I was a senior in high school: fully engrossed in extracurricular activities at my public school and ready to start on my college journey. I was also strong in my faith, but not particularly interested in attending the youth group at our current church or doing anything besides going to Sunday Mass. My family was the same way: very devout, but very private.
Early one Sunday morning, my mother packed us all in the car and announced, “We’re going to a church in Rockford this Sunday.” As myself and my brothers were used to going to a church that was 10 minutes away – instead of the hour we would need to drive to get to Rockford, we were shocked and confused. On the drive down to this church in Rockford, my mother explained that we would be attending the Traditional Latin Mass – a phrase none of us had heard before – and that she heard about it from a friend and wanted to try it for herself.
The moment we stepped into the church I could tell something was different but, my initial thoughts were these: This isn’t Catholic. This isn’t a Catholic church. What are we doing here?
You see, the only form of the Mass I knew up to that time was the Novus Ordo and this Mass – this church – was already so drastically different to me that I didn’t understand how it could be the same Catholic faith I had always known.
I decided to do my research and found out what many in the traditional Catholic community already can gather: the church we began attending was an Institute of Christ the King church that celebrated the traditional form of the Mass. The more I learned about the beauty of this Mass – the more my family learned – the more we fell in love with it. Or, more exactly, the more we fell in love with our Catholic faith as known through this ancient rite, the more we were renewed in our devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady.
I became involved in the choir, helped my priest lead our young adult group, and eventually became one of the leaders in the fight to save the Latin Mass in Chicago.
The same thing happened with my parents. Once they learned of the rich Tradition that formed so many of the saints we venerate, they were bound by their conscience to form their children in the best way they knew how. The beauty, the reverence, the Tradition… it was all so right that we never wanted to leave.
Does this mean we think the Novus Ordo form of the Mass is invalid? Of course not! Does this mean my parents will raise my brothers in the traditional form of the Mass because they believe it will give them a better faith formation? Absolutely.
So, the past four years we’ve been striving to live a traditional Catholic life – that is, the life that our forefathers and ancestors practiced and the rite by which they worshiped God. By God’s grace, our whole family’s devotional life has been transformed and we are filled with gratitude to God for this immense gift of faith and devotion in traditional Catholicism. But there’s one thing my parents had been really trying to provide for their children – a solid Catholic education at a Catholic school. We have tried homeschooling and various schools, but nothing turned out right. Above all, my parents told themselves they would never compromise about the traditional Mass.
Recently a new opportunity presented itself that looked like it was going to work. A group of good Catholics were working to build a quality Catholic school. But soon a problem surfaced: the traditional Latin Mass would not be available at this school. We tried to work it out with them, but unfortunately nothing was resolved. The choice was between a solid Catholic education but with the New Mass, or not. We had been hoping for this sort of education for years.
In the end, the traditional Mass was worth more than this.
With sadness in our hearts, we looked at our house and realized that the traditional Mass was worth more than this too. That’s when my parents started looking to move out of state. In the mercy of Providence, we found another school in an adjacent state which had the traditional Mass. My parents sold their house and made the move.
This wasn’t an easy decision for my family to make, and one that I’ve struggled to understand myself. In the end, I understand that this decision only further proves the fact that the Traditional Latin Mass is sacred and must be protected. It takes a lot for a family to pack up their life and move – especially a family so involved in the community in which they live – but the fight for Tradition and family makes it all worth it.
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash
Savannah Dudzik is a Communications Assistant at Illinois Right to Life and a crisis pregnancy counselor at Let Them Live. In her free time, she serves as social media manager for McHenry County Right to Life, intern for Culture of Life Fashion, and as Secretary of Chicago Pro-Life Future. She just recently completed her certification to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL), and also leads youth programs and pro-life outreach for all ages.