Fr. Michael Rodriguez: Answers Some Hard Questions

“If I’m  . . . slightly worthy to suffer for the Faith . . .
I will consider myself profoundly blessed.”

(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) Michael J. Matt (MJM): First off, Father, I’d like to thank you for the stand you’ve taken in recent months in defense of the Church’s moral teaching, especially with respect to so-called ‘gay marriage’. Catholics all across the country have been following your case, and we’re delighted to have a chance today to ask you a few questions. Before we get into the “controversy”, however, I wonder if you’d mind telling us a little something about your personal background?

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site525/2011/0921/20110921_010514_michael_rodriguez_300.jpg

Fr. Michael Rodriguez: Picture from the El Paso Times

Father Rodriguez (FR): Not at all. I was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 23, 1970, the middle child of five. Many years later my parents adopted a sixth child, my youngest sister. As I grew up in the early ’70s, I was completely unaware of the disastrous post-Vatican II revolution that was sweeping throughout our beloved Catholic Church. Thanks be to God, I was raised by parents who were staunch Catholics with their childhood roots in the pre-Vatican II Catholicism of México. An example of the depth of these roots is that my maternal grandmother (born in 1906, in Aguascalientes, México) never accepted the Novus Ordo. She left this passing world in August 2002, always true to the Ancient Rite. Requiescat in pace. Even though my parents had accepted and adapted to Novus Ordo Catholicism during their post-collegiate years, they nevertheless raised us similar to how they had been raised: fidelity to Mass (albeit the Novus Ordo) and Confession, praying the Holy Rosary at home in the evenings, praying novenas and the Stations of the Cross, etc. As I reflect back on my childhood, it was a time of great grace and blessings. Even though my parents failed to hold fast to all the venerable traditions of our Faith and the Ancient Rite, they still did an excellent job of instilling the Faith in us. Interestingly enough, we four older children (born between ’67 and ’74) are now ardent supporters of the Traditional Latin Mass, even more so than our parents.

MJM: And are there one or two persons in your life that mentored you and helped you to remain open to God’s call?

FR: My parents, Ruben and Beatrice, were the ones who were most instrumental in my eventual discernment of a vocation to God’s holy priesthood. Through my father, God blessed me with discipline, fortitude, perseverance, and a love for study. Through my mother, God graced me with the convictions of faith, awe for the Catholic priesthood, a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother, and a love of religion.

MJM: At what point in your life did you know you had a vocation?

FR: I was raised in El Paso, TX, but spent four years (1981-1984) living with my family in Augsburg, Germany. We returned to El Paso, and I began high school. Following my junior year, I spent the summer (1987) at M.I.T. University in Cambridge, MA. I was participating in a special program for gifted minority students from around the nation. The program was geared to recruiting us to study engineering and science at M.I.T. as undergraduates. Well, our good God had different plans for me! I left El Paso that summer thinking I’d study electrical engineering (like my father) upon graduating from high school, only to return from Boston six weeks later, announcing that I wanted to enter the seminary! My mother was overjoyed.

MJM: Clearly, someone was looking out for you. Do you have a favorite saint, by the way?

FR: My favorite saints are: St. Michael the Archangel, St. John the Baptist (largely due to my 9 1/2 years at this El Paso parish), St. Paul the Apostle, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and, to no surprise, the holy Curé of Ars. I have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under three of her specific titles: Immaculate Conception (I was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 8, 1996), Mater Dolorosa, and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

MJM: And, liturgically—where would you place yourself? I know you offer the traditional Latin Mass, but is it accurate to describe you as an outright “traditionalist”?

FR: Liturgically, I’m 100% behind the Traditional Latin Mass, which is without question the true Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. Theology, liturgy, Catholic spirituality and asceticism, and history itself all point to the obvious superiority of the Classical Roman Rite. Unfortunately, all of my seminary formation was in the Novus Ordo, and I only “discovered” the Latin Mass about six years ago, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of “real Catholicism,” i.e. “traditional Catholicism.”

MJM: What was it initially that led you to begin offering the old Mass?

FR: About six years ago, several members of the faithful began asking me if I would be interested in offering the Traditional Latin Mass. At the time, there was serious concern on the part “El Paso’s remnant” of traditional Catholics that the Jesuit priest who was offering the Latin Mass twice a month (under the 1988 Ecclesia Dei “Indult”) was going to be transferred. Thus, they were looking for another priest who would be willing to offer the Latin Mass. At first, I declined, not so much because I wasn’t interested, but due to the immense workload which I was already carrying.

As the weeks passed, I began to study the prayers and theology of the Traditional Latin Mass. The more I studied, the more my awe and amazement grew. I was “discovering” not only the true Catholic theology of the Mass, but also the true Catholic theology of the priesthood, and so much more! Throughout my first nine years of priesthood, I had struggled to make sense of the very serious problems which exist in the Church. At this point, it was obvious that an extreme crisis pervaded the Church and her hierarchy, but why? I just couldn’t quite understand how all of this “diabolical disorientation” had come to pass . . . until the brilliant light of the true Catholic Mass (“Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam . . .”) began to penetrate my priestly soul. This “discovery” of the Traditional Latin Mass has been, by far, the greatest gift of God to my poor priesthood.

MJM: So this gives us an idea of how Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum can and does impact priests who might otherwise never have had the opportunity to discover this great treasure. Given how it impacted you, how do you believe Summorum Pontificum will impact the Church long term?

FR: Unfortunately, both Summorum Pontificum and Universæ Ecclesiæ have plenty of weaknesses. Nevertheless, these documents do represent an initial step in what will probably still be a long and arduous “Calvary,” i.e. the quest of traditional Catholics to restore the Cross, the Mass, the kingship of Jesus Christ, and true Catholic doctrine, outside of which there is no salvation. In Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI writes that “due honor must be given to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V for its venerable and ancient usage.” This directive of our Holy Father is currently being disobeyed almost universally. In the accompanying letter to the world’s bishops (July 7, 2007), Pope Benedict XVI writes, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” These remarkable words of our Holy Father are also being disrespected and disobeyed almost universally, especially by many bishops. Finally, Universæ Ecclesiæ, No. 8, states very clearly that the Ancient Rite is a “precious treasure to be preserved” and is to be “offered to all the faithful.” Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed? The same number from Universæ Ecclesiæ emphasizes that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy “is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees.” This is an astounding statement. This statement from Rome means that the use of the 1962 Missal doesn’t depend on a particular bishop’s liturgical views, preferences, or theology. It’s not about the bishops! On the contrary, it’s about the faithful! Where in the entire world of Catholicism is this directive actually being obeyed?

MJM: Are you now able to offer the old Mass exclusively?

FR: Since I began my new assignment (Sept. 24, 2011) out in the rural, isolated missions of the El Paso Diocese, I’ve offered the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. I consider this to be a marvelous and unexpected blessing from Providence in the midst of a very difficult trial. I hope to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively. If it were strictly up to me, I would never celebrate the Novus Ordo Missæ again. However, the sad reality of having to “obey” in the Novus Ordo Church that has largely lost the Faith, and the need to reach out patiently to Novus Ordo faithful who have been so misled, means that I will probably be “forced” to celebrate the Novus Ordo occasionally. In these instances, however, it will be the Novus Ordo ad orientem, with the Roman Canon, the use of Latin, and Holy Communion distributed according to traditional norms.

MJM: Up until last year, I believe, things were pretty quiet in your priestly life. What happened to change all that?

FR: The local, and even national, “controversy” that has engulfed me is due to the fact that I have been vocal in promoting what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in regard to the whole issue of homosexuality. It’s a disgrace, but the City Council of El Paso has been adamant in trying to legitimize same-sex unions. This goes completely contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I’ve made it clear to the Catholics of El Paso (and beyond) that every single Catholic has a moral obligation before God Himself to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions. A Catholic who fails to oppose this homosexual agenda, is committing a grave sin by omission. Furthermore, if a Catholic doesn’t assent to the infallible moral teaching of the Church that homosexual acts are mortally sinful, then such a Catholic is placing himself / herself outside of communion with the Church. These are the Catholics who are actually excommunicating themselves, not the Society of St. Pius X!

MJM: I can understand why the civil authorities and media might find this “controversial”; but why would your ecclesial superiors find it so?

FR: The dismal response of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality demonstrates how extreme the current crisis of faith actually is. It really can’t get much worse. There’s hardly any faith left to lose! Even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Reason, natural law, and consideration of the male and female anatomy more than suffice to confirm this moral truth.

MJM: And yet you must go where the bishop tells you to go. Is this difficult for you?

FR: In my particular circumstances, obedience to my bishop has been incredibly difficult. Nevertheless, obedience is essential to the priesthood, and I intend to be obedient. One consoling aspect of “sacrificial,” “death-to-self” obedience, is that the Holy Ghost will always come to one’s assistance. I’m reminded that my poor sufferings are nothing compared to those of Mater Dolorosa and our Divine Redeemer. If I’m counted as one even slightly worthy to suffer for the Faith and the Traditional Latin Mass, I will consider myself profoundly blessed. God is so good.

