(A Note: This priest and his parish are well known. As a whole, his parish loves him, and he loves his parish. The bad behavior described below is not in any way indicative of the majority, or even the plurality, of parishioners. He deserves a defense.)

I want to tell you a short lunch-time story about a priest I know, though not too well.

He has been the pastor of a large “indut” parish in a major city for about a year. Thus, Father is in charge of offering the Extraordinary Form of the Mass every Sunday in front of a packed church of what I would estimate is between 500 and 800 worshipers, some of whom are known for their traditionalist particularity (read “anal retention.”)

Father had two admitted disadvantages over his predecessors coming into the job. The first is that he didn’t know much about the Latin Mass. His first Masses were marked by halting Latin and rubrical errors. Father gamely studied the Mass with the aid of knowledgeable laymen. The result was a low mass that was said very, very carefully. Low Mass could run over an hour, and for months, congregants could plainly see Post-It Note glosses on the pages of the missal. In all that time, I never saw the man flinch or show any reluctance.

The second “problem” Father had from the onset is that he can’t genuflect. This foible initially caused some disgruntlement among certain Latin Mass attendees. I and others had heard grumbling around the parish, and knowledgeable sources have told me that Father has received at least a couple of pieces of what can be correctly described as hate mail. Not that Father would complain.

It isn’t in Father’s nature to complain. He is a late vocation. In his former life he was an attorney, having taken his law degree from a major Catholic university. This explains why, while not a particularly young man, Father has no working memory of the Traditional Latin Mass, liturgical Latin, etc..

Before that, he was a soldier. What stands in for his right leg is a combination of muscle, skin, sinew, bone, and prosthesis. The rest is somewhere in Vietnam. This is why he can’t genuflect.

Which means, if you are an American, Father has already suffered more on your behalf than you have the right to ask for.

And while a lesser man such as myself might have taken it easy after such an experience, Father chose to continue to help others. He took on the normal sufferings and sacrifices of the priesthood. And, in taking on the parish, with its peculiarities and particularities, he showed himself to be a man of rare mettle.

Most of the parishioners that I have spoken to are proud of their pastor. I am proud to know him. But I am ashamed to be in anyway associated with his detractors, in particular the ungrateful and base coward or cowards who send him poison pen letters.

Father continues to suffer on our behalf the mumblings and scribblings against him.

Not that he would mention it.

WAC

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