My name is Tim Collins, and I have recently become the Chairman of Una voce Maine. Before going any further, I want to thank the outgoing Chair, Stacy Veevers-Carter, for all her fine work and effort. Chairing this organization is no easy task, and I hope I can do even half the job that she has done.
Regarding me, I am a physician – a pathologist – and an adult convert to the Faith, as is my lovely wife. We have six children, five of whom are still at home, and we live in Winterport, near Bangor. Prior to coming to Maine in 2011, I served in the Navy for 20 years and we moved around a lot, getting to see much that was excellent in the Church, as well as some that was not so excellent.
During our time in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (home of the Atlantic Fleet, among other things), we attended for several years St. Benedict's Parish. St. Benedict’s is a Parish in the Diocese of Richmond, whose priests are members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, more commonly and easily known as the FSSP. When we began attending St. Benedict’s, neither the FSSP nor the beautiful new church you see on the website were there. Rather, the chapel was in a converted car repair garage, a building which is still on the grounds, updated, prettified and expanded as the Parish hall. Anyway, in those days it was a “Latin Mass” chapel, whose chaplain was the blessed (in my opinion, anyway) Fr. Damian Abbaticchio, OSB, a wonderful elderly man and priest. Upon his retirement – he was in his 80’s - he was followed by Fr. Kevin Willis. It was Fr. Willis who got the ball rolling initially on the new church building project. After Fr. Willis left, the chapel became a full-fledged FSSP chapel, the new church was completed, and today it is a Parish. Though I have not been to St. Benedict’s in a few years, when I looked at the website in preparing this post, I was actually not too surprised to see that one young man who I knew as a teenage altar boy – Fr. Rob Schmid – is now an ordained priest. Deo gratias! My oldest son was an altar boy there for many years, both in the old chapel and in the new church.
So, why am I going on about a church in Virginia, when we are up here in Maine? Here’s why: while I and my family had been in the Catholic Church since 1999, it was not until our time at St. Benedict’s that I to understand how central the rite, that is, the way the Mass is said, is to forming and maintaining Catholic faith. The Church has known this as lex orandi lex credendi lex vivendi (loosely; the law of prayer is the law of faith is the law of life) but I was pretty much oblivious to all this until I was exposed, at St. Benedict's, to how the Church had done Mass for centuries. Then I began to realize that something not just beautiful, but important and central to keeping the faith – my faith, the faith of my family – had been lost somewhere along the line.
Let me be clear: I do not believe that widespread use of the Latin Mass will magically fix the Church’s many problems. I do, however, believe that the Church’s many problems have their roots in two closely related facts: the collapse of reverence and seriousness in the Mass, and the collapse of robust, unambiguous catechesis, both over the past 50 years or so. The road back is one of ten thousand steps, but I firmly believe that the first two steps are (1) a return to the proper public worship of God with one voice (una voce), and (2) a return to the clear exposition of His will through catechesis. The Mass, and how it is said, is key: it is the most visible public sign of who we as Catholics think God is.
That's enough of that for now. Before I go, though, a comment on wording. "Traditional Latin Mass", "TLM", "Tridentine Mass", "Latin Mass" are all used more or less interchangeably to refer more or less generally to the Rite as promulgated in the 1962 Missal, the one in general use prior to the promulgation of the Novus ordo Missal in 1969. The 1962 Missal is the one used by the various "Latin Mass" societies, priestly fraternities (such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) and, in general, by those Diocesan parishes nationwide (and worldwide) which offer the "Traditional Latin Mass" in addition to the N.O.
Valete! God bless until next time.