Wouldn’t you like to think we’re all on the same page when it comes to Holy Mother Church? Yet nothing could be further from the truth as we begin 2022, nor have all of us ever been singing from the same hymnal, as it were. Except for that singular, narrow road travelled by few, the ways to heaven appear to be wide and many for Catholics these days.
Most of us are de facto Protestant, openly and unrepentantly rejecting unchangeable Church doctrine while demanding acceptance by our Catholic Church. (By golly, maybe Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi really do represent us!)
A pathetic 18% of U.S. Catholic registered voters fully accept and strive to live by the Church’s teachings, according to a 2020 study. Said another way, 8 of every 10 Catholics in this country are thumbing their noses at one or more truths revealed to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, studies show the vast majority of us deny the real presence of Jesus Christ, support same-sex marriage, and find homosexuality socially acceptable. Over half of U.S. Catholics believe that abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are not intrinsically evil. And we probably don’t need a survey to tell us the sins of contraception, fornication, and divorce are as widespread among Catholics as they are among the general population. Just take a look around you.
Paradoxically, most of us do believe Church teaching that Satan and Hell are real. For all intents and purposes, it seems we have embraced the Protestant creed with gusto: We’re “saved” from eternal damnation from the moment we say “I believe” until we inhale our last breath, even if we continue to live in sin.
And, really, why wouldn’t most Catholics today fall into this error? For decades our liturgies and homilies (to say nothing of our Catholic schools, universities and seminaries) have subverted Catholic teaching, de-emphasized the grave danger of sin, and pushed almost exclusively a Gospel of nonjudgmental love and mercy. Pay no attention to that worrywart, St. Paul, who warned us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Consequently, in the Mass typically attended by most Catholics—the Novus Ordo—you are apt to find people whose behavior is more befitting of a moviegoer than a sinner in the presence of Our Lord, Redeemer and Judge. They are perfectly at ease chatting with others (sometimes even on their cellphones) when silence should be observed. They sit when they should kneel. They use the orans posture when folded hands are in order. Most receive Holy Communion in their hands while standing, and some still kneel to receive on their tongues. Church attire ranges from “Sunday best” to casual-but-acceptable to immodest-and-inappropriate. Confession lines are short, and Mass attendance on Sundays and holy days is in free fall.
Factor in the many tones and styles of the Novus Ordo, varying from diocese to diocese, parish to parish and even Mass to Mass within the same parish. Yes, the apparently acceptable ways to salvation are “six ways to Sunday” in today’s Catholic Church!
Now let us return to that small minority of Catholics striving to keep the faith, fight the good fight, and finish the course: the aforementioned 18% of us who embrace the fullness of the faith. With notable exceptions in the Novus Ordo world, these are Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) Catholics who must literally go out of our way to live, learn and practice the faith of the Church Fathers, Doctors and nearly all of the Saints.
Each Sunday in America, an estimated 100,000 Catholics attend the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), often requiring us to drive an hour or more away from our homes—at least until Pope Francis declared open warfare on the TLM. Now many of us are being forced back into the Novus Ordo fold, where we have historically been misunderstood and marginalized. Others are fleeing to the catacombs, so to speak, to attend the Mass of the Ages in secret. And you can be certain our number will only rise in the face of this persecution.
Rare indeed is the TLM Catholic who rejects Church teaching. The percentage who approve contraception, abortion and gay marriage is miniscule and is evidenced by a disproportionate number of young, married couples with large and growing families.
If you do not attend the Traditional Latin Mass, I encourage you to learn more about it and, at the very least, join your TLM brethren on the narrow road in praying for the return of the Mass of Ages as the Mass for all time. Meanwhile, my hope is to provide you with helpful information about our beloved TLM. Until next time, Dominus vobiscum!