Monday, October 1, 2007

Wishful Thinking

Regular readers of this blog will notice that the "In Honor of the Motu Proprio" graphic has been removed.

There was little else I could do, when I read this (caution: PDF file). Specifically, I am referring to the "From the Pastor's Desk" portion of the bulletin.

The pastor in question is the Vicar General of the Diocese of Fort Worth, so I have to take him seriously when, after discussing the motu proprio, he writes, "It is the current mind of Bishop Vann that the pastoral need referred to by Pope Benedict XVI for the 'due honor afforded the 1962 Mass' is sufficiently met weekly at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Fort Worth on Sundays at 5:30 p.m."

In other words, according to Bishop Vann's right-hand man, the bishop believes that a single Traditional Latin Mass in a geographically widespread diocese of about 400,000 people is enough. It is enough, for instance, for parishioners at any of the six Catholic churches in Wichita County that a single Latin Mass is offered at 5:30 p.m. in downtown Fort Worth on Sundays. The fact that it's at least a two-hour drive for any of the Catholics in Wichita County shouldn't concern anyone, right?

Some of you may know that I'm personally quite fond of the Novus Ordo Missae, and that I'm not pining for a Tridentine Mass for myself. But I do think that Pope Benedict XVI's intentions in derestricting the older form of the Mass are being thwarted here, at least in spirit. I'm as anxious as anyone for the reform of the reform--but it will be hard to convince Catholics that there's anything wrong with the way we do things now, liturgically speaking, if they have no experience of our rich liturgical patrimony.

Bishop Vann has seemed to be one of the "good guys," too, which is part of the reason this statement of Fr. Olson's is so confusing. There seems to be an irreconcilable conflict between the bishop's apparent belief that things are just fine as they are, and Pope Benedict's rather clear message in Summorum Pontificium that things are not. (Frankly, a single Mass very late on Sunday afternoon in an inconvenient downtown location barely even meets the requirements of Ecclesia Dei, let alone the much freer spirit of
Summorum Pontificium.) But perhaps Bishop Vann still is one of the good guys--perhaps his reasons for being of this mind in regard to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are sound and readily understandable; and perhaps he will share them with us soon.

The following words are mine. They are fiction. They are merely intended to be one example of the sort of thing Bishop Vann might write that might explain his apparent reluctance to embrace the motu proprio. They are not intended to be taken seriously at this time. Any resemblance between them and anything Bishop Vann may have already written or may intend to write in the future is purely Providential.

[Completely Fictional Letter from Bishop Vann Follows. In no way should anyone take this as being anything the bishop has ever actually said.]

Dear Catholics of the Diocese of Fort Worth,

I am sorry to have to inform you that I don't intend to allow any priests of the Fort Worth Diocese (apart from those already doing so) to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal. The reason for this decision is unfortunate but must be faced.

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass requires careful attention to liturgical detail, faithfulness in celebrating Mass as the Church intends Mass to be celebrated, much reverence, and a spirit of respectful obedience on the part of the celebrant. It cannot be denied that the vast majority of the priests of the Diocese currently lack these qualities in their celebration of the much less challenging, or Ordinary Form, of the Mass.

Before I could ever permit our priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, I must ensure that they can properly celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass. They, for the most part, require remedial liturgical training in such matters as: proper reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, proper attention to the rubrics, the proper--but not overdone--use of the laity for certain non-ministerial functions, and the like. They must learn to demonstrate fidelity to ritual, and must be free from the disobedient spirit of liturgical tyranny that sees the Mass as a personal plaything, addicted to adding words and phrases seemingly at random to the prayers of the Church as if--presumptuous thought!--to improve them, dropping other required elements, such as the Creed, as if these were unnecessary, or conducting themselves as if the Mass were merely a social function at which casual conversation between the celebrant and the congregation would be acceptable.

Frankly, we have a long way to go before these problems can be fixed. Your patience is appreciated.


Again, just in case you've missed the first two disclaimers, these are NOT the words of Bishop Vann, nor of any other bishop in the United States of America, nor of any bishop anywhere else in the world, or in the known universe.

If only they were!


Opal said...

Red, do you know how many at your parish would attend, forgive me, TLM? I know this must be a sad time for you, but maybe you can see just how many are interested and then present the number to the priest? I am sorry for you but your parish seems soo much farther ahead of us in reverence, just by his mentioning it in is letter, that I would settle for it!
Don't be blue for too long, Red suits you too well.
At least your priest didn't say we don't need that Latin "stuff".
Plus, the Sunday you go to TLM you can right a note and subtract for gas and mileage (the "note" being there may not be any left to give...heehee sorry Fr., if only we had something closer...:0)
I am going now to check out the rest of the bulletin. You are blest in many ways..

Red Cardigan said...

Opal, I appreciate your comment, as always.

I realize that there are worse parishes out there, and I try not to be a chronic complainer. But our associate pastor ad-libs his way through Mass, skips the Creed, and adds "folksiness" continually. I had made my peace with our ten to eleven extraordinary ministers at every Mass and our pastor's custom of leaving the altar to shake hands at the sign of peace--now I have to get used to the associate's habits as well, and the motu proprio comments just seemed like that proverbial straw.

All I *really* want is a reverent, holy Novus Ordo Mass. Is that so much to ask?

Opal said...

No, it is not too much to ask and we should have it.
Do you know how many from your parish would be interested in TLM?
maybe numbers would convince him. There are only maybe 5 total interested in our area. I hardly think that qualifies for a Latin Mass.

In our bouncing around while we are waiting to move, we got to go to EWTN Mass. That was great. It was our second time.

Red Cardigan said...

I don't know for sure how many would be interested, but I'm wondering if it isn't precisely because people started asking about it that my pastor issued this statement.

Perhaps I can find out.

John Thayer Jensen said...

I kind of don't understand. I thought the Motu Proprio meant that any priest could say the 1962 Mass anywhere any time except during the Easter Triduum, and didn't need the bishop's approval.


Red Cardigan said...

John, while that is what the motu proprio says, the likelihood that my pastor will choose to ignore the "current mind" of the bishop and begin doing so is nil--and that's pretty true for any priest in any diocese where a similar attitude has been expressed by the bishop.

Opal said...

Red, you could run an "ad" of anyone in the area interested in TLM to contact you via email or something. Then keep asking and asking and asking.
I too watched anxiously and was thrilled but deep down knew that we would probably see NO latin mass.
We wonder sometimes if the Bishop is on OUR side or what. After the Q & A was published from Rome, he came out in the local newpaper saying that the Catholic Church doesn't believe there is NO salvation outside of it and a priest was excommunicated because he taught this! Well, we have to pray for our Bishop because he did get a few things wrong.
Keep praying.

4andcounting said...

It is a little suprising that no further reasons were given, but I think it is reasonable to assume it was well thought-out. Our priest wrote a short note in the bulletin regarding the TLM and told us that he didn't have the training/ability to do the Mass the way it should be done. I would guess that is the case for a majority of our priests. It seems that if they are going to offer the TLM it should be offered in an authentic manner or not at all. Perhaps if many people contact the Bishop to ask about this it will merit further consideration.
As your fictional letter suggests, there are other issues to be addressed in the meantime. I think this Bishop is one of the good guys and feel mostly confident in his leadership.

MommaLlama said...


Maybe once Bishop Vann returns home from his trip to Rome, he will address this situation. At least that it what I'm hoping for. But you are right, this is frustrating and deserves to be fleshed out with the flock in which he shepherds.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I used to live in Arlington; I made the trip to that mass in Ft. Worth once. Very inconvenient. Seemed like a bad neighborhood, too.

I'm missing Texas less and less.