Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Since when did a priest die for the OF Mass?

I appreciate that, today, on a daily basis, priests and their flock members are being assassinated, murdered and persecuted.
But these crimes are carried out almost entirely by Muslim fanatics who abhor anything Christian.
They are dying for their faith, not for the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.

Back in the 16th and 17th centuries in Great Britain, things were different.


                       Photo: English Martyrs Blog

Again, priests were being hanged, drawn and quartered for their faith but, in addition, they were overwhelmingly dying because of their adherence to the Latin Mass.
It was the Mass that was the focal point for their sufferings.
So much so that every priest that set foot on the scaffold was, in essence, ascending to the altar and Calvary was about to be replayed again in a bloody fashion.

Why was this? 
Because, of course, the Latin Mass is the most complete liturgical devotion of the Catholic Faith.
It incorporates all the essentials necessary for our belief to grow and for our soul to be imbued with grace; it contains penitence, repentance, forgiveness, elements of the life of Christ and, finally, the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on our behalf and then His resurrection from the dead.

It is, in short, a Mass worth dying for.

Today, May 29th is the feastday of Blessed Richard Thirkell or Thirkeld. He was a priest in the North of England who, after being ordained exclaimed:

“God alone knows how great a gift this is that hath been conferred on me this day”

And from an extract on this saint……

 Holy Mass was his constant thought, and it produced in his soul such daily increase of Divine love and heavenly courage that he desired nothing more than, in return for what Christ had done for him, to shed also his blood in Christ and for Christ.

For eight whole years his prayers were that he might one day lay down his life for his faith, and this was at length granted him.

He was apprehended and tried at York. He appeared at the bar a venerable old man in his priest’s cassock, and acknowledged that he was a priest and had performed priestly functions.

He was found guilty and spent the night instructing the criminals and preparing them for death.
On entering the court the next morning he publicly blessed four Catholic prisoners there present, and a brave old woman who knelt to receive it defended his actions by saying that as a minister of Christ he had the power to bless in His name.

He received the sentence of death with great joy, and so finished his course, York, May 29, 1583.

Blessed Richard – Ora pro nobis

Bl Richard Thirkell’s address to his fellow prisoners

"If the judges and commissioners have seized unjustly your goods, Christ your King will grant you to receive in this world a hundred-fold for every farthing you have lost, and in the world to come eternal life and bliss that shall never know an end. If wicked gaolers use force and cruelty, continually annoy and torment, frequently examine and persecute you, let not all these things cause you the least trouble of mind or make you remiss in the divine service. You will see that Christ will visit you the more quickly, that He will give you greater consolations day by day, and will make His throne in your hearts with the more frequency and the more pleasure. Therefore be of good cheer, beloved, clap with your hands, yea, let every member of your bodies exult with joy, in that you have a cause so noble, Christ for your Captain, the Holy Ghost for your Comforter, and for your advocates and defenders the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels, the Holy Apostles, the Martyrs, the Confessors, the Virgins, the blood of your fathers so freshly spilt which cries aloud to Heaven to obtain for you perseverance to the end."


  1. "They are dying for their faith, not for the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass."

    What a very odd post, to me anyway. Do you actually worship the EF Mass Richard?

    Jesus said: "Greater love has no man, than he lay down his life for his brother"

    To discriminate between a priest being martyred due to an EF or OF Mass is a bit bonkers to me, to be frank. Then again, I may just not be enlightened enough. I don't think I want to be either if it will make me end up saying things like that!

    Lord have Mercy on all priests souls, who have died for the faith.

  2. PS I think I would be more inclined towards the EF Mass if some of it's many adherents were more pleasant in their dispositions and view of their fellow man, rather than seeing the latter generally in a very negative way.

    It was, after all, love of us poor lesser mortals (or sinners if you prefer) that prompted the Father to send His precious Son in the first place. If we don't love each other, our worship of God, no matter how well groomed and outwardly manifested, appears and sounds to Him (God) as clashing cymbals.

  3. A wonderfully inspiring address of Bl Richard Thirkle to his fellow prisoners,thank you for posting this.
    I think that Shadowlands has a point, for you cannot separate the Mass from the Faith, whether it be the OF or the EF Mass. Certainly in Elizabethan times, the traditional Latin Mass ie. the EF Mass as we now call it, was the only form of the Mass which was and still is synonomous with the Faith, and undoubtedly the martyrs died for this cause. But it is surely true today that those martyrs who die for their Faith, die also for the Mass whether it be OF or EF, and undoubtedly share the same glorious crown of martyrdom.

