s was an Irishman, Msgr. John O’Neil, who served from 1935 until 1956. He installed the present high altar and the side altars of the sanctuary, made of three different marbles from Italy: Carrera marble, Trani marble and Algerian onyx. These altars were ordered before World War II but the war interrupted service. However, immediately following the war they were finally shipped to St Patrick’s.

The Faith was strong, and many children attended the parochial school. Education was free in those days, thanks to Msgr O’Neil and the strong local Catholic Culture.

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The Faith was strong, and many children attended the parochial school. Education was free in those days, thanks to Monsignor O’Neil and the strong local Catholic Culture.

Q. Sounds great! What about the recent history of the parish?

After the Second Vatican Council many changes occurred in St Patrick’s. The communion rail was ripped out, the nuns disappeared and many other disturbing things of this nature. I cannot here indicate which changes were for the worse or the best; I will just use the phrase from our Lord, “Judge a tree by its fruits.”

After much struggle, the school has been closed down for eight years now and Catholic marriages in the church are at an all-time low in St Patrick’s. We only have about six or seven kids in CCD class for First Communion. That is it — no other grades and no children for Confirmation.

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The school has been closed down for eight years now and Catholic marriages in the church are at an all-time low in St Patrick’s. We only have about six or seven kids in CCD class for First Communion.

Q. This is very sad, Father. What are you doing there today?

A. We have about 320 families registered, though not all attend Mass every week. We have three communities: Latin Mass Community, American Novus Ordo and the Hispanic Novus Ordo and we serve them in multiple ways:

  • Confessions 30 minutes before each Mass and 3pm-3:50pm on Saturdays
  • 7am Monday English Mass on the High Altar
  • 7am Tuesday Latin Mass on the High Altar
  • 8am Wednesday English Mass on the Novus Ordo Table facing the people
  • 8am Thursday Mass on the Novus Ordo Table facing the people
  • 8am Friday Mass on the Novus Ordo Table facing the people followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the high altar and Benediction after 20 minutes of silence.
  • 4pm Saturday Vigil English Mass facing the people on Altar Table
  • 8am Sunday Latin Sung High Mass on high altar
  • 10:30am Sunday English Mass facing the people on altar table
  • 12:30pm Sunday Spanish Mass facing the people on altar table
  • 8pm Sunday English Deanery Mass facing the people on altar table

On First Saturdays, we offer 9:30 am Confessions followed by 10am English Mass on the high altar. Then, 10:40 Exposition of the blessed sacrament on the high altar after which the priest directs 15 minute meditation on a mystery or mysteries of the Rosary. At 10:55, there is a Recitation of the Rosary while priest confesses more and at 11:15 Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Q. Do you have any young people or young families?

A. These are very few. Most are very small families. I am surprised that since I am the only parish in St Joseph, MO with the Latin Mass offered twice a week, I get very few people attending. I can see if I had competition for the Latin Mass, I would get less but even as I have a total monopoly over it in St Joseph I only get about 10 to 15 people at best.

Q. Do you have active participation of parishioners?

A. Annual events like the parish fair are very well attended; it’s called the Mexican Fiesta. It is classified as the 5th biggest event in St Joseph, Mo. It consists in folklore dances, food and family atmosphere whose income for the parish is enhanced largely due to the yearly success.

Q. What are your goals for the parish?

A. My goal is to lead the flock to Christ through reverence for the Sacred Liturgy. I am working to convince everyone of the need to go to Confession once a month or more, to protect Catholic identity, to protect Catholic education and to rediscover the beauty of the Latin Mass.

  • I also would like to help people see the importance of keeping silence in the church building and to visit the Blessed Sacrament with love and devotion frequently outside of Mass.
  • I would also like to have people love the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I am working to promote vocations little by little; using altar boys exclusively.
  • I am working to arrange the sanctuary as much as possible so that it reminds us of the Sacred. So it is paramount to remove pianos, drums (which I have already done) and to restore statues and so forth.

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My goal is to lead the flock to Christ through reverence for the Sacred Liturgy. I am working to convince everyone of the need to go to Confession once a month or more, to protect Catholic identity, to protect Catholic education and to rediscover the beauty of the Latin Mass.

How We Got Here

The Latin Mass in a Thoroughly Modern Parish

For the past two years, Father Philip Clement has been one of the parochial vicars of  Incarnation parish, near St. Petersburg, Florida. Father Clements studied philosophy at Christendom College and then attended St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was ordained in 2008 and said his first Traditional Latin Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. 

In this exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Father Clement recounts the story of how Incarnation Parish has become a beloved locale for the Latin Mass. The story of this parish shows us yet again how a thriving parish community with a strong future can grow, even against all expectations in a modern church, with an aging population.

Q. Tell us about Incarnation Parish.

Incarnation parish is located in the Town N Country area of Tampa, Florida, which is centrally located in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It was created in 1962 and has roughly 3,200 families. The pastor is the Very Rev. Michael Suszynski, and he has been pastor of Incarnation parish for four years.

Q. How did you become involved with the TLM?

Early in 2011 I was asked by one of the three priests in our diocese who said the Latin Mass at that time if I could fill in for him while he was away on vacation. I did not know how to say the Latin Mass but had a deep interest in learning. This priest friend of mine instructed me on how to say the Mass, and with lots of study and practice, I was able to cover his parish’s Latin Mass while he was out of town. 

Thereafter, I made opportunities in my schedule to make the 35 minute drive to his parish to continue helping him with his Latin Masses. Since my first Mass on November 27th, I’ve been hooked.

Q. When did you introduce the TLM? 

Prior to 2012, Incarnation Parish did not have a Traditional Latin Mass. We also had a very unique situation, as our parish did not have a Sunday evening Mass on the schedule.

On February 20, 2012, I had dinner with the pastor, and at some point in the course of the conversation the fact that I had been saying the Traditional Latin Mass since the previous November came up, and he offered me the Sunday afternoon timeslot in which to offer the Latin Mass in our parish. Needless to say I was stunned, as that was not the purpose of our conversation, but he offered it anyway.  I took it to prayer, and two days later I informed him that I would love the opportunity.

By that point I was proficient in saying the Low Mass and had learned much about the history of the Mass in general. Since the Traditional Latin Mass was relatively new to me, I assumed it would be for our parishioners as well, except for the few who might have remembered it from their childhood.

Since my first Mass on November 27th, I’ve been hooked.

Q. How did you get parishioners interested?

I decided to offer the parishioners a three-part seminar on the Traditional Latin Mass, which covered preparation for Mass, the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. It was a great success and was attended by over 200 people.

