What Priests Learn by Learning the Latin Mass
A reader of Liturgy Guy shared the following story with me recently. One anecdote wouldn’t necessarily be worth dedicating an entire blog post to; however, as I have personally heard similar experiences from others, I believe there to be merit in sharing this with you now.
I used to regularly communicate with a priest who was trying to learn the Traditional Latin Mass. Another priest promised to teach him but warned that “it will very likely ruin your life.”
What he meant, he explained, was that it would cause this particular priest to clearly see the deficiencies in his own formation and in his understanding of the Sacrifice of the Mass, ultimately causing him great frustration. Of even greater significance, he was told, learning the traditional Mass would make it difficult to celebrate the new Mass any longer.
“You won’t want to go back to it.”
Several months later I checked back in with the first priest. He told me that he had indeed gone on to learn the Traditional Latin Mass and had even celebrated it for some time before finally deciding to give it up.
Give it up, I asked? Why?
In the end, he said, “it was too foreign” to him. I asked him (very carefully and respectfully) how was it that the Mass which had been celebrated for the vast majority of Church history seemed too foreign. What did this say about his formation?
He agreed completely that his priestly formation was obviously lacking in a significant way. He simply did not have the background and formation in the theology and spirituality of the Holy Mass to deal with the ancient rite.
It was shocking to him.
Sadly we are finding that the Church has often failed priests in teaching them the Faith, and in so doing they have failed the laity who are supposed to be sanctified by these very same priests.
We often think of the classic expression lex orandi lex credendi (as we pray, so we believe) as being applicable to the laity. In reality, it is just as applicable to our priests. Possibly even more so.
Remember too, many of the priests formed by the new Mass over the last fifty years have now gone on to become bishops; and here we are left dealing with the fall out of this liturgical formation and its ramifications for the Church.
The current challenge to orthodoxy cannot be separated from the ongoing assault against orthopraxy.
Pray that more of the laity, more of our priests, and more of our bishops recognize this for themselves. Of course, this first requires a familiarity with the traditional liturgy.
My concern is that many do recognize this connection, and that is why they are so hostile toward the traditional Mass.
Posted on February 23, 2017, in liturgy and tagged latin mass, Orthopraxy, priestly formation, traditional latin mass. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
I taught history, and I’m Roman Catholic from my mother’s womb. I love the Latin Mass-grew up with it and have fond memories-and I love the current version of Jesus’ Sacrifice as well. It’s all the same to me: Jesus offering Himself to the Father-and to me-as He suffers that cruel death at the hands of the Romans, whose language the Roman Catholic Church has adopted as its official language. Not Hebrew or Greek, which were Holy Spirit inspired, but Latin the language of the hateful killers of Jesus. I guess in order to get ahead the leaders of the early Church did the expedient thing. They adopted a lot of the royalty culture into Church governance as well, for themselves and for the liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus. When the Church no longer had any political clout, is when things, in the minds of many-not mine-began to deteriorate. I AM surprised when I hear-in rare instances-priests talking nonsense about the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, like “the community confects the Eucharist,” and I wonder what sort of philosophy and Sacred Theology courses they’re taking. Jesus needs (yes, on this planet) dedicated and loving priests (salesmen for Jesus).
“[H]is priestly formation was obviously lacking in a significant way. He simply did not have the background and formation in the theology and spirituality of the Holy Mass to deal with the ancient rite. It was shocking to him.”
How justified then, is Archbishop Lefebvre to have founded the SPPX for the primary purpose of forming priests.
Exactly. I’m not part of the SSPX but I see the difference between priests from SSPX and the new ones. Msgr Lafebvre was a very wise man. I see a parallel between Bishop Schneider and him.
So, let me make sure I understand this. He acknowledges the “significant” deficiency in his own formation, and then defends it by adhering to it rather than making every possible effort to educate himself. For the sake of the souls for whom he is responsible.
The mind reels.
I will pray for this poor, malformed priest.
I began celebrating the traditional Latin Mass after almost 40 years as a priest and having only celebrated the Novus Ordo. Celebrating the traditional liturgy has been a great blessing and has increased my love for the Eucharist and priesthood. It’s true that my “official” formation did not prepare me for it but the Lord had been leading me to that day. And I agree that it is dangerous because it is difficult to then celebrate the NO. I am convinced that the Church needs the traditional liturgy and priests, bishops and religious communities who love and promote it, to remain evangelically committed in the world of today and tomorrow. The present problems with orthodoxy are the result, at least in part, to the liturgical devastation we find in so many places.
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