EF Mass threat, the abuse crisis, ‘whimsical’ liturgically dancing bishops: so what can we do?

H/T to Richard Collins at http://linenonthehedgerow.blogspot.co.uk  for this reasoned blogpost.

from: http://australiaincognita.blogspot.co.uk

I posted last night, on the decision to outright suppress, or severely restrict, the use of the EF Mass by the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Naturally some have sought to explain the force of this decision away.

I thought I’d offer a few rebuttals to those comments.

But more importantly, I thought I should talk about what I think we can and should do in response to this and other things that have the potential to impact on our practice of the faith, such as the abuse scandal, that can cause us to doubt our Church, and even consider leaving it.

And the bottom line is that no matter how damaged the Church is, we must cling to it, for to leave is to risk hell.

The Franciscans of the Immaculate: nothing to worry about?!

Some, such as Fr Z, have attempted to offer some ‘tough love’ to traddies, and argue that the suppression of the EF for the Franciscans of the Immaculate should not be taken as a sign of things to come.

I’m not in the least bit convinced.

One line of argument offered by some is that they were not specifically founded with the intention of using the traditional Mass, and so it is not part of their charism.  Really?

On that logic, all those orders that were founded before Vatican II should be forced to revert to the EF, because clearly the Novus Ordo is not part of their charism!

It is true that some religious orders and secular institutes do arguably have a particular rite, use or form of the liturgy as part of their charism.  But the fact that a particular order didn’t start out using both or either form specifically surely doesn’t mean that a particular shape of the liturgy isn’t particularly appropriate for them.  And if you look at everything else about the Franciscans of the Immaculate, such as their commit to penance, you can see why their now deposed founder sought to move in the direction of tradition!

Secondly, Fr Z and others have suggested that some within the order sought to impose the EF on those who didn’t want it with undue zeal.  But there is absolutely no evidence in the public domain to support this.  And experience suggests that some people will oppose the use of the Extraordinary Form regardless of whether or not other options are open to them.

In fact all the evidence – such as the fact that the use of the traditional liturgy by them is the result of the vote of their chapter – suggests that a small minority of dissenters within the order are trying, and now succeeding, in dictating their preferences to the majority.

Eponymous Flower reports that the complaint came from six people.  LMS Chairman shows that in England at least, they are offering Mass in both forms.

And if there really was a problem, why not just specify that both options have to be available rather than outright prohibit one form?

Those who oppose the EF have a pretty consistent modus operandi.  It is not enough for them that they don’t have to attend it; rather they want to stop anyone else attending it too.  Consider by way of example, the case of blogger Fr Tim Finigan’s parish.  By all accounts he was extremely careful when introducing a more reverent liturgy and the option of attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form, engaging in extensive catechesis to his parish.  He continued to offer Mass in both Forms, offering a choice of times for parishioners.  But that didn’t stop a disgruntled group of parishioners complaining about the EF Mass being offered to the pseudo-Catholic media resulting in a beat up job on him.  Luckily, he had the support of his bishop.

Thirdly, Fr Z urges us to devote ourselves visibly to good works in response, to ‘out Francis Francis’ as some have put it.  I do support a greater, visible focus on the works of corporal mercy on the part of EF communities.  But let’s not pretend that will in any way protect us – hard, after all, to be more visible about the works of charity than the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Finally, Fr Z urges us to keep our heads down and stop criticising Pope Francis and/or Vatican II.  Yet Vatican II itself, and the Code of Canon Law that reflects it enshrines our rights in this regard.  We need to be appropriately respectful of those in authority (though there are obviously limits: if you put on a clown mask, or do fitness exercises at Mass, you bring it on yourselves!) , and we do need to consider the common good when we speak.  We need to ensure our criticisms and questions are considered, not just ill-informed rants.  But we do have a right, even a duty to speak up at times.

Cultivate righteous anger

More fundamentally, decisions like this – and other wacky comments and actions by Popes and others – will simply compound, for many, our anger and sense of despair at the Church’s hierarchy.

Our anger at the continued inability of the hierarchy to understand why the laity are so angry about the abuse crisis.

