(LifeSiteNews) –– It’s difficult to write about the war against Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) because I am frightened of attracting attention to my own community. In fact, I’m even nervous about using the word “community” lest it give the false impression that we consider ourselves the alternative “True Church” Pope Francis mentioned in the letter accompanying his radioactive Traditionis Custodes.
This nervousness over the word is terribly ironic, mind you, for when I worshipped at the most left-wing parish in my then-town, there was talk about developing “ecclesial base communities (EBC).” Inspired by liberation theology, these were to be divisions of the large congregation into smaller groups that met together regularly for prayer and friendship. If I remember correctly, each group would be about the same size as the group of Catholics who regularly meet for tea, coffee, and cookies after my local TLM. I don’t think they would have been as young as us, however.
Yes, the TLM has become a veritable fountain of youth. In his letter accompanying the liberating Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned that young people who had discovered the TLM “felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist particularly suited to them.” It is thus a second irony that it was only after Benedict’s abdication that the demographics of my TLM shifted from an elderly “old guard” to young parents with growing families. Of course, there were students when I first turned up (age 37), just as there are now, dividing their Sundays between the TLM and their university chaplaincy. Far from considering ourselves a separate “True Church,” my fellow lovers of the TLM join local pilgrimages and groups and events sponsored or smiled upon by the archdiocese. Meanwhile, I try not to describe us as “Trads” or “TLM Catholics.” We are simply Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass.
That said, we are also among the Catholics who love the perennial Catholic faith. This is not something one can assume of all the estimated 1.3 billion or so Catholics on the books worldwide. It’s no secret that most Catholics don’t go to any Mass at all on Sundays; it would be astonishing if they kept all the other precepts and believed the doctrines on faith and morals, too. One of the most disturbing things about the Synod on Synodality process was that “fallen away” Catholics were canvassed for their opinions. It made me wonder how many secret apostates will be guiding the physical Synod on Synodality this fall.
The Synod on Synodality begins in October, and the annual Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage (October 27 – October 29) coincides with its end. The Rome Life Forum, which will deliberate the crisis in the Church and the world, takes place shortly after that: October 31 and November 1. This near convergence is both a happy accident and an opportunity.
There could be no better preparation for the Rome Life Forum than the prayers, adoration, and heartfelt liturgies of the Peregrinatio ad Petri Sedem MMXXIII. And there could be no better coda to the Pilgrimage than contributing to the Rome Life Forum. If there is anyone who perceives a crisis in the Church, it is the Catholic who knows he will not be permitted to attend or celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this year. And if one participant in the Rome Life Forum will be more valuable than another, it will be the Catholic who has just spent three days in prayer.
Personally, I’m hoping that the prayers of the Pilgrimage bear their first fruits at the conclusion of the Synod. I imagine them strengthening the orthodox Catholics among the senior clergy, straightening these episcopal spines and stiffening those cardinalate knees. But I hope their subsequent harvest appears at the Rome Life Forum.
It is very frightening to be a Catholic who loves the Traditional Latin Mass right now. We have been robbed, or have seen others like us robbed, of our ancestral treasures. We have been traduced and slandered and told we deserve it. We have lost a lot, and we fear losing what we have left. No wonder we don’t want to stick our heads above the parapet. However, our love for the Old Mass and the Old Faith fills us with light, and Our Master has instructed us not to hide this light under a bushel. “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:15).” Come and do that at the Rome Life Forum.