26 September 2021

Washington Post: Front Page Latin Mass Article

Traditionis Custodes has certainly stirred interest in odd places. This is the second major article in a mainstream, secular newspaper since its issuance.

From Rorate Cæli

By Kenneth J. Wolfe

Last Sunday the Washington Post printed a front page article on the traditional Latin Mass, complete with a beautiful photo of High Mass at a Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter parish.   The second such major mainstream media feature on the TLM -- following the Wall Street Journal earlier this month -- the coverage has featured Catholics who attend the Latin Mass and their reasons for doing so.

Both the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal pieces were written by the papers' Rome/Vatican reporters.  This is an important detail, as reporters based in Rome who cover the Vatican closely are often more knowledgeable about Catholic news and issues than U.S.-based religion reporters (although there are exceptions to this rule) at mainstream newspapers, who are usually obsessed with social issues from their leftist point of view.  In this case it meant the D.C.-based religion reporters at the Washington Post were not at all involved -- definitely a good thing considering their previous articles and bias concerning just about anything traditional or religious.  

Chico Harlan, of the Washington Post's Rome bureau was the sole writer for the article.  He spent time in Lincoln, Nebraska, to get a sense of how TLM communicants worship.  How they socialize.  How they communicate.  And it turned out well.  He reported, pretty fairly, what he saw.

Harlan spent a considerable amount of time in Lincoln with Rorate Caeli contributor Peter Kwasniewski, who is featured prominently in the article.

Moreover, the Washington Post hired a freelance photographer, Madeline Cass, to take numerous photos during Mass and of various scenes in Lincoln.  Her work is simply amazing, adding beautiful images to Harlan's piece.  In addition to the photo of the Mass on the front page, several other photos ran inside the paper and online.

This is not to say the article is perfect -- remember, we are talking about a major mainstream newspaper.  But for a front page Sunday story, this is a positive snapshot of a TLM community.

The Washington Post article, like the Wall Street Journal's, is behind a paywall, so we cannot copy and paste the entire piece.  But here are some excerpts:

The members of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church have been on edge for weeks, worried that their way of worship is under threat, and what makes their fears especially agonizing is the identity of the person leading the crackdown: Pope Francis.



But within the U.S. church — a global epicenter for the traditionalist movement — the pope’s decree has only deepened the opposition, expanding it to include fundamental questions about worship and what it means to be a good Catholic. Those loyal to the Latin Mass say they are simply praying the way hundreds of past popes have worshiped, the way saints have worshiped, the way their own grandparents worshiped — using a ceremony they find beautiful, rich, unblemished.




Many conservative-leaning U.S. bishops have simply allowed the Latin Masses to continue, and one, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., shared the text of his dispensation on a canon law listserv so other prelates could follow suit.
“My assessment of this is that it was ill-advised,” Paprocki said in a phone interview. “I don’t know who was advising him. But to the extent he was trying to solve a problem here, the motu proprio stirred things up.”




“We are radically countercultural,” said Matt Rauert, 36, who described his life on a “homestead” outside Lincoln with his wife and six children, raising chickens and ducks, trying to live as best he can off the land, and attending Sunday Mass in a coat and tie.




Almost everybody at St. Francis has a story about starting in the mainstream rite and discovering, with a convert’s zeal, the Latin one, conducted in a language most don’t understand. And almost everybody has a story about how their lives, thereafter, had changed.
For Jacob Bauer, 24, that meant applying the principles of the church to nearly every aspect of his family life. It meant modesty — no trips to the beach, for instance, where revealing clothing would be on display. It meant refraining from gossip. It meant a defining 2017 conversation with his eventual wife, Hannah, now 25, about how the role of women had veered off course during modern times, and how something more traditional would be best for their family. So Hannah decided to reconsider her optometry career goals and stay home to raise a family. They now have one young child and hope to have more. Hannah wants to home-school the children.
“I was given the conviction I could do that from church,” where many women were going the same route, she said.




On this August Sunday, the members at St. Francis were packed in — few vaccinated or wearing masks. In the choir loft, Kwasniewski, Bauer and others were chanting Gregorian melodies, projecting a warbly sound that echoed as if the church were a stone cave. At the altar, Heffernan was leading the Mass ad orientem — facing toward the altar, back turned to the congregants — and praying in Latin, sometimes barely above a whisper. For congregants, the Mass had the feel of mystical theater. They were witnessing something that was hard to understand, and it was up to them to find the meaning, to pray silently to God.
There was a homily, in English. Then the distribution of wafers [Communion] on the tongue. And soon after, it was over. Some congregants stayed kneeling, continuing silent prayer as the church emptied out, but others came through the door, heading out back for a coffee social under the basketball hoop.

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