Posted by: Thomas Richard | February 15, 2023

We Must Not Lose the Traditional Latin Mass!

Important Background:

For a quick background: two radically different forms of the Liturgy of the Mass exist in the Roman Catholic Church today, around the world.  The predominant one, the “ordinary form,” developed from initial efforts of renewal which surfaced in the Vatican II Council.  This new, “ordinary” form replaced the centuries-old, now “extraordinary form,” the Traditional Latin Mass – the “TLM”.

The Vatican II Council was intended to be a non-radical renewal of the Church – a renewal of her approach to the world in such a way as to speak to the world in words and ways understandable to the men and women of today.   It was to seek and find ways to help the world see, listen to, hear and thus come to believe and live the radically different ways of Christ the Lord.  He sent us with this mission: to “make disciples of all the nations, … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-29).

Pope Paul VI, who closed the Council, soon learned of unintended effects of the Council that shook him to the core.  On the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1972, in the Basilica of Saint Peter, His Holiness, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon that immediately captured the attention of millions throughout the world, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Lamenting the chaotic state of the post-Vatican II Church, the pontiff declared: “Through some fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God.” 

A recently published book, by a priest having personal connections and sources on this shocking realization by Pope Paul, also gives much light and depth of perspective to us concerning our Church today:  

A couple of years later, two highly-respected Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church —Cardinal Dino Staffa, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura [the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church] and Cardinal Silvio Oddi— met privately with Pope Paul [VI] and placed before him documentation of a very damning nature —documentation indicating exactly where in the temple wall His Holiness might find that fissure. 

The damning documents concerned two high-ranking members of the Roman Curia: Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops, and Bishop Annibale Bugnini, Deputy-Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. With proof in hand, Staffa and Oddi formally accused Baggio and Bugnini of being active Freemasons and, as such, traitorous infiltrators of the central government of the Roman Catholic Church. The seriousness of the matter could not be greater, given the positions these men held. 

Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops since 1973, decided who would and who would not become a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. He chose these episcopal candidates from a pool of half a million priests throughout the world. As the successors of the Apostles, bishops are absolutely essential to the existence of the Church. If, as Staffa and Oddi alleged, Sebastiano Baggio was the “Freemason Ambassador to the Holy See,” the havoc he was in a position to wreak upon the universal Church could cause irreparable damage. The bishops who had been nominated on his watch reflected Baggio’s own liberal ideological views. In the view of Staffa and Oddi, and some others in the Roman Curia, the “Baggio Boys” were self-styled “progressives” who were opposed to the central authority of Rome, all too ready to jettison theological orthodoxy in the name of “aggiornamento” and “dialogue” with the world. They argued that this trend was supported by the values of the creed of Freemasonry that Cardinal Baggio covertly espoused. 

As for Bishop Annibale Bugnini, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and undersecretary in the Congregation for Rites, his Freemason attachment, if true, could explain the radical liturgical revolution taking place in the Catholic Church. The implementation of the directives of the Second Vatican Council had patently gone far beyond the stated intentions of the Council Fathers, and indeed at times actually contradicted them. Venerable rites, customs, and devotional practices that had been safeguarded and passed on for centuries were simply swept aside. (1)

And The Effects?

These unintended effects following the Council continued to unfold, shocking and troubling many of the faithful including (then) Pope Benedict XVI. In an address to the Roman Curia, with what appears to be a profound interior grieving in his heart, he addressed the horrific eruption within the Church – within the clergy of the Church touching all levels of her bureaucracy.  Addressing specifically the unthinkable but continuing cases of priest and bishop sexual abuse of children, the pope said to the Curia:

In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. 

“In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’

And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)” (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood. (2)

What Have We Learned?

All of this, so far, is to draw attention and importance to a crucial concern which we all must have, with all due sobriety, for the Church of our time.  The Church of today is sadly shallow in faith, in prayer, in moral obedience and in sacramental observance – this last weakness most importantly manifest in the Holy Mass.  The Church of today in her heart still beautiful beyond measure or compare, unequalled in God’s Creation, yet wounded, abused, her face sullied, her garment torn, her radiance clouded and darkened, her Truth dishonored.  Saint Hildegard’s vision reappears, only more disfigured now than then.

I have devoted years seeking to help in the work of catechesis.  The formation of children focused my attention to the need for catechesis of our adults, our parents.  The focus on adult catechesis in the Faith and in moral obedience to Truth led me to see the needs for holy empowering supernatural grace – and our need to turn to God in prayer and in living in His Presence.  

And now, from all I learned in my past, I understand the rule, “Lex orandi lex credendi.”  The law of prayer is the law of belief.  Our deepest prayer – our holy worship and adoration of God Himself in Himself – there our life in Him must be grounded, anchored; there our renewal as Church must begin.  There our focus and foundation must remain.  To rightful worship and adoration of the All-Holy Triune God we must return, and we as Church must never again forget who we are and Whose we are!  

