Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Latin To The Rescue In A Divided Kansas City-St Joseph Diocese

According to the Kansas City-St Joseph worship committee, this activity will bring unity to a very divided diocese.  I'm not kidding.

I am finally at a loss for words.  In the interests of unity and prayers for Bishop Finn's intentions and to shine light in all the darkness, the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph is inviting one and all to a.......Latin Mass.  The following is the full text of an email sent out by the Diocesan Worship Office.

The Holy Mass is being celebrated principally to give much glory to God through the ancient and sacred liturgy that is the Extraordinary Form, with all beauty and reverence. But it is also purposed to promote unity, which is borne of a common history or tradition - hence why we have opted for a Solemn High (Traditional) Mass.

So whether one identifies as a "charismatic" or a "traditionalist" or something in between, we can all appreciate that which has been celebrated by the Catholic Church for hundreds of years. How glorious will it be to see those of your fold theretofore unacquainted, alas even divided by the aforesaid labels, kneeling next to one another in the pews! Amidst all the discord and disunity during this present darkness, let there be light!

Toward this end, we have quite intentionally arranged for three priests of somewhat disparate callings to unite in the celebration of this Holy Mass. Specifically, Canon William Avis of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest will celebrate the Mass, assisted by Fr. John Fongemie of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (deacon) and Fr. Evan Harkins of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (subdeacon). Deacon Wehner, Director of Sacred Liturgy for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Seeing these priests come together for a common end - namely, the greater glory of God - will do more for unification of the flock than a myriad private prayers.

I really hope you can help me in publicizing this event. Because this Mass is being offered for the intentions of Bishop Finn and for unity among his flock, and because footage of the Mass is potentially to be acquired by EWTN, we are really hoping for a full house.


The next time I read some traditionalist spouting off about how the left uses the sexual abuse crisis for their own 'agenda', I will point them to this article.  Forget about any abuse victims or irritated parents, if enough 'unifiers' show up, EWTN might even televise it.  Imagine that.

This reminds me of the school of thinking which believes if you throw a big enough show, the masses will be distracted and over look administrative malfeasance.  This is actually kind of apropos since that was ancient Rome's favorite trick and the current Kansas City Catholic emperor is doing his best to return things to ancient imperial Rome and all for the glory of God.  I did notice though, that Finn himself is not celebrating this Solemn High Mass, which means he's giving up a chance to actually wear his cappa magna.  But this is the line that got me laughing hysterically:
"Seeing these priests come together for a common end - namely, the greater glory of God - will do more for unification of the flock than a myriad private prayers."

Nice to know that four priests mumbling Latin is worth more than a 'myriad' of private prayers, and that just 'seeing' these priests come together, is all the laity need do.  Don't have to pray or anything, just come and see and oh yea, kneel on cue--EWTN cameras don't need to catch pew potatoes fumbling through the kneeling parts.

In the meantime there are hurting and angry parents in the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph.  Parents whose children were exploited for the sexual pleasure of one priest.  There could be victims of something other than Ratigan's prurient photography that no one knows anything about, and yet Finn's diocese engages in Latin spectacle as a healing strategy.  I keep thinking this has got to be a joke, but the fact it's not is almost incomprehensible.

It's beginning to look more and more like conservative Catholic bishops are indeed waging a war against their own laity.  I say keep it up because the time is getting closer and closer when laity who have sat in the pews hoping for sanity will eventually realize they are not going to get any sanity.  They are only going to get deeper levels of insanity--

And speaking of insanity,  there is another situation I've recently blogged about that also has it's insane moments.  Check out this link from some other pastoral puppies following in the Black Sheep Dogs' paw prints.  Warning, be prepared to howl.  


  1. "the time is getting closer and closer when laity who have sat in the pews hoping for sanity will eventually realize they are not going to get any sanity."


    Looks like you're getting closer and closer yourself. Time's a wasting!

  2. Could it be that the email sent out by the Diocesan Worship Office is an English translation of a Latin invitation? For it sounds impossibly contorted, sentence by sentence, in an old-fashioned way, reminiscent of, perhaps, an antique Latin-English dictionary. Well, and the grammar too.

    It was PatO's thesis that clued me in to this possibility.

  3. Second anon, you're right, it really does read like a translation from high church Latin.

    PatO, Latin still is the official language of the Church so all of your speculation could be true. I wonder if Bishop Finn dreams in Latin.