Each part of the seminar was given in successive weeks and ended on the fourth week with our inaugural Mass, the very first Traditional Latin Mass offered in our fifty year old parish on May 6, 2012.

Our three- part parish seminar on the Latin Mass was a great success and was attended by over 200 people.

Q. So, the Mass just took from there?

Not really. Immediately after May 6th, administrative problems prevented us from continuing with the Latin Mass for a period of six months. By November 4, 2012, we were able to add the Traditional Latin Mass to the regular Mass schedule. At that time it was only me saying the Latin Mass in our parish, and my schedule would only allow me to offer the Mass twice per month, and I was content in moving forward as such.

However, the following month I met a Jesuit priest at the local Jesuit High School in Tampa who knew how to say not only the Low Mass but the High Mass and the Solemn High Mass, and this offered our Traditional Latin Mass community a huge opportunity. Fr. Patrick Hough, S.J. came aboard January 20, 2013 and said his first Latin Mass at Incarnation. Now that Fr. Hough was available to assist with the Latin Mass, we were able to start offering the Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday, and we have been doing so since January of this year.

In addition to being able to offer the Latin Mass every Sunday, we were now able to start offering the High Mass and the Solemn High Mass as well. Incarnation had its first High Mass on February 24th of this year and our first Solemn High Mass on Pentecost Sunday, May 19th.

Q. That is a lot of work! What is the current situation?

Since that time I have been able to learn the High Mass and the priest and sub-deacon’s parts for the Solemn High Mass, which allows us to have a very full Sunday schedule each month. Currently, the first Sunday of the month is a Low Mass, followed by two High Masses on the second and third Sundays, and a Solemn High Mass on the fourth Sunday.

All in all, I believe we have come a long way in just one year. This should encourage any parish considering starting the Traditional Latin Mass to follow the Spirit’s lead, bring it to the people, and have confidence that there is much support for the Ancient Mass of the Saints.

We have come a long way in just one year. This should encourage any parish considering starting the Traditional Latin Mass to follow the Spirit’s lead, bring it to the people, and have confidence that there is much support for the Ancient Mass of the Saints.

Q. How has sacred music played a part in the transformation of your parish?

Yes. Before we could offer the High Mass or Solemn High Mass in our parish, we first needed to explore the opportunity of starting a sacred music program. In the beginning, we invited a chant schola from a neighboring parish to come to sing the Mass parts for our first High Mass. We also invited them to continue singing motets and hymns at our Low Masses, and interest continued to develop.

Soon thereafter we were able to start our sacred music program, as we had just hired a new Director of Music in the parish who had experience playing and conducting chant choirs, as a well as a young man who volunteered to direct our schola. They have been working very hard to build the program and have done a wonderful job. Fr. Hough also is an accomplished musician and has a lot of experience directing sacred music. His influence and direction has been a tremendous benefit to the process, and we are happy to have him assist in our parish.

In addition to Fr. Hough’s direction for the schola, in February of this year, we invited Fr. Samuel Weber, O.S.B. an expert in Sacred Music to give us a seminar on sacred cantilation. He shared with us his love for sacred music and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Since beginning grade school in 1953, Fr. Weber has been studying and singing Gregorian chant.

In April 2008, he became the founder and first director of The Institute of Sacred Music in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The Institute of Sacred Music was established by Archbishop Raymond E. Burke to promote the sacred liturgy and Gregorian Chant. In this seminar, Fr. Weber spoke about sacred cantilation and the primacy of place sacred music has in the liturgy. He also gave two sessions to train our schola and our altar servers, both of which were open to registrants who wished to sit in and learn more about how Gregorian Chant is sung and why the altar servers do what they do.

We were very blessed to have Fr. Weber visit and instruct us, and the results of that instruction can certainly be seen and heard in the voices of Incarnation’s schola.

The Institute of Sacred Music was established by Archbishop Raymond E. Burke to promote the sacred liturgy and Gregorian Chant.

Q. Have you introduced any other changes — more frequent confessions,  First Friday devotions, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament or any others?

Only recently were we able to start our new monthly Mass schedule, where we are able to offer a Low Mass, two High Masses and one Solemn High Mass per month. Much of my time has been spent tending to the necessary details and to training our altar boys. Therefore, not many other changes have been implemented at this time.

We are working towards being able to offer Confession before every Mass and occasional Forty Hour Devotions during the year, but that is only in the planning stages at this time. Our parish has had First Friday devotions, including Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, for years so no major changes have to take place regarding those devotions.  However, we are planning to offer more hours of Exposition and Adoration in the near future.

Q. How are your CCD and RCIA programs? Well-attended? What catechetical materials do you use?

Our CCD and RCIA programs are very well attended. Even though the population growth rate has been stable in recent years due to the aging of the area, we are consistently welcoming new families into the parish and into the Faith through the sacraments of initiation. This year our CCD program switched resources, and we are now using the Faith and Life series from Ignatius Press. 

Even though the population growth rate has been stable in recent years due to the aging of the area, we are consistently welcoming new families into the parish and into the Faith through the sacraments of initiation.

Q. How does the Latin Mass work in your modern church building?

Our current church building is of typical modern design, complete with a resurrected Jesus behind the square, wooden, detached altar.

As is common with many churches today, there isn’t much within it to build upon for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. Even though the church is modern architecture, we were able to come up with a way to beautifully modify the current altar to make it acceptable for the Latin Mass.

Even though the church is modern architecture, we were able to come up with a way to beautifully modify the current altar to make it acceptable for the Latin Mass.

Q. How have these changes been received in your parish? 

Incarnation Parish has been in existence for fifty-one years, and for forty-six of those years, our parishioners have been used to the Novus Ordo. While our parishioners are wonderful, the modern influence has had an effect on some of them as well.

When the Latin Mass was first introduced in our parish, we received the typical type of resistance, and I learned that people either love the Latin Mass or they despise it. With that knowledge, my prayer to the Lord was that if He wanted the Latin Mass in our parish, then would He please provide the funding from the people rather than having to fund the Latin Mass from the general parish funds and risk more ridicule. 

He obviously heard this prayer, and in less than four weeks, we raised over $20,000 to outfit the altar and to purchase all the other necessaries. The people who are appreciative of the Mass have not ceased to be more than generous in their support, whether it be monetary, spiritual or both.

My prayer to the Lord was that if He wanted the Latin Mass in our parish, then would He please provide the funding from the people rather than having to fund the Latin Mass from the general parish funds and risk more ridicule. He obviously heard this prayer, and in less than four weeks, we raised over $20,000.

Q. Are you attracting people to your parish? Homeschoolers? Do you find that many people are getting more involved in parish life? Altar servers?