  4. Ros, my point is that I do not believe that a modernist priest would lay down his life for an OF Mass in the way that the Reformation martyrs so often gave up their lives for the Latin Mass. What is there to die for?
    The Mass has always been central to Catholic belief.
    I really do not understand your line regarding adherents of the old Mass and their dispositions. I have spent 25 years at the butt end of liberal Catholic negativity and find those in the traditional wing of the Church positively angelic by comparison.

  5. The Holy Father celebrates mass in the Ordinary Form.
    He is not a liberal.
    Neither am I.
    The English and Welsh martyrs were obedient to Peter's successor. To cast them as in some way opposed to those of us who remain obedient today seems rather silly.
    The Mass is the re-presentation of Christ's one sacrifice on Calvary before which He prayed, "Not as I will but...". That, surely, is the attitude we should each of us have before every Mass.

  6. Richard,
    I don't tend to mix with liberals so I can't say how they treat one. Certain more traditional leaners, on the other hand, seem to only see two Catholic camps. Their own and the Liberals.
    Catholics, who are obedient to the Pope (as Patricius describes in his comment) don't seem to be acknowledged as even existing by some more traditionally leaning Catholics and it is this treatment to which I refer (lumping us in with the liberals).

  7. "Ros, my point is that I do not believe that a modernist priest would lay down his life for an OF Mass in the way that the Reformation martyrs so often gave up their lives for the Latin Mass." That is a shameful thing to say & I don't know how you can support it!

  8. "I appreciate that, today, on a daily basis, priests and their flock members are being assassinated, murdered and persecuted..."

    ...the overwhelming majority of whom are Orthodox Christians, who never heard of an "OF" or an "EF" Mass (the most beautiful thing this side of the Mediterranean), and who would, moreover, consider the contradistinction of faith to Eucharist quite incomprehensible.

    "Are they clinging to their crosses, F.E. Smith...

  9. Really, to suggest that the martyrs died for the "Latin" Mass is a nonsense. There was only one Mass in the West then and it was the Mass "in Latin". How on earth would they, in any case, "die for the Mass" without that including, at the same time - and more historically correct as it happens - for the Petrine primacy, not to mention some other aspects of the faith. Certainly, St. Margaret Clitherow died for the Mass, but this was not disconnected from the priesthood or the other sacraments. basically, I think the point you are trying to make borders on injustice and really should not have been made.

  10. I stumbled upon this post and am horrified by its contents by someone who 'claims' to be 'Catholic traditional' etc. etc. Firstly, I agree with Father John's comment, secondly, it is a subtle but savage and barbaric comment that you make without thought of reason, knowledge or understanding of a Priests dignity!

    You only serve ONE Divinity and that is your EGO! you really do remind me of an indefatigable seagull, wheeling in the open air, screaming and scolding along every shore and subject which comes into your head; among the weary, the laborers, the beggars and the lost,and those who go to any Mass they choose; until it can fly no longer, seagulls are but content to cluck in church, peck in the refrectory and attack its Priests in any direction. Shameful!

    Think hard at what you are saying...

    Mary, Queen of all Priests, Pray for THEM!


  11. "However, the reason the struggle of the English Martyrs is equated with the struggle against the Novus Ordo is not entirely due to the stunning similarities between the text and manner of imposition of that “fabricated liturgy” (the words of our current Pope) with the fabricated Cranmerian liturgy of the nascent Anglican Communion, but also because so many of the martyrs made statements like the following:

    “We wyll haue the masse in Latten, as was before.

    We wyll haue the Sacrament hang Oller the hyeghe aulter, and there to be worshypped as it was wount to be, and they whiche will not thereto consent, we wyll haue them dye lyke heretykes against the Holy Catholyque fayth.

    We wyll haue . . . images to be set vp again in euery church, and all other auncient olde Ceremonyes vsed heretofore, by our mother the holy Church.

    We wyll not receyue the newe seruyce because it is but lyke a Christmas game, but we wyll haue oure old seruice of Mattens, masse, Euensong and procession in Latten as it was before.”


    1. " struggle against the Novus Ordo "..oh dear..

  12. "...they whiche will not thereto consent, we wyll haue them dye lyke heretykes..."

    I knew somebody would post this. Is it worth pointing out that these people are not offering to "die for the Mass"? They're demanding (how typically "Latin") to kill for it.

