(An excellent letter with many fantastic points. Emphases mine. -AB)
Dear SuperNerd and Ann,
Thank you for this conversation.
I have experience with both sides of this and wanted to offer a few points.
I am a convert with a bunch of kids. In our extended family we have a priest, also a convert, who is one of those who was personally accepted by Benedict XVI to be a convert Priest. However, he is a NO priest and our household, on principle, does not attend the NO Mass ever. So I am in the very awkward situation of taking my kids to visit their extended family every summer for several weeks, but then every Sunday driving *away* from our relative’s church and our extended family to go to Mass somewhere else. Although very painful for me at first, this has provided the opportunity for fantastic conversations with my kids, who naturally really wanted to go see their relative’s Mass. Over the years we had weekly conversations about why we do what we do as a family. So my first point is
1. Have these conversations with kids BEFORE it is an emergency situation and you have to figure out what to do next Sunday.
2. Cultivate charity in the discussions for those who do attend the New Mass. This was obviously key in my situation. Little kids cannot be looking down on their relatives from some perceived spiritual superiority, so I had to get good at explaining the fact that yes, the Latin Mass is superior, but that does not in any way make US superior–it just makes us fortunate by the Providence of God to have found Tradition. It can’t be done in one conversation– there is a lot of circling back over topics over the years, but they can really get it over time. And now my kids love to pray for people who haven’t yet found Tradition.
3. The most important thing is to foster in them humility and GRATITUDE for what they have been given. We are not going to our priest relative’s Mass because we are so incredibly grateful to have found Tradition, and we may not always have it available, so we are going to cling to it while we can. In fact, even when we are home at our own parish, while we drive to Mass each Sunday, I say out loud prayers of thanksgiving for our parish, for our priests, and that we can go to Mass in safety for the time being. This makes a big impression on the kids.
Lastly– to SuperNerd’s former question to his priest along the lines of “should I be going to a NO Mass more often just so that I can get used to it and not feel so sick when I see it”… the reasons that the answer is a screaming “NO!” is because of the *reason* you gave for going. We should never want to get used to a NO Mass. We should never want to feel more at ease with it, or less sick at seeing it. But there’s a point there– some people might need to feel that sickness in order to really understand the treasure that the Latin Mass is. In our own traditional school, [SSPX] the teachers often remark that it is the students who have never seen a NO Mass who do not appreciate Tradition, and who take the Mass for granted. On the other hand, those students who have extended families in NO parishes, where they have to sometimes attend First Communions of cousins, or funerals of grandparents– those are the kids who often really get it. They understand why what they have is worth fighting for.
Bottom line: if and when we were to go to a NO Mass, we should be clear that we are going there in order to SUFFER (ourselves) with Christ. By deigning to be present at a NO Mass, Christ is letting Himself be humiliated and disgraced all over again. And if He is willing to be there, who am I to say I can’t be there? (Of course, only if I absolutely have to be.) And if, in seeing Him in that environment makes me feel sick, that’s a GOOD thing.