"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
In the comment section of “Squelching
Latin in the Mass”, some of us got to commiserating about the state of
liturgical affairs in our various parishes and in the Church as a whole.
Now, we all know that things can be really, really, really
bad – like clown Masses and beer tent Masses, and bishops high-fiving each
other and holding balloons at Mass – or they can be “sorta-kinda bad”, with bad
homilies, adlibbing of prayers, lay ministers in shorts and flip-flops, etc… and
all gradations in between. Sadly, we hear few reports about parishes that have
liturgies where the rubrics are faithfully followed, and where there is
liturgically correct music as well!
Those who desire truly reverent and correct liturgical
worship do experience pain at Masses that fall short in the rubrics department.
And many have found that the Masses that don’t
fall short are the ones offered in the extraordinary form, AKA the Traditional
Latin Mass. Funny how that works.
Here are a few comments from the post mentioned above:
The final straw in my parish
church occurred on Sunday. I have been hanging on by a frayed string for some
time now there, but Sunday's "homily" on the sin of
"individualism", building the Reign of God on earth, and the
priesthood of the people did me in. It is often a straw that breaks the camel's
back. But [it was] the conversation between the priest and an EM in front of
the open tabernacle that caused me the most pain. As an afterthought, the
priest made a reluctant bow, and the EM thought to imitate him and do the same
as they hurried away.
As I think I already mentioned
here, I am a former sedevacantist/SSPX chapel goer.
That is where I am on the
brink of returning - to my sedevacantist chapel. Our diocese is bad….
…I have been advised to sit
home, but I cannot do that. I just want
a place where I have my faith and a reverent Mass.
Another commenter lamented:
I am struggling right now. I
have people telling me I need to go to the NO Mass…but I can hardly stand to be
there after 3 years of the diocesan TLM only. This difference is wearing on me
and the children.
Lately, I began going to the local SSPX chapel for First Fridays only and have
found such an oasis there that I want to keep going back…
I often wonder why it is that the people who just want a liturgy
that’s celebrated according to the rubrics and according to the various
documents of the Church – even the Vatican II documents! – are ignored, at
best; and at worst they are ostracized, ridiculed, and otherwise brow-beaten.
The minute a pastor makes a change in the liturgically correct direction, a
handful of “progressive” voices protest and say they’ll leave the parish if
they don’t get their way. And the pastor waffles. Why is that?!
Whatever the reason, that’s the way it is. Of course, we
should still respectfully make known our desire for a properly celebrated Mass –
right to have a decent
liturgy, and it’s even a duty to bring to pastors’ attention the abuses we
observe. However, I suspect we will have to endure bad liturgy for some years
Yet another commenter on the “Squelching Latin” post
mentioned and provided a link to an article by Fr. John Hardon entitled How to Cope
with Abuses in the Eucharistic Liturgy(thank you, CK!). I’ll give you a few excerpts here with a few comments
interspersed (my emphases throughout), but I recommend reading the
entire article at the link.
Fr. Hardon notes from the outset
that “[f]rom the very beginning of the Church’s existence Catholics have been
obliged to assist at Mass every Sunday and at…Days of Obligation”, and that
Catholics are well aware of this.
commonly recognize the seriousness of their duty. As a result, their conscience
tells them to participate in the Holy Sacrifice… This same conscience is now
being tested in not a few cases to the breaking point because of the widespread
liturgical abuses going on throughout the United States as well as other
countries in the Western world.
our question is, how does a Catholic satisfy this grave duty of assisting at
Mass…on Sundays and days of Obligation where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is
offered in ways that are frequently, very often nothing less than scandalous
to the faithful?
Fr. Hardon gives us an example of
a hypothetical parish
suppose we are members of Ethel Rita Parish, located in the town of Middleburg.
Our pastor and the only priest of the parish is Fr. Filbert Imbecilius who
introduced altar girls many years ago. He refuses to distribute Holy Communion
to anyone kneeling. Either you are standing for Holy Communion or he will pass
Fr. Filbert regularly omits the
Gloria and substitutes what he calls the “Prayer of Belief.” He never says the
Nicene Creed. He changes the wording of both the Sacramentary and the
Lectionary to eliminate every even suggestion of sexist language. He uses
strange looking and even stranger tasting altar bread. Regularly he refers to
God as Father, Mother or pronouns He or She. He insists that everyone stand for
the whole Eucharistic Prayer. He regularly changes the words of the Mass
including the words of consecration to suit his own fancy. He hardly ever
celebrates Mass without a crowd what he calls facilitators. Most of whom are
well known as zealous feminists who join their hands around the altar during
the Eucharistic Prayer.
