Tag Archives: Traditional Mass

The day this priest was accused of pedophilia: Introibo ad altare Dei. Accused priests, pay attention!

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

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.

img_20180821_065037440~2831334697854654523..jpg

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse, Father Byers Autobiography, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Priesthood, Vocations

My Internet Stalker Guy apparently doesn’t know this about Jesus and me

cardinal burke lourdes

Sacrifice of the Mass I helped to set up as best I could for the soon to be Cardinal Burke when I was a “permanent” chaplain over in Lourdes, France, including being the Traditional Mass Chaplain (for which I suffered really a great deal, not to brag, but just saying how things were and still can be, but that it’s all worth it, of course).

My Internet Stalker guy, who berates me for being young (younger than him!) and having no memories of anything pre-Vatican II (so he thinks), apparently knows nothing about me, or, if he knew it, would hate me all the more for it I’m guessing. He should read these two posts which I published relatively long ago as far as social media goes. And yet I hope that I think he will be inspired by them. Perhaps he will remember good things of his own childhood days and not be so dismissive of Jesus, the Church and priests. Perhaps he will have some hope.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eucharist, Missionaries of Mercy

7 7 7 – Summorum Pontificum: the 10th anniversary in Lourdes. “Just wear dental guards, Father George!”

LOURDES-GROTTO

Things are never as they seem. After Pope Benedict XVI came out with Summorum Pontificum on 7 July 2007, the permanent chaplains in Lourdes, including myself, were called to a special meeting announced by the rector of the time on behalf of the bishop of the time. We were going to be the very first to implement S.P. even before the start date.

The rector asked: “Who knows how to offer Mass in Latin? The bishop wants to know because of the Pope’s letter.” Three of us raised our hands, one who may have known it but didn’t want to offer it but was willing to fake it by saying the Novus Ordo in Latin (he didn’t last long), one who didn’t care one way or the other (and would soon regret raising his hand and quit), and myself. I was put in charge of bringing Summorum Pontificum to fruition, being naive enough to think for a little while that all this was actually sincere. It wasn’t. This was all a way to look cooperative with the Holy See but it was instead a way to control and smack down anything to do with Summorum Pontificum.

lourdes

Generally speaking, only chaplains were allowed to offer this Mass (there were a few exceptions such as when the SSPX would come with all four bishops, etc.) which meant that many other priest-pilgrims were regularly denied or given the run around, creating chaos, frustration and bad feelings on the part of the pilgrims. Priests and even bishops were simply treated like trash. Tempers flared. It was all so very unnecessary. So sad.

Places allowed for this Mass were thrown around all over the sanctuaries so that no schedule at a set place could be established for a long time, which also meant that I had to prepare rolling suitcases filled with the necessary items to drag all over the sanctuaries, up and down staircases, in the rain (sometimes all the way to the front gate at Saint Joseph’s), etc. No advertisements were allowed for this Mass either on the internet or at the info office, though finally, sometimes, it would be put on the roster, though often with the wrong time and place. I would put up notices on doors around the sanctuaries to announce the inevitable change of time and venue, only to find the notices immediately ripped down, etc. Mockery for saying this Mass coming from other chaplains was extremely intense. The last thing they wanted was to actually permit this Mass to be offered. One of the worst ones to mock was the priest who had almost single-handedly throughout the last decades reduced the “Youth Mass” to a McDonald’s picnic and irrelevant theater and total screaming from one end to the other throughout “Mass.” Yep. I say “Mass” in quotes because they did do the consecration, I guess, but everything else was ip for grabs, including whether laity could participate in the consecrations.

LOURDES-MICHAEL

Finally, with clever chess moves, Masses were allowed in a half dozen chapels for pilgrimages of up to dozens of people (offered by myself, rarely by another priest) and finally were allowed in the hidden side chapels in the crypt of the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for priests coming with one or two others. Never in the grotto. A Sunday Mass was allowed, usually in the smallish Immaculate Conception upper Basilica, but, of course, the Mass times were changed wildly and sometimes scheduled at the same time and place as other Masses, or so closely back to back that chaos ensued. Unending, unending, unending.

The mockery coming from the other chaplains (and some others) was vicious, loud, public, and, truly unending. It’s hard to imagine more hateful attitudes, because, after that, people go into uncaring, zero conscience mode, which I suppose is the ultimate hate. I guess our Lord wanted to introduce me to just how bad it can get, and how bad it was throughout Europe as it all was concentrated and put into a package for me at Lourdes. A special gift, really.