  13. To All: Many thanks for your comments: I had not intended to cause such ructions and I apologise if I have caused offence. However, I stand firm on my point and will attempt to answer the critics more clearly.Firstly, though, my profound thanks to Servusmariaen who has provided me with one of the main platforms that I had in mind when I first wrote the post. Of course, the Catholic Faith was the underpinning "reason" why priests and laity were martyred in Reformation times but the Latin Mass became the actuality and the cause. By that I mean that priests were forced to either say a gobbledygook form of the "mass" in the vernacular or, to be outlawed and only celebrate the Latin Mass in secret. For this act they were martyred. When apprehended the fist process began by the pursuivants was to search for the vessels and cloths used in the course of Mass; this was the evidence they needed upon which the priest would be charged. In brief, the Latin Mass became the object of the exercise. Now, let me leap forward to present times. Modern and liberalist priests, who exist in great numbers, are those who deny the primacy of the Holy Father, desire and engineer recognistion of homosexual "marriage", wish for the celibacy of the clergy to be revoked and yearn for women to be ordained as priests. It is these priests whom I believe, would not have the courage to lay down their lives for any Mass, whether it be in Latin, German or Dutch. That is, of course, an assumption, but these are priests who have already allowed the Mass to be distorted and perverted through dancing girls, clown Masses, Giant Bunny liturgies; they have no sense of the sacred as far as the Mass is concerned and they sure as eggs are eggs are not going to die for it. And a note to Anagnostis. You are most welcome to comment but I see little future in sniping at Catholics of the Roman Rite when you come from another line with different disciplines. I would not comment (particularly) on a Greek Orthodox blog or, indeed, on a Syro Malabar one. They have their beliefs just as I, as a Catholic, have mine.
    And now, yet another apology (they end here, I promise you). Due to gremlins in my comment box my comments are suffering from an inability to edit and correct. So, sorry for any errors or repeats of sentences. (as follows the end of this comment). Fi

    rstly though, profound thanks to Servusmariaen

    1. I love to read about modern day Martyrs for the Faith such as Blessed FATHER JERZY POPIEŁUSZKO,Poland, Fr Ragheed Ganni,Iraq,Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan & countless others who have celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Ordinary Form...

    2. Btw I really didn't think your Orthodox commentator was "sniping" at Catholics..

  14. Hi Richard, I see what you are saying and agree. It is interesting that in Joan Carol Cruz's book Eucharistic Miracles, hundreds of scientifically proven miracles are documented, all of which, including the most recent, in 1970, have occurred during the Latin Mass. Also the true faith and its liturgical expression are inseparable. Go figure...

    1. Charlie there are authenticated miracles of the Blessed Eucharist at Akita & Korea..not at EF Masses...It is the same Sacrifice at ALL Masses...whatever the form..

      The one at Korea in the 1990's was at an open air Mass in a field..

      Akita in the 1980's..



  15. Richard,
    An excellent post and especially, to is your secondary explanatory apologetics-I agree with your reasoning entirely! All priests of the Roman Catholic Church are validly ordained-All rites of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which are approved by the Church are valid and licit too! However, it’s my humble that the Novus Ordo Mass- (Ordinary Form) is defective compared to that of the Tridentate Rite-(Extraordinary Form) , as the new rite is open to many abuses, which I have witness over the years-I will not go into details, but it is a fact!
    There is no doubt that our Blessed Martyrs from the outbreak of both the persecutions at the Henrican Reformation and the Protestant Reformation died for Our Holy Mother the Church-The Catholic Faith in its entirety: the Pope, Magisterium, and the Mass in the various forms and rites, Roman, Sarum etc! They certainty did not die for Cramner’s Communion Table!
    Yes, there is no doubt that there are many holy, good and hard working priests-here I am very skeptical as to how many would have the courage to die for the True Catholic Faith and The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass-only God knows the answer! Personally I shudder to think when there are priests who won’t touch the Traditional Rite of Mass with a bargepole-who will tolerate their churches and services to be tainted with liturgical abuses; and yet will refuse to allow the Traditional Rite of Mass to be celebrated regularly-this I can attest to! As to the coldness of people etc- you will find good and bad in both camps, however, here I would just add that I have been to the NO Masse where there are people who attend that l have known personally all my life, which at the sign of peace will shake your hand, yet later outside will completely ignore you and treat you with contempt; just because you attend the Traditional Rite of Mass and adhere to Catholic Tradition!
    Richard I applaud you-God Bless you ALL!


    1. People who attend the Ordinary Form of the Mass are adhering to Tradition...

    2. Interestingly today it is the more "traditional" priests who are married with their children entering the Church..

  16. Charlie there are authenticated miracles of the Blessed Eucharist at Akita & Korea..not at EF Masses...It is the same Sacrifice at ALL Masses...whatever the form..