Yes. Our congregation has steadily grown to the point that we average 150 – 200 people per Mass. Ages range from infancy to the early 90’s. We have done baptisms and Masses for the dead, but we have not yet had a wedding. Many of the families are young with young children and are homeschooling families.

In my opinion, this has added to the supply of our fifteen-plus altar boys. These young men are eager to learn and excited to serve, and we already have one young man discerning entering the seminary.

In order to foster continued growth in the community and build relationships between the Latin Mass parishioners, we have periodic potluck dinners after our Solemn High Masses. God has truly blessed our parish.

 

Q. This will be your first year offering the TLM at Christmas. How do you think parishioners will react to this? What plans are you making, both to help people keep a holy Advent and Christmastide?

Although the Latin Mass had already begun by last Christmas, I was not able to offer a Christmas Latin Mass last year because of my personal schedule.

Our community is slowly stabilizing, we’ve been able to include all of the Holy Days of Obligation in our schedule, and in order to help the parishioners prepare for a holy Advent and Christmastide, we are attempting to implement regular Confessions before Mass by the beginning of Advent. Plans are also in development for a Forty Hours devotion.

Our community is slowly stabilizing, and I believe people are looking forward to the Traditional Latin Mass for those very special occasions like Christmas.

Q. How can people find your parish?

We welcome everyone! Our website  and we can be found on our Facebook

A Teen’s View on the Latin Mass

by Anya Proctor

A Teen’s View on the Latin Mass

I am nineteen years old. All my life I’ve known the Novus Ordo Mass, where, as a young teenager, my attention would often wander. I’d gaze around at people, at their outfits and personalities, or think about school, or what I’d eat for lunch.

Then I would snap back to reality, feeling guilty for not paying attention. I loved God, and understood the basics of my faith, but going to church was just sort of something I did every week. It wasn’t a fully spiritual experience. 

On top of that, homilies often got weird. Priests would drabble on about other religions, the gospel of Judas, funny stories in the newspaper, irrelevant anecdotes, and even blatant heresies.

When my family moved to a small town, the weird Masses just became intolerable. Our first Sunday in the new town involved a priest using props on the altar to demonstrate his homily—as if we were all five-year-olds.

Homilies often got weird. Priests would drabble on about other religions, the gospel of Judas, funny stories in the newspaper, irrelevant anecdotes, and even blatant heresies.

My First Latin Mass at the Cathedral

We decided to attend the traditional Latin Mass an hour away from home. Stepping into a Cathedral was impressive, but celebrating Mass with the images of Jesus, the apostles, and the angels beautifully crafted onto the walls and windows of a strong, awe-inspiring place offered me a spiritual experience I’d never had before.

I did not get to know the priest’s personality at this Mass. I came to know God. I got to fully experience Christ Incarnate in flesh and blood, on my knees, deep in silence and prayer — to meditate on his union with me as he was placed reverently on my tongue by his holy servant. I closed my eyes when I received Jesus. I felt physically, spiritually, and emotionally transformed. Many times in the Cathedral, tears have come to me as I have prayed and focused on Jesus’s love and sacrifice for me.

I felt physically, spiritually, and emotionally transformed. Many times in the Cathedral, tears have come to me as I have prayed and focused on Jesus’s love and sacrifice for me.

Why the Latin Mass?

At this Mass, I do not want to immediately leave church to dwell in the world with material things and selfish preoccupations. I want to dwell in that moment with Jesus forever. Not until I was 19 years old did I fully understand the spiritual gift of the Eucharist—this sacred cornerstone of the Catholic faith.

The Novus Ordo focuses on people: shaking hands, singing folksy songs, laughing at jokes, watching people participate in a nice little ceremony.

But Mass is not intended to celebrate people. That’s for luncheons, birthday parties, and maybe youth groups—but not Mass. The Mass is for the Lord. The Mass is where the priest is so reverent he faces the Lord, not the people, so that they don’t focus on him, but only on Christ.

The Mass is for kneeling, praying, meditating with silent hearts which bring us closer to God. The Mass is for uniting with our Savior, who became a human being so he could horribly suffer on our behalf—have his flesh nailed to a wooden cross and be humiliated in front of an entire nation so we might live forever.

Isn’t the least we could do show Him respect at the holiest point on Earth, where he meets us at the altar? Can we kneel down for Him? Close our eyes for Him? Realize that He is too sacred to touch with our sinful hands? Give up an hour of focusing on ourselves and instead focus all of our energy solely on Him? These ideas are lost and degraded in the new Mass.

A Catholic at College

So, as a college student, among people preoccupied with themselves and the things of the world, I find it difficult to connect with others about the way the Traditional Mass changed my life. Not even among Catholics.

I attend a medium-sized liberal arts university in Florida. We have one Catholic group on campus, which attends a Novus Ordo Mass. It’s so hard to participate in that Mass since being transformed by the Latin Mass, so now I drive every Sunday by myself to worship and receive the Lord.

I am lonely sometimes. Not just because I drive to Mass alone, but because I am largely alone here, period. I don’t know if anyone at my school really shares the same values as me. This is because the spirit of Latin Mass encourages a reverence which requires devout compliance. It’s hard to say Latin Mass and then hurt God by partying on Saturday nights, enjoying crude jokes, or devoting energy toward anything at all that doesn’t glorify Him.

Now, I’m no better than anyone and am a great sinner. But I no longer have the same desires as my fellow classmates. When I meditate so deeply on the Lord as the Latin Mass enables me, I feel so spiritually inclined to serve God and no one else—not money, possessions, or even self-satisfaction. These are all inferior to the fullness of serving God.

So although I might go to Mass alone, and be alone much of the time, I am never truly alone, because Christ is here with me when I pray at night, or say the rosary at my desk, or go to Mass on Sunday.

And that is enough.

I am lonely sometimes. Not just because I drive to Mass alone, but because I am largely alone here, period. I don’t know if anyone at my school really shares the same values as me.

Photo’s by Amy Proctor

East Side, West Side, All Around the Town

The Latin Mass in New York City

by Barbara Monzon-Puleo

It was a determined but hopeful crowd which gathered at the Church of St Agnes in mid-town Manhattan one evening in 1989. Cardinal O’Connor had asked the pastor to establish a weekly Sunday Tridentine Mass. The gathering included such pioneers as the late Dr. William Marra.

Monsignor Eugene Clark fielded questions from a nervous audience still suffering from feelings of abandonment by the Church since the Second Vatican Council. This author recalls when an older woman, seated somewhere in the back of the church  suddenly interrupted Monsignor’s explanation about the planning of the Latin Mass.

