Today I am publishing a worldwide appeal for prayers for the traditional Mass, which is being coordinated by Una Voce International, with the support of many others, including The Remnant newspaper. The official text follows; I follow this with some commentary of my own. -JS
Appeal for prayers and penances
for the Liberty of the Traditional Mass in Lent
From Una Voce International and others
Una Voce International and other organisations, groups and individuals concerned with the Traditional Latin Mass would like to appeal to all Catholics of good will to offer prayers and penances during the season of Lent, particularly for the intention: the liberty of the Traditional Mass.
We do not know how credible rumours of further documents from the Holy See on this subject may be, but the rumours themselves point to a situation of doubt, conflict, and apprehension, which is severely harmful to the mission of the Church. We appeal to our Lord, through His Blessed Mother, to restore to all Catholics the right and opportunity to worship according to the Church’s own venerable liturgical traditions, in perfect unity with the Holy Father and the bishops of the whole Church.
Una Voce International (Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, FIUV,) https://fiuv.org
There has been a lot of talk on social media about a possible new document from Rome, which would restrict the celebration of the Traditional Mass even more harshly than now. A date for this document has even been proposed: Monday of Holy Week (3rd April 2023). On the other hand, some sources in Rome remain sceptical about it. Then again, even if a draft document does exist, it can be changed or discarded at any moment up until the point of its official promulgation. In short, we simply do not know what may be coming, let alone how it will be interpreted or enforced.
What we do know is that Catholics attached to the Church’s ancient liturgical tradition are living through a period of unprecedented uncertainty. In light even of existing legislation, whose meaning is endlessly contested, we can have no confidence that regular celebrations of the ancient Mass, sometimes nurtured over many years and enjoying the approval of successive bishops, will not be taken away without warning. As if that were not enough, this Mass of the Saints and Doctors and Popes, that we have discovered and come to appreciate as a source of spiritual nourishment for ourselves and our families, is now condemned, as if—to adapt a phrase of the late Pope Benedict—even our longing for it were indecent: or even something to be ashamed of, even a symptom of mental illness.
The Second Vatican Council taught that the liturgy is the source and summit of the Christian life (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14). Not all Catholics live as if that were true, but this is a characteristic of those attached to the Traditional Mass. It is for them the calm centre of their spiritual lives, a moment of silent communion with their Creator, an oasis of peace among the noise of modern life: in the words of the Canon, referring to heaven, locus refrigerii, lucis et pacis. As Pope Benedict indicated in his 2007 Letter to Bishops, many of those who have found safe harbour with this liturgical form have by that means escaped ‘deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear’: ‘arbitrary deformations [which] caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.’
It is this which is threatened by the current situation, let alone by some imminent tightening of the screws.
The mission of the Church is to bring souls to Christ. The current situation with regard to the Traditional Mass is a self-inflicted wound that undermines this mission. Apostolates and devotional events of proven value are perched on a precipice of uncertainty. Planning anything in connection with the Traditional Mass has become a game of chance. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics are deprived of the tranquil possession of their spiritual patrimony, even if it is not yet taken away from them altogether. The riches of this patrimony are hidden from many millions more.
Despite extensive efforts, I have not been able to discover any officially approved explanation of why the Traditional Mass was restricted in 2021. If it is because of some wrongdoing on the part of some particular group of people, nobody is willing to go on the record to explain who or what it was, or why that would justify causing such pain to those who are certainly innocent of it.
What we do know is that we are justly afflicted for our sins, in all the suffering which God permits to fall upon us, and that God is above all factionalism and ideology. It is to Him, therefore, through the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, that we appeal, and we call on all Catholics, even those not directly affected by the problems just described, to join us in beseeching God to restore peace to the Church.
O God, who by sin art offended and by penance appeased, mercifully regard the prayers of thy suppliant people: and turn aside the scourges of thine anger, which we deserve for our sins. Through our Lord. (Collect of the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 1962 Missal.)
Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: ne in aeternam irascaris nobis.
Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and be not angry with them for ever.
Other language versions of the appeal text here.
Editor’s note: join the Fellowship of St. Nicholas which will be offering up a corporate rule of fasting and this daily prayer for this intention.
Dr Joseph Shaw has a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University, where he also gained a first degree in Politics and Philosophy and a graduate Diploma in Theology. He is the editor of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Position Papers on the Extraordinary Form (Angelico Press), and the author of The Liturgy, the Family, and the Crisis of Modernity (Os Justi). He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and President of Una Voce International. He was a member of the Philosophy Faculty in Oxford University for 18 years and is now an independent scholar and freelance writer. He lives outside Oxford with his wife and nine children.