Mischaracterization of the TLM, Then and Now – Crisis Magazine

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Part Five of a response to Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy’s critique of the traditional Latin Mass.

Essay four looked at how Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy (CHW) treat inconsistently the traditional Latin Mass (TLM), other rites in communion with the Roman Church, and such idiosyncratic offerings of the Novus Ordo (NO) as that characteristic of charismatics. This fifth and final essay shows that CHW falsely portray the response of the laity to the TLM prior to Vatican II and seem to have little awareness why the TLM is experiencing such growth now. It challenges CHW to take a close look at the reasons why some devotees of the TLM have misgivings about the Vatican II Council which doesn’t at all seem to have impacted their fidelity to Church teaching—which is far greater than the commitment of those who attend the NO. Finally, it observes there is little reason to believe that the Reform of the Reform will be guided by Sacrosanctum Concilium or the time-honored principles the Church has developed for worthy liturgy.

It must be acknowledged that even those who love the TLM recognized deficiencies in how the Mass was said in the middle of the twentieth century. Fr. Bryan Houghton, a diocesan priest who retired early from parish ministry so that he could continue to say the TLM, puzzled over the ready acceptance of the NO by priests. He mused:

But there was a problem to which I found an answer difficult. All priests had said the old Mass daily and with due decorum and even with apparent devotion. How came it that ninety-eight percent were perfectly willing to change it—and this not at the behest of the Council or of the Pope. A pure permission was given, and they all jumped to it like the Gadarene swine. Besides, I had been dean for a number of years and knew the priests of my deanery very well. Only two of them were sufficiently stupid to think themselves brilliant—and consequently welcomed the opportunity to express their personality. The rest, in private, were against the changes. However, only one, a Dominican, stuck to the old Mass. What made the others change? Obedience, apathy, fear of reprisals, anything for a quiet life—all those sort of motives undoubtedly played their part, but the fact remains that they cannot have loved the old Mass. It was just a ritual which could be changed like a pair of pants. But if they did not love the Mass it must be that they were incapable of adoration. They must consider Mass as something they do, not as something God does.

“Lex credendi, lex orandi”—faith rules prayer and prayer faith. I had no doubt about the faith of my fellow priests—except one, perhaps—so the trouble must lie with prayer. Here, indeed, I found us priests singularly lacking. We were much too busy saying Mass, saying our breviary or doing something, to spend a moment in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We encouraged the laity to do so, but rarely did it ourselves. Now I come to think of it, during my seminary course at the Beda I received plenty of instruction on ascetics, on how to perfect myself; but none on prayer, how to adore God. What little I know about the adoration of God I had picked up by reading the mystics—such as Gertrude of Helfta and Teresa of Avila—or spiritual writers such as Augustine Baker, Surin and Grou.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox dailyEmail subscribe inline (#4)SUBSCRIBEBryan Houghton, Unwanted Priest: An Autobiography of a Latin Mass Exile, ed. Gerard Deighan (Brooklyn: Angelico Press, 2022), 68–69.

It would seem the solution to the problem of priests not saying the Mass with a full consciousness of its meaning would be that recommended by Houghton—and by several popes: teach them how to pray and the importance of Eucharistic adoration. These are virtues that must be learned and practiced in spiritual reading, meditation, and personal prayer. Imposing a new rite of Mass and a new breviary is not at all the obvious solution to the problem. 

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Mischaracterization of the TLM, Then and Now – Crisis Magazine

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