    First anon, I don't know that I'm the one who feels necessarily pressured by 'wasting time'. I'm beginning to see that time is weighing heavily on the traditionalists because they are acting way too impulsively. Like folks who know the time envelope for asserting their truth is rapidly closing.

  4. It should be increasingly clear to all American Catholics that our prelates "play" to their monied supporters and really don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks.

  5. Today Bishop Malone of the Portland (Maine) diocese announced that the bishop's mansion in downtown Portland is being put up for sale and the diocese will be buying a new home for the bishop in nearby West Falmouth, coincidentally one of the wealthiest areas of the state. Reasons given? Easier to heat and maintain. Probability? Gated community and better security, not to mention friendlier neighbors.

  6. For what it's worth, I'd kick a fiver in the plate to get a hi-res video of Bishop Finn saying "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa".

    Unfortunately, he's conned canon Avis to stand-in for him. Mebbie the good bishop may not remember how to say 'it's my fault' in any language.

  7. I find it increasingly amusing how people in authority have a logic chain that goes something like this:
    Step 1: We've run into a problem that no one has ever seen before. [My thought here is generally 'Short on your history lessons are you?]
    Step 2: This problem is making us look bad even though we could have done nothing to prevent the problem. [All kinds of responses to this one. 'Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it' is at the top of my more charitable list.]
    Step 3: Yesterday, we did NOT have this problem. It was a purer, simpler time when no child was molested, there were no gay, lesbian, transgendered people, rape never happened, racism never happened, sexism never happened, divorce never happened, theft murder and mayhem never existed, etc, etc...[Why do people always and forever look at history exclusively through rose-colored glasses?]
    Step 4: The grand conclusion - We can get back to that simpler, purer, sin-free time by making some grand gesture that will usher it in.

    In this particular instance, the authority [in the person of the bishop] decided: Bring on the Latin Mass, proclaimed by not 1, not 2 but by 3 ordained priests. Yes, by golly. That will fix everything!! [To which I respond 'In what universe? Does the bishop imagine that the Latin Mass was originally written by Adam in the Garden of Eden before his fall?']

  8. I am a child of Vatican II. I have never had a Latin Mass. So, unity? What unity? And what in the hell is a “Sovereign priest”? I feel sorry for these people. Nothing will bring unity short of Vatican III!

  9. This keeps up and I foresee a future where anthropologists study the Catholic church in the same manner they study fundamentalist Mormons today. And the subjects of those future documentaries will be just as alien, brainwashed and anachronistic as we find the FLDS today.


  10. Just how clueless can Finn be? He's OD, that's probably the reason he got the job, but he's not ready for prime time, and probably will never be.

    PatO, you are probably righter than you know about it all being in Latin. It was common for European historians and clergy to write about things considered salacious or scandalous in Latin.

  11. Check this link out for the real truth about the real traditional Mass. These Latin lovers haven't got it right at all. The Society of St Pius I has it right. The real traditional Mass is in Greek. The article is a little long, but it's also fantastic satire guaranteed to bring a chuckle or three or more.


  12. The Mass of Paul VI is a microwave TV dinner version of the Catholic tradition.

    A Solemn High Mass is divine in the real sense of the word to me.

    Nonetheless, I find this use of the traditional form to be a tactless, political usage damaging to the cause of those of us who do love the pre-concilliar liturgy. It should not be a tool used to distract us from the state of contemporary Catholicism (hierarchy especially), which I would characterize as "advanced decay".

    While any legitimate form of the Mass (which includes the books of 1962) is fair game for healing among the Catholic people, the Tridentine form should not be a shiny diamond distraction for clerical corruption.

    That Finn and others can not see this is both telling and unfortunate.

  13. Well stated JD. I think in this case though, the TLM is probably very comforting to the people who are 'promoting' it. That would make it selfish, not unifying.

  14. @JD,

    Legitimate, but TV Dinner?

    That's just sad.

    Colleen's link to a piece by Phil Thompson eventually leads to a website describing how he has come to the Orthodox church. It was through his study of the early church history.


    Phil Thompson quotes St Justin Martyr (First Apology, Chapters 61-67) to describe the liturgy of the early Christians.

    As I read this, the New Mass of Vatican 2 is closer to the original form of worship than what it replaced. (No TV's, no microwaves, no frozen dinner down in those first century catacombs.)

    As an altar boy in the early 1960's I remember serving those old latin masses. Many years have passed but in my faith journey I have found the latin rite to be inferior in every respect. And I studied latin!

