Rorate Caeli

The Death of a Parish

Saint Francis de Sales in Benedict, Maryland 

As of September 21st Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington who prefer the traditional Latin Mass (TLM) will be herded like prisoners of war into three officially designated camps, like native Americans onto a federal reservation. This while Pope Francis parades through Canada on an official apology tour for the Church’s role in doing the very same thing to the children of indigenous peoples in the residential schools.

One of these is a crime and the other a necessity for the spiritual good of those who just don’t know any better. The only thing they have in common is that both, by different means, reject the historic Catholic faith of all time. For the offense of choosing the wrong kind of worship these recalcitrant miscreants must feel the pain of their poor decision-making. They may no longer worship in their own parish church.

Soon the TLM recusants will needs must shoehorn themselves in, before or after the existing schedule of the hosting mission church, fifty or more cars into a tiny front-yard lot. This with time for the frequent and numerous Confessions which take place prior to the Mass, one of many Catholic identifiers so often missing among those of the novus ordo and yet conveniently overlooked in this group. That along with universal belief in the true and real presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

During the time in which they are permitted to pray this ancient, officially despised and disapproved form of worship they will be closely supervised. Their free choice of the non-official, non-sanctioned, non-1960’s “banal, on the spot product” places them among a suspect class of non-conformist untouchables. They must be accompanied back into modern times and contemporary worship for their own good.

As in the dialog between Norfolk and Thomas More in the classic film “A Man for All Seasons”, they must reject the dictates of conscience and, instead, go along with the crowd, “for fellowship’s sake”.

Just another day rich in irony for the Church of mercy which seeks people on the margins, accompanies those who are abandoned; a Church that is “against no one”, as Pope Francis described pastoral Christian care during his recent Canada tour.

Catholics who don’t hew to the official program of mind control which views 2,000 years through the exclusive lens of one pastoral council, which occurred over a period of a few years in the 1960’s, must be monitored closely and accompanied into the true Church as envisioned by prelates promoting LGBTQ+, transgender ideology and Communion for adulterers, just for starters.

The new and improved Catholic must be ready upon order, at any moment, to reject anything once considered a settled matter of faith and morals. Or else.

The traditional Latin Mass is both symbol and substance of settled orthodoxy, the means by which we pray as we believe. For these and more reasons it must go. The fact that it is beautiful, and with a priceless patrimony of world-class music in chant and polyphony, only adds to the offense for those for whom constant Synodality-driven change is the only objective.

The Church is actively engaged in an officially sanctioned program of ecclesial suicide beginning with the death of a parish, a living cell of the Body of Christ. So much for “pastoral, not ideological”.

Our people have been invited to attend TLM Mass most Sundays of the year, excluding Christmas when occurring on a Sunday, Easter and Pentecost, in a smaller church about 15 minutes away from our TLM parish in Benedict, Maryland. All three current Sunday TLM southern Maryland communities, perhaps 300 people, will be asked to crowd into a mission church with seating for about half that number.

Along with limited seating capacity, finances and viability issues do not appear to have carried any weight in a decision-making process which did not include any discussions with me as a pastor of a thriving and growing TLM parish.

As a result of being declared off limits for offering the TLM, my parish will be down to 20, perhaps 30, people per Sunday with a weekly collection as low as $400 for a monthly budget of as much as $15,000.

It is unjust to ask Catholics to waste their hard earned money by throwing it uselessly into a non-sustainable budget. That is the position forced on the novus ordo Catholics in my parish family as a result of the TLM guidelines. The parish will no longer be financially viable. The reckless and destructive urge to sweep a culture off the face of the earth comes with a human and spiritual toll.

The collateral damage will impact everyone in parish life, punishing those who do not attend the TLM as well as those who do, which was the intent of the pope’s document imposing the officially sanctioned status of undesirable on those who embrace the rich and full tradition of the Church.

Our parish just recently completed a project of interior church renovation and decoration with a price tag of over a quarter million dollars. The very people who did the work of beautifying our sacred space cannot now use it for the primary reason for their efforts: giving the Lord the greatest glory through the offering of our spiritual patrimony in the traditional Latin Mass.

This is just one of many injustices that have been brought about through the ill-considered, draconian and sweeping edicts of those in power who are enacting what can only be described as revenge against the Catholic Faith.

No one can claim to love the Church while viewing her with a myopic lens. The very word Catholic means “all”, it is the opposite of exclusive. To be Catholic, to love as a Catholic, means to exclude no truth, no good, no beauty that belongs to the Church as she makes her pilgrimage through time in this world.

If there is one thing which is irreducibly and irrevocably Catholic it is the official prayer, revealed by Our Lord, handed down under obedience by His Apostles, sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the ages and offered at one time everywhere by everyone. Only one liturgy meets this definition: the traditional Latin Mass.

For this reason the ancient form of the Mass is therefore part and parcel now and always of the Faith Catholic. Because this is so no man, pope or lay, may alienate the faithful, by any means, from this most sacred ritual. There is no power on this earth which can violate the Divine Will manifest in this or any other form of revelation.

The new Mass, by contrast, has never been accepted by everyone in the Church, beset as it has been from the beginning by controversy, bringing with it rampant abuses, scandal, sacrilege and loss of faith. The only constant by which it can be measured is a continuing decline in attendance.

Men may try, as they have tried before and failed, but the Mass of all time will never be extirpated from the earth any more than can the Faith itself be erased. All that is necessary is the perseverance of one faithful soul. There is an army of such souls who keep the flame of faith alive throughout the world, now as always.

Among these witnesses are the martyrs which the Church officially celebrates even still in her liturgies, confessing the truth though betraying doubt or denial, or attempting destruction, by her actions.

Catholics who seek the convenience of whatever is offered for Sunday obligation at  their local church will always be with us. But so will the intrepid souls for whom ease is not the first consideration in the work of salvation. They are already habituated to hardship for the sake of the Tradition.

Renewed persecution under Pope Francis will merely drive more souls and more dollars underground or to other already existing ecclesial alternatives.

The bishops must now either lead, follow or get out of the way. Catholics have already suffered enough post-conciliar abuse. They would truly be guilty of mental instability should they sign on willingly for more of the same.

(A redacted version of this column was published in a recent edition of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper.)