Occasionally, in the course of discussing grimoire magic, I’ll receive a question of whether a layperson can celebrate Mass (usually as a way of asking “to what extent can a lay magician work the Heptameron’s system?”). For example I was asked about this in my most recent Glitch Bottle interview, and a kind way of describing my response would be “incoherent discombobulated idiocy.”
I later found out there was a synchronicity happening at the selfsame moment that may have influenced that (my consecrator passed away as the interview was being recorded, and of course the emotionally-charged atmosphere of the 2018 midterm elections being the same day), but in any case what I said is still what I said. I retract nothing, and offer this post as a way of clarifying those thoughts I threw at the wall like a Jackson Pollack painting.
Can a Layperson Say Mass?
The short answer to this question is “Yes and No.”
Yes, in the sense there is nothing stopping a layperson from buying an altar missal off eBay, ditto for a chalice and paten, buying or making their own vestments and altar furnishings, buying hosts and wine, gaining basic competence in Latin, learning the Mass by reading Fortescue or watching YouTube Tutorials, and then doing the ritual. Technically this is called pretense, an example of which can be found in the opening scenes of the movie True Confessions, where the actor at the altar (Robert De Niro) had not previously received sacred orders in real life:
Yet here we come to the “No” part.
When someone asks “can a layperson say Mass,” they’re not asking about purchasing all the paraphernalia and going through the motions. Neither are they asking if they can save themselves some of the work and use a Novus Ordo instead, as most magicians I encounter aren’t terribly interested in the Novus Ordo to begin with. Ironically very few even ask about or are even aware of the “transitional missals” of 1965 and 1967, or the incredibly hard-to-find 1968 “Roman-Seraphic Missal” that I was lucky to score on eBay for $25 nine years ago (as an aside, I use a 1953 Missale Romano-Seraphicum when saying Mass, so finding a 1968 edition felt like reading the “final chapter” before the Franciscans, as I understand, adopted the Novus Ordo in 1974).
No. The question they’re really asking is: can a layperson confect a valid transubstantiation if they perform the ritual of the Mass? And in this the answer is a hard and fast NO!
This is a hard-and-fast rule, because the ability to transubstantiate is part and parcel of the sacramental character bestowed at priestly ordination. Therefore a person who has no validly received the presbyterate, simply does not have the power to confect a valid transubstantiation.
We Need to Talk about Pretense vs Simulation
Remember that word pretense that I used a few paragraphs ago? Well now you know why it’s called that, because the layperson is going through the motions of the Mass but without actually doing what the Mass is supposed to do. Which makes the exercise not unlike a role-play or a dry run.
For those interested in these things, the word “pretense” is used when there’s no intention to deceive, such as a priest refusing to give absolution to a penitent in the confessional (i.e. he openly withholds the sacramental form), or the above-mentioned scene from True Confessions where Robert De Nero does not present himself to be a priest “in real life,” he’s simply acting as a character in a movie, there is no intention to consecrate the elements (we don’t even know if that chalice had anything in it!), and everybody understands what’s happening to be a work of fiction. The same could be said for the practice of children “playing Mass” which, effectively being an innocent LARP and far from an intentional deception, is not sinful.
While children playing Mass can be adorable, the concept of simulation is anything but. The word simulation (also known as simulatio sacramenti) refers to what happens when one performing a sacramental rite with intention to deceive those for whom he’s doing it; usually the “simulation” is accomplished by performing the rite while omitting the proper matter or form (or substituting invalid matter or form), or withholding intent.
It is also simulation when the recipient is incapable of receiving the sacrament in question (e.g. attempting to confirm or ordain someone who wasn’t previously baptized), or when a person without the ability to confect a sacrament attempts to do so, even when “saying the black and doing the red” correctly (e.g. a layperson attempting to transubstantiate the Eucharist).
Because simulation has deception at its core, and especially deception concerning holy things, it’s considered sinful even if the officiant’s life is at stake. To this effect we have a list of errors condemned by the Holy Office on March 4, 1679, the 29th item on the list stating it is a condemned error to hold that “A grave, pressing fear is a just cause for pretending the administration of sacraments.” This is sourced at DZ 1179 and, for those who prefer the “new numbering,” DS 2129. Simulation is also considered a grave offense under canons 1378 and 1379 of the current Code of Canon Law.
Is It Possible to “Hack” the System?
