By: Father Jeffery A. Fasching
Taken from: The Catholic Knight
A Catholic Priest is first and foremost a man of prayer. Prayer alone with our Lord is the single most important activity that I engage in each and every day. If any priest tells you otherwise, he does not have his priorities in order. A significant number of seminarians and priests attribute their vocations to Eucharistic adoration. I am one of them. Being alone with the Lord with no distractions each day makes for a very personal visit through which I am able to listen to the Lord speak to me.
Over the years I have truly experienced first hand how the words of Pope Benedict XVI ring true regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and adoration: “Only within the breathing space of adoration can the Eucharistic celebration indeed be alive…Communion and adoration do not stand side by side, or even in opposition, but are indivisibly one.”
Less than a year ago I learned of our Holy Father’s milestone document “Summorum Pontificum,” which restored to priests the freedom to celebrate the “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite. With the help of an on-line tutorial, I trained myself to offer Mass in the extraordinary form. The reason for my attraction toward the Latin Mass is twofold: my traditional upbringing and my experience of an unwillingness on the part of many priests to follow the rubrics of the mass.
Since I have been offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the extraordinary form I have experienced both a strengthening of my faith and great consolation as a Traditional priest who has experienced tremendous support from a Traditional, like-minded bishop. I have experienced a deeper union with the Church and our Holy Father through the classical Roman Liturgy because so many saints throughout the ages have offered the Holy Sacrifice precisely the same way that I am able to do right now.
As children of God our relationship with God is by far the most important relationship we can have. This relationship is intimately united with the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. It is through the Mass alone that we are able to receive our Lord in Holy Communion and thereby nourish our personal relationship with Him. My experience has been that in any human relationship the words we use and the actions we perform play a significant role in the success of that particular relationship. Since our salvation depends upon our relationship with God, we should take extreme care with the words and actions of the Sacred Liturgy.
The documents of Vatican II clearly state that no individual, not even a priest, has the right to change the rubrics of the Sacred Liturgy. Nevertheless, this practice is common-place in many parishes. When a priest changes the words and gestures of the Sacred Liturgy he endangers the faith of those for whom he celebrates and thereby becomes responsible for diminishing the integrity of their belief. In learning to offer the Traditional Latin Mass that has grown under the influence of the Holy Ghost for so many centuries, I have experienced tremendous peace in the midst of casual behavior and gratuitous changes of words and gestures so prevalent in many parishes around me.
The Catholic Faith and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are the greatest gifts God has bestowed upon us. Therefore we must nourish our faith, grow in it, and never take what God has given us for granted. The Sacred Liturgy has been given to us by God to remain in contact with Him. As a priest, it is therefore incumbent upon me to help others to see how important the Liturgy is for our daily lives. The vestments, chalice, and all other items used during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should show that we want to give back to God the most beautiful things that we have when we are in communion with Him.
The principle aim of the Church is to bring people into communion with the Lord through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the source and summit of our lives as Catholic Christians. Consequently, Liturgical matters have always been of the utmost importance with respect to Holy Mother Church. Despite this, many pastors do not even care to take charge of how liturgies are performed in their own parishes! As a result, I have experienced a tremendous lack of knowledge among the lay faithful with respect to Catholic doctrine.
This is precisely where I believe my mission as a priest sympathetic to the extraordinary form of the Mass begins. Recently appointed pastor of a growing Latin Mass community, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my God-given faith with others who have it their aim to draw nourishment from the Sacred Liturgy that has nourished countless others throughout the centuries in the life of Holy Mother the Church.