“You will need to re-consecrate the altar!” she shouted.

“Everything will be taken care of, ” Monsignor replied in his controlled way.

A year before, Ecclesia Dei had opened citywide not only weekly Masses according to the 1962 missal but conferences, Catechism classes, devotions and the sacraments.

Today, twenty-four years later, the reassurance that the Mass of the Ages would be available to the faithful has been a commitment carried out by the Archbishops of New York and the Bishops of Brooklyn. But Latin Mass devotees are diffused throughout the city and must travel to take advantage of all these offerings.

An older woman, seated somewhere in the back of the church  suddenly interrupted Monsignor’s explanation about the planning of the Latin Mass. “You will need to re-consecrate the altar!” she shouted.

A Renaissance in NYC’s Garment Center

After the 2007 promulgation of the Motu Propio, another NYC parish which answered the call was Holy Innocents Church. Located on West 37th Street in the now-gentrifying heart of Manhattan’s famous Garment Center, the parish is experiencing a renaissance.

“When the then-Pastor expressed his openness to having a daily Mass, the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart and some male lay servers were very instrumental in assisting him to get in touch with possible priests and servers who would help say and serve the Mass,” explains their master of ceremonies Eddy Jose Toribio. “They were also very instrumental in helping the priests and servers to become familiar with the ceremonies of the Mass, in providing for the music, and for the vestments and other things that were necessary for the traditional Mass.”

Since then, the Church has also hosted Pontifical and Christmas Masses, First Saturday devotions and Holy Days.

“We have the traditional Midnight Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve. It is always very well attended.  A professional choir was hired for this Mass. We have the Midnight Mass every year and (for the past two years) we have also sung the Anno a creation mundi and had a blessing of the Manger before the start of the Mass,” Mr. Toribio stated proudly.

Holy Innocents Church on West 37th Street in the now-gentrifying heart of Manhattan’s famous Garment Center, is experiencing a renaissance.

The Brooklyn Story

FIRST HOLY COMMUNION IN THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM, BROOKLYN STYLE

Bishop Mugavero appointed Monsignor James Asip to coordinate  the weekly Latin Mass in Brooklyn. Msgr. Asip, a popular diocesan priest, soon gathered a group of a loyal parishioners who moved with the Mass to various locations, beginning with the Most Precious Blood Monastery to its present home at Our Lady of Peace Church in downtown Brooklyn.

Monsignor Asip  pioneered marrying couples, performing baptisms and administering First Holy Communions in the Extraordinary Form.   He also recruited priests in the city who he knew could tackle Latin. These included two Jesuits from Fordham University in the Bronx and some retired chaplains — and from the Vatican Mission to the United Nations, most recently, Monsignor Mauro Cionini.

A Fordham priest is currently in charge of the Mass at Our Lady of Peace, which a loyal group of 50-60 parishioners attend each Sunday. The parish gets together once a year after Mass for a Communion breakfast.

Teaching Saturdays

To this group, one must add the several dozen Catholics who come from far and wide around New York and its suburbs to attend the parish’s  new monthly Saturday Teaching. These sessions, conducted by various priests from the NYC metropolitan area, teach the theology of the Latin Mass.

“Quite a few people come back each time,” says David Adam Smith, one of the organizers. “And there are always new people arriving. The teaching begins at 12:00 noon, with a Solemn Mass or a Missa Cantata offered at 1:00 pm. The schola is quite good, and provides an excellent example of what Catholic music should be.”

Our Lady of Peace offers monthly Saturday Teaching sessions which instruct a growing crowd of Catholics about the theology of the Latin Mass.

The TLM in a Cemetery Chapel and the Future

Because many parishioners travel many hours from other boroughs or New York suburbs, the Diocese of Brooklyn gave permission for a Latin Mass at the chapel of St John’s Cemetery in Queens, celebrated by Father John Wilson. This Mass is quite crowded, attended weekly by about 100 people. Many of these are young families who are clearly hoping for a parish of their own in the near future.

Today, across New York City, the faithful enjoy Masses, processions, devotions and sacraments in the traditional rite.  But what of the future?

A parishioner at Brooklyn’s Our Lady of Peace, Robert Maresca, offers a pithy prognostication.

“Of course, the Traditional Mass is available in several churches today, but it’s my belief that it will grow only to the extent that the Church hierarchy promotes that growth.”

Update: The Latin Mass in America Today

A Candid Interview with Byron Smith

He’s the secretary of Una Voce America, which today supports the training of diocesan priests in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, otherwise known as the Latin Mass. In the this wide-ranging, exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Byron Smith tells the astounding story of the many people — some famous, some obscure — who have labored long and hard for more than fifty years to bring this Mass to Catholics in North America.

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Q. Where were the earliest Latin Masses after Vatican II, in America?

Perhaps the best-known of the surviving authorized Masses on this continent was in Ottawa, Canada, which eventually became the St Clement’s Latin Community. It became an inspiration to those holding similar aspirations in the States.

Q. What is the background on Una Voce America?

Una Voce in the United States was founded in September 1967.  Its first Chairman was eminent philosopher, anti-Nazi and religious writer, Dietrich von Hildebrand. He led the association until his death in 1977, hosting several national meetings in Manhattan, near his academic home at Fordham University.

Before coming to the United States, Dr. von Hildebrand had written Liturgy and Personality (Salzburg, 1933) that had focused on the healing power of formal prayer as exemplified in the ancient Latin Mass. During his chairmanship, he wrote several books that concerned both the liturgy and the changes in the Church after Vatican II:

  •  Trojan Horse in the City of God (1967)
  • The Devastated Vineyard (1973)
  • Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven (1976)

IMG_2253 - Version 2Following Dr. von Hildebrand’s death, W. Robert Opelle of California assumed the leadership of Una Voce in this country. Mr. Opelle had worked with the late Fr. Harry Marchosky to win diocesan approval for the traditional Mass at Serra Chapel of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, one of the first Mass locations approved after promulgation of the 1984 indult, Quattuor Abhinc Annos.  It is still being offered there today.   

During his tenure (1978-1995), Mr Opelle increased the visibility of Una Voce with a widely-read newsletter, “Our Catholic Tradition.”  He initiated a national petition for a traditional Ordinariate that gathered nearly 50,000 names and was placed directly into the hands of Pope John Paul II in 1994 by Bob himself.

When British author Michael Davies indicated his desire in 1995 to merge all the traditional Mass organizations in North America into an umbrella Federation called Una Voce America, Mr. Opelle was named to its first board of directors.

