Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Crash and Burn- The Diocese of St. Augustine Meeting on the Motu Proprio

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it for myself! I went to the meeting 9/18/2007 about the implementation of the motu proprio in the Diocese of St. Augustine with guest speaker, Fr. Thomas Willis Diocesan Director of Liturgy. If I had to estimate, I'd say about 70 people were there. Among which were two deacons and three priests. I knew that there may be some controversial topics brought to the floor but I never expected this:

First, the man who was MC for the event introduced the topic and ground-rules of the discussion. He stated that there wouldn't be discussion of what constitutes a "stable group" nor discussion about what "ideoneus" means. The MC stated that the people gathered are a "minority devoted to the traditional mass which no longer wishes to be treated like lepers" and mentioned that the traditional liturgy had been "banished to diocesan exile". Then he stated that Fr. Willis was representing Bishop Galeone (Fr. Willis later denied this).

When Fr. Willis came to the podium he stated that he had prepared a talk on the subject of the motu proprio but will not give it since the MC's introduction made his talk seem contradictory. With much protest from the audience, Fr. Willis conceded to give his speech but said that he "does not give any permission for his talk to be recorded". Mind you, he was invited to speak, it was not his meeting per se not to mention that this meeting was advertised on the local radio and bulletin board outside the Cody Enrichment Center. He also asked if anybody was from the secular news media. All present that I could tell stopped recording, including the local Catholic radio station- EWTN affiliate WQOP which was prepared to record the meeting.

He said that he has been subject of much personal ridicule over the internet being called "the terrorist", and mentioning that it had been mentioned that tonight was the night challenge him. The people in the audience convinced him to go ahead and give his talk anyhow.

Next, Fr. Willis gave "a history of the Roman Mass" saying that in the early 20th Century some monastic orders in Europe were given dispensation from the Vatican to use "experimental liturgies", these were supposed to be kept under wraps (I've never heard of that before) but that laypeople from the village came to hear the Mass in their native tongue and the trend caught on. Thus was the groundwork for the liturgical form. He also mentioned that "useless repetition" was eliminated with the New Mass. He said that the Novus Ordo is more of a restoration of the Mass of the early Christians. But we've heard that so many times before.
Fr. Willis mentioned that before motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta was issued, that then diocesan Bishop John Snyder met with the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship who presented to the bishop a stack of letters sent to Rome stating that the bishop hadn't acceded to the requests of the faithful for the traditional Mass. Fr. Willis said that Bp. Snyder pointed out that most of the requests weren't from locations postmarked in this diocese. He also mentioned that most of the requests for the Latin Mass in this diocese have been few and far between.

Fr. Willis said that he did not send the Memorandum to the clergy of the Diocese of St. Augustine. He said that the bishop penned most of the memorandum himself, and it was sent out under his name but he did not issue it himself.

Some of the questions from the meeting from the audience were about how a priest is to be trained. He said that the bishop told him personally that he doesn't want to make it impossible for a priest to prove himself "qualified". He said a priest would have to show that he can use the rites appropriately before being able to use the Mass just as he does before he is ordained. When asked what the diocese is going to do to help priests who want to say the extraordinary form, Fr. Willis said there's a website to go to for that information but he isn't sure of its origin. Someone mentioned that the website may be http://www.sanctamissa.org/. He told one of the audience members that if a priest desired to go to the FSSP for training that he may do so- it's up to the priest.

Some people asked why the diocese seems so negative about the situation and why not take a more proactive response to the motu proprio. I would say they were the questions that we'd all expect to be asked along with some frustration about the memorandum that was sent out.

Fr. Daniel Cody was in attendance and asked what sort of help the diocese would be able to offer to a pastor who needs help with the Latin Mass. That was certainly encouraging to hear from a priest, whereas another priest was present who said that he dislikes the Latin Mass and refuses to say it.

Fr. Willis said that if anybody wants to know why the pope called the pre-Conciliar rites the "extraordinary form", and the post-Conciliar rites the "ordinary form" that they should ask the pope themselves if they get the chance.