MJM: As you are already living through a form of persecution, I assume you foresee more to come not only for you personally but for all Catholics who stand in defense of Church teaching. But what about the future? Any hope?

FR: Yes, I do foresee plenty of persecution still to come for all those who remain steadfast in the Faith and in their adherence to the Ancient Rite. However, the promise of our Savior cannot but fill our souls with hope, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.” (Mt 5:10-12)

MJM: How can lay Catholics best survive this crisis of faith?

FR: In order to overcome this crisis of faith, we must (1) do everything in our power to recover the Catholic Faith: the Ancient Rite, traditional Catholic teaching in doctrine and morals, the theology and philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, traditional Catholic piety and devotions, and a traditional Catholic “code of living” or “rhythm of life.” (2) On a daily basis we must strive to pray, study, fast, do penance, and practice charity with the aforementioned goal in mind. Finally, I strongly urge all faithful Catholics to (3) pray the Holy Rosary daily and heed our Blessed Mother’s Message at Fatima.

One of the hallmarks of the Traditional Latin Mass is its exquisite and concentrated focus on eternity. If we are to survive and overcome this terrible crisis of faith in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, we have to keep our intellect and will focused on eternity. We cannot lose hope when, from a worldly perspective, all seems lost. Jesus Christ promises “the kingdom of heaven” to those who endure persecution, and “a great reward in heaven” to those who suffer for His sake. (Mt 5:10-12) The final goal is heaven! Like St. Paul, we must press ahead towards the ultimate “prize” (Phil 3:14) and never cease to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1)

MJM: Like so many others, Father, I find myself deeply moved by your powerful witness not only to the Faith itself but also to the Catholic priesthood, which, as you know so well, is under diabolical attack. Thank you for this example of what it means to be a Catholic in an era of persecution. May all of us have the courage to follow your lead through the rough seas still ahead.

0saves
P.S. – Would you do Courageous Priest a favor and share this info with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Email right now? We truly appreciate it. Or leave a comment, we would love to hear what you think.

11 comments to Fr. Michael Rodriguez: Answers Some Hard Questions

  • J. Fernandes

    We need Priest like Fr Michael Rodriguez. we Catholics are deprived of Latin Mass. No wonder, much sinfulness is reigning in the Church now. There is no reverence for the Holy Eucharist. Immodesty, Sacrileges and other sinfulness have set in. I watched Fr. Rodriguez Latin Mass and I felt its Heaven… those few (50 I believe)are Blessed, they got to participate in the Latin Mass atleast for few years. I pray that we may also be blessed with such Priest in our Church. God Bless You Father. Mother Mary cover you under her Mantle. Pray for us too. I wish to know which Parish Father Rodriguez is with.

  • Beatrice

    In response to Rita from Malta
    No one says a person is less a Catholic if they attend the Novus Ordo mass. But from personal experience, I can say I am a better, more faithful and conscientious Catholic since I rediscovered the Latin Mass.. I was 28 when the changes were foisted on the Church. I say foisted because non of the documents of Vat. I I called for such drastic changes in the the Latin Mass. On the contrary, the documents speak of Latin as the language of the Church.
    I remember, after attending the first Novus Ordo mass, telling my husband in dismay:
    “They’ve stripped off all the meat, and left us bones!”
    The Prayers in the Latin mass express the finless of the truths of our Faith much more fully. We request more of Our Father, so we get more graces. In the Novus Ordo, less than a minute after the Sanctus, the priests hold the Sacred Host for a second and rush on th elevate the chalice for an equally brief moment.
    I have been blessed to have been able to attend some of Fr. Rodriguez’ masses. The reverence with which he elevates the Sacred Body of our Savior and His Precious Blood inspires in me a deep awareness of Who is before me, and I have time (at least 20 seconds) to adore Him and voice my petitions.
    I’ve gone to the Novus Ordo mass a few times in the last few years for social or family obligations, and am appalled at the lack of reverence. No genuflection by majority, loud talking in the Church even during mass. People using cell phones, children playing with electronic devices , no respect shown in God’s presence by women with heads uncovered, bare shoulders and breasts half out of clothing, etc.
    Many of those attending may call themselves Catholic, but no longer hold fast to all the dogmas of the Faith. They accept abortion and homosexuality, go to receive Our Lord unworthily. I know some who no longer believe they need to go to
    Confession: “at night I God I am Sorry, and that is sufficient,” a relative who does not believe Baptism is necessary, many others think everyone goes to heaven, and even a priest scoffs the idea of Purgatory and. who said, ” I don’t pray for the soul of my deceased mother because she’s in heaven.” Last time I checked, she had not been canonized or even declared Venerable.
    One last thing: I don’t know much Latin, but with my missal, I can follow all the prayers of the mass. The sermon is always in the vernacular, and the Epistle and Gospel are repeated in the vernacular before the sermon is given,