Now, Mike Sententia on his old “Magick of Thought” blog claims it’s possible to hack initiatory systems by “aligning to the system’s signature.” While I rather like Sententia’s work and especially his analogies to computer programming, this isn’t a technique I’ve tried and have neither need nor desire to attempt. In the case of “hacking” holy orders, it’s not a path I recommend as there are easier ways to go about this.
Speculation about Different Types of “Substantiation”
Before going further, I’d like to take a break and go into some speculations I was talking about during the Glitch Bottle interview, since this is the part that’s most likely to confuse the listeners.
I want to be clear at the outset that everything I’m saying here is merely a speculation based on personal experiences, and none of it is intended as a theological assertion.
We’ll start with the experiences.
When I made my first Communion in 1982, I could feel a burning in my chest. At first I thought nothing of it, but then I overheard someone in a nearby pew comment to his parents about feeling the same thing.
My family were “home-aloners” – in fact my mother hated the Vatican II Church but saw no other way for her children to make their first Communion, so that day in 1982 was my last time in a church for many years – meaning I didn’t have a chance to repeat that experience for awhile. Yet when I came back to the Church in the 90s and the only game in town (that I knew of) was the Novus Ordo, sure enough I’d get that warmth in my chest whenever I received from certain priests. From other priests there may be nothing, and from other priests still there may have been a weird tingle.
Now this changed when Fr. Mark referred me to a Latin Mass on the other side of town (presumably so I’d leave his modernist ass alone; he never answered my calls since that day). Now previously I had only felt a sensation when receiving the Elements, but here at the Latin Mass I could feel it the moment the celebrant (Fr. Frank) said the Verba. Over the Host. At that point I felt force welling up in my chest, and when I received that day I became disoriented for a few minutes, like a circuit was put on overload.
Finally, at my own First Mass in 2002, I learned what this was like for the person saying the Mass; it was so vivid I’ll never forget what happened. Beginning at the words Te igitur I began feeling a great fear, as though being made aware of my own unworthiness to stand before the altar. Throughout the Canon up until the Hanc igitur this fear intensified, as though welling up inside me and screaming to be released. As I rubbed my thumbs and forefingers against the corporal at the Qui pridie, the fear was overwhelming and I was afraid I would die if I continued further. But then as I picked up the Host at the words accepit panem there was another sense coming in to overthrow the fear. Still frightened, I dared to say the Verba with full intent for the first time in my life – Hoc est enim corpus meum – and suddenly that fear was gone, as though pushed out of my system by a great force. At the elevation I could hear Avery (the altar server) ringing the altar bell, but it sounded like something far away; all my attention was fixated on my chest, filled to overflowing with a feeling of channeling unlimited power and overwhelming Divine Love, so much so that my brain became disoriented and it took everything I had just to keep standing. This all slowly began to subside during the Unde et memores, only to come back in full force once I consumed the Host.
At first I thought all this was a difference in “power” between the Latin Mass and Novus Ordo, though I later came to realize I was picking up on differences in how these priests were trained about the Mass (sacrifice, meal, memorial) and how they were trained to view the sacrament (transubstantiation, nonsubstantiation, transignification) – remember this was the 90s and seminary education was a casualty of the Catholic civil war – and this training had affected their intention.
There was also the question of whether Novus Ordo priests themselves were validly ordained (a bone of contention among Traditionalists), but my examination of the revised Pontifical leads be to believe the forms in question contain all the necessary ingredients; it was simply Paul VI who mistakenly delineated what constituted “essential form” for one of them. Hence contrary to what a lot of Trads believe, the arguments used against Anglicans in 1896 do not hold against Novus Ordinarians in 2018. They may not even hold against an unknown number of Anglicans, depending on how far the Old Catholic co-consecrations have penetrated their own successional lineages (I’m not sure if anyone has exact numbers on that).
What I’d discerned by this point was that I could detect whether a Host was consecrated and (within my limitations at that time), I credited it to the Latin Mass being more “powerful” while allowing for a potential difference in degrees of the Real Presence. Yet that was still an incomplete picture.
That picture became complete in 2010, when after studying Lutheranism for three years and having taught myself their older liturgy, I walked into a Lutheran church for the first time. This was an ELCA church, and the pastor was definitely of the unionist/liberal/modernist variety that synod is known for. Not only that, but the matter was invalid and the Lutherans’ lack of valid ordination (by Catholic standards) means this would’ve been a layman saying Mass (again, by Catholic standards). By any definition this rite should’ve been absolutely invalid, yet I still felt that same warmth in the chest that I felt at my first Novus Ordo!
