Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus (dec11ssc.htm)

WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY
December 8-11, 2004
vol 15, no. 193

A Priest Forever

      Of course the rest of that is "...according to the Order of Melchisedech." Melchisedech was the high priest of the Old Testament who is recalled in the Supra quae propitio following the confection of the Sacrament in the Canon of the Mass for a true priest, in the manner of Melchisedech, offers to God "a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim" - sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam." It is the essence of the priesthood and it is something special which Father Wathen shares below from a recent letter.
by
Father James F. Wathen

        "At Mass each morning, I reflect, as I read the venerable prayers, each one of which has a history of its own, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of them. They evidence their origin, ancient Rome, and the character of those first Roman priests and bishops, in their terseness, their preciseness, and their admirable understatement. I can truly say that, after almost fifty years of offering the Traditional Latin Mass, I am not tired of it at all; its prayers do not bore me; each one evokes from me a crowd of beliefs and intentions and affirmations. I say none of them from memory, because one's concentration is better if one reads them instead. I am always aware that I am doing it in the stead of Christ and for the whole Church, now shot through with confusion, scandal, and heresy, but the Church nonetheless, the holy Bride of Christ, Christ's great foundation, and especially all Traditional Catholics who have returned to their earlier fidelity and security."

    I think of myself as healthier than my symptoms indicate. I have CLL, which is a serious illness, but I have a lot of life. Although I spend hours each day in bed, I am able to be up also and do a lot for myself.

    One of my personal barometers of health is my being able to offer Holy Mass. I simply was unable to be up long enough for this for several months. I have been able to do so for about three weeks now.

    A priest thinks of himself as being created to offer Mass, at least, Traditional priests do. It was at Mass now many years ago that I received my vocation, or that is the way I think of it. As a grade schooler, thanks very much to the encouragement of our Sisters at school, I, with my brothers and sisters tried to go to daily Mass. This required our getting up around five a.m. in order to make the 6 o'clock Mass. We either walked (or, more often) ran or biked to church (about a mile), returned home for breakfast, then raced to school which started about 8:30.

    I was in the fourth grade. It was either around Christmas time or during the summer. It would have had to be, because the server was a seminarian, of whom there were several in the Cathedral parish, who were away the rest of the year. I remember watching the server (who later became Fr. Carl Glahn) move the book for the Gospel. How I looked up to the seminarians. The thought came to me: "I will be a priest." From that time, my life had direction.

    At Mass, rather often, I have the thought: To do this was I born; the thought returned during Mass this morning. Often, on solemn feast days, such as Christmas and Easter, when I have been the celebrant and the church or chapel (or maybe a private home) has been full of people. The Church is decorated; there is music; the altar cloths are freshly laundered and starched; there are many flowers; and it is a day everyone has been waiting for. The thought comes to me: I am blessed in having known from my early days that I should be a priest. As a person, I have very little value; but, as a priest, like other men similarly blessed, I am able to do what Christ alone could do.

    I have the further thought that the Modern Church is dying out for want of priests. The bishops and priests will not admit it, but the reason is the New Mass, which does not inspire them, as they do not inspire little boys. They are truly a sorry lot, who cannot rhapsodize on their vocations. The sorriest of them all are those who gave up the True Mass in 1969 and never said it again. They were the richest, most fortunate men in the world, and they threw away their dignity and their power, their identity with Christ; and they did it without tears or regret. To this day, 35 years later, they are without regret, a thing too regrettable to express. The bishops admit that they must consolidate the parishes and reduce the number of Masses, but they refuse to admit that it is their fault, that their bullheaded faithlessness is the cause. Indeed, not having any other explanation, they give none; they merely announce their new arrangements.

    At Mass each morning, I reflect, as I read the venerable prayers, each one of which has a history of its own, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of them. They evidence their origin, ancient Rome, and the character of those first Roman priests and bishops, in their terseness, their preciseness, and their admirable understatement. I can truly say that, after almost fifty years of offering the Traditional Latin Mass, I am not tired of it at all; its prayers do not bore me; each one evokes from me a crowd of beliefs and intentions and affirmations. I say none of them from memory, because one's concentration is better if one reads them instead. I am always aware that I am doing it in the stead of Christ and for the whole Church, now shot through with confusion, scandal, and heresy, but the Church nonetheless, the holy Bride of Christ, Christ's great foundation, and especially all Traditional Catholics who have returned to their earlier fidelity and security.

    Again, I beg everyone who receives this message to pray for my recovery, if it be God's will. I would like to serve into my eighties. I always pictured myself as an old man, too blind to say the Office, reduced to saying the Rosary all day long, being helped by a younger priest through morning Mass, I thank again the good ladies and men who see to all my needs here in Evansville; and to everyone who has sent money to pay the bills. I regret that I cannot find words of sufficient gratitude. I thank also everyone who finds a place in his prayers for me, as I remember him at daily Mass. Wishing everyone again a blessed Advent, I send him my priestly blessing. In Christ,

Father James F. Wathen
December 4, 2004


    For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2004ssc.htm Archives
    December 8-11, 2004
    vol 15, no. 193
    Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus