Prayer for the Pope

Francis’s 'Letter' explaining Latin Mass restrictions ends, 'I pray for you. You pray for me.'


Latin The Papacy

David, now a seminary professor and the father of a large family, was among the very best of my students. He introduced our family to what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would later term the Extraordinary Rite. My wife and I were already receptive. We had grown up with the Latin Mass and had also come to love the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Greek Catholic Church. (Some suggest that Pope Francis will preside over this liturgy in his trip to Slovakia.)

For a time, we travelled from one host parish to another to join in the celebration of the Latin Mass. My wife, in addition, successfully arranged with the pastor for our parish to host the liturgies of Holy Week. Later, he would open the way for the Latin Mass on the first Saturday of the month.

Then came Summorum Pontificum. Shortly thereafter, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) secured  permission to establish a parish dedicated to the Extraordinary Rite. Sadly, because of distance and an infirm family member, we have not been able to share in the life of the new parish.  

Now comes Pope Francis with Traditionis Custodes. Cardinal Mueller has ably pointed out the difficulties it presents. He has also noted the dissonance between the sharpness of this new motu proprio and the relatively muted response to the widespread liturgical abuses to which the Novus Ordo has been subjected.

A frequent criticism of the traditional Latin Mass is that it prevents the active participation of the laity which Vatican Council II calls for. This criticism, it seems to me, overlooks the Missa recitata in which the congregation joins in many of the responses of the altar servers. It was a common practice even in my elementary school.

Archbishop Gomez, here in Los Angeles, speaking as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, responded to Pope Francis with eloquent brevity. He thanked the Holy Father for his regard for unity and counseled the bishops to respond to Traditionis Custodes with good judgment.

In reading Pope Francis’s “Letter to Bishops” explaining his ruling, two points struck me as especially noteworthy. The first is that he speaks of the need of those who celebrate the Latin Mass “to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Sts. Paul VI and John Paul II.” For my part, with all due respect, I look for the day when another pope issues another motu proprio in keeping with the vision of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The second point of Francis’s “Letter” to which I call attention is its closing words: “I pray for you. You pray for me.”

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, with its special charism to lead us in our respect for the traditional Latin Mass, surely prays for the Holy Father. A recent prayer card from the FSSP offers the following prayer. Perhaps my student David composed it. I hope that many join in praying it.

“Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant, Francis, our Supreme Pontiff, and direct him, according to Thy loving-kindness, in the ways of eternal salvation; that, of Thy gift, he may ever desire that which is pleasing unto Thee and may accomplish it with all his might. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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