Between 2010 and 2012 I experimented further, going so far at one point as to visit an Episcopalian parish with a female celebrant. I got nothing more than a slight tingle there, which makes sense as her entire theological orientation was much more “social” than “devotional” or “mystical.” I’d already encountered the same effect with similarly-minded male celebrants, so this neither confirmed nor debunked the model that was forming in my head at that point.
I also came to find I wasn’t the only person who could sense whether a consecration had happened, or who could feel different degrees. One of my former parishioners, Sarah, would compare what she felt when I said Mass versus what she sensed at a friend’s church, and so would David, my former acolyte long after we both left the Trad movement and he finally opened up to me about this in 2013.
Which brings us to the speculations I’ve drawn from the data. Essentially, my thinking is this: the Real Presence is the Real Presence, and its highest expression is transubstantiation. Yet it may be possible – and again this is only speculation, not assertion of any kind – that the Real Presence also comes in degrees: Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Sacramental Union/Impanation, and lastly Pneumatic Presence.
[NOTE: beliefs in the lack of a real presence, namely memorialism, real absence, or transignification, I’m going to lump together under the term “cis-substantiation.” Because my inner internet troll sees much potential in doing so.]
Along these lines, while a layperson may not be able to confect the Real Presence in its fullest degree (i.e. Transubstantiation), and certainly no degree of the Real Presence ex opere operato, it may be possible for a layperson to access one of the lower degrees on an ex opere operantis basis.
What this means in “simple English” is – and I repeat for the third time that I’m merely speculating – while a layperson may not go up to the altar and attempt or even intend to confect a transubstantiation, he may have a hope of manifesting the Real Presence in a consubstantiated, sacramentally united, impanated, or pneumatic form. And then, of course, the fact this might work on an ex opere operantis basis means the effect would still depend on his theological orthodoxy, moral uprightness, and personal piety (or lack thereof).
Even then, however, this still would not be the same as “saying Mass,” because the Mass has at its root the intent to manifest transubstantiation. Since this is off-limits, no matter how excellent the layperson’s Latin or perfect his piety, the most that could be hoped for is the same effect as a Protestant communion service which, in the Catholic paradigm, is generally conducted by someone having the same sacramental status as a layperson.
Of course this also raises questions about the true “upper limits” of the baptismal priesthood, the “lower limits” of the ministerial priesthood, and at what regions the two may or may not overlap. For those who’ve read my books and this blog for any period of time, you’ll already know that I reject the current “pay, pay, obey” model for the laity but likewise reject going full Babylonian Captivity as well. But that’s a series of questions outside the scope of this blog post and something we may explore at another time.
UPDATE 1 (01/18/2019): I just received some valuable input from Fr. Kristopher Manghera of the Perennial Traditionalist blog. In a Facebook comment he related to me the following information, which I reproduce here with his kind permission:
This is of interest, since a good deal of what you cover here was explicitly discussed and analysed in the Liberal Catholic Church. The LC bishops had purported clairvoyants go to experience Novus Ordo masses after Paul VI instituted it, since the LC bishops were skeptical it could be valid. They were also asked to go to Episcopal services as well. The report was the same: They could perceive the “glow of devotion” surrounding the host, that is to say, the energy of God’s Love, devotion, and mercy was present. but it was not His Presence, it was not him. Ironically, in 1967 the LCC had issued their 4th edition of the Liturgy, which had allowed for different “options,” in order to follow the direction of the Vatican. In 1983, all these options were repealed, communion in the hand, which they never permitted, explicitly banned. In addition, here in the United States modern English and versus populum were also specifically banned. Liberal Catholics do not recognise Novus Ordo sacraments outside baptism as valid. When I went through minor order, my Novus Ordo baptism was conditionally repeated, and Confirmation was repeated absolutely. Whereas most sacramental theology requires only moral certainty, the LCC required near absolutely certainty. Thus, only SSPX, Eastern Orthodox, Old Roman Catholics or Polish Nationals were recognised. Liberal Catholics are discouraged from receiving Novus Ordo sacraments if visiting a Novus Ordo parish (“waste of time”) or from kneeling to acknowledge the Sacrament.
What I think is important is that while their conclusion is different, it appears they’re working from the exact same (or very near same) data points I gathered in my own experiments with church-hopping, and their conclusion also flows just as logically from that data as my own.
