The Traditional Movement has changed quite drastically over the past five decades. What began with small pockets of fearless individuals seeking to preserve the Latin Mass across the world with slow organic growth has dramatically developed into a large movement of pilgrims who seek to share the Truth with fervor and piety. The growing numbers of faithful adhering to tradition, not for the sake of personal satisfaction, but for the glory of God is astounding. Yet, how did we get to this point? How did we get to a place of substantial growth that is no longer hidden underground? A place where high levels of shame do not prevail? (Yes, I’m well aware that the world is not perfect, and the Latin Mass is still not widely accepted or appreciated by some, but from my eyes as a child growing up in the 1980s Latin Mass Movement – things have drastically changed.)
There is one astounding factor that seems to give rise to this astronomical growth in the Latin Mass and that is the ability of adults to view Traditional Catholicism with childlike fervor through the love of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. We see the Sacred Heart of Jesus particularly in this passage about children:
And Jesus, calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them. And said: amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18: 2-4).
The Sacred Heart of Jesus loves children, and children love the Sacred Heart. Encountering the Latin Mass for an adult is like becoming a child again and encountering the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Latin Mass communicates the Sacred Heart to those who have the heart of a child. The Latin Mass creates the heart of a child even in adults because the Latin Mass manifests the Sacred Heart.
One thing that children do better than adults is wonder. It is the humility of a child to accept gifts from the Almighty Father, to acknowledge one’s dependence on the Creator, and to share these gifts with others. The immense growth of the Latin Mass, over the past fifteen years, is due to God’s graces and the acceptance of those graces by clergy and laity who desire to share traditions, just as little children yearn to love and share a precious gift.
It is in a child that faith and hope are so freely given without reserve, but many adults, in the secular world, have difficulty appreciating or accepting these virtues because it places a dependance on God. The corruption of the world and the pessimism that results from age and experience can be debilitating. But the eyes of a child are steeped in optimism, joy, and youthful fervor. Through these captivating eyes of childlike confidence, the Sacred Heart of Jesus pours forth graces upon those devout souls. It is of great value, for souls, to see the world from the eyes of a child. This is not always easy, but beneficial for the spiritual growth of one’s soul. To appreciate the traditions of Catholicism, one must appreciate the mystery, the stability, and the dependence upon the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Very often, I have heard from families that they were brought to the Latin Mass by their children – from very young ages to older teenagers. It was the children who first appreciated the beauty and the mystery before the parents were willing to embrace it. This continual pattern is quite remarkable, and there are some important factors to reflect upon. The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is that fount of love that souls are desperately in need of for their salvation. As we close this month of June devoted to the Sacred Heart, let us thank God for His month in which souls are encouraged to focus on this Divine Love and to return to this childlike fervor.
Childhood is based upon dependence – the stability and love of one’s family. This is the same with Tradition and Catholicism. There is a strong reliance of the soul upon the Sacraments and graces so beneficial to achieve sainthood. The traditions of the Church (whether through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments, the observance of the Liturgical Year – feasts and fasts, or saintly devotions) ultimately brings souls closer to God. This is the purpose of this life – to aim towards sainthood and the glory of God. Yet, if the traditions of the Church are reduced to suggestions rather than priorities then the soul quickly starves and turns towards pessimism and personal satisfaction. There is no longer the stability and continuity that the soul desperately seeks in this unpredictable world. This is when a soul loses its child-like wonder and drifts farther from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It has been a tremendous gift to view the progression of the Latin Mass Movement since my childhood. Growing up with the Latin Mass was truly a blessing as Tradition brings beauty, stability, and mystery. These aspects especially appeal to the senses of a child. It is children who are the first to seek joy and wonder at the mysteries of God. The hardness of life and adulthood have not yet impacted their outlook.
The recent growth of the Latin Mass shows a resurgence in this childlike wonder that so many adults have lost in our materialistic world. The constant noise, advertising trends, and loneliness among material goods has reached a breaking point for many lost souls. There is a desire for inner peace, joy, and to strive towards the supernatural. None of this can be found in the world. Though God has given us beauty and goodness in this life, they are only a means towards heaven. There appears to be a strong correlation between the desire for supernatural peace and the growth in the Latin Mass and traditions. As the secular world strives to push its “agenda” a bit harder every year, the growth towards goodness is fighting back with force. However, this growth can only be achieved through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus that desires each soul to grow closer in His love. It is only through the graces and mercy of the Sacred Heart that souls will continue to turn away from pagan beliefs and develop an awe-inspiring love for His Heart.
Through the love of the Sacred Heart, this childlike confidence has grown rapidly alongside the Traditional Movement. For with faith in God and His glory, the beauty and stability of Catholic Tradition is a lure for wandering souls seeking solitude in the Creator. There were many graces given to those early souls who fought to preserve the Latin Mass in the 1960s – 1990s, even when it appeared hopeless, they continued to have that childlike hope and wonder. It was their dependance on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and an overwhelming desire to share this precious jewel with future generations that kept the Latin Mass from falling perpetually between the cracks of time in hopeless despair. As I reflect on the dramatic changes in the Traditional Movement from my childhood to adulthood, I continue to marvel at those souls who early on continued to preserve the Latin Mass with the strength of an adult, but with the love and awe of a child. Through the graces of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, these childlike souls who strove to preserve the traditions of the Church are truly the unsung heroes of the Traditional Latin Mass Movement.
Photo by Allison Girone.
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.