The Immemorial Mass of All Ages is Probably the Only Place Anyone Evangelizes in the Modern Church Any More

The Immemorial Mass of All Ages is Probably the Only Place Anyone Evangelizes in the Modern Church Any More

Posted by Tancred
Saturday, January 9, 2016

Edit: URGENT — Bugnini Liturgy in trouble and in decline in Western world due to religious indifferentism, and it doesn’t matter how many Gospel/Folk/Easy Listening 70s Power Pop you include. If there isn’t enough evangelization going on in places where the Immemorial Mass of All Ages is being said, it’s actually forbidden or frowned upon in diocesan parishes. Why evangelize when your liturgy resembles that of the Methodists and Lutherans down the street? And if the Mass crowd stuck in the 60s with St. Louis Jesuits are indifferent to evangelization, hasn’t the Pope himself spoken out against proselytism and made statements which frustrate evangelism in the first place? If evangelization is a dirty word anywhere, it’s in the run-of-the-mill ho-hum diocesan parish.

Here’s an excellent response to Msgr. Charles Pope’s urgent call for more evangelization (As if traditionalist Catholics don’t). Actually, traditionalists are most likely to be the only people in the Church who bother.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, Msgr. Charles Pope made headlines when an Archdiocesan blog published his defense of Gospel music for the Roman Catholic liturgy. While I appreciate the genre of Gospel music—and some pieces are lovely—I was troubled by his assertions with respect to music history. 1 On 7 January, Msgr. Pope wrote a piece for the NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER with a sensational title:

“Urgent Warning About the Future of the Traditional Latin Mass”

Throughout his article, Msgr. Pope says things like: “The Traditional Latin Mass appeals to a certain niche group of Catholics, but the number in that group appears to have reached its maximum.” He keeps referring to a “ceiling” that’s been reached, making inexplicable references to “20 years ago, when the Solemn Mass was thriving.” His description of the EF early years does not match my recollection of the 1990s, nor accounts by pioneers like Fr. Michael Irwin (one of the first FSSP priests assigned to the USA).

Msgr. Pope seems to be unaware of charts like this one:


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2 comments on “The Immemorial Mass of All Ages is Probably the Only Place Anyone Evangelizes in the Modern Church Any More

  1. 08 JANUARY 2016
    The Register: Forget the Death of Religious Orders, Closed Parishes, Lack of Children, Abandonment of Faith and Effeminacy of the LIturgy. The Real Problem? Trads Don’t Evangelize.
    There exists no bigger cheerleader for Vatican II and the Novus Ordo within respectable Catholic circles (no, NCR doesn’t count) than the National Catholic Register. Five years ago, they would have been the biggest cheerleaders for the Hermeneutic of Continuity. Two years prior they would have been intrigued by the Reform of the Reform.

    Of course, whenever thisPope lays down a party line (and I’m not talking about teaching the faith, but a political party line), the Register and their fellow travelers in the normalist press and blogosphere pick it up. It doesn’t matter what thatPope said, as soon as thatPope is no longer thisPope.

    The Register, formerly a publication of the discredited Legion of Christ, and now part of the super-safe, post-Mother Angelica EWTN empire, has always been adept at this Orwellian dance. And in the halcyon three week period after Pope Benedict issued Summorum Pontificum, it actually paid lip service to the traditional Mass being somewhat legitimate.

    But those days are long gone. We are now in the time of Mercy. And there is no bigger buzz kill to Mercy without Repentance than the Traditional Mass.

    So, Monsignor Charles Pope, who ought to know better, writes an opinion piece wherein he says, admittedly based on anecdotal “evidence”, that attendance at the Traditional Latin Mass has peaked. And why has this alleged peak occurred? According to Msgr. Pope, it is because Latin Mass Catholics don’t evangelize.

    Oh, OK.

    Ever since the New Mass was forced on the Church in 1969– and I am speaking based upon statistical evidence and not upon anecdotal evidence– there has been a steady, unrelenting emptying of pews, parishes, schools, convents, monasteries, and seminaries. Why? What in the world could have changed?

    Don’t worry, we are told by those who read the Register, its merely coincidental. Sexual Revolution. Council misunderstood. Popes disobeyed. Yada yada yada. We all know the litany of excuses. And if we just double and treble down, with more of the same, we’re right around the corner from a glorious Springtime.