Our anger at the refusal of those who make serious errors of judgment or worse to resign and do penance.

Our anger at the continuing liturgical abuses we suffer when we go to Mass, and persecution we face when we try to do anything about it.

Our anger at the denial of access to the genuine spiritual treasury of the Church.

Our anger at the continuing indifference to the Holy Eucharist manifested almost every time one enters a Church.

There is nothing wrong with righteous anger.  It was righteous anger that made Christ cleanse the Temple.  It was righteous anger that made Christ denounce the Pharisees and Scribes in the most direct terms possible.

We shouldn’t delude ourselves that expressing our anger will lead to any change of heart: Christ, after all, died as a result of the revenge plots of the Pharisees and priests.

The challenge for us, though, is to ensure our anger stays righteous, and directed at forcing positive change, and not turn to a more negative form, and to recall also Christ’s perfect obedience.

The devil lurks…

So what can we do?  There are, I think five things to consider.

1. Remember the devil is seeking to seduce you away from God

It is natural to have problems when things happen that are enormous breaches of our trust.  Many waited years for the EF Mass to be regularised, and reacted with joy when it was.  For things to go backwards now seems a horror scenario.  Similarly, the appalling decisions made on the abuse crisis on the part of the hierarchy that we keep hearing about, and the continued lack of self-awareness on the part of many of them hardly serves to rebuild trust.

Remember, though, that the devil will always seize on such opportunities to attempt to seduce us away from the truth; whispering in our ear in an attempt to undermine our chance of happiness in heaven.

This life is short; our hope is for an eternity in heaven.  But as St Peter warns us, “your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some to devour.”

The solution is grace.  If we ask for it, God will always gives us enough grace so that we can “resist him [the devil], firm in your faith…”

Let us, then, as St Benedict urges, when evil thoughts come into our heart’s, dash them at once on the rock of Christ.  He also urges us to manifest our thoughts to our spiritual father – so if you have a spiritual director or priest you can trust, try seeking his advice.

2. Remember you are not alone: pray for each other, and ask for the aid of the saints

All too often though, it can seem that there is no help for us.  Too often we are faced with a leprous hierarchy, arrogant Pharisee-like priests, parishes and communities that can seem more intent on driving us out than inviting us in.

We can gain strength though from each other.  Social media provides a way of linking up with others of a like mind.  And, too, we are part of a Church that spans time and space.

However fallible its individual members in the here and now, the Church struggling here on earth remains the body of Christ, and we too are united with the saints in heaven.

Let us therefore pray for each other to God, and implore the saints to aid us as well.

3.  Remember that God always brings good out of evil

Our sufferings and those of others do not have to be negative experiences: rather they can help bring us and others to perfection.

It is worth remembering that many of the great saints suffered at the hands of their superiors.  But what makes them saints is their embrace of obedience and willing suffering, even in the face of unjust accusations and unfair punishments, a sign of their obedience to God and offered up for the redemption of others.

What we do have to constantly remind ourselves is that God always brings good out of evil.

The Emperor Julian, for example, apostatized from the faith and persecuted the early Church.  But as the bishops of the time were virtually all Arian, his persecution in fact served to cleanse the Church of heresy.

In our time, the Australian Royal Commission on child abuse may well end up promoting a similar cleansing not so much of heresy as of unorthodox practice and morality.

Where the current threat to the traditional liturgy will lead, it is hard to see at the moment, but all the same, we can be confident in God’s care for us!

4.  Pray for the gift of discernment

When we consider our possible actions and reactions, we need to pray for the gift of proper discernment.  There are always three possibilities: something comes from God, the devil, or ourselves. Be sure to know the signs of which is which.

Whatever the answer is, our first instinct, I think, should always be to seek to obey proper authority, not to reject it, lest we merely be following our own desires, or worse.

All the same, the saints did not always passively accept what was done to them: proper discernment of what the Spirit is asking of us is essential in such circumstances and there are no general, immutable rules I think.

St Mary McKillop, for example, received Holy Communion, courtesy of some Jesuits, even after she had been unjustly excommunicated; St Athanasius fled from heretics rather than accede to their views; yet other saints accepted the authority of superiors to act even when their decisions were licit, albeit harsh.

