Everyone knows that the “Synodal Process” has begun, for better or (much more likely) for worse. Dioceses around the world are sending out questionnaires and setting up meetings to “listen to the voice of the People of God.” Quite apart from the ecclesiologically dubious democratic methodology and (even if that were not an issue) the improbability of receiving anything like a representative sample, savvy Catholics are aware that the process has been rigged from the start—as has occurred (let’s not forget) with all of the Synods under Pope Francis—to yield predetermined progressivist results that can then be fobbed off as “the will of God speaking through His Church.” More recently we saw that Pope Francis was more than willing to lie about the survey of bishops on Summorum Pontificum in order to find a prext for his extermination campaign against the Mass of the Ages.
So, it’s not surprising that most traditional Catholics want to have nothing to do with this Synodal Process. On the other hand, some traditionalists have recommended participating in order to bear witness to the truth for conscience’s sake and just in case somewhere among the Archons of the Process there might be a believing Catholic who could be positively influenced by such testimonies. In that spirit, I now share with Rorate readers the following responses submitted to a diocesan questionnaire by a Midwestern father of a large family whose boys eagerly serve at a local Traditional Latin Mass.
1) How do you see your specific apostolic work in relation to the universal call to holiness?
Holy Scripture presents the universal call to holiness as a call to be like the all-holy God (Lev 11:44; 1 Pet 1:16) by walking humbly with (Gen 3:8, Mic 6:8) or being together with God in his dwelling place (Psalm 27:4), the temple, which is the body of Christ (John 2:21). Hence, in a special way, serving at the altar of the Church gathered around the body of Christ in the sacred liturgy is an essential apostolate at the service of the universal call to holiness.
2) Do you view your work as being a fruitful way of participating in the fostering and fulfillment of our common call to communion and in sharing in the mission of the Church?
Absolutely. As Jesus said, “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all to myself” (John 12:31-32). Liberating people from “the ruler of this world” and bringing them into communion with God in Christ is what the reverent, beautiful, fitting, exalted, and transcendent celebration of the Church’s liturgy is all about. Jesus, in being lifted up in his sacrifice on the cross is what draws people to Him. The liturgy makes present again for people here and now the one eternal sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The liturgy is the lifeblood of the daily work of the Church to draw all to Christ.
3) What do you expect and need from the broader community (i.e., parish, diocese, universal Church) in the way of resources and support (material and spiritual) to better accomplish your work?
Thank you so much for asking. One simple way of helping would be to stop suspecting and marginalizing priests and laity devoted to the traditional liturgy. We are not quasi-schismatics who have succumbed to an anti-Vatican II “we are the real Church” ideology. For sure, there is criticism of the Novus Ordo Missae and especially its “unbearable distortions” as noted by Pope Francis in his letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes. One suggestion would be that this criticism of deviations in and from the liturgical reform could be seen as a constructive part of the synodal process, to which the Church's leaders could listen out of love rather than labelling and restricting out of fear. Although St. Paul begins his first letter to the Corinthians warning against the divisive spirit of “I belong to Paul, or I belong to Apollos” (1 Cor 1:12), he ends the same letter with the admonishment that in the Church’s liturgy “all things be done decently and in good order” (1 Cor 14:40). The two go together.
4) And what do you see as hindrances to the efficacy of that work?
What a great question. Jesus was very serious about people who put hindrances in the way of those who wish to enter the kingdom of God (Matt 23:13). One very serious hindrance to the efficacy of the particular work we are discussing is that our leaders in Christ seem intent on sending a clear message of “You are tolerated but not wanted” to those of their priests and lay faithful attracted to the traditional liturgy.
Imagine having to explain to your son, who used to look forward to serving the traditional Mass weekly with a diocesan priest, that “the bishop and the pope no longer want Father to say that Mass, and they don’t want you to serve at that Mass, unless it’s at the one place where it’s allowed. For some reason it’s still okay (for the time being) to serve that Mass at that place, but nowhere else.” Or, “I tried to speak to the bishop about your questions, son, but he wouldn’t meet with me.” Or, “The best I could do was give him a letter by the hand of the man he appointed to meet with me, but his only response was to cancel Father’s weekly Mass. I’m sorry.”
This is inherently, and unnecessarily confusing and marginalizing. The young men who serve the traditional Latin Mass are definitely not feeling listened to by the Church on this issue. Nor do they feel the Church’s care for marginalized minorities, of which they may be currently the most minor and the most marginal. Nor do they understand why the joy they experienced during the organic growth of this liturgy under Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum has suddenly been deemed an evil in the Church that must be quarantined to only one location.
5) How do you think we might better attract and serve the poor and marginalized, both within and without, our parish as this relates to your particular apostolate?
As St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty—it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” She pinpoints it: The best thing you can give anyone is God in the context of a loving community. Invite the poor and marginalized to share in greatest spiritual treasure of the Church. I have worked with the poor, and frequently the poor and marginalized do not want attention drawn to themselves as “poor, marginalized people” but rather they want to be allowed simply to be children of God like everyone else.
The reverent and sacrificial celebration of the Mass can be life-changing for people because it draws the whole community out of themselves and their problems and difficulties to the Cross of Jesus and the transcendent worship of God who loves them and cares for them. Plus, how we worship affects how we believe and act: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. If we want to save the world, we should start as Jesus did at the beginning of his public ministry, turning His Father’s house from being a marketplace back into being a house of prayer (John 2:15-16).
6) Finally, if you have any questions which you would like to see included in this process, please do communicate them so that we can incorporate them in the parish-wide consultation.
Jesus had some really good questions that could fruitfully apply to our times in a special way:
Of the first Pope: Do you love me? (Then feed my sheep; John 21:16).
Of all his disciples: If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:26)
Another, related: Why do you call me “Lord, Lord” and not do what I command? (Luke 6:46)
And, the really big one: Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)
My own question, based upon these questions: Can we please stop it with all of the hygiene mandates, as if the only bad news the Church has to be concerned about is Covid (plus the traditional Latin Mass) and the only Gospel to feed her sheep with is the good news of vaccines, masks, and hand-sanitizer? Please?