  17. Jackie Parks,
    Thank you for your comment-as I have said there is good and bad in both camps! However, I can assure you not ALL adherents and attendees of the Ordinary Form of Mass adhere to Catholic Tradition- certainly not the ones I associate and come in contact daily with!


    1. Be very careful about assuming that those at EF Masses do!

    2. Jackie Parkes,
      I am aware, and I am not assuming that All those who attend EF do-none of us are perfect,we are All poor mortals God help us All!

      God Bless,


  18. The ones I do..do! I just think it's such a shame to have these endless debates about the Form of the Mass - both of which are licit & the SAME Sacrifice whether the Celebrant is worthy or not. Our family are happy at any Mass..we are NOT Traditionalist Catholics simply Catholic!

  19. Thank you Charlie and also Michael and Jackie.
    Jackie - all Masses are not the same. I have witnessed countless liturgical abuses at OF Masses and have seen many more online. You do not get such silliness at the Latin Mass.
    Of course, all Catholics, by definition are traditionalists......the trouble is that the majority refuse to abide by tradition, starting with obedience to the Holy Father.

    1. I didn't say that all Masses were the same but that Sacrifice is the same. We do NOT receive MORE of Our Lord at the different forms of the Mass. That depends on the state of our soul & you cannot see that from the outside..even a supposed image of piety amongst the faithful may be unrepresentative of the state of grace or otherwise imho

    2. Even Bishops who perform EF Confirmations see the good in "Catholic" politicians who I wouldn't have personally thought were very good examples..but that's a bit off topic..

  20. Richard re:

    "Of course, all Catholics, by definition are traditionalists"

    I refuse to attribute that word to myself...I object to the "ist" & "ism" in "Traditionalist".

    I would say that all Catholics by definition have a heritage of tradition..even converts & reverts..

    I really do hear what you are saying Richard re abuses etc but I think by obsessing over the EF Mass which btw I like very much you are alienating people & not helping the Church imho..

    It really is TOO simplistic to say that a preference for the EF will save the Church..

    Also be very careful over assuming that those at Old Rite Masses are any holier than the "other" Catholics..we have just seen a Traditional Sacristan arrested over child pornography offences..

  21. Richard,
    Your fundamental error lies in equating the Ordinary Form of the Mass promulgated by the popes following Vatican 2 with the Prayer Book service imposed in England by the government of Edward VI and which clearly rejected Catholic sacramental theology including transubstantiation. To adopt such a position, it seems to me, is tantamount to claiming to be more Catholic than the Pope.

    There is nothing wrong in preferring one form over another but it is a gross slander to suggest that lay Catholics who attend mass in the ordinary form or priests who celebrate it are all liberals, modernists or other sort of heretic. No doubt some are but they might well have been such had there been no reform of the liturgy. Besides, I have my own temptations and sins to worry about. My business is to avoid such evils and do the best I can.

    It is also wrong to use the term "Latin Mass" exclusively of the Extraordinary Form. The typical edition of the Roman Missal is in Latin. I have often attended mass in the Ordinary Form in Latin. As for reverence at mass, I agree there are problems with the Ordinary Form where a lot depends upon the attitude of the priest but the vast majority of masses I have attended have been reverent occasions.

    I have frequently observed that a difference between Protestants and Catholics is that Protestants are people who like "religious services". Staying for a weekend with non-Catholic friends I have returned from mass to be asked "Was it a nice service?" I have struggled to give a not untruthful answer. In absolute honesty I have often felt like saying "Oh no! It was dreadful beyond words...but I could not live without it!" At mass I meet our Blessed Lord, Our Lady and all the angels and saints stand in attendance and I am joined with the whole Church of millions around the world in union with the holy father. I find that mind-blowing. "Nice" just doesn't enter into it.
    The bottom line for us Catholics, surely, is to try to do what God wants of us- which we do by following a properly informed conscience.

  22. Well said Patricius, I'm glad Richard wrote this terrible post, just in order to hear the truth of matters regarding the different forms and languages the Mass is celebrated (hope that's the right word) in and how they are all valid.

  23. Patricius - it was an analogy, not an equation.
    Of course, I am speaking in general terms, not all Catholics who attend the OF are modernists but all who attend the EF Form are traditionalists - seem to have heard that before somewhere! God bless.

  24. I attend the Ef Mass & am NOT a traditionalist :)

  25. What do you think of gay traditionalists Richard?

  26. JMJHFPRODUCTIONS ON YOUTUBE: THE KISS OF JUDAS;THE ENEMY IS WITHIN...Fr. Rodriguez speaks about this perhaps start at 16 minutes.