    I am sorry to see you are a young fogey. Keep an open mind. Sometimes the new is more authentic and true than what precedes it.


  15. Never been called a "fogey" before, but I guess I'll take it.

    Suffice to say, I think trying to make the Mass more "like" the early church has been a pretty serious error, a false historical imaginary that constituted an ideological blank check for an unprecedented iconoclasm...

    I mean why not just insert the Eucharist right in the parish basement Spaghetti Dinner and call it a Love Feast?

    I am not opposed to reforms but I think what happened was executed in a manner that simply defies the process of authentic liturgical growth. Trying to take a Tradition somewhere new by taking it back about 18 centuries in less than a decade is my definition of "microwave food"

    That the Catholic Church between the late 60's and 90's was anything more like the first few generations of Christians is dubious to me.

    I don't really know anything about Phil Thompson. But you do realize that Orthodox Divine Liturgy is an entirely different species than the Missal of Paul VI and what goes on in a typical Roman Catholic parish today, don't you?

  16. @JD

    What do you long for in that old order? A ritual in a dead language conducted behind a wooden or stone rood screen that separates the laity from the altar? Whenever I hear people like you getting dizzy about the Magisterium of the Church I think they long for the Gothic Cathedrals and absolute power the RC Church held over 12th century Europe. Or would you say the Council of Trent was too much too soon?

    Actually I think you should consider Vatican 2 in the same light as the Protestant reformation. It addressed some of the issues that had been on the agenda for about 500 years. The latin church you long for executed William Tyndale for translating the New Testament into English and publishing it, in defiance of church authority. He was tried for heresy, strangled and burned at the stake.

    Or do you prefer the Spanish Inquisition?


  17. P2P,
    If you're going to blame the Inquisition and the killing of heretics on the Latin Mass, I think you sound not too unlike the rad trads who blame the sex abuse crisis on the Novus Ordo.
    Also, who said I was getting dizzy about the Magisterium? It might surprise you, I do have sentimental attachments to certain things in the reformed rite from my childhood. There are also some places where the New Mass is prayed with an eye to traditional worship, and this is more edifying for me today. I've never said everything about it is bad. However, in my common experience of the Novus Ordo, I must admit I see a trite, superficially communal,excessively sentimental, soft, secularized ritual unwilling to textually or symbolically grapple with anything like the real teeth and grit of life that makes spirituality necessary and rewarding. Honestly, I'm better off to go see a film (say, by talented agnostics like Bergman) if I want to drink from something like the mystery of suffering, of joys amidst it, of life, death and rebirth, of my own inner life and struggle for selfhood's death. It is, for me, very much a question of ethos and demeanour. The New Mass tends to have nothing of Christ's cry "My God, why have you forsaken me?", nor none of his exilic "I thirst!" and yet still so little of his "Behold, I make all things new!" . Rather, "Behold, I make all things lame". Few things are as prayerful for me as chant, which washes over us in prayer with its sober, pained and holy longing. And yes, I want altar rails because the Holy, for me, is not only extraordinarily intimate, but also, and at the same time, distant, out of reach, drawing my eyes and heart to a horizon where my body can not go.

    Why do so many of the hymnal's lyrics sound like they never left the gradation of a child's Sunday school lesson?

    Frankly, the New Mass just lacks gravitas. Yes, it is possible that pre-conciliar Catholic spirituality was too pessimistic and melancholic--fraught with problems--and that the the liturgy had come to be seriously neglected. But its replacement is, I'll say it again, exceedingly lame. Kevin Smith really got to the heart of the matter in "Dogma" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyYCxz_Ao5g

    Now, I don't mean to say that Mass should be a damper on our spirit. Of the Orthodox, I've only attended the Ukrainian Catholic liturgy. This was quite vibrant, symbolically rich, communal, determinedly optimistic and at once cosmic and humbling. I admire it. I am also not under the fantasy that the Church can "go back". But the Old Mass is still within living memory and I see no reason why it can not "resource" the liturgy in some measure as well as be available in full for those segments of the Catholic faithful who deeply desire it.

  18. JD,

    Thanks for responding.

    Jesus was not medieval, neither should you aspire to live in that era.

    I am sorry that your idea of the Mass is to exclude the laity, linguistically, physically, and liturgically.

    I am pleased that you have enough intellectual curiosity to read Colleen's blog, to participate in the discussion and engage with others here.