The shameful absurdities of liturgical innovations and experimentations following the call of Vatican II for renewal in the Church, in the surrounding context of the moral collapse in the West of the 1960’s, still with us today, call the Church today to repentance and return!  The current focus on outreach to the unbelieving world by a Church barely distinguishable from that world, is yielding results that should have been foreseen: we are not evangelizing and converting them; they are evangelizing and converting us.  If it were not for immigration, the Church would be shrinking and not growing at all.(3) Immigrants are coming in, while “born-and-raised” Catholics continue going out. We are “doing Church” very badly.

The Church of today is deeply weakened and wounded by poor if existing adult catechesis in the Faith, poor catechesis in Catholic moral teachings (compounded by shameful examples of immorality tolerated in some of the clergy even “up” to scandalous examples among some bishops and cardinals) and dreadful failures to pass on to Catholic adults at an adult-level, Catholic teaching of the sacramental life and the interior life of prayer.  

But foundational to all this – to all the four pillars of the Faith – is the grace and power and Holy Manna needed and to be found in the Holy Mass.  Even this, we have minimized and weakened in our so-called “renewal” of worship and adoration of God, in leaving and now seeking to restrict if not cancel, the centuries-old “Mass of the Apostles”, the Traditional Latin Mass.  

We must not lose the Traditional Latin Mass!  Catholics need to humbly, in Spirit and Truth, worship and adore our Holy God. What is missing today in our bustling-busy parishes, with ever-expanding budgets and staff positions, with something for everybody, with “friendly” greeters and overflowing chatting and liturgical celebrations free of any awkward silences or encounters with God and His Truth?  What is missing is worship in Spirit and Truth: we have traded it in for something the world can “understand”.  We got a bad deal.  And so did all those seeking a way to find God.

End Notes:

  1. Murr, Charles. Murder in the 33rd Degree: The Gagnon Investigation into Vatican Freemasonry (pp. 44-46). Kindle Edition. 
  2. Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia, Address and Christmas Greetings Monday, 20 December 2010
  3. Richard, R. Thomas. Catholics: Some of our Members are Wandering Away!  Homiletic & Pastoral Review, 02/03/2014


  1. Dear Thomas, thank you so much for this blog article! It is longer than usual but it is filled with God’s Holy Unction. I was blessed in reading words from Bishop Schneider’s recent book on “The Catholic Mass” in which he said: “Let Love Speak”.

    • Amen to that, dear sister! The voice of Love, which is the voice of Truth, will eventually win!

  2. Thank God for the graces that brought you to compose this blog. There are, I believe, three weapons in our arsenal: prayer, fasting; and alms giving. With God’s mercy to equip us, let us join the battle.

    • Thank you, Jim, for adding this to the post. Especially as Lent approaches let us be armed with these three in what is surely a time of great spiritual battle, and an intention of great spiritual significance: the Traditional Latin Mass is a treasure we must defend.
      I’ll add this:

      Appeal for prayers and penances for the Liberty of the Traditional Mass in Lent – From Una Voce International and others:

      Una Voce International and other organisations, groups and individuals concerned with the Traditional Latin Mass would like to appeal to all Catholics of good will to offer prayers and penances during the season of Lent, particularly for the intention: the liberty of the Traditional Mass.

      We do not know how credible rumours of further documents from the Holy See on this subject may be, but the rumours themselves point to a situation of doubt, conflict, and apprehension, which is severely harmful to the mission of the Church. We appeal to our Lord, through His Blessed Mother, to restore to all Catholics the right and opportunity to worship according to the Church’s own venerable liturgical traditions, in perfect unity with the Holy Father and the bishops of the whole Church.

  3. It is so good to read the Truth about our Holy Church.

    “The Church of today in her heart still beautiful beyond measure or compare, unequalled in God’s Creation, yet wounded, abused, her face sullied, her garment torn, her radiance clouded and darkened, her Truth dishonored.”

    That paragraph brings tears to my eyes!! Our poor church. God help us. Thank you Thomas. I pray for the Latin Mass daily. I hope all Catholics will pray for TLM.

    • Yes, Susan, this is a time for fervent prayer that the Mass of our Sacred Tradition – centuries old, and eternally true – be preserved in this world until the Lord comes again. Thank you.

  4. I know many are concerned about the SSPX, but I assure you they are not in schism. I am a cradle Catholic and fell away in my early 20s. I came back about 15 years ago and was surprised with the Novus Ordo Mass. It went against everything I had been taught about my faith and the Mass. I just could not embrace it. The Novus Ordo was just not reverent. It seemed more like a show being put on. The handling of the Eucharist was in my opinion sacrilegious. About 3 years ago I found the SSPX and Have now found the reverence I was looking for. I challenge each of you, if possible, attend a SSPX sung Mass and you will be pleasantly fulfilled.
    The Latin Mass is the Mass of the Church that Jesus Christ founded through his apostles, and no one can take it away from us.

  5. Thank you for the quote from St. Hildegard! She is a true Doctor of the Church. Not only in Theology ,but also in Science and Medicine. I look forward to her continued help to get us through this morass.

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