In my analysis, it’s possible their “glow of devotion” and my “different degrees of presence” may not be mutually exclusive. For example, it’s possible my “degrees of presence” are a reflection of the devotion the celebrant is putting into the liturgy (which squares with my ex opere operantis hypothesis), while their idea of “glow of devotion,” which of necessity comes in as many degrees as devotion itself does, could be interpreted as differing kinds of presence (i.e. God responding in proportion to the celebrant’s degree of devotion). It’s possible we’re simply using two different sets of concepts to describe the same raw data.
On the one hand, Fr. Manghera’s comment on LCC sacramental discipline gave me fresh insight and considerably higher respect for them as a church; I heartily thank him for that. On the other hand, when two separate conclusions are being reached from the same set of empirical data and both flow equally logically, that means (to me at least) there’s a call for further investigation of the facts available.
Hey Wait, What was That Easier Solution?
Oh, you caught that did you? That part where I said “there are easier ways to go about this?” All right, fine, I’ll tell you what this is before closing this out.
Though it might not be easier. In fact the word “easy” here is something of a relative term, since we’re talking about obtaining Holy Orders here.
The bottom line is this: if you want to be able to say Mass and confect a valid transubstantiation, then you first have to receive ordination into the order of the priesthood. And I won’t be the one to give that to you unless you’re truly exceptional, would pass muster for ordination among the larger Sedevacantist groups (that’s a lot harder than most people think!), and have first vetted you for a period of several years. Even then, I really don’t want to lay hands on anybody because there’s too much potential for that to come back around and bite the ordaining prelate in the end.
The easier solution is to go somewhere that on-the-spot ordinations are potentially available, and that place is called the ISM.
Yep, this is hot water. Especially for those wishing to remain faithful Catholics (in that case, just find a sympathetic priest to say the Masses for you; there are more of them around than you might think!). But if you’re really determined to go the whole proverbial nine yards, then me saying “Don’t Do It!” is not going to stop you.
The ISM: Pitfalls and Potential
The letters “ISM” stand for Independent Sacramental Movement, and its members are the spiritual descendants of bishops who broke away from the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in various waves roughly between the 1700s and 2006, and containing every possible theological and political orientation imaginable. For those needing more information, the introductory study I most recommend is Bishop John Plummer’s doctoral thesis, The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement, in which Dr. Plummer describes the various categories of groups or “jurisdictions” within the movement, their theologies, and their challenges with careful research and a level hand.
Now one has to be very careful when dealing with the ISM because it’s a mixed bag. The majority of the movement’s clergy are sincere people, but the lack of centralization (and thus the lack of vetting) means it’s relatively easy for con-artists, control freaks, and other shady characters to find their way in. There’s also a tendency for clergy in the movement (even sincere ones) to have family- or church-related baggage that they never completely got out of their systems, meaning every other sentence may be about how they hate “the Romans” for a laundry list of grievances in some cases very real, and in other cases imagined. Other ISM clergy, even bishops, may be lacking in proper training and some may have never so much as picked up a theology textbook.
The Gnostic bishop Stephan Hoeller gives us a clear picture of both the potential and the pitfalls of the ISM in his article Wandering Bishops: Not All Roads Lead to Rome, in which he warns us: (emphasis mine)
The seeming promise residing in the wandering bishops is obscured and at times negated by the personal eccentricities and unsavory character of a large number of these bishops. Since consecration to the episcopate is often so easily obtained in the subculture of the wandering ones, venal, unstable, and woefully ill-educated persons abound in the ranks of the “independent” episcopate. Quite a large number of these bishops are simply people one would not wish to invite to dinner. The “sleaze factor” is all too evident and ubiquitous, and this factor will probably remain the greatest obstacle to the positive work the wandering bishops could accomplish in this age.
Yet there’s a great deal of potential among the pitfalls, something I only slowly came to realize after leaving the Traditional Movement, which tends to refer to the entire Independent Movement as “Old Catholics” and look down on them like they’re dirt. Though the irony is individual Trad laity have no problem going to Old Catholics to receive ordination even though they otherwise want nothing to do with them. An example of this would be conclavist David Bawden, who was elected “Pope Michael I” in his parent’s thrift store by said parents and four friends, and who accepted Episcopal consecration from a Costa-Line independent bishop in 2010, and another example would be the original founder of CMRI, Francis Schuckhardt, accepting Episcopal consecration in 1971 from Old Roman Catholic bishop Daniel Quilter Brown.
