Once a month, a local homeschool group visits the 9 a.m. Mass at my parish, which celebrates the Novus Ordo. The group mostly consists of traditional Catholic moms and their kids from a Latin Mass parish located 30-45 minutes away. They arrive in fifteen-passenger vans with roughly 5-8 kids per mother. The women wear chapel veils, and they all receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Outside of that group, the Mass is mostly attended by older, retired folks and a handful of younger Catholics who work strange hours, like myself, and find themselves free on a Wednesday morning. The presence of these mothers and their children is welcomed by all. It is a beautiful thing both that this group exists and that they choose to attend Mass with us.
This is something we need more of, not less. Unfortunately, the Vatican has made it clear that its long-term plan with the traditional Latin Mass is to isolate it as much as possible and eventually restrict it to priestly societies like FSSP and FSSPX. Pope Francis recently issued a decree to this effect. And you don’t need to take my word for it—prominent traditional Catholic voices believe this to be the case as well.
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Earlier this month, Taylor Marshall tweeted:
Vatican game plan against TLM: Corral all Traditional Catholics out of FSSP, ICK, and diocesan TLM and into SSPX and then excommunicate them and say: “Why did YOU do this to YOURSELVES? It’s your fault. We tried to be reasonable with you, but you were unwilling and schismatic.”
Now, even if Marshall is incorrect that the final goal is excommunication, a future where the Latin Mass exists only outside of the diocese would result in its effective separation. Faithful, traditional Catholics in their TLM-celebrating-society churches would be separated from the rest of the faithful in diocesan parishes. This future, which is reflected partially in our present circumstances, would be immensely harmful for all. Why?
Imagine, for the Novus Ordo parishioner, only experiencing traditional Catholics from secondhand sources: Maybe a modernist priest who doesn’t like orthodoxy? Maybe a slanted news article about how the FBI is watching traditionalists for violent terroristic activity? Or maybe words from the Holy Father himself, intended originally for online provocateurs, used to paint a picture in which every Latin-Mass-loving Catholic is a sedevacantist with the disposition of the harshest online voices?
In this future, the beauty and faithfulness of the average Catholic family who attends the traditional Mass is missed entirely, and the diocesan parishioner only hears about such Catholics through a warped lens. Traditional Catholics have much to offer the life of the entire Church, not just a small corner. I speak from experience when I say the tangible example of faithful men and women living out their lives for Christ is an extremely powerful one. When I attend Mass with the lovely homeschool families, my response is usually, “These people really love our Lord Jesus Christ with all their being!”
On the flip side, this effective separation is no better for the traditionalist. Separating oneself entirely from your local diocese, even if by the prompting and nudging of the Church hierarchy itself, will eventually lead to a distorted view of the Church as a whole. One might begin to think that all Novus Ordo parishes are rife with liturgical abuse, or that everyone who attends has a distaste for all things traditional.
In reality, there are small yet substantive trends within the main body of the Church that would bring a smile to the face of traditionalists: altar rails and tabernacles being restored to their proper places; priests celebrating Mass Ad Orientem, when allowed; the faithful receiving the body of our Lord on their knees and on the tongue; a movement away from modern hymns and toward truly sacred music.
Obviously, sedevacantists exist within TLM communities, and the Novus Ordo has tons of liturgical abuse and is celebrated irreverently in many places. But, due to separation, the caricature will eventually become reality. For what would this separate future look like if an increasingly large but siloed portion of traditionally-minded Catholics are kept away from the rest of the body? The natural end is that the Novus Ordo becomes ever more devoid of traditional elements because those voices have left the room completely. Sedevacantists exist within TLM communities, and the Novus Ordo has tons of liturgical abuse and is celebrated irreverently in many places. But, due to separation, the caricature will eventually become reality. Tweet This
So, how can we avoid this future in which faithful Catholics are disconnected from one another needlessly? My humble suggestion is to look toward the example of the homeschool mothers and participate in a healthy amount of crossover.
For the traditional Catholic, involve yourself somehow in the liturgical or communal life of your local parish. This is not a call to stop attending Sunday Mass at your FSSP parish. Not at all. But maybe attend a weekday morning Mass at your local parish, if it’s celebrated reverently. Or, if your sensibilities are such that you cannot fathom this, bring your family to an event at the local parish—maybe the yearly chili cook-off or the monthly Knights of Columbus dinner? Or, better yet, you could start by attempting to establish some kind of relationship with one of your local parish priests. Who knows, you might just find he is quite orthodox.
For the non-traditional Catholic, find out where the Latin Mass is locally celebrated and attend it at least once, if not more. On a personal note, I am a convert to the Faith and am pre-disposed toward a love for the traditional Latin Mass. My soul yearns for its transcendent beauty and reverence ever since I was exposed. My family and I try to attend Sunday High Mass once a month at a Church that offers the traditional Latin Mass, and I attend a low Mass once a week.
Does this make me any less a part of the liturgical and communal life of my parish? Not in the slightest. But it does instill an appreciation for the beauty of the Latin Mass itself, the history and traditions of the Church, and the people who are devoted to its attendance.
So, let us take up our crosses, follow after our Lord Jesus Christ, and be the salt and the light to our fellow Catholics in a spirit of true Christian charity. Be kind and welcoming to each other when we enter the world of the other because, as Benedict XVI said in his final general audience, “Loving the Church means also having the courage to make difficult, trying choices, having before oneself the good of the Church and not one’s own.”
The Church in the West is not growing but shrinking, and faithful Catholics cannot afford to be segmented and at odds with one another. We must be one united body, regardless of which liturgical expression we attend. We must endeavor to hold on to the beauty of what has been passed down to us, the shoulders upon which we stand, without cutting ourselves off from communion with the whole of Holy Mother Church.