And for those who love the EF, the Eastern Rite Catholic Church is always a fallback option…

5.  Remember that God is just

When injustice and even outright evil seems to triumph – such as when we read the outrageously delusional self-justifications offered up for immoral and outright illegal behaviour in the abuse cover up, or when those who seek a more reverent Mass find it suddenly prohibited to them, – we are shocked and appalled.

Justice may yet prevail.

And we should certainly do everything in our power to bring that justice about, not least by shouting out in horror.

But even if we don’t see justice prevail in this world, remember that those responsible will be held accountable in the next.


In another place quite unconnected, I just stumbled across this poem, source unknown, and thought I’d share it because of its possible appositeness:

“The soul perishes not of dark
But of cold.
The soul in deep distress
Seeks not light but warmth,
Not counsel but understanding.”
-Author Unknown


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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38 Responses to EF Mass threat, the abuse crisis, ‘whimsical’ liturgically dancing bishops: so what can we do?

  1. Frere Rabit says:

    A very good and well-considered response to the present moment, Gertrude. I have probably spent more time on this in the past 24 hours than any other issue since I left Rome in 2009. There is a lot more to this than anyone imagines. The piece referred to by Raven is a brave attempt at a smokescreen. Strings are being pulled. The main player is Jose Carballo and he is doing it with the full knowledge of Francis, and Francis does not want the EF in the Lateran because it sends out the wrong message for his papacy. That is a convenient by-product. The main target is traditional movements in the Church and the starting point (a takeover by the moribund Capuchins of a vital young traditional community) is a deliberate signal to everyone else. If the FFI can be reigned in, nobody is safe.

    Thanks to free messaging and mobile phone calls it is cheap and secure to talk to sources in Rome prepared to spill the beans. Carballo is strutting about with a new sense of power, and there are some in the OFM Curia who do not like what they see. Nobody should accept the whitewash here. When the deed is done, it will not be possible to reverse it.


  2. Frere Rabit says:

    PS to Gertrude. Might you add an introductory sentence with the name of Kate Edwards as the author of the piece to link to? Just for clarity. Must go now. Practcal stuff to catch up with today. Nothing to be done about this from where I am, but it has been good to get the lowdown from Rome, even if it makes depressing news. Resistance needs to be put up, but I fear the modernisers are on a winning roll.


  3. Gertrude says:

    Kate Edwards duly acknowledged as the auther Rabit. It was an oversight on my part for which I apologise.
    In the cold light of day I consider this (along with others) to be a well reasoned and thoughtful piece. Your comments are depressing Rabit, and I have no reason to doubt them. In the meantime – we shall wait and see, and try to do that with the utmost christian charity.


  4. Freda says:

    If the Pope wants a schism he is going the right way about it. I suggest everyone write to him and let them know their feelings.


  5. Roger says:

    The Church is in crisis and all the papering over the cracks hasn’t and isn’t working. It’s important to see the difference between worldly popularity (wanted by Judas) and the sacraments that have God First before Man.
    Francis a name chosen by a Jesuit could be seen as a cyncial joke (it was a Franciscan Pope that supressed the Jesuits!). A Pope is under Obedience to Sacred Tradition he cannot go against what the Holy Ghost has set out for the Papacy over 2000 years.
    Since the 60’s I believe I am seeing a Constitutional Pope without Authority and in the same mould as the English monarchy and the USA Presidency. A popular figure Head BUT NOT CHRISTS VICAR!
    The Church is in Schism this followed the stripping of the altars and the priest turning his back on Our Lord to face the congregation. In England the Catholics should have known better! As for dancing Bishops rather Bolshoi Ballet Bishops!
    I believe we are seeing the Fatima Prophecy coming to its inevitable conclusion which is I think the Church suffering the Passion. The choice is the world or God?


  6. johnhenrycn says:

    “The Church is in Schism…”
    Now THAT is over the top.