    After all, Msgr. Pope writes, the Archdiocese of Chicago wants to close the Shrine of Christ the King. Point made! Um, Monsignor, you do know about the fire that utterly destroyed the structure, yes? Not to worry, yes he does. So, after admitting the fact of the fire, Msgr. Pope blames the intended closure on the fact that in a city the size of Chicago the congregation was too small to front a multi-million dollar reconstruction.


    I might ask if it is unreasonable to expect that an apostolate with no prior presence in the city, that is given an abandoned church in a neighborhood amounting to a war zone, without heating or cooling, and without a sustainable roof, might take awhile to build some mojo. It is a testimony to the Shrine that in fact, in a short number of years, it did go a long way in providing stability to the neighborhood, becoming a draw for the faith and the arts, completing substantial renovations, and developing a growing and substantial congregation– starting at zero and now in the several hundreds.

    Is that not growth, Monsignor? Is that not evangelization?

    Here’s another anecdote for the Register to consider: I belong to a Latin Mass apostolate that has seen consistent growth since it was founded eleven years ago, with a Sunday Mass attendance exceeding 1,000 souls, in a formerly moribund complex of church building, rectory, and empty schools in a not-so-great neighborhood. Again, there has been outreach, evangelization, growth and neighborhood improvement. The apostolate is full of vitality. Most importantly, the sacraments are there, in the forms and rites handed down by the Church for more than 1,500 years.

    And I have one final anecdote to share. Before joining my current church, the novus ordo parish I attended– one still considered vibrant in today’s environment, and located in a good neighborhood– witnessed the following “growth”: The parish school enrollment dropped from 511 students to 165. From six Sunday Masses with good attendance and lots of families, they now have three Masses with an older and more modest attendance. From a staff of three priests and one in residence, they now have one priest, and one in residence. Monsignor, is this growth? Is this evangelization?

    Or is the problem much more fundamental?

    Forget facts, rely on anecdotes.

    Maybe to the Register, some anecdotes are better than others.

  2. Pope’s article here: An Urgent Warning About the Future of the Traditional Latin Mass

    “Explanations abound among the traditional Catholics I speak to about the lack of growth in attendance at the Traditional Latin Mass. Some say that it is because more options are now available. But one of the promises was that if parishes would just offer the Traditional Latin Mass each parish would be filled again. Others say there are parking issues, or that the Mass times are not convenient, or that the Masses are too far away. But these things were all true 20 years ago when the Solemn Mass was thriving.

    It seems that a ceiling has been hit. The Traditional Latin Mass appeals to a certain niche group of Catholics, but the number in that group appears to have reached its maximum.

    Some traditional Catholics I speak to say, “If only the archdiocese would promote us more,” or “If only the bishop would celebrate it at all or more frequently.” Perhaps, but many other niche groups in the archdiocese say the same thing about their particular interest.”

    OK, valid points. The demographics and the Catholic community have changed a bit over the years. Quite a number of people who would have been attending have passed on. The location of Catholics (younger Catholics) have changed and “Catholic” educational institutions under progressive modernist control and disinformation have not catechized or evangelized
    younger generations of Catholics. It would be useful for clergy, Catholic educators, and concerned Catholic laity to reflect on what made thriving Catholic parishes and schools in the past. While it may not be possible to return to the past completely, some of the things that were done in the past to build up Catholic institutions can be tried again. There needs to be a Marshall Plan or D-Day Operation to attract and foster young Catholic families (with multiple children) and a LOT of effort needs to be concentrated on scholarship funds for Catholic schools. The bishops need to rethink Vatican II and how far its liberal, progressive agenda has caved in to secularism and the erosion of Catholic culture. That’s a big one. Are they up to the task? They need to counter that secularism along with the crackpot progressivism which usually borders on Situation Ethics and moral relativism. The progressive modernism of the Spirit of Vatican II has cleared the pews.

    Each parish needs to offer a Latin course, available for adults, that is focused on the Mass and Gregorian chant (to foster a liturgical community that is educated for the traditional Latin Mass and literate enough to follow a Missal). That also needs to be done at Catholic high schools and grade schools. Latin instruction should be started as early as the fifth or sixth grade in grade schools, where that is possible. You need to think long-term on this: what will a traditional Latin Mass at your parish be like ten years from now? How many altar boys or middle-school students are you currently teaching ecclesiastical Latin?

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