In America, Una Voce’s  main activity since 2007 has been to financially and logistically support the training of diocesan priests in the Latin Mass. 
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PILGRIMAGE AT CHARTRES: Traditional Catholics in France have become a role model for other countries, including the United States and Canada.

 

Q. How big is Una Voce today?

Una Voce America currently consists of over 65 chapters and 10 affiliates across the United States and eastern Canada, all working to increase the visibility and support the ministry of what Pope Benedict XVI pronounced, in Summorum Pontificum (2007), the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite.

Its Chairman today is R. Michael Dunnigan, JCL, and its main activity since 2007 has been to financially and logistically support the training of diocesan priests in the Latin Mass. 

There are a variety of resources on the website of Una Voce America.

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Just about every Latin Mass community draws a disproportionate number of college-age young adults. 

 

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THE LATIN MASS IS GROWING IN AMERICA

Q. There has been considerable growth in the TLM in the last 10 years in America. Can you give us a sense of how much growth there was before the  Motu Proprio? After?

Along with the increasing number of Sunday Masses, daily Mass is offered in 60 locations in the U.S. also.  Approximately 1,000 priests have completed a formal training program for the traditional Latin Mass and a few seminaries in the U.S. are training their men in offering the Extraordinary Form. (Statistics courtesy of UVA affiliate, Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei)

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After the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, the number of Sunday Masses in the US almost doubled from 220 in 2006 to 420 today.

Q. What were the ‘worst of times’ for the TLM in America?

Until 1975, Archbishop Lefebvre’s still-unsuppressed Society of St. Pius X established several chapels in the U.S. that, while never accepted by local bishops, were not technically “unauthorized.” By the late 1970s, however, authorized Sunday celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass disappeared entirely. There were, perhaps, a dozen elderly priests who were permitted to offer the Mass privately. Those were the “dark ages” for the traditional liturgy. 

Through a long process of petitioning sympathetic members of the Curia, Pope John Paul II granted permission for the traditional Mass in his 1984 indult. With that, a few weekly Mass sites were established in the U.S., in the dioceses of San Diego, Corpus Christi, and Orange.  (In the latter was the famous mission of San Juan Capistrano.)  A number of “experimental” and less-frequent Latin Masses were offered elsewhere, but the restrictions of this indult still made it difficult to obtain permissions from bishops.

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EARLY SITE FOR THE LATIN MASS: In the 1980s, the chapel at famous California Mission San Juan Capistrano was one of the tiny number of locations where the Mass was allowed.
In the late 1970s, there were, perhaps, a dozen elderly priests in America who were permitted to offer the Mass privately. Those were the “dark ages” for the traditional liturgy. 

Q. Where is the newest TLM in America?

One of the most recent began in April, 2013, in Salisbury, North Carolina (diocese of Charlotte).  Another began May 26 in San Francisco, California.  At this writing, there may be others.

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LITTLE ANGELS: Independent lay-run Catholic academies have sprung up beside the celebration of the Latin Mass in communities around America.

Q. Can you characterize the Latin Mass movement in terms of any demographics at all? I ask because I have the sense that early aficionados were intellectuals and artists. Is this true or am I way off base?

As for intellectuals and artists, yes, we can begin with Dietrich von Hildebrand who was an internationally renowned scholar.  Joining him on his board of directors were Dr. Thomas Molnar, Catholic philosopher and author of over 40 books; political theorist Russell Kirk, whose writings gave shape to the post-World War II conservative movement; Major
General Thomas A. Lane, columnist, lecturer and author and H. Lyman Stebbins, founder of Catholics United for the Faith, among others.

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We draw talented musicians and composers and there are new schools of Catholic art arising in university life, inspired by the traditional Latin liturgy.  Along with that, one of the most important segments in our demographic is college and university students.  We have at least two Una Voce chapters founded on university campuses and just about every Latin Mass community draws a disproportionate number of college-age young adults.  This is an indication of how the Latin Mass answers the spiritual search that young people pursue, as well as its power to appeal to the intellect.  For our own organization, we are grateful and blessed to have Michael Dunnigan, who is an internationally known canonist and scholar as chairman of UVA.  So, you’re not off-base at all.

We draw talented musicians and composers and there are new schools of Catholic art arising in university life, inspired by the traditional Latin liturgy.
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BREAKING BREAD AFTER MASS: Latin Mass parishes foster close communities of Catholics who often stay after Mass for common meals.

Q. Where have there been the most friendly bishops? Has there been progress in this area?

Perhaps one of the friendliest bishops in 1990 was the late Joseph T. O’Keefe, under whose auspices many regular Sunday Masses (including Sacraments and Requiems) were approved in the Archdiocese of New York and the diocese of Syracuse.  Bishop James Timlin of Scranton invited the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter to establish a seminary and school in Scranton. 

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska strongly encouraged the work of the FSSP and permitted them to build a permanent seminary in his diocese..  (Bishop Bruskewitz retired recently and it seems that his successor, Bishop Conley will continue his legacy.)  In a sense, any bishop who responds positively to the needs of his faithful can be said to be friendly — and there are have been many of these.

To date, approximately 1,000 priests have completed a formal training program for the traditional Latin Mass in North America.

How I Got to Saint Louis

An Interview with Canon Ueda

He is a Japanese convert to the Faith. Canon Raphael Ueda, Vicar of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in a recent interview with Regina Magazine discussed his background as a Catholic priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the work that is being done at the Oratory located at the Cathedral of South Saint Louis.

REGINA: When were you ordained, and how did you become a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest?

Canon Ueda: I was not born a Catholic. Divine Providence guided me to an encounter with the Catholic faith. For those who are in the Catholic Church the veracity of the Church is very evident, but for me who is not Catholic by birth, especially born in Japan (in the far east where Catholicism is in its entirety not known) it was not so easy. But as always Divine Providence guides those who are sincerely looking for the truth in a very mysterious way.

I was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1968; I studied as a medical student to become a doctor in Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of the country for more than one thousand years. However God had another plan for me. An Italian missionary baptized me when I was 27 years old in Kobe. That same year I left for Quebec, Canada where I would learn the French language (in the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, French is the common language.)

At this time I did not know that one day I would join the Institute, but providentially this stay in Quebec allowed me to. In 2001 I joined Saint Phillip Neri Seminary (the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) in Florence, Italy. After 8 years of prayer, study, and hard work His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke ordained me a priest in Florence, Italy. It was a long journey to become a priest. After my ordination, I stayed for a year in Europe, and in 2010 I was assigned to the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago, Illinois. There I served as Vicar for two years. It was an exciting experience to stay in this windy and dynamic city.