  7. Peter Northcott says:

    The blogosphere is just becoming a source of toxic vested interests, nastiness, and confusion.
    Maybe there’s something we don’t know about – but the authorities do – like the cases of Marcial Marciel or John Corapi?


  8. Roger says:

    The church is in schism because it has split into novus order and traditional. The novus order isn’t restricted to the Mass it covers all the sacraments including it seem the Papacy. The problem follows from the undenied list of masonic Curia members in 60’s and Paul VI statement that the smoke of Satan had entered the Church. Masonry has the split of Church and State and this was enforced by the Massonic imprisoning of the Pope in the Vatican.
    Now ask a question a very simply question what is the purpose of the Sacraments (including especially the Papacy). Our Lord asked St Peter “Lovest Thou Me before the Rest?”
    The early church did not indulge in the open celebration of the Holy Sacrifice on the contrary the Holy of Holies was guarded and restricted. God placed first before Man. The Holy Sacrifice is offering of Our Lord again to His Father as at Calvary.
    I winced at the Stadium Masses and Billy Graham PR exercises! This pleases PR but goes expressly against the Tradition of the Apostles and the Faith.
    The sight of 2 million ( as if at a rock concert) on a beach (that is dressed or undressed in beach fashions) might appeal to PR but for me becomes of the deepest offence to God!

    Church of Man or of God thas the choice!


  9. Frere Rabit says:

    “The blogosphere is just becoming a source of toxic vested interests, nastiness, and confusion.”

    Apart from that, are there any negatives you noticed?


  10. Toad says:

    “And the bottom line is that no matter how damaged the Church is, we must cling to it, for to leave is to risk hell.”

    That seems, to Toad, a pretty lousy reason for “clinging” to the Church. But what does he know?


  11. Toad says:

    The poem at the bottom of Kate’s piece might be Unamuno, if I remember rightly. At least, he says something very similar in “The Tragic Sense of Life.” (recommended reading)

    The other alternative to all this, unthinkable although, is simply that the Church has got it all plain wrong. But that is probably unlikely.


  12. Toad says:

    “There is nothing wrong with righteous anger.”

    How can we tell righteous anger from wrongteous anger?
    Don’t all of us, always, think our own personal anger is righteous?
    …And that the other person’s isn’t?

    “…But I tell you anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.” (Matthew 5: 21-22.)”


  13. Peter Northcott says:

    Hi Frere.
    It’s not focussed at this blog in particular.
    For example, one blog showed a video of a YouTube song for WYD with the simple caption – “This is why I will NOT be promoting WYD”. Others were saying the makeshift confessionals were ‘Satanic’ – and these are on blogs I thought were governed by reason and some sense of maturity.
    I’m just thrown by all the speculation, paranoia, and what seems to be making of mountains out of molehills.
    Since Pope Francis has taken the helm blogs faithful to Benedict seem to be slowly losing the plot.

    You are the eternal Shepherd
    who never leaves his flock untended.
    Through the apostles
    you watch over us and protect us always.
    You made them shepherds of the flock
    to share in the work of your Son. . . . CCC 857

    Do we not believe this any more?


  14. Frere Rabit says:

    “The poem at the bottom of Kate’s piece might be Unamuno” and it could have been, Toad, but is actually Morgan Stuart. Did I recommend Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life to you? I seem to remember recommending it. Or something. Or maybe a rabit of small brain is entirely mistaken.


  15. Frere Rabit says:

    “That seems, to Toad, a pretty lousy reason for “clinging” to the Church.”

    What other reason has there ever been? Look at the crowd bayng for the blood of the Santiago train driver now on Spanish television. Crucify him. Big business has much to lose. Sin is a good reason to cling to the Church. Evil is all around us.


  16. TerryC says:

    So here is what the order’s answer should be. It is perfectly permissible to celebrate the NO in Latin, ad orientem, and this is what the the Franciscans of the Immaculate should do. After all both are permissible options which are valid for the celebrant. I would dearly love to see who starts whining then.


  17. Toad says:

    Toad’s point Rabit (Welcome back, by the way! We missed you terribly!) is that a course of action such as “clinging to the Church,” merely for fear of burning for all eternity in Hell is a lousy reason – compared with doing so for the simple love of God.

