1969: AUSTRALIAN AFTERMATH
9th February 1997 (from the Achives)
The beautiful old Latin Mass is timeless, changeless, universally the same, and has about it that untranslatable beauty, the gestures, the eloquent silences, the sublimity, the transcendence, the touch of heaven, the majesty, the mystery so tremendous and yet so fascinating!
It arouses in the heart, whether we ourselves know Latin or not, a sense of something ever ancient, ever new, something rich, strange, different, awesome, majestic yet lovable, demanding attention and belief, not to be trifled with, sacred and secret, immune to the vagaries of fashionable taste and to the corruption of the passing ages - Christian Order 12/1987, p.p. 586-7; The Remnant 17/10/1980 p.1.
I think of this old Tridentine Latin Mass as the spiritual health food, the real spiritual food, of our day, as of any age. In this Mass none of the most nourishing ingredients have been refined out of it by so-called liturgical reform: consequently we see the Tridentine priest, taken from among the people, yet set apart at the Holy Sacrifice by his vestments, by his aloneness at the altar, offering to God the Body and Blood of His Son in atonement for our sins, the people reverently kneeling to adore the awesome majesty of God and the unfathomable mysteries of His love in coming to us in Holy Communion - which we would not be so brazen as to receive standing or in our unconsecrated hands. This is true nourishment sacramental and spiritual. It has sustained saints and strengthened sinners for many, many centuries and, like the wheat that grows century after century from God’s earth, is always the same, always life-giving.
By contrast, the 1969 New Ordo Mass is the spiritual junk food of our generation. Those who partake of it lose their spiritual health and often their entire faith. Their understanding of Catholicism becomes twisted and weakened, because too often at their Masses there is flagrant irreverence, much non-Catholic teaching in their sermons, far too much unruly guitar-strumming, a sign of peace that erupts into an orgy of hugging, kissing and squealing, with dancing girls, and Holy Communion given by lay ministers, while the clergy sit and watch and perhaps chit-chat-"The Angelus", July 1982, p.18.
Again by way of contrast with these New Ordo priests, during the long critical years between the New Ordo Mass year of 1969 and the Roman Indult year of 1984 (which allowed the old Latin Mass back, though never legally abolished), the following priests, by celebrating the old Latin Mass over long periods for the persecuted lay people who wanted it, saved this Mass from total extinction not only in the Archdiocese of Sydney but in several country areas of New South Wales, and all this in the face of bitter opposition and intense personal suffering: Msgr. Leo Hatswell, Fr. Carl Pulvermacher O.F.M. Cap., Fr Joseph da Silva S.M., Fr. Dudley Dyson-Smith, Fr. Terence Hogan, Fr. Gerard Hogan S.S.P.X., Fr. Francois Laisney S.S.P.X. and Fr. Patrick Fox C.M. Elsewhere in Australia, Fr. Cyril Crocker S.M., Fr. Augustine Cummins C.S.S.R. and Fr. Brian Buckley of Townsville Diocese did the same. But the difficulties by no means disappeared in 1984, and even before then some of these priests were taking this Mass interstate. "I think that in Australia you can never pay enough honour to the very small group of priests who kept the old Latin Mass going here, no matter what it cost, after the 2nd Vatican Council (1965...........), when otherwise this Mass would have vanished totally from Australia. But there was never a time when the Latin Mass was not kept going in Australia " - this kind tribute to the aforesaid group of "Latin Mass priests" came from Mr. Michael Davies (famous English convert, author and lecturer) during his lecture at ‘Sancta Sophia’ University College, Sydney on Sunday evening 14th April, 1996; and about a year earlier in the U.S.A., (‘Remnant’ 30th April, 1995,p.4), Susan Claire Potts had written this inspiring appreciation of these "Latin Mass priests", as regards both their earthly trials and achievements on the one hand, and their great eternal rewards in heaven on the other:
"In more places than you would think of across the land and throughout the world, the old Latin Mass is said by good, faithful priests with quiet dignity, and with the Faith passed down. These priests, undaunted, face ridicule and derision. They are ostracised and maligned. They are marginalized and despised. They suffer like Our Lord. But because of them, our cherished Catholic traditions will not die, and so we lay people can still live the Faith. So a remnant lives on in the Divine Embrace, because of the sacrifice and love and devotion of these priests, whom the people call "our traditionalist priests".
