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Fr Cusick's empty church during its previous Latin Mass time slotA Priest Life/Blogspot

(The Wanderer) – A popular article published late last year by a Catholic writer, in a journal of the same persuasion, brought tears and sympathy for a priest no longer in parish ministry. The article claimed he “vanished,” as indicated by its title. He in fact, after years of repetitious discernment both in and out of parish ministry, once again decamped in favor of religious life in another state.

That he was no longer in regular contact with his parishioners in daily ministry was undoubtedly a loss to them and, I imagine, a difficult adjustment. When all the conditions are right, a priest and his people develop the tight bonds of the religious family that they, by means of grace, in fact are. However, if this priest has found his ultimate calling, it is a gain for the Church.

Every soul that pursues his or her vocation, not counting the cost to self or others in that searing process of honest discernment, should know the benefit of our prayers and support, to include sacrificing our own will in order that God’s be done.

Every priest is a victim soul by reason of his ordination as an alter Christus. The priest by means of his ministry is an extension of Christ who dies on the cross to save the world. That some priests pursue a more radical form of this denial of self should be a cause for gratitude. This should not be cause for amazement or dismay. The priest goes where he is needed to serve and save souls. Sometimes this entails moving beyond parish ministry to the higher calling of religious life through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Let us pray for all diocesan priests who answer the summons to pray and sacrifice unceasingly for all of us by means of greater contact with the Lord through the detachment from the world afforded by the eremitic life.

One of the present-day ills has been an unhealthy focus on the personality of the individual priest. The strength of the Traditional Latin Mass is the concealing of the identity and personality of the priest, to more readily enable the essential contact with Christ by which salvation is realized for souls at worship. Conversely, reducing the priest to an MC of a community gathering emphasized the personality and gifts, or lack of them, and the identity of the priest became the focus of the Mass. The entire orientation of worship toward the Lord was lost thereby.

That focus on the person of the priest has become more exaggerated in post-Conciliar era. “I like Father’s Mass,” or “Father, I like your Mass” (“I don’t like the other Father’s Mass”). I imagine the individual reader can easily supply a plethora of personal examples which will demonstrate that the more the priest is emphasized, the less so is Christ.

Yes: The priest is a victim. That, however, is because Christ, to whom the priest is configured by means of ordination, is the perfect Victim as Savior; Priest and Altar of the only means of eternal salvation. The priest gives all for souls, ready to imitate the Lord for their sake in the greatest love possible of “laying down his life for his brothers.”

The priest as another Christ is a man for others. He gives up a family of his own through celibacy; through obedience he opens up his existence as total gift for the families and individuals of parish life wherever he is sent. The priest as priest is intended to be replaceable. The gifts of the priesthood are bestowed equally upon all priests.

Our Catholic faith does not depend on any particular priest but on Christ who comes to us, preaches to us, serves us, sanctifies us, and loves us in each individual priest. The mission of the worldwide Church is strengthened by means of this truth and weakened when this truth is neglected.

My parish was exploding with spiritual vitality when the death sentence for tradition in parish life was handed down from Rome. We were riding the wave of traditional renaissance, given rebirth after the Council by Ecclesia Dei, and which then expanded further under Summorum Pontificum.

READ: Australian archbishop issues crushing restrictions on Latin Mass, undermining thriving parish

The arts flourished in an outsized way in our small parish of a mere 100 families. One of our own parishioners painted the murals adorning the sanctuary. Parishioners designed, built, installed and marbleized the gradine complementing our marble main altar and predella. The chandeliers, lamps, and pine floor were installed entirely by parishioners. No detail was neglected that would serve to further beautify the sacred house of God and give Him greater glory.

More significant for worship and the glory of God was our small choir and schola that dedicated themselves to the discipline of regular practices. They had achieved a level of expertise that would rival any venerable parish choir. A video of their melding of male and female voices in polyphony on a recent Sunday went viral on Instagram.

Yes, my parish family was unjustly and rudely wrenched from our very happy and graced existence in parish through abuse of power in Traditionis custodes.

Fr. Cusick’s church before the Latin Mass restrictions.

The many souls of my parish family are the victims who vanished. On a recent Sunday I reflected with sadness in our empty church at 11 am which, until September 21 this year, had weekly surged with souls: confessing, praying, singing, worshipping, blossoming in the grace of God unto salvation. My family has been denied the true basis now for real parish life: a church of their own.

They’re now gone from what they had a right to expect would always be their home until the Lord called them from this life. Some families decamped for a nearby SSPX chapel. I have yet to see some members of my now scattered family on Sundays at the authorized location for the TLM. That will be available only for three years and never for Christmas, Easter, or Pentecost.

Fr. Cusick’s empty church during the previous Latin Mass time slot

These souls are the “victims” who “vanished,” rejected by those who have divinely mandated responsibility for their pastoral care. We have here no lasting city. When we are no longer welcome in one place we shake the dust from our feet and move on to the next. Church buildings come and go. What we accomplished in less than twelve years at my parish can be done again. God’s will be done. Onward and upward.

Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Reprinted with permission from The Wanderer