    Pascal, with his shabby old wager, might not agree.
    But I suspect Unamuno might well do so. I don’t know.

    For myself, I am speaking hypothetically.


  18. johnhenrycn says:

    Toady, yes I too missed Lapin’s contributions enormously for the five minutes he was away doing important practical things, such as consulting with his deep-throat contacts in Rome, but what I really wanted to say is that when you scoff at the fear of hell, you must never have been properly instructed in the Act of Contrition:

    “O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell…”

    Baltimore Catechism
    But there’s still time.


  19. I really like your post and your commentary. I agree that this does not look good, and it bothers me that the attack is on the EF.

    Why not just step in and say that those who want the NO should have the NO, and those who want the EF, the EF? Why is it the EF that is suddenly pushed down and told that “permission” must be asked?

    It just seems very unbalanced which puts the entire thing on shaky ground.


  20. Toad says:

    I do not scoff at the fear of Hell, JH. Possibly I scoff – or am somewhat sceptical – at the idea of the fear of Hell.
    But that’s another thing.
    I think we should try not to be motivated by fear.

    As to the “…’whimsical’ liturgically dancing bishops” couldn’t The Holy Father command that they stick to the foxtrot? An anathema on ‘jiving,’ perhaps?
    One problem solved. Maybe.


  21. 000rjbennett says:

    Gertrude, everything you wrote in your blog entry is rational and splendid. It is consoling to realize that there are many other people who are grieving over what the Pope has done in forbidding the traditional Latin Mass among one group of Franciscans. Why “grieving”? Because this probably is just an indication of what is to come.

    And the “new evangelization”? I’m afraid the Pope is in for a surprise. All the dancing bishops in the world cannot compensate for the sense of the sacred that was lost when the ordinary form of the Mass was instituted. The sense of the sacred is what will bring people into – and back to – the Church. That is what the “new evangelization” should be about.


  22. Jerry says:

    The sense of the sacred is what will bring people into – and back to – the Church.

    Ideally yes, absolutely. But evangelical Protestantism with liturgy so tacky it can hardly be called liturgy is the fastest growing form of Christianity, especially in S. America. So I doubt liturgical restoration would solve the problem


  23. golden chersonnese says:

    Whimsical dancing notwithstanding, it appears this little fellow wanted to go home with the Pope:


    (sorry if you’ve seen it already – I haven’t had such a nice cry for ages)


  24. Jerry says:

    Thank you golden chersonese, I for one had not seen that story. Lovely


  25. golden chersonnese says:

    But evangelical Protestantism with liturgy so tacky it can hardly be called liturgy is the fastest growing form of Christianity, especially in S. America. So I doubt liturgical restoration would solve the problem.

    Clearly in Brazil, Jerry, the Catholics are adopting some of the pentecostals’ own methods to try to stop the “haemorrhaging” to these groups. That, of course, would probably not work in Europe either now or in the future. Mass in the traditional rite probably would work to a limited degree and also draw back many who have lapsed, which is all better than nothing of course.

    Have you seen Eucharistic Adoration in Brazil these days, Jerry? If you watch here for a while, starting from about the 13.54 minute mark, you’d even be tempted to think that Eucharistic processions and charismatic music were made for each other. It “works in a sort of way”. (Some may want to turn the volume off if viewing for a long time, if not because of the music then maybe because of all those Portuguese nasal vowels everywhere.)


  26. Jerry says:

    golden chersonnese,

    I started watching 10 min in, and watched for just under 15 min. In terms of my subjective experience, I would not feel spiritually nourished in that environment — but I also realise the world doesn’t revolve around me an my preferences 🙂


  27. golden chersonnese says:

    No, I’m not recommending it. I’d hazard a guess, though, that a lot of those in attendance would have been off with the Jumpers-for-Jesus down the road if they hadn’t been engaged in Eucharistic Adoration all that particular evening.


  28. Frere Rabit says:

    “(Some may want to turn the volume off if viewing for a long time, if not because of the music then maybe because of all those Portuguese nasal vowels everywhere.)”