As for some examples of the earthly trials of these traditionalist priests, Monsignor Leo Hatswell in 1976 was forced out of his parish at Lockhart in the country Diocese of Wagga, N.S.W., because he was saying the old Latin Mass in his parish church, for which ‘crime’ some of his parishioners dobbed him in to the Most Rev. Francis Carroll, then Bishop of Wagga; and as this Bishop later told Fr. Fox: "In these circumstances, I regarded it as my duty to dismiss Msgr. Hatswell from his parish in my diocese"; Msgr. Hatswell then went to live with his relatives, the Dowling family, on their property five miles out of Penrith, about 30 miles from Sydney, now in the Diocese of Parramatta. Part of the Dowling family home was converted into a lovely chapel; and Msgr. Hatswell’s old Latin Mass therein was like a rustic magnet for nearly nine years, drawing people from miles around and even from Sydney, not only for his 9 a.m. Sunday Mass, but for confessions, Benedictions, Holy Hours and even for Holy Week ceremonies - and all this at the age of 78 or so! Truly, Lockhart’s loss was Penrith’s gain, and Wagga’s loss was Sydney’s gain. What a great example this is of a venerable priest who suffered so much for his Mass, and yet remained so genial and cheerful in spite of it all! He died on 4th December, 1991, over 60 years a priest, and ordained in 1930.
Then on 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th August, 1991, Fr. Patrick Fox C.M., committed the ‘dreadful crime’ of celebrating four old Latin Masses in a private house at Mackay in Queensland, with about two dozen people at each Mass. But until then no such Masses had been celebrated in Mackay for years and years; and these four Masses stirred up such vigorous and adverse comment among the local priests that Fr. Fox on his next visit to Queensland in late October, 1991, was confronted with this startling message at Townsville: "If Fr. Fox appears again in Mackay, "HE WILL BE SHOT!" It was later explained that although the priests at Mackay had not expressed their strong feelings in these precise words, yet in the opinion of a well known Mackay lady Miss Jessie Roger, that was what the verdict of these priests amounted to. But shooting or not, similar Masses were to continue there at regular intervals; and indeed even before this shooting threat had been targetted at Fr. Fox, it had been arranged in Sydney that the priests of the Society of St. Pius X would continue these Latin Masses in Mackay, while from Melbourne came a warning to the people of Mackay to beware of Fr. Fox: "He is, as he claims, in union with the Pope, but only just"(!!) - ‘Fidelity’, Ormond, Victoria., September, 1991.
The next year 1992 Fr. Fox made his first Tridentine ‘assault’ on the diocese of Cairns (much further north in Queensland than Mackay), with another bleak welcome. He arrived in Cairns direct by air from Mt. Isa on Saturday 16th May, and was told that no church in the entire diocese of Cairns was available for his traditional Latin Masses; but that private homes could be used for such Masses, if the visiting priest possessed a Celebret (written permission to say the Mass from a Superior, which Fr. Fox did have from the Vatican Cardinal Augustine Mayer O.S.B., in Rome), with attendance of lay people allowed by Msgr. M. Walsh who was in charge of the Diocese until a new Bishop be appointed. So next morning, Sunday 17th May, 1992, Fr. Fox celebrated one of these Masses (followed by Benediction, with the sung Litany of Our Lady) in the home of Mr and Mrs L. Giacomo, located in the outlying Parish of Gordonvale, with about 30 people attending. The local Parish Priest sent a message to Fr. Fox not to ring him up, lest he (Fr. Patrick Jones) speak severely to Fr. Fox; and furthermore, any of the parishioners present at the Latin Mass were to be penalized in some way.
But during those years when the very survival of the old Latin Mass in Australia was so critically at stake, Fr. Fox had no need to leave Sydney or to travel interstate to experience entrenched opposition to his old Latin Masses. For on Monday 6th September, 1976 Fr. K. Turnbull C.M., Vincentian Provincial in Australia handed to Fr. Fox this written directive:
"I, as Visitor (=Provincial) of the Australian Province of the Vincentian Fathers,
exercising the authority committed to me in the Congregation of the Mission
a) Forbid you to say publicly, the Latin Tridentine Mass.
b) I forbid you to publicly and personally as a priest and member of the Congregation of the Mission to promote the celebration of the Latin Tridentine Mass and attendance at such."
Fr. K. Turnbull C.M."
This directive at once faced Fr. Fox with a dilemma of conscience regarding the accustomed (since Sunday 28th September, 1975) Latin Tridentine Mass at East Lindfield Hall to be celebrated at 9 a.m. on the following Sunday, 12th September 1976, and on Sundays thereafter. Was Fr. Fox to cancel this Mass totally for the future, and thus leave his flock suddenly and permanently stranded without their Latin Mass? Or was he to continue this Mass as usual, and thus be branded as disobedient and contumacious by his Provincial Fr. Turnbull in the light of the aforesaid directive? Or again, could Fr. Fox find some escape route out of this dilemma?
Whatever might be the answers to these questions, as that week progressed and Sunday 12th September, 1976 drew inexorably closer, Fr. Fox felt the ever increasing pressure of that dilemma within himself, and had recourse to much prayer so as to solve this difficulty - a difficulty never envisaged at any stage of his long seminary training. For now in the 1970’s Fr. Fox’s Vincentian Superiors were actively suppressing the very Mass which his Vincentian Superiors of his seminary days in the 1930’s had taught him to celebrate!........