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.