  • Dympna

    thank you for this excellent information. May God protect you in your priestly life.

  • Gerard Young

    Thank God for these truly holy priest to lead us out of sin.

  • Patricia

    Father Rodriguez, it is good to meet you. Father, could it be, that when the great persecution and abomination of desolation comes against Holy Mother Church to dismantle the HOly Sacrifice of the Mass, the Ancient Rite, the Tridentine Mass, will be like a fortified castle that will not be penetrated by the enemy, but, the Novus Ordo Mass will be vulnerable and not withstand the attack? I don’t know if this question makes any sense? God bless you.

  • Ryan

    I applaud Fathers courage, however, I am left uncomfortable by his use of the words “Novus Ordo Church.” The Catholic Church, though in crisis, is still the one true Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, against which, the gates of hell shall never prevail. The Lord will keep His Church together.

  • Carlos

    I am from El Paso and my wife and I would try to attend the Traditional Latin Mass at San Juan Bautista least once during the week. Fr. Rodriguez celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass beautifully and with such reverence. Without question, it helped deepen our love for the God, Holy Mother Church and the Mass on Sundays at my regular parish.

    We also greatly admired his courage in defending the faith against our City Council’s efforts to promote what they call “domestic partnerships.” He took a lot of heat from all sides for the Church.

    However, I am greatly saddened that Fr. Rodriguez has so much disdain for the Novus Ordo, which was given to us, like it or not, by Holy Mother Church. That he would actually say: “If it were strictly up to me, I would never celebrate the Novus Ordo Missæ again. However, the sad reality of having to ‘obey’ in the Novus Ordo Church that has largely lost the Faith, and the need to reach out patiently to Novus Ordo faithful who have been so misled, means that I will probably be “forced” to celebrate the Novus Ordo occasionally.” is an attitude not much different than that of the Society of St. Pius X.

    I hope Father numbers himself among the “misled”. The faith is ultimately learned at home, whether you grew up with the Ancient Rite or the Novus Ordo. It is the responsibility of parents to hand on the faith to a new generation, as my parents did. Even Fr. Rodriguez stated his parents did a wonderful job despite the “handicap” of the Novus Ordo. He says, “Through my father, God blessed me with discipline, fortitude, perseverance, and a love for study. Through my mother, God graced me with the convictions of faith, awe for the Catholic priesthood, a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother, and a love of religion.”

    It seems that Father is a cafeteria Catholic of a different sort, picking and choosing the things that promote the honor due to the extraordinary expression if the Latin rite (Traditional Latin), but dismissing the honor due to the ordinary expression of the Latin rite (Novus Ordo).

    He cites only part of Artice 1 of Summorum Pontificum “‘due honor must be given to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V for its venerable and ancient usage.’ This directive of our Holy Father is currently being disobeyed almost universally.”, but he disobeys the same directive by ignoring the very beginning of the same article: “The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the ‘Lex orandi’ (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite.”

    He says he knows more about the Catholic faith than the Holy Father himself: “Unfortunately, both Summorum Pontificum and Universæ Ecclesiæ have plenty of weaknesses.”

    Most of all, he is creating division in the Church, thus disobeying the final part of Article I: “These two expressions of the Church’s Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church’s ‘Lex credendi’ (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.”

    We will continue to pray that Father truly humbles himself to all of Holy Mother Church’s teachings.

  • L. T. Hernandez

    I would suggest that before we even attempt to restore the Tridentine mass on a permanent basis, teach the entire world population Latin, so that they can truly participate with heart and soul as the Catechism of the Catholic Church mandates. Until them I have no objections to celebrating the Latin mass on a private basis occasionally.

    edited for charity

  • from our e-mail subscribers. . .

    __________

    Thank you for this article. I took notes so I can follow the suggestions. Again thank you and may the United Hearts blessings be extended to you.
    Helen

    ___________

    Thanks be to God for you Fr. Michael! May your tribe be increased in hundreds of thousands. May I request that you doubly pray for all the homosexuals of this world – as they are so very much multiplied – having been given the liberty to show themselves. Yes, through the prayers of our Blessed Mother’s Holy Rosary I believe they will be enlightened.
    Virginia N.

    ___________

    Absolutely inspiring. I pray that at least he will continue to offer Mass.

    Back in 2004 our priest offered his last public Mass. It was not until just after Easter 2010 that his faculties were restored by our new Archbishop, but no assignment as yet because the old Ordinary is still among us. He has offered Mass for a group in Ms. and once each in other communities far away with in the Archdiocese.

    Many have thought he might do this or he might do that, was even invited to join priests at a SSPV Church. He has done none of the suggested things and refused the SSPV priest.

    He will know come ’12, when the old Ordinary leaves what will be. the new bishop has not addressed Father’s inability, in conscience, to offer the N.O. no one asked him to and he never refused.

    He, as Father Rodgriguez, remains Faithful and obedient. We pray we will get him back.

    Patricia

    ___________

    Dear Fr. Thank you for the most recent article regarding the Latin Mass and diabolical assignment against the Holy Catholic church. Praise God for your faith formation. I also was raised celebrating the Latin Mass every Sunday, and every day during Advent & Lent, fasting from mid-night, confession, rosary, the stations of the cross, novenas, communion, holy family living the commandments etc. for the first 18 years of my life. Then all was changed by Vatican 11, and this affected my faith walk profoundly. Every thing sacred seemed to be removed. Today, I am receptive to the Holy Spirit regarding the truth of walking and celebrating as Jesus Christ would have us celebrate and live. Please keep running the race and finishing the course so in time Christ will say:”Well done, thy good and faithful servant.” Amen,
    In Christs’ footsteps,
    Agnes

    _____________

    Am I worth nothing as a post Vat II Catholic??
    Am I catholic at all—or must I learn Latin.

    Maybe I am just being too sensitive.

    Sarah

    ______________

    I have just read the questions answered by Fr Michael Rodriquez as I subscribed to Courageous Priests. I am from Catholic Malta, Europe. I am 60 years old and only remember Latin Mass just a little.

    I am not sure if Fr. Rodriquez explains the Word of God in his own language, that is the Homely, I assume Spanish and then continues the Mass in Latin. But to be honest I think I am no less Catholic because Mass is celebrated in my own language, Maltese. I want to understand what is happening in Mass as I do not understand Latin. I am no less Catholic than those who hear Mass in Latin because I go to Mass everyday, do Adorations before the Blessed Sacrament, I say the Rosary everyday and go to confessions regularly. So I am not sure why post Vatican – Catholics are considered unfaithful to the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ. I am against Divorce, Abortions and Homosexuality. I also do some charity work as I do voluntary work at the retired priests’ home who are mostly sick priests.The Catholic Bible is the word of God and was, is, and will always be. No man on earth can change that.

    I would appreciate if someone would answer me to the above because I am now really worried by the declarations of Fr. Rodriquez.

    Regards

    Rita

  • karen lyons

    I believe that the Latin Mass is truly the better Mass, maybe if the new Mass were translated into Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, it will be able to meet the high standards of the Latin Mass.
    When I pray the Hail Mary in English it is lovely, but if I have a serious problem I noticed I always said my Our Father and Hail Mary in Irish. I do not speak much Irish, but can pray in Irish.
    I began to wonder about this, and realised when I am at Benediction, and hear the wonderful singing in Latin, I have a stronger Spiritual Faith. I eventually learned the Hail Mary in Latin. The reason being I realise the importance of a strong Faith. For the days when my Faith is weak, I have the great remembrance of how much better I feel when my Faith is strong.
    When I was in Medjugorje, I noticed my Faith was very strong, and would like to have that with me when I came home, I held on to it best through my memory, but it faided after three months, I still have this occasion in my memory, but it seems I am weaker at home, when I do my prayers I become stronger Faithfully. When i pray the Hail Mary in Latin I feel extra graceful. I checked out the language Jesus spoke and tried learning the Our Father in Aramaic, and felt very connected spiritually, but only starting, and it is lovely, truly beautiful, just like Our Lady. Truly Beautiful! Karen

  • gilad

    What parish is Fr. with? Has Fr. ever considered Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Or other Community that follow 1962 liturgical books! Is Fr. with a Una Voce Chapter in El Paso?

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>