But in the midst of all this, the Lord was doing what He wanted, and so there were simply some of the most beautiful moments that Lourdes had seen in dozens of years. One I remember had to do with me taking the oaths of new European Boy Scouts down in front of the Rosary Basilica after a Traditional Mass in the Immaculate Conception Basilica. Another was the pilgrimage of soon to be Cardinal Burke:

cardinal burke lourdes

Another was just over a year later on the National Feast Day of France, August 15, 2008, during the National Pilgrimage, when I was able to arrange for and offer the Mass in the underground Basilica of Saint Pius X. A solemn high Mass with a good 7000 people assisting:

Mass Lourdes Pius X Basilica

That Mass was a nuclear explosion and caused no end of troubles for me, with accusations being made against me from near and far, with letters of complaint being sent near and far. What a nightmare. “You told people that the new Mass is invalid and they are obliged to go to the traditional Mass!” It never happened. But the same higher-ups insisted that this was the case until I finally departed for the USA (at a time foreseen before I went to Lourdes in the first place). What to do with such slander? I’m only telling you just a fraction of what went on.

I once said that I don’t know any priest who has suffered more for the re-establishment of the Traditional Mass in living memory – and I know a lot of priests who have suffered for this – and I still think that that is true. I include bishops in that assessment. I don’t say that to toot my own horn, but rather to give encouragement to those who suffer. And yet, so many among the traditional-ism-ists on the far end of the spectrum are so bitter and angry with me, I suppose because I am not bitter like them. Why be bitter? That gets no one anywhere. It only hurts oneself. We can be faithful sons of the Church and not be bitter. In fact, we can be joyful.

Anyway, I was being so smashed down that I was grinding my teeth at night so that dentists noticed that my teeth were being worn down and cracked. One recommended dental guards at night such as one might wear for American football. I didn’t, but I have to say that this was at the same time the worst time in my entire life and also the most glorious. I wouldn’t change any of it. And there was joy in the midst of this.

Through it all I got to know Jesus and Mary so very much better. I was told by many priests I talked to at the time – friends on pilgrimage – that surely this time in Lourdes was providential for me, to bring me closer to Jesus and Mary.

And I was happy to do what I could to be a good son of the Church in the best way I knew how, trying to fulfill the wishes of Pope Benedict and, indeed, the Holy See of the time. I was doing my best to make friends with the pilgrimage groups that came, with the priests, with the FSSP, with the SSPX who have a house up the hill across the river. I regret nothing. I would do it all over again. After my requested two year sojourn in Lourdes was completed, I was felicitously replaced by a great young priest of the FSSP. Here’s a changing of the guard picture in the sacristy:

lourdes traditional mass chaplains

I was saying that I was willing to do it all over again. In fact, I did do it all over again in re-establishing the traditional Mass in the Pontifical seminary in Columbus, Ohio, the Josephinum. There were some bishops saying that they would pull out their seminarians unless classes were taught for this. I, of course, volunteered, but it was the same permit so as to control and smash down effort by the powers that be, much of that not seen by the seminarians. I taught the Mass and all the sacraments and even exorcism and blessings in the old ritual, and also liturgical Latin. It was a strictly optional course but, whatever. The traditional Mass was back and it all took on a life of its own. Great! Novus Ordo Latin Mass also became very frequent after this. ;-)

When you really want something you have to be willing to suffer for it, and not be bitter about it, because it’s a matter of love. And I love being a priest. Didn’t Jesus encounter difficulties? Unimaginably worse, and so many priests have actually suffered right around the world right through the centuries, making my ruminations almost seem blasphemous. But, when you’re going through something, it can be kinda rough. We’re all pretty weak, whatever protestations we might otherwise make about ourselves. But we learn. As the Master, so the mere disciple. We learn that it’s all about Jesus’ love and Jesus’ truth and Jesus’ goodness and kindness and all the rest doesn’t matter, as it won’t matter in heaven, and, so as to praise Jesus, that’s where we want to go, where we must go. No bitterness. Just wear a dental guard. Save your teeth for a good smile. I love being a priest!

5 Comments

Filed under Father Byers Autobiography, Liturgy, Priesthood, Vocations