One person, mentioning himself to be a convert to the faith and who said he's in his 20's, stated that he believes that most younger people are "afraid of the Church officials"- afraid of what young people will be treated like if they make their voices known about their love for the traditional Mass. Fr. Willis followed this comment up by making the most shocking comment that he made all night. It was a study from Creighton University saying that people who have ADD can focus better at the Latin Mass with all the silence than at the Novus Ordo where there is more "active participation". The whole room took that comment very personally and became very upset. I never heard him recant or say to the effect "I'm not speaking of you as individuals". He just said it and let it go (to the best of my recollection) while the whole room was in a flurry. I could not believe that a diocesan official would be so bold. Many people, including myself, took that comment to heart and it is quite saddening. However, I suppose now I know why he didn't want to be recorded.

In all, it was a social disaster. It was obvious to me that the people who asked the more poignant questions were looking for straight-forward answers, and perhaps to have their voice heard after decades of silence only to be insulted and mocked.

Our Lady of Sorrows- Pray for us!


The Irish Apologist said...

This is taken from My blog comment about that meeting.......


Last night, my wife and I attended the meeting at St. Joseph’s Parish to discuss the Traditional Mass and the recent Motu Proprio by the Holy Father, and how this would effect the Diocese, and to ask Rev. Father Thomas Willis (The Director of Liturgy for the Diocese) questions. I was saddened by the way Rev. Father Willis conducted himself and the general hostile attitude of the meeting towards the Holy Mass.

The meeting started with an excellent presentation by the Director of Adult Education for St. Joseph's Parish and when Fr. Willis took the podium, the tone and mood of the meeting changed to one of controlled anger, sarcastic comments, and back-handed-ness. He expressed his wish to NOT have the meeting recorded which of course was his right. I personally would have thought he wouldn't mind so that he could NOT be mis-quoted. Hmmmmmm.

When honest questions were put to him, his answers were a beautiful exposition on various topics having nothing to do with the actual question answered....UNLESS the question was slanted against The Holy Mass.

Fr. Willis gave an extremely one-sided presentation of the history of liturgy that left alot to be desired.

Near the end of the meeting Fr. Willis in an effort to make some sort of joke I assume, mentioned a study that was conducted by Creighton University about individuals who prefer the Mass being linked to having A.D.D. This did in fact make me laugh because I thought Fr. Willis (who I heard can be rather intimidating) would have better stuff to say that that. I was not intimidated in the least, but I was very offended. (Blessed are those who are persecuted)

Now, something that Fr. Willis did say that I agree with is the fact that he mentioned that on the internet he has been blasted and very un-charitable things have been said of him. Now, I say that when we resort to those sorts of slander, we are no better than our Novus Ordo counterparts who blast The Saintly Arch Bishop Lefebvre. And those of os faithfil to the Traditions and Teachings of Holy Mother Church. Prayer and fasting for their hearts to change should be our business.
Living a TRULY Catholic life should be our silent but powerful example.

Notice I am only speaking the facts of my observations of the meeting. So much more was said that I COULD mention however; it would not solve anything. Our Holy Father has given us a beautiful gift and has tried to remove the roadblocks put up by Many Bishops. We should continue praying daily for the end to this crisis withoin Holy Mother Church and the hostility towards those of us who have been treated as the proverbial red-headed step-children.

Anyway, the meeting went as the majority of us expected with the basic gist being, His Excellency will asses the situation but Fr. Willis made clear that The Mass is NOT a priority for Bishop Galleone...

Oremus pro Antistite nostro Victor Galleone

Jeff Miller said...

This has all been like a soap opera. Being a member of Immaculate Conception where we had the indult Mass for years I have been quite surprised at the reaction of our Bishop. Since he has been so good on many things, I found this micro-management to be rather odd.

Belenista said...

Glad you posted this report!

It was a truly strange meeting. First of all, if Fr Willis didn't write it, and the bishop didn't write (most of) it, who did write it? ANd why won't they take the responsibility for it?

Aside from the usual stupid and insulting implications that TLM supporters were "devious" (the story about the out-of-diocese postmarks on the requests - well, the letters probably came from Gainesville, where many members of Gainesville parishes actually live in the Ocala postal district, not to mention other outlying places with a different postmark), "divisive" (by merely breathing, I guess), and likely child molesters (the need to vet the FSSP on a case by case basis if they came to instruct priests in the diocese), I was depressed by the overt hostility to the Pope that was noticeable in the comments of many of the anti-TLM folks, including the clergy.

It was odd that so many of the people at the meeting seemed to have come to oppose the old use mass rather than to support it. But this gave Fr. Willis a bunch of supporters to whom he could make knowing remarks about "certain people" (TLM supporters) and the Pope.