Though the clear, plain meaning of that Latin title is "guardians of Tradition," I've heard someone wryly quip it should be called "jailkeepers of Tradition." Though many details remain unclear, the document seemingly gives bishops greater ability to crack down on the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).
Speaking of clear, plain meaning, no one seems to fully understand what is meant by several portions of this motu proprio. For instance, the language about "parochial churches" not doing TLM is just as troubling as it is confusing.
Many of us tradition-minded Catholics are now in the ecclesiastical doghouse. Perhaps we can use this trying time to recommit ourselves more earnestly to prayer, fasting and the Sacraments.
Do not let certain bad actors out there try to tell you that trads deserve this for being a bunch of meanies, or that Pope Francis is doing this to punish trolls on Twitter. That's not what this is about.
I think Catholic author Timothy Gordon has discussed Traditionis Custodes in a rational, honest way. (His YouTube channel can be found here.)
Some bishops are saying they need time to think about how they're supposed to implement the motu proprio. As many Church Militant viewers would agree, the notion of the current crop of bishops thinking about anything is half laughable, half terrifying.
For almost a week now, I've had it in mind to begin a sort of letter-writing campaign. My intention is for as many tradition-minded Catholics as possible to write both to their local bishop and to the Holy See, expressing concern about these newfangled restrictions.
Writing a letter about the TLM may seem like a waste of time. After all, what's one pathetic letter going to do? But consider what would happen if a thousand people all got on board with this: flooding a mail room with a thousand letters seems pretty impactful, doesn't it? It could send a very clear message about our loyalty to the TLM.
I recently asked an esteemed canon law expert for advice on this plan. The expert recommended sending short, respectful letters to the Apostolic Nunciature in our nation's capital. Furthermore, the letters should be addressed specifically to Pope Francis. You should send a copy to your diocesan bishop, and keep another copy for yourself, all with your signature.
Consider these steps:
Below, I provide a rough format for you to follow if you choose to send a letter. You can copy and paste it into Microsoft Word (or another word processing software), then add your own personal notes — in the indicated spot — about why you are loyal to the Traditional Latin Mass. For all you fellow young people who don't know how to format a letter, see the instructions linked here.
I ask you to reconsider the recent restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass contained in the motu proprio of July 16 titled Traditionis Custodes.
The Traditional Latin Mass has impacted my spiritual life in a positive and profound way. The relatively easy access to the Traditional Latin Mass under Summorum Pontificum is dear to my heart. INSERT MORE HERE.
These new restrictions, in my assessment, are a source of discouragement and confusion for many loyal sons and daughters of Holy Mother Church.
I am respectfully petitioning you to reconsider this document.
It seems last Friday's news from the Vatican could mark the beginning of a very rough time for loyal, tradition-minded Catholics. I myself cannot help but feel we are being abused by our spiritual father in Rome. (That was an incredibly tough sentence for me to write.)
Let us write short, direct letters making our desires known to Church authorities. But more importantly, let us pray and fast.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. But He also looks with favor upon His children who cry to Him from this valley of tears.
Perhaps this will be a chance for us to enter more fully into the sorrowful tones of some of the Psalms. It could likewise be fruitful to read some passages penned by the Prophet Jeremiah (sometimes rendered "Jeremias").
For thousands of years, souls groaned in agony, awaiting the coming of their Messiah. Then "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory" — as stated by St. John in the TLM's Last Gospel.
God is with us. Let us not be discouraged.
BELOW IS THE MAILING ADDRESS FOR THE APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See
3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008