    I quickly followed your recommendation. I would add that some may want to turn the visuals off too. Not only because the monstrance is very tacky but because the sight of all these misguided souls swaying around – in what has been made into an adoration disco – is repugnant.


  29. golden chersonnese says:

    Most interesting, brother Lapin. What sayeth the Catholic Herald?



  30. Toad says:

    Agreed, Rabit, a tacky monstrance is a stench in the very nostrils of civilisation. Probably.

    So, if the Evangelicals loonies are being making inroads by out-vulgarising even the post Vat Two Catholics, the answer is to be less vulgar than them, not more.


  31. golden chersonnese says:

    A recent article from ‘America Magazine’ suggests that Francis is too humble and “Ignatian” for the traditional Mass:

    Humility is the most difficult part of the Ignatian papal reform, but it is essential for the church’s purification from clericalism, the source of so many ills in the contemporary church. Undoubtedly, it is here that Francis’s reform will receive the most resistance from beneficiaries of the millennial-old system and from recent acolytes who have invested themselves in a post-Tridentine model of the Church Triumphant.



  32. The article in America states: “Humility is the most difficult part of the Ignatian papal reform, but it is essential for the church’s purification from clericalism, the source of so many ills in the contemporary church.”

    Humility is also the most difficult element in the liturgy, especially for priests who feel they can celebrate Mass any way they want to, who feel they can make themselves, not Christ, the center of the Mass. The purification that should really be going on in the Church is the purification from the idea that priests are free to do anything that occurs to them, anything that “seems right” to them, anything that “feels good,” with the liturgy, with morality, with Canon Law.

    That attitude, not “clericalism,” has been the source of so many ills – so much abuse – in the contemporary Church, for nearly fifty years.

    The “humility” of the “Ignatian papal reform,” if it goes on as the writer of the America article hopes, will lead only to a continuation of the ills and abuse the Church has experienced since Vatican II.


  33. Toad says:

    “Clericalism.” Yet another “ism.” They’ve obviously opened another can of them.
    But what does it actually mean?
    Dictionary definitions suggest it means no more than behaving in a manner befitting a cleric.
    Oh, really? Can’t have that, then, can we?

    If you want Toad’s opinion (What! You don’t?) this is a topic well worth sober discussion, rather more so than wasting valuable energy trying to make coherent sense of the pubescent religious fantasies of an illiterate, probably undernourished, Portuguese peasant child.


  34. Roger says:

    It is very simply not complicated its sacred tradition not just from the time of the Apostles, because Our Lord lived the sacred traditions under the Mosaic Church. In other words we simply look at sacred tradition as to what the Holy Ghost requires of the Bishops the priests and the laity with respect to the sacred mysteries.
    So the judge of what is acceptible and what is not as regards dress, conduct and behaviour in the presence of God s sacred tradition. We only have to look at Moses and the burning bush and learn what God requires with respect to Holy ground.
    Not complicated very simply and it doesn’t matter whom or what no Catholic encourage or take part in dress, conduct or behaviour that is contrary to sacred tradition.
    Quite simply Peter must condemn dress, conduct and behaviour that is contrary to sacred tradition because he must put Our Lord first not man. Emmerich saw the dancing and carousing in Church and called it babel!


  35. Roger says:

    Toad the three children at Fatima.
    Franscisco Mario 9 years old; Jacinta Marto 7 years old and Lucy Dos Santos 10 years old. These were shown Hell in July 1917 and announced the October miracle.
    So they were not pubescent were they?
    The Church and the Popes confirmed the Fatima Apparations and Lucy was continously being questioned and consulted throughout her Life.
    The point is in October 1917 the Sun was seen to spin and move in the sky.
    Fatima won’t go away because there was another Prophecy that “In The End My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph” so you see Fatima won’t go away neither is it in the Past actually it is in Our Future.


  36. Excellent response, Roger.


  37. Toad says:

    Quite right, Roger. Toad had got the impression that Lucia was about 13, or so.
    Toad was wrong, yet again.
    So, for “pubescent,” please read “juvenile.”
    That should please everyone.


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