The Agony and the Ecstasy
The Process of Becoming a Traditional Priest
When a priest is trained in the Novus Ordo Mass and Rites, it is an overwhelming task to try to start changing over to the Traditional Mass and Rites.
The first challenge is to learn the complex gestures that have to be mastered when starting to say the Tridentine Mass. Then there is learning Latin and its pronunciation. Besides this we need to memorize Latin prayers that have to be said where there is no card or missal to read from (like the prayer you say when showing the Host to the people before you give Communion). The Requiem Mass is quite difficult too.
Then there are all the details, rubrics or actions involved with the Latin Baptism.
There are still many parts of the traditional rites I have not learned. But I believe it is all worth it to please God. For this reason alone I am willing to do all I have to in order to learn.
Many people who are not priest also know a great deal, or you can look up how to properly perform all the rites in books.
To offer the Holy Latin Mass you also need a missal, vestments, chalice veils, bells and a biretta. You cannot do it half-baked, you have to do it exactly as prescribed.
Praying the Divine Office or Breviary in Latin is, again, a great feat to accomplish. When I wanted to start praying the Latin Breviary, priests who were already praying it suggested I begin with Lauds and Vespers. But beginning with Lent, I decided to do it all. It is definitely overwhelming at the beginning. The time it takes, the long prayers, and the Latin. Many times I wanted to give up and go back to the Liturgy of the Hours in English. But eventually you will begin to like it. One thing I have noticed is that when praying in Latin you do realize you are keeping this language only for God. Praying the Breviary takes me two to two-and-a-half hours a day, at least.
Every part of the Traditional Latin Rite is much more work. Prepare for that. It takes so much more time and effort. Everything, literally everything, is so much more complicated. I am lazy. It is only because I love God that I am willing to do all this work.
If a priest knew how difficult it all is, he may never want to embark on this path. But when I began, I really just started with the Holy Mass and that was very difficult for me at my age, but was interesting and challenging for me. There was something very intriguing about its order. Every rubric has a logical reason behind it. It is a very masculine prayer because it is all so logical and cerebral. Then I went from there.
Once you begin to do the two Masses together, you will be all the more convinced that the Church had it right before and that you are on the right path. All the precautions included for the protection of God in the Sacred Host and Precious Blood in the Tridentine Mass become very obvious.
Then comes the crisis in your priesthood. You are living in two liturgical worlds and feel torn internally. You will begin to know what it means to be a priest who offers sacrifice to God for all the people. Your priestly identity will become clearer.
Then comes the time when you want to offer only the Tridentine Mass. At this point, more than likely no one will understand you. You have discovered a great treasure and deep spiritual experience in offering the Latin Mass. But everyone else, except for a few traditional people in your parish, will not understand you and will probably dislike you and deeply criticize you.
Now you have so much experience and knowledge that they do not possess. But in their eyes you are the one that is wrong because the pope only says the Novus Ordo Mass and you are bad to criticize or not want to offer the Mass that the Church ordinarily does. But you cannot help it because you have been offering the two Masses day after day and see the total difference. You have been reading a great deal about the inorganic development of the Novus Ordo and that knowledge cannot be suppressed. The truth you have lived and studied cannot be denied anymore.
You then come to what I call: traditional loneliness. Your priests friends no longer agree with you, the parishioners think you are extreme, and many other will strongly criticize you. This will be the most difficult time in your priestly life. But it will also be the most meaningful time of your priestly life.
The important thing to do is to remember you are offering the Holy Latin Mass and other Latin Rites because you love God. You will no longer be able to be a priest who pleases people. People will hate you, will look down on you, say you are mentally unbalanced, and will in general dislike you. But that is good, because now you have to do everything you do in your priesthood because you love Jesus and His Holy Church. No more will you get adulation. But this is spiritual maturation.
In order to not get totally overwhelmed you need to find some other traditional priests who understand what you are going through. Probably there will not be any around your own diocese, so you will have to find some elsewhere, like in the FSSP. When I was in the difficult traditional loneliness, I reached out to other traditional priests, but they didn’t help me that much. God and good traditional lay people help a lot.
Whatever level you are at in becoming a Traditional priest, just remember why you are suffering so much. It is because you have discovered the treasure of the ancient liturgy. You have discovered such a deep priestly spirituality and morality. But all this goes against the world, Modernism and progressivism.
One great danger is to become so disenchanted that you want to stop being part of the organized Catholic Church. You are tempted to become part of the Society of St. Pius X. You are tempted to become an independent priest with your own church. It is especially tempting when your bishop and parishioners are persecuting you for what you have discovered. But do not give in to these temptations. Stay in the Church and restore the Church. You may have to end up only saying private Masses isolated away from all the people you love and who used to support you. Just saying the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass all by yourself is still doing an infinite amount of good. Again, it is not us who are saving the world, but it is Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that saves souls. All we priests have to do is offer the Holy Mass. The infinite value of one Holy Mass is never to be forgotten, whether said in a parish or all alone. We priests, with Jesus, are so important in the economy of Graces.
If you have read the lives of the saints you know what to expect: suffering and joys, and meaning. If you are in the stage of discouragement, prayer and pleasing God are the two most important things you can do. But also, just looking on the internet, you really see that all over the world, the Holy Spirit is raising up priests like ourselves to offer the Holy Ancient Mass of all Ages. You are isolated and persecuted, but God is with us and working mightily. We are so fortunate to be in this era of rediscovering the great treasure that has been buried and recovered.
Whenever you priests or lay people get discouraged, just look at the New Church since Vatican II. The lack of vocations to the religious life and priesthood. The empty churches. The sex scandals. The youth Masses and the way that people come dressed to Mass. The closing of Catholic schools. All our relatives leaving the Catholic Church and going else where. The starting up of thousands and thousands of new churches. The number of Catholics using birth control and aborting their babies.
Now you see why it is worthwhile and what we are trying to help God to do: restore the Catholic Church. We traditional Catholics believe in the 1,980 years of Church teachings and what the Bible teaches. We are not in the dark. We have the light of Tradition to guide us to Heaven.