Yours truly offering a Solemn High Mass with well over 7000 present in the Underground Basilica of Saint Pius X on 15 August 2008. The deacon and subdeacon are of course, now ordained for the FSSP. The vestments may well have been from Pius IX. The Missal is from yet another FSSP friend. I’m not FSSP, but I was the official[!] “Latin Mass” permanent chaplain in Lourdes since immediately after the famous 7-7-2007 motu proprio of Benedict XVI.
Sometimes we would have Mass in Saint Joseph’s underground church, sometimes on the top floor of the confessional building, sometimes in the top floor of the medical building, sometimes in an under-the-church-chapel of the Basilica of Saint Bernadette, sometimes in either of the two chapels at the front of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, sometimes in the crypt Chapel, sometimes in the side chapels of the crypt chapel, sometimes in the side chapels of the Rosary Basilica, sometimes in the basement chapel of the Chaplains House, sometimes, finally, in the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception over the Grotto.
The accusation came after a most glorious Mass in the upper Basilica of our Lady on a Sunday morning at which there were quite a number of individual pilgrims, groups of pilgrims and, to the point, large families of pilgrims in the pews, you know, with moms and dads and boys and girls kneeling before the Holy Sacrifice. Absolutely beautiful. I was, of course, the luckiest priest in the entire world to have this privilege of bringing the Mass of Tradition, of the ages, back to Lourdes after many decades when it had been banned. The pilgrims loved it. Besides being the “Latin Mass” chaplain I had also been a permanent member of the Italian Language Chaplains Group, and of the English Language Chaplains Group, and of the French Language Chaplains Group. But I digress.
After Mass I made my way back over to the Chaplains House, brought my vestments and Missal and such back to my room on the top floor. I would watch the rivers of pilgrims, by the thousands, coming down the small mountain in back of the Chaplains House, coming off the last stretch of the “Upper Stations.” Finally I went down to the dining room for lunch. It was a perfect summer Sunday. Because of my unique position of having been with so many language groups depending on their needs I could decide at which table to sit. This day there were a few empty places at the English Language Chaplains Group table, so I headed there. You have to know that on any given day there may be present any number of bishops and cardinals and politicians and dignitaries in that dining room.
Present at “my” table was a “Temporary Chaplain” who was single-handedly throughout the decades responsible for the erosion of the prayerful atmosphere at Lourdes, responsible for the destruction of the “Youth Mass”. Needless to say, he hated the Mass of 1962, of the Ages, of Tradition, with great passion. His hatred was always a subject of discussion at table. Not able to forbid the Mass, his plan was to attack me. As soon as he saw me he shouted out for all the dining room guests to hear that I was pedophile. The room, of course, went silent. I asked, “Why do you say that?” He said, thankfully, just as loudly for all to hear, as this was his point in his war against the Traditional Mass:
“I say you are a pedophile because you say that damned Latin Mass and we’ve gone beyond that and you scandalize children who attend that Mass giving them the impression that that Mass is good when it’s not because it’s destroying their character; it’s destroying their ability to look forward, to the future. They’re vulnerable at that age and you’re taking advantage of them by saying that horrible Latin Mass. Pope Benedict should be deposed. Damn him.”
With appropriate stares burning through that “Temporary Chaplain” from all present, the hubbub of the meal immediately picked up again and again it was a beautiful Sunday. I brush that kind of thing off like I brush away a mosquito. It’s annoying for about one second, and then one forgets about it. Whatever. It’s better if you don’t let it draw blood, perhaps infecting you, lowering you to that level.
I remember telling that story in front of a priest who was quite the ecclesiastical climber. He heard the whole story, but all he wanted to hear is that I had “been accused” so that he could smack me down and play the hero. That’s so disgusting. He immediately had me reported to my superior, who, also hearing the entire story, immediately threw me in a dumpster. That was literally the only place in the world I was allowed to exist with a blessing. Yep. They all said that it didn’t sound like a credible accusation, but an accusation is an accusation. That was it. Period. It happens all the time.
Seeing these antics and their anguish and their abuse of office and their climbing up on the corpses of their brothers whom they kill at will, I actually laughed, brightly grinning, even while out of the blue I was threatened with a law suit should I ever repeat how I was being treated. Well, I didn’t use any identifying markers in the story, did I? No. Again, lol, still today. Sorry, but I can’t be hurt. Jesus died for me. So, it’s like… someone else can hurt me in some way? No. That would be laughable. It is laughable. Pfft.
Note to my fellow priests who have been accused, whether you’re innocent or guilty. Our Lord also died for you and brings you His sanctifying grace. And then, after that, ecclesiastical ladder climbing over your corpses doesn’t really matter does it? No. Keep the faith. Or regain the faith. This life is short. Heaven is around the corner, much sooner than later. Remember, it’s all about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One. It’s not about climbers climbing the ladder on mountains of dead priests that they’ve killed. Instead, it’s about Jesus. Only Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.
By the way, I’ve since been able to climb out of the dumpster. And if anyone thinks that a post like this is a scandal about the priesthood and vocations, I say that such a person is utterly ignorant of the way things are. Jesus had his Judas, did He not, telling us also the way things would be should he call someone to the priesthood? Yes. This kind of thing doesn’t put off vocations. It inspires young men to fight the good fight. Why? Because it helps them to understand that it’s about Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the only One.
By the way, that “Temporary Chaplain” gave me a donkey as a parting gift when I left Lourdes as I had originally planned before I even went there (I had asked for two years to hear the confessions of the millions of pilgrims – one year we had 12 million pilgrims). This was perhaps a year after his fake-news accusation. He still considers and always considered me a friend. He just didn’t like the Traditional Mass and was blaming the Mass for all of society’s ills. Typical. Anyway, here it is, part of my collection. BTW, the “A” stands for donkey in French, as the French name for donkeys begins with “A”. But we all know the meaning in English literature, don’t we? Yes, we do. Whatever. Jesus has also conquered stupidity. BTW, I always ask dying parishioners to tell Jesus that there is a donkey priest down on earth who needs His special help. They say that surely Jesus will respond that all priests are donkeys, so which one in particular was in need of special help? Hahaha. But I think Jesus will know exactly who the donkey priest is.