Raymond Cardinal Burke

After 8 years of prayer, study, and hard work His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke ordained me a priest in Florence, Italy. It was a long journey to become a priest.

Then in 2012 I was assigned to Saint Francis de Sales Oratory here in Saint Louis as Vicar. I am very grateful to serve the faithful of the city Saint Louis, which is called Rome of the West because of its longstanding Catholic culture tradition, which is both dynamic and diverse. The faithful are great. They are generous and sincerely looking for the love of God. They love the Catholic Church.

REGINA: What are some of the greatest challenges you encounter as a priest? How have they affected your priesthood?

Canon Ueda: I was baptized as a Catholic but that does not mean I cease to be Japanese. I left Japan in 1995. Since then I have had several occasions to return. Living previously in Quebec, Italy, and now the U.S., it is always a challenge for me to grow as Catholic in a harmonious way without losing my identity as Japanese. Jesus was called as Jesus of Nazareth.

Even though the Catholic faith is universal, when we live our faith in a concrete way, we need to take flesh in the place where we are put by Divine Providence. This is really a challenge for me. Preserving identity while remaining open is a process that will continue to entail much pain and confusion. It is a process likely to be carried along on the tide of risk taking and withdrawal, expansion and contraction, exhilaration and disappointment, consolation and desolation, integration and disintegration.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

I was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1968; I studied as a medical student to become a doctor in Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of the country for more than one thousand years. However God had another plan for me. An Italian missionary baptized me when I was 27 years old in Kobe.

REGINA: What do you hope to achieve in Saint Louis?

Canon Ueda:  The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is an international community. The members come from all over the world. As of now, I am the only Japanese priest but the diversity of origin of all the Institutes members has helped me. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has received the mission from the Church to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite in its integrity.

This venerable Liturgy which fostered the souls of Catholics for thousands of years has help me to understand the transcendence of God. Since my ordination by Cardinal Raymond Burke in 2009, I have been celebrating this Liturgy every day. Our superiors say: “Service of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is the leading goal of our existence. Every member of the Institute wants to belong fully to the Lord through His Eternal Priesthood and His Supernatural Kingship. Under the protection of His Immaculate Mother, we try to conform our will to the Divine Will in every moment of our lives.

We wish to be modeled into faithful servants of His Kingship, who receive all their strength from Divine Grace flowing from the Holy Mysteries of the Liturgy. The center of our spiritual life is the Altar and the Divine Office.

This is true. I can realize this truth more and more every day.

Our Archbishop, Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson wrote the preface for the Oratory’s booklet in which he says “We are proud of the contributions the Catholic Church has made to the rich traditions and history of all our community and our state.”

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The people and clergy in Saint Louis have a genuine love of God. It is a blessing for me to exercise my ministry in Saint Louis as a part of local and universal Church.

REGINA: Tell us about the homeschool co-op at the Oratory; what it is, how it’s organized, and what have been the greatest challenges and rewards of teaching.

Canon Ueda: In the spirit of the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Legis (Pope John Paul II, 1983), Catholic parents are specifically graced by Christ to exercise the charism of teaching their children in accord with the magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. To that aim, the Saint Francis de Sales Homeschool Co-op was established as an aid to parents in providing this education to their children in matters of faith, academics, social direction, and to provide an environment of support for the parents to their home schooling endeavor, all of which is to give greater glory to God. The Co-op is an organization under the leadership of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the day-to-day affairs of the Co-op are managed by a volunteer committee. Indeed the children are the future of the Church and our society; they need a very solid formation to be able to carry the responsibility of life.

The homeschool co-op at Saint Francis de Sales began fall of 2007 with approximately 22 families. There were around 60 children in K-8th grade at the beginning. We were given access to half of the 3rd floor of the 1888 building (the former grade school of Saint Francis de Sales Parish, built in 1888), which was full of debris. We had to clean it and do many repairs. We offered Latin, Catechism, art, music, drama, science, and physical education. By the grace of God and the tireless efforts of both mothers and teachers, the homeschool co-op at Saint Francis de Sales has grown into the 28 families and almost 100 students!

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By the grace of God and the tireless efforts of both mothers and teachers, the homeschool co-op at Saint Francis de Sales has grown into the 28 families and almost 100 students!

Jesus said that ‘you are in this world but not of this world.’ In this secularized world the desire of parents to keep their children apart from the world might be very great. Nevertheless Jesus says that you should be in this world. So our objective is to educate our children so they can be strong enough to resist against the temptation of this world. Our goals reach much further than just the education of the children, who are the future to edify the Church and convert the world.

This is a real challenge, especially in our days when government has become too strong and wants dictate everything, but our mothers are very courageous. They will begin this year putting together a group for our young people, grades 7-12, to socialize and contribute to the Oratory. This will offer opportunities for the children to volunteer at the Oratory by cleaning, babysitting, fundraising, and just being available to the parish needs, as well as opportunities to volunteer outside the Oratory with pro-life work and visiting the elderly. Also, the mothers like the thought of the young people having the chance to spend time with like-minded people and have fun.

Children have still very tender hearts. They can sense the truth and the good. And they are very eager to learn and grow up. So it is the greatest reward of teaching for me to see that they absorb and assimilate our teachings and grow up in the love and the truth of God.

Corpus Christi

This is a real challenge, especially in our days when government has become too strong and wants dictate everything, but our mothers are very courageous.

REGINA: I know you are very active in Sursum Corda. Tell us about this organization and any upcoming events.

Canon Ueda: Sursum Corda is a national young adults group, ages 18 to 35, under the direction of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The goal of the Institute is to extend the reign of Christ in society. To this end the Sursum Corda group is formed to foster the necessary harmony between spiritual, social and cultural life of the youth. This is done through group prayer, faith discussion, fun activities, and charity work as a means of building up Catholic identity. In our age we can get almost everything in a very fast and convenient way. Social networking often fuels and informs our personal lives, but we also need personal contact to share our joys, dreams, and concerns with other young people so that all of us can be encouraged to continue our lives in the love of God.

Pope Francis encourages us to build up the culture of encounter and dialogue. Of course email is a wonderful way to communicate, but to see our friends face to face, talk and share a time together is indispensable in our lives.

I would like to cite a text, which one of group members wrote about our last gathering. You can feel their joy.

“Last weekend saw another enjoyable Sursum Corda get-together at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. This one was made more special by the addition of some of the young adults from the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago! A few enthusiastic Saint Louis Susum Cordians were on hand to greet them on Friday night but the majority of the record attendance (41!!) came on Saturday, which began with eight ‘o clock Mass.

