There has been a lot of talk on Twitter over the past week on a Mass in the extraordinary form coming to an end in a parish well known for it’s Traditional Latin Mass. One element of the discussion has, I feel, been a little short sighted from the outset. There have been comments that the new parish priest has no right to cancel the EF Mass, comments such as “how dare he” (I kid you not) have been tweeted.
This of course will mean the previous parish priest will have no right to introduce a weekly Sunday TLM in his new parish. The new parish already has a regular, though less frequent, TLM. Will any adjustment to the current style of Masses in his new parish be greeted with the same disappointment from those voicing their concern? I hope so, otherwise we are being rather hypocritical.
I have seen quite a few blog posts on the matter this week also. Most of them from anonymous bloggers, therefore they would really have no credibility. If one has something to say, stand up and say it, or hold your counsel. If you are not anonymous to your friends, then fine, say it to your friends but we have seen how anonymity is used on social media to stir disquiet. Stirring disquiet is not a new phenomenon in the Church, St Benedict wrote of murmerers in his rule as far back as 1500 years ago.
However, of the blogs I have read by named authors none of them mention their contact with the new parish priest, none of them mention their conversation with him. They do mention the concerns of those who are sad to see the changes, but of course this is only one side of the story, I have seen no blogs reporting the feeling of anyone who is in accord with the changes either. What I have seen in this instance though is a request for prayer for all concerned. I have noted often before how such a request is conspicuous by its absence.
Another notable absence in the discussion is the use of any facts and figures. The Latin Mass Society has a whole page on their website advising people of the number of people seeking sacraments. The figures come from the Catholic Directory. This gives me the confidence to proceed to my next point.
To make this point I shall use a scenario. Just imagine that in four deaneries in one diocese a Folk Mass, all tambourines, ukuleles, rainbows and unicorns was offered every Sunday. Imagine the outcry if three of the parishes that offered these Masses suffered huge losses to their congregations in five years, these losses being measured by the returns the parish make to the diocese. By huge losses I refer to the region of 20%. This would take into consideration the shifting demographic of the location. If the next highest loss in a deanery was, let’s just say 13.6% and the Folk Mass parish was 24.4%, clearly there is an issue.
On the other hand, if the fourth parish lost about 8% and was just below the average loss made in its deanery one might expect to see that Mass left as it was while the others would take some serious thought.
Or would people say ‘Some have a great devotion to the clapping Gloria and You Shall Go Out With Joy, so they should be allowed to continue the Mass every week’? Whatever rule was decided, it should cover all rites.