From the Pastor: What Will Our Bishop Do?
As I announced last weekend, Bishop Parkes is on vacation. In response to the latest motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (Jailers of Tradition) regarding the Traditional Latin Mass, he authorized me to continue as normal but wanted to speak further about it upon his return to the Diocese. He returns on Tuesday of this week and the appointment is already set for that afternoon. 3:00 pm, the time of our Lord’s death; the time of Divine Mercy.
I heard that last week we had a number of people in attendance who had never been to the Traditional Latin Mass before but wanted to show their support. We also had one lady call and leave a voicemail of support as well. If any of you are reading this, please know that I am very grateful for your love and compassion! Somebody asked me how many of my fellow priests have gotten in touch with me in a like manner. Sadly, but not surprisingly, not a single one who doesn’t already celebrate the TLM.
The people, if not the priests and bishops, usually get the answer to “Why?” if they simply attend a Traditional Latin Mass 3 or 4 times. Some get it before they even hear a Mass. (I like the term, which is only found in old books, “hear Mass” more than I like “attend Mass” as is found everywhere these days, including my own sentence at the beginning of this paragraph!) As an example, last month after our parish Confirmations (without a Mass but followed by Benediction) were finished one of the sponsors, who had never been to a TLM parish before, approached me with awe. “I have never experienced anything like that before in my life!” she gushed. I thought that maybe she had never been to a Confirmation before. Or maybe she had never been to a Benediction (something that I hear from cradle Catholics on an all too regular basis). But no, that wasn’t it either. “Every time I go to First Holy Communions or Confirmations or even Mass,” she said, speaking of her Novus Ordo experiences, “the people are noisy and boisterous and spend their time beforehand just talking and laughing as if they are in a local park. But here they were silent and prayed even though we started 40 minutes late!” She was absolutely thrilled over something that should be common practice yet everyone knows is absolutely not found in Novus Ordo parishes. For those of you who were not there, we were set to start on time except that there was a huge accident on the interstate. Several families were caught in it and couldn’t get to an exit to bypass the mess. I made the decision to wait for them so that their children would not have to wait another year to get Confirmed. It took quite a while for all of them to get to the parish and during all of that time the people remained silent and prayed. I had exactly zero complaints about the delay, as everyone knew that they would have wanted to be treated in the same way had they been unavoidably caught in the traffic jam. Yes, the Faith and demeanor of our families are impressive to first-timers even though disparaged by so many antagonists (now given cover by a new document that even the fully Novus Ordo George Weigel calls “theologically incoherent, pastorally divisive, unnecessary, cruel — and a sorry example of the liberal bullying that has become all too familiar in Rome recently”) who unjustly label them (you/me) as “misfits” or worse.
I have, of course, been watching with great interest the writings of bishops throughout the world regarding the implementation of the document in question. Although the Church usually moves slowly, the document was to be implemented “immediately” even though the bishops were assumedly not privy to its contents before its promulgation. I have been amazed by the speed at which bishops and even bishops’ conferences have put out written responses. Some have been pastoral and some not. I have been encouraged to see that even some bishops who do not seem to care very much for the Traditional Latin Mass still care about the members of their flock who avail themselves of this Mass of the Ages. They are, for now at least, indicating that they will not abandon, disparage, or run roughshod over this most marginalized of all sub-groups of Catholic Faithful. One bishop in particular caught my attention. Bishop Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois. Citing Canon Law (Church law) paragraph 87.1, he dispensed the parishes in his diocese already celebrating TLMs from needing to adhere to Traditionis Custodes. Our bishop, being himself a canon lawyer, may even do something similar (hint, hint: this is something to pray for!) or may even go further and dispense those who may wish to celebrate this Mass in the future. We shall see.
In the meantime, I am left with this burning question. If the TLM must be abolished because using only the Novus Ordo all Catholics will supposedly be united. But last year I celebrated a monthly Mass according to the Ordinariate missal. Is that next on the chopping block? There are other Latin Rite usages as well. Will they be denounced and squashed as dis-unifying Rites? Will the many and various Easter Rite Catholic Churches all be forced to become Novus Ordo for the supposed sake of “unity”? Or is “lack of unity” a disingenuous lie and the current animosity and insult is rather solely reserved for the Traditional Latin Mass and those who grow holy by participating in it? Inquiring minds want to know.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka