St. Mark Latin Mass to be terminated……. October 23, 2012Posted by tantamergo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Interior Life, Latin Mass, Liturgy, North Deanery, priests, sadness.
…….unless attendance increases dramatically, and soon. Within a month or two, I would guess. So we were told by Fr. Hopka last night, repeating the words of Bishop Kevin Farrell, who apparently told Fr. Hopka he was “disappointed” with the attendance at the Latin Mass. We have of course been very grateful to Bishop Farrell for this Mass. I know I and many others hoped that it would succeed. But there are many reasons for the low attendance, and I don’t think the Mass has been given a reasonable chance to succeed.
Before I get to some analysis of the whole situation, I should make a simple statement: if this Mass goes away, the Diocese and any pastor/priest will have a ready-made, 100% plausible excuse never to have Latin Mass again – it was tried and it “failed.” I would guess Latin Mass, outside the locations it is presently offered, would be done for many, many years. If you don’t want to see that happen, you might want to start coming to the Mass at St. Mark again. I’m not trying to beat you over the head, because I’m not really trying to “save” this Mass, if that were even possible. I’m just pointing out reality. If this Mass is cancelled, the likelihood of Latin Mass anywhere else would be essentially nil, for a long time to come.
So, down to some reasoned analysis. First, if “attendance” is the reason why the Mass is being cancelled, half the daily Masses in the Diocese ought to be cancelled, because they have the same, or fewer people assisting compared with this Novus Ordo Latin Mass (we get about 30-50 a night, somewhat more at the Requiem Masses). I have never heard that attendance was a factor in this Mass until now. Secondly, just why is attendance so low? Well, there are several reasons, including a startling one we just learned last night, but first, some of the obvious ones:
- The time has been terrible. Making a Mass scheduled for Monday at 7pm succeed was always going to be a huge uphill battle
- Even still, early Mass attendance was very positive, and largely made up of TLM-types, many of which were “trying” the NO again after many years away. Then, we had the disastrous situation where the priest got upset about the distribution of Communion, and stopped doing it for a month or so. He had lay people distribute the Communion, while he went back to his presider’s chair and……presided. As you can imagine, souls were horribly scandalized. That drove about 2/3 of the crowd away, never to return.
- For a while last fall/winter, it was impossible to tell when Mass was going to happen. It was cancelled more than it was “on,” and it was only “on” at extremely irregular intervals. Because they could never tell when it was going to be “on,” another large percentage of people fell away.
- Why couldn’t they tell the Mass schedule, or whether one would be offered in any given week? This is the really big, surprising issue. It’s because it was forbidden to list the Latin Mass with the rest of the weekly Masses on the front of the bulletin, or on the front page of the website, for that matter. It was buried as a separate announcement on page 5 or 6. An area that most people never read. For a while, a video announcement board listed the Latin Mass, but that went away a long time ago, too. But neither the announcement in the bulletin, or the video screen, was ever updated to reflect cancellations, so people would show up and there would be no Mass. A sure way to win interest! I know some frustrated souls who stopped coming because of that.
So, why was their little or no advertisement? Why couldn’t this Mass be listed with the other Masses at St. Mark on the bulletin’s front page, or on the website with the other Masses? We had wondered that for a long time. We had asked ushers, called the office, talked to the music minister, all who said it should be on the front page, but never was. We asked specifically for it to be added to the front page, and nothing ever happened. Well, now we know why. It’s because Bishop Farrell himself demanded that it NOT be put on the front page!!!!!!! Apparently, he was very specific about this. So, the prime means of letting people know of the Mass’ ongoing existence was eliminated from the start. I should note that the Mass, from the beginning, was described as “experimental.” Thus, it was perhaps not “worthy” to be listed with the other, “real” Masses.
This is all so incredible. In reality, NO priest of Christ’s Holy Church needs anyone’s permission to offer Latin Mass, the Traditional Mass or, even more so, the Novus Ordo. The Holy Father has gone to great lengths to make this fundamental fact apparent to all, even clarifying his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum with another, Universae Ecclesiae. In point of fact, the Latin form of the Novus Ordo remains the default, “ordinary” form of the Mass. The vernacular forms which dominate everywhere are actually the result of decisions made by episcopal conferences around the world and required permission from Rome in every case. Which is why Rome has been insisting, of late, on dramatically improved vernacular translations, replacing, for one, the disastrously incorrect rendering of pro multis as “for all,” instead of the “for many” it plainly means.
But in Dallas, as in so many dioceses, there is a very strange phenomenon afoot, which states or implies that the vernacular Mass is somehow the “normal” Mass, and the Latin is just a little bit weird, a little bit deficient, a little bit “abnormal” (or, maybe, a lot weird, abnormal, etc). But again, as Pope Benedict XVI has gone to great lengths to make plain, the TLM and the Novus Ordo are two forms of the same Mass, equal in dignity, respect, and validity. I know many souls who would argue quite the opposite – that it is the TLM that is the more Grace-filled, efficacious form of the Mass. That is a topic for another day, however.
There is a certain consistency about the treatment of this “experimental” Mass. In 2007, Bishop Farrell reserved to himself the right to determine the “need” for the Traditional Latin Mass and to assess whether or not any priest could offer the TLM. This statement seems very difficult to reconcile with both Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae, which state that priests themselves have not just the right, but the duty to offer this form of the Mass should it be requested by a group of the faithful. In fact, those documents indicating the Holy Father’s will state that bishops should do all in their power to help priests meet these requests, quite the contrary to having bishops “assess the need.” Bishop Farrell’s statement is, in fact, a return to the provisions of the now superseded document Ecclesia Dei, which did allow bishops to determine the need for such a form of the Mass. I should add, the Bishop Farrell’s letter regarding Summorum Pontificum also included dark hints about assigning priests undesirable duties if they persisted in trying to offer the TLM. All of the above, said in relation to the TLM, applies infinitely more to the Novus Ordo in Latin, upon which there have never been any restrictions of any kind!
So, there you go. I doubt I am helping matters by publicizing all this, but I’m not going to hold my tongue in the hope of getting some favor. In point of fact, there has been lukewarm support, at best, for this Mass, since its inception. Even before it began, I received a threat from an authority figure at St. Mark that they would cancel the Mass if I dared criticize anything related to that parish. That’s actually how I found out about this Latin Mass in the spring of ’11! I got a steaming communique telling me because I was critical in some area, this Mass that was “going” to happen would now be cancelled! Before it even began! There were other, similar threats along the way. I have to wonder if my recent criticism of Bishop Farrell on the radio show had any impact on this “threat” to terminate this Mass.
So, from the very start, this Mass had a great deal stacked against it. And I think attendance would have been fine, even with the bad time, the lack of advertising/support, the cancellations, the whole schlemiel, if it hadn’t been for the sad imbroglio with the distribution of Holy Communion. Too many souls were scandalized. Ever since then, my own interest has not been nearly as strong as it could/should have been.
Nevertheless, in spite of all said above, I will remain grateful to Bishop Farrell for at least giving a Latin Mass a shot outside Mater Dei and St. William. It remains a very generous gesture, which he didn’t have to do. Who knows, perhaps souls will come back to the Mass, now, or new ones will come. It wouldn’t even be a very great miracle if such happened. And I shall redouble my prayers for Bishop Farrell.