A”fter a breakfast in the hall, everyone piled into vehicles for the hour and a half drive to Onandoga Cave in Leesburg, MO. In spite of being very cold and clammy, the cave tour was most impressive and instructive.  Everyone had a chance to discuss the cave at a picnic lunch outside of the visitor’s center before enjoying some barbecue and volleyball!

“We were also treated to a spiritual conference by Canon Ueda on Pope Francis’ new encyclical Lumen Fidei, a powerful reminder of the importance of faith in our lives. The gathering broke up after ten ‘o clock Mass, followed by brunch on Sunday to end one of the most enjoyable weekends of my life. Things at the convent were never quiet as the girls discussed everything from old movies, to the Civil War, to family Christmas traditions!”

On Saturday, 14 September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and sixth anniversary of the implementation of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, Sursum Corda visited the Shrine of Saint Joseph, located just north of downtown Saint Louis.  Founded in 1843 by the Jesuits, the Shrine is a beautiful example of Romanesque Revival architecture, and is the location of the only Vatican-authenticated miracle in the Midwest.

Although we have visited the Shrine in the past, this time we were able to have a High Mass, with a choir formed from our own members. The Mass was open to the public and I am grateful to Divine Providence for this timely grace. May Saint Joseph help the young!

St. Francis de Sales, ora pro nobis

Donate to the Cathedral of South Saint Louis restoration by clicking Here

 

PHOTO CREDITS: PHIL ROUSSIN

 

Shades of Evelyn Waugh: An Update on the Latin Mass in England & Wales

‘SINCE the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church has striven to adapt to the modern world. But in the West—where many hoped a contemporary message would go down best—believers have left in droves. Sunday mass attendance in England & Wales has fallen by half from the 1.8m recorded in 1960; the average age of parishioners has risen from 37 in 1980 to 52 now. In America attendance has declined by over a third since 1960. Less than 5% of French Catholics attend regularly, and only 15% in Italy. Yet as the mainstream wanes, traditionalists wax.’ –  The Economist, December 14, 2012

Joseph Shaw is the 42 year old Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. An Oxford don, he teaches Philosophy at St Benet’s Hall, the Benedictine house of studies in Oxford University. In this exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Dr. Shaw discusses the Society, its history and the amazing success the Extraordinary Form has met with in recent years.

Q. Tell us about the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. When was it founded, and by whom?

Three people are principally responsible for the founding of the Society, in 1965: Evelyn Waugh, the foremost Catholic writer of his day (“Brideshead Revisited”), Sir Arnold Lunn, controversialist and skiing pioneer, and Hugh Ross Williamson, media personality and historian.

Evelyn Waugh’s concerns about Vatican II and the liturgical reform are recorded in his diaries and letters, and in a famous Spectator article at the onset of the Council. Much of this material, and responses to his letters from Cardinal Heenan, has been turned into a book, ‘A Most Bitter Trial’ (ed Scott Reid). Waugh didn’t live to see the 1970 Missal, but he was deeply concerned about the 1955 Holy Week Reform, the Dialogue Mass, and Mass in English. He wrote in the Spectator article:

‘Participation’ in the Mass does not mean hearing our own voices. It means God hearing our voices. Only He knows who is ‘participating’ at Mass. I believe, to compare small things with great, that I ‘participate’ in a work of art when I study it and love it silently. No need to shout. …If the Germans want to be noisy, let them. But why should they disturb our devotions?’

That is a key idea: the responses, the English, the jumping up and down, shaking hands and so on ‘disturbs our devotions’: the serious business of engaging prayerfully in the Mass.

Hugh Ross-Williamson was an Anglican clergyman who converted. He had been brought up in a non-conformist (Presbyterian) family, had become a High Anglican, and was finally received inti the Catholic Church when the Anglicans recognised the orders of group of Methodist clergy in India in 1955. He wrote a book about the Roman Canon, ‘The Great Prayer’, as well as plays, history, and journalism; he was on the ‘Brains Trust’ TV programme until his conversion. (His complaint ‘This is 1955, not 1555!’ fell on deaf ears: a Catholic was not acceptable on the programme.)

Williamson was very disturbed by the theology of the New Mass and later wrote a pamphlet arguing that it was invalid. He saw a strong parallel with the liturgical changes made by Cranmer in the course of the English Reformation.

Arnold Lunn was a great apologist, as well the inventor of slalom ski racing; as an agnostic he had a debate with Monsignor Ronald Knox which was turned into a book, ‘Difficulties’, and although many thought he’d done rather well in the debate, two years later he became a Catholic. Even as an agnostic he had been a fierce opponent of scientific materialism, and was very interested in the roots of the decline in religious belief. He researched the way religion was being taught in the great Anglican public schools and published a book, ‘Public School Religion’, about it.

Basically it wasn’t being taught at all because the chaplains in those places no longer had any confidence in their religion – this was in the 1930s. The great contrast, he discovered, was with the Catholic schools, where it was still being taken very seriously. He could see where things were going; like many in the early 20th Century the Catholic Church looked like the last bastion of reason and civilisation, let alone religion. And then the Catholic Church started to incorporate many of the same ideas and reforms which had hollowed out the Anglicans.

The attitude of these three was not unusual: one of the great early successes of the LMS was organising a petition to ask Pope Paul V that the Traditional Mass be preserved. This led to the ‘English Indult’ of 1971. The petitioners were all intellectual and cultural figures, mostly non-Catholic; the included Yehudi Menuhin, Agatha Christi, Grwham Greene and Sir Colin Davis. You can see more about that here and here.

Q. Given that England was the first nation to obtain an indult for the Latin Mass, what progress do you see being made, say, since the Motu Proprio of 2007?

We have records for the number of publicly advertised Masses taking place, as we publish lists every quarter, and have done so for decades. A few months ago we put these figures together for The Economist:

• In 2007, there were regular Masses in the Extraordinary Form being celebrated in 26 locations.
• In 2012, the figure is 157

 
A typical Holyday of Obligation:

• In 2007 there were 10 Masses in the Extraordinary Form celebrated on All Saints Day.

• In 2012, the figure is 60 and counting.

Q. Extraordinary! Are there many more priests learning the Mass?

Since 2007, we have run eight residential training conferences for priests and 200 places have been taken up at these. Many have attended more than one conference, so that represents around 120 individual priests. Of these, we understand that about 100 have gone on to celebrate the old rite at least occasionally, but usually at least monthly, in public.

In addition, the LMS is aware of some 50 or so priests who celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in public at least occasionally. These are priests who taught themselves privately, or who are older priests who were taught at seminary when they were younger. There is an unknown number of priests (mainly retired now) who celebrate the Extraordinary Form privately. Recently, we did an exercise identifying priests who say the TLM and I think the total is certainly in the region of 200. Before the Motu Proprio we reckon there were about 50 priests.

Q. This is great news. Does this mean that the Mass is now available regularly on Sundays all over England and Wales?

The availability of EF Sunday Masses in stable venues (ie a Mass every week) is still limited, at 33 in England and Wales, plus a handful of ‘rotating venue’ situations (one in Kent, one in Arundel and Brighton diocese, for example.)

Even this represents a big increase on the number before the Motu Proprio.

Q. So, in your experience, how does the Mass gain a foothold? What typically happens?

First, you have groups of the Faithful asking for the Extraordinary Form. This was the usual case until the Motu Proprio, but it was very hard work. A group like this kept the TLM going at the Brompton Oratory, for example, where it was said in the Little Oratory for years – not the main church – and wasn’t advertised.  A group of laity in the Reading area managed in the end to get the FSSP to come to serve them. A group in Oxford had a succession of priests who were retired to say Mass for them in private houses; eventually this was taken over by the Oratory here. The community in Chesham persuaded a local priest to say the EF and, following his recent death, has been proactive in getting priests in week by week to keep it going.

Second, you get individual priests who fall in love with the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This has now become quite common. There are quite a few priests who do a weekday or Saturday Mass and the occasional ‘big’ thing they manage to arrange; others have taken it a step further and introduced it into their parishes on a Sunday.

For example Fr Bede Rowe, assigned to a remote parish in Clifton Diocese, started a Sunday evening EF Mass and a congregation for this gradually established itself. Fr John Saward in Oxford (the translator, in fact, of Pope Benedict’s ‘Spirit of the Liturgy’) says the EF in his parish of SS Gregory and Augustine twice a week on weekdays and once a month has a sung TLM on a Sunday: it is really entirely his own initiative, though of course he is also mindful of pastoral needs. Another local example is Fr John Osman, in St Birinus, Dorchester on Thames. Fr Osman waxes quite lyrical about how he fell in love with it, and how important it has been for his spiritual life.

A good example of how this happens is Fr Timothy Finigan of Blackfen in London, who was asked some years ago to say a TLM for a funeral. He said: ‘yes why not?’ and had to learn it from scratch. It made such an impression on him that he gradually learned more and introduced it to his parish on a Sunday.

Another important factor is priests influencing each other. We find little ‘hot spots’ of priests learning the Mass because they all know a particular priest who loves it, and spreads the word.

Q. You have publicly discussed the inclusivity of the TLM; what did you mean?

I’ve certainly noticed that in a big parish with different Masses the congregations tend to separate into different groups according to liturgical preference; this also happens between parishes. This separation can very easily gain a class character – in England, where class is never very far away!

The universal appeal of the TLM is very evident from talking to members of the congregation. You really do have all sorts of people. Some engage with the liturgy primarily in an intellectual way. Others engage primarily in an aesthetic or emotional way. The intellectual and the other aspects of the TLM are not in competition with each other — you can take out of it whatever you need.

There is an excellent book about this by a Dominican (now ex-Dominican) sociologist Anthony Archer, ‘The Two Catholic Churches’, I have discussed it and quoted it here.

http://www.lmschairman.org/2013/07/the-old-mass-and-workers.html

Archer says the working classes engaged with the liturgy in a particular way, in relation to what they saw as ‘ritual efficacy’: what was going on at the Altar was real, objective, it made a difference, it made something happen. They focused on that and were absorbed by it.

The things which are supposed to help participation in the New Mass are more appealing to the middle class: they require social confidence, being articulate. There is a class distinction also about what sort of community people are comfortable with — little cliquey groups (middle class) and larger numbers (working class). All the stuff about sharing your experiences at a charismatic prayer meeting or cosy little house Masses is middle class and off-putting to everyone else.

That is Archer’s thesis, and it fits with my own observations.

Q. In many countries, there seems to be no crisis of priestly vocations in circles where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is supported. Have you noticed this to be the case in England and Wales?

This is certainly true. We have now 10 young men from England and Wales in traditional seminaries, mostly the FSSP; two more are joining them in September. That is totally disproportionate to the size of the EF-going community in England and Wales, compared to vocations coming out of the Novus Ordo congregations.

What is more, a great many seminarians in ordinary seminaries have had contact with the EF and like it, and it has played a part in their spiritual development and vocation. They will be wanting to learn it as soon as they can.

In fact, the only new priest for East Anglia this year said a TLM a day or two after his ordination; he was at the Priest Training Conference the LMS had this year in Leicester. This is increasingly common.

Q.  Many Catholics today no longer see the need for Confession, or Reconciliation, though this does not seem to be the case for those who attend the TLM. Why do you think this is?

Yes certainly EF-goers seem to go to confession more than the average Catholic (who, I suppose, goes pretty infrequently). This is an indication of a wider truth, that the TLM brings with it traditional spirituality, theology, preaching, and so on. The priests encourage it and make it available, the people read the good old books which encourage it, and the Mass itself fosters a sense of sin and a sense of the reality of grace and of sacramental efficacy.

The communities which grow up around the TLM quickly become characterised by traditional attitudes and devotions, a strong pro-life stance, large families, modest clothing, mantillas, all that stuff. This alarms some people, but these are counter-cultural communities giving each other mutual support.

Q. Anecdotally, I have heard many people say that they were converted to Catholicism through the beauty of their experience of the Extraordinary Form. Do you find this to be true?

I can’t say I know many atheists, but a good non-Catholic friend of mine certainly finds the EF more attractive than the OF (he also for a time went to the Orthodox). I know a number of young men who lapsed and came back for the TLM, or could have lapsed were it not for the TLM. A good female friend converted from Judaism in the context of the EF.

The aesthetics and emotionality of many Novus Ordo celebrations can be exquisitely painful, particularly to young men. When they find the TLM, they can fall in love with it instantly – that happened to me, in a Low Mass. That’s not aestheticism, even if we agree we are using the term in a non-pejorative sense: it is glimpsing Christ made present in the liturgy.

‘Beauty’ is perhaps a misleading term here. No doubt some people will go to a Mozart Mass because of the Mozart, but such Masses are actually quite rare. The music and the vestments vary from the ‘decent’ to the ‘not very good’ in a lot of places, and there are a lot of Low Masses going on.

They can be very attractive, nevertheless, because of the contemplative quality, the peace, the reverence, the invitation to pray and be quiet with God. A better term than ‘beauty’ here would be ‘spirituality’: they are attracted by the spirituality of the TLM.