...and it has to be about the fact that, effective January 10th, we in Boise are losing our only accessible Traditional Latin Mass (apart from the SSPX chapel). The good Fr. Andrew Szymakowski, pastor of St. Bridget of Kildare in Nyssa, Oregon, is being transferred to another parish not far from Portland. Apart from the SSPX chapel, this leaves Boiseans with no Traditional Latin Mass within 300 miles.
The Catholics of Nyssa, whether they know it or not, are most unfortunate to be losing Fr. Andrew. He is a true shepherd, with the rod and the staff to prove it, and he's not afraid to use them: any wolf foolhardy enough to take on Fr. Andrew has met its match. Although brought up by the FSSP (to which he no longer belongs), Father is perfectly willing to celebrate the Novus Ordo (for which he is hated and despised by the über-trads); he clothes himself and his chalice in aesthetically pleasing vestments, says the black, does the red, and brooks no nonsense. He takes seriously both his authority and his responsibility to exercise the same: he says yes when charity demands it, and no when no needs to be said, heedless of howls and derision. He preaches doctrine fearlessly, plainly and straightforwardly, unafraid to step on toes or prick consciences. He has been a friend to my chapter of lay Dominicans, and was good enough to concelebrate at the Mass where I made my perpetual profession in October. And he is, besides all this, quite a character. It is not possible to sit stony-faced and glum with Fr. Andy and his energetic personality at the table. My friends and I who went out to Nyssa for Mass had many laughs with him over dinner afterward. We will miss him very much.
And we will miss the Traditional Latin Mass. Having endured the penance of 100-mile round trips, and given thanks for being spared the penance of getting up at 4:30 a.m. for it...well, I guess we put out of our minds all thought about the penance of not having it at all. We did not attend for political reasons, or because we think the Novus Ordo is invalid, or because we wanted to bask in the glory of being an oppressed minority in the Church; we attended because we love the TLM as a thing worthy of being loved on its own merits. I, for one, get more truths of the Catholic faith from one Traditional Latin Mass than I got out of 12 years of Catholic school. It is the same Mass, albeit with a few changes, that has nourished generations upon generations of saints: if Ignatius Loyola or Alphonsus Liguori or Don Bosco or Faustina, while still living on this earth, were to be plucked out of their own times and set down in a church during the Traditional Latin Mass now, in 2011, they would feel at home. Now that I have a few dozen TLMs under my belt, I can read explanations of the Mass by St. Alphonsus or Dietrich von Hildebrand and understand what they are talking about. And there is always something new to discover, something the meaning of which had never struck home before. I am sorry to say that very few people attended. It is unfortunate that so many excluded themselves from so much beauty, and from this inestimable treasure of our Catholic heritage. It could have been even more beautiful still if Father had had the personnel to celebrate Missa Cantata or High Mass, but sufficient interest from those with the necessary qualifications could not be mustered. And now it has been taken away. I suppose that is only just.
God bless Fr. Andrew, and keep him safe, and prosper his ministry. And God help us as we now turn to the task of bringing this pearl of great price, the Traditional Latin Mass, back and close to home.