Fr. Hardon goes on in a way that would be humorous, were it
not so true! And he notes too, that in this hypothetical parish:
Countless letters, letters of
complaint have been sent to the Bishop of the diocese. Every letter has gone unanswered, and there is no
reason to expect that the Bishop will make any effort to change the abuses in
this parish. In fact, the only occasion when the Bishop made any public
statement on the subject of the liturgy was when he rejected a petition to allow the celebration of the Tridentine Mass
in his diocese. Said the Bishop, “There is no need to return to the past.” and
the petitioners were labeled,
“Liturgical Reactionaries” by his Holy Excellency.
Sound familiar?! Then Fr. Hardon addresses the problem of
the distance one must travel to attend a Mass “celebrated with some regard for
the lawful norms” – again addressing a concern many of us face. He also
addresses the remedy some have found:
A few years ago some members of
St. Ethel Rita became so disgusted that they formed a private liturgical
association, and now hold meetings every other Sunday in an old Protestant
church building which they have purchased and converted into a small parish.
These meetings are followed by a Tridentine Mass celebrated of course without
the permission of the Bishop of Middleburg.
Fr. Hardon also addresses the canonical considerations
involved in attending an SSPX Mass. He notes:
In my judgment, Catholics do
fulfill their duty of assisting at Sunday Mass by attending in the Holy
Sacrifice a church affiliated with those who are members with a schismatic
group like the Lefebvres. But then I also must add the Catholics be sure that
those seeing them attending these schismatic Masses are not scandalized into
thinking that professed Roman Catholics have given up their fidelity to the
Bishop of Rome.
Unfortunately, many do
assume that anyone who attends an SSPX Mass no longer maintains “fidelity to
the Bishop of Rome”. Perhaps they can be educated!
In order to cope with the abuses of the liturgy, Fr. Hardon
suggests that the faithful must increase their understanding of the Eucharist, noting
that there has been an unfortunate abundance of wrong theology about the
…books [that] teach widely …that
the Eucharist is essentially the
gathering of the faithful…
They will tell you a priest saying Mass alone is not offering the
Eucharistic Sacrifice. What we are calling liturgical abuses are only
symptoms of deep doctrinal errors that have penetrated once Catholic circles
and are causing untold damage to the
faith, and I mean it, of millions!
…So many people nowadays are
speaking about Eucharistic celebration.
So few are ever talking about the Sacrifice
of the Mass… [T]here is no substitute for understanding the Holy Eucharist
as the Sacrifice of the Mass which is, we believe, a representation of Christ’s
sacrifice on Calvary.
…The main reason for the loss
of millions of once believing Catholics is they have not understood what they have believed. Either you understand
the meaning of the Holy Eucharist or today’s world you will cease to remain a Catholic.
Fr. Hardon also suggests that it is extremely important to
…keep up to date [with] the
Church’s directives on how the Holy Eucharist is to be celebrated, worshipped
and received. And hear it, the final
arbiter on the Holy Eucharist is not, is not, the Bishop of the diocese. It is
the Bishop of Rome.
Fr. Hardon’s third means of coping
with liturgical abuse is “prudential courage”. He says:
We must be courageous, and I
mean courageous in professing our faith
in Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament and offering Himself in the
Sacrifice of the Mass in today’s world and what I am saying refers not only
to the laity but also and with painful emphasis to priests.
…The Catholic Church will
survive only where there are still
bishops, priests, and the laity who have the supernatural, even heroic, fortitude to live up to what they know the
Vicar of Christ expects of those who call themselves Catholics.
There is much more to this article, so please go and read
it! And keep in mind this prayer Fr. Hardon offers at the end of the
Lord Jesus, we beg you to give
us the strength to not just believe internally in your Real Presence in the
Blessed Sacrament. Give us the strength to profess our faith, especially in the
company of people who have accepted widespread Eucharistic liturgical abuses
and consider us out of touch with the times.
Mary our Mother, ask your Son
to make us strong in following Him really present in the Blessed Sacrament even
if this would cost us our lives. Amen.