There’s plenty of hypocrisy regarding Trad-to-ISM relations, and it’s parallel to anecdotes I’d heard whispered within the Trad movement (anecdotes I’ve never seen documented) about individual Novus Ordinarian priests who’d preach the Neo-Catholic party line in the pulpit while secretly being sub-conned by Trad bishops just to make sure they possessed valid ordinations. While documenting this could fill veritable encyclopedias and I find the subject of cross-pollination incredibly fascinating, it’s also well outside the scope of this blog post in general and this section in particular.
Perhaps the greatest potential the ISM can show us is that its decentralized nature and small congregations (those clergy who actually have congregations, another issue entirely) provide a kind of creative ferment in which all sorts of models for community can be tested. Not all of what we see here is beneficial, but from this creative ferment we can look at the most fruitful “experiments” and find other models of “doing church” and exercising ministry without compromising on theological orthodoxy. From these models we may be able to glean a template for a “Church of the Future,” especially in terms of the “small faith communities” that the Spirit of Vatican II faction talked about obsessively and tried in vain to build up until the 90s.
Another potential for good provided by the movement is that it completely divorces liturgical models from political paradigms. As documented by Plummer and seen in my own experience, this is one place where it’s possible to see liberal congregations insist on Latin Masses exclusively, and where conservative congregations can be seen using Novus Ordo 2.0 like it’s still the mid-80’s, Marty Haugen songs and all! (After leaving the Trad movement I ended up involved with a conservative-ish independent church that did exactly that!)
This uncoupling of form from politic can lead individual parishioners to a greater engagement with other liturgical forms outside the toxic environment of the “liturgy wars” that took place (and to an extent are still taking place) between liberals, neo-“conservatives,” and indultarians within the mainstream Church. By gaining this engagement without the toxicity, it’s possible for individuals to find a new appreciation for “each other’s” ways of worship and maybe find a way to that synthesis alluded to (and what Traditionalists at the time accused as being the endgame) in Benedict XVI’s Letter to the Bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum.
… the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. … The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.
It’s funny how nobody in the “mainstream Church” ever points out this passage, but in any event I’m convinced this dream has more potential of being realized within the independent movement’s communities precisely because of the decentralization, divorcing liturgical forms from political paradigms, and greater openness to experimentation.
The Validity of the ISM
And finally we get to the part that likely has most concern for the interested reader, and which can be both pitfall and potential simultaneously: most jurisdictions within the ISM retain valid ordinations and sacraments by Catholic standards, a fairly recent example being Edouard Cardinal Gagnon’s 2002 investigation of the Episcopal consecration of Andre Barbeau. Cardinal Gagnon’s testimony is found in a handwritten letter in French (see image below the quote), and translates as follows:
To Whom It May Concern: After having studied the documentation of Mgr. André LeTellier and his predecessors in episcopal succession, I am convinced that he has been validly consecrated a bishop. It is not my intention to rule on the reports of the organization, incorporated under the name of Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada with the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada and of Québec. But nothing allows me to doubt the validity of episcopal ordination of Mgr André Letellier by Archbishop André Barbeau and that of Archbishop Barbeau by Archbishop Ignatius Charles Brearley, Primate of the Church of the “Old Catholics” having its seat in England. The ordinations of the “Old Catholics” are generally considered to be the same as those of Orthodox bishops. I have known Archbishop Barbeau for more than 60 years since our time at the Grand Seminary of Montreal. I have had little contact with him thereafter, having exercised my ministry far from here. But he has always been known to me as a man of prayer, a mystic. And I think that his disciples are also, above all, men of prayer. + Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, p.s.s. Montreal, 6 May 2002
A further example can be found, albeit anecdotally, in Bishop Patrick Taylor, a (sedeplenist) bishop within the Traditional Movement. His primary consecrator was Paul Boucher, who was himself consecrated by Barbeau (and whose co-consecrator was the same Bishop LeTellier mentioned above), and Father Rama Coomaraswamy makes the following claim about Taylor: (again, emphasis mine)
Malachi Martin, who made inquiries on my behalf in Rome about the validity of various traditional Bishops – Rome up to recent times having maintained strict records about such matters – assures me that the ordinations and consecrations of Archbishop Thuc are beyond any question valid. The same is true of the ordinations of Bishop Patrick Taylor. Bishop Taylor comes from a Brazilian line – a group that was initially schismatic but which reconciled to Rome before Vatican II. (I have in my possession a hand written letter from Malachi Martin affirming the validity of Bishop Patrick Taylor.)
For those noticing that Gagnon’s report refers to LeTellier’s lineage as “Old Catholic” and Coomaraswamy refers to Taylor’s