As a cradle Catholic, my younger years look a bit different than the average Catholic child being raised in the 1980s and 1990s. I was raised a traditional Catholic, but not as it looks today. The term “Trad” was unknown. The Latin Mass was not found at local diocesan parishes, the ICKSP and FSSP had not grown so prevalent, and the average distance to drive was about 70 minutes (this was considered a short drive, but we were blessed as the “underground” Latin Mass community was quite strong in Wisconsin). Attending the Latin Mass, as a child, was not spoken about widely or shared with the average person. It was the “pearl of great price” and in a stage of preservation and protection by a small group of the laity and an even smaller group of religious. It was my grandparents’ and parents’ generation that fought so valiantly during those times to find the “underground” locations for the Latin Mass to be celebrated, to contact the priests willing to say the Old Rite, and for all of these people to put themselves in a position of social suicide in the Catholic community by attending and promulgating the Latin Mass.
I give you my background only as a tool for you to understand my experience and the reason for my following opinions, so that Catholics who desire to preserve the Traditions of the Church may find hope in this seemingly hopeless world. I have sat back and observed the many public statements and documents gradually released from the Vatican over the past several years and it certainly appears to many that the climate is worsening for the Latin Mass. However, I cannot fully agree with this. I want to share my observations from the position of a “cradle” Traditional Catholic who finds great hope in these times.
The precise understanding of those documents will not to be deciphered by myself, as I am not a theologian or canon lawyer, but I only write to share my thoughts as a lay person who grew up a traditional Catholic while all other Catholics looked at my family with a watchful and skeptical eye.
For those who are concerned by the actions of the Catholic Church towards the Latin Mass, know this:
- There is always great goodness amongst great evil.
- There is always great faith amongst the actions of persecutions.
- There is always great hope amongst the outward signs of a hopeless world.
- There is always great charity amongst persecution.
For those who struggle to see the goodness and light, know this:
- For decades, the faithful could not have predicted the growth witnessed at parishes who offer the Latin Mass in this modern day.
- For decades, the faithful only lived Sunday to Sunday for the preservation of the Latin Mass.
- For decades, the faithful organically shared the Latin Mass – there were no social media outlets, no internet websites, and no cell phones.
- For decades, the faithful lived each day according to their vocations, with the sole desire to observe God’s Laws and God’s Will.
- For decades, the faithful desired that the Latin Mass be offered in parishes throughout the world, without persecution, and without fear of repercussions.
- For decades, the faithful desired that souls would be able to witness the beauty of the Latin Mass.
For those who now desire to preserve the Latin Mass:
- Remain close to the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.
- Remain in the presence of God.
- Reman committed to your daily prayers and meditations.
- Remain close to the Holy Family.
- Remain vigilant in the preservation of Catholic Traditions in your family.
But most importantly, give it all to God. It is His battle. He has already won, but this is our opportunity to return His love with our love. To observe such growth over the brief 37 years of my life, is truly miraculous and a gift of grace that I wish to share with others who also desire to preserve the Truths and the Traditions of the Catholic Church.
It was in those trying times of my childhood that I didn’t always understand the reason for the fight of preserving the Latin Mass, but now I do. I understand the beauty that I was so blessed to have in my childhood. As St. Francis de Sales said,
He has kept you hitherto. Do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, he will bear you in his arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow.
This mentality is exactly what brought the Latin Mass out of the “underground” of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Trusting in God’s plan and fulfilling their daily duties, faithful Catholics worked tirelessly in preserving the Latin Mass for future generations. Even though the current climate may appear bleak, it is most definitely not. There are bountiful graces being bestowed upon Christ’s Church even amongst the strife and persecution inflicted upon the Traditions of the Catholic Church.
Danielle Heckenkamp is a wife and mother of six children. In her spare time, Danielle works as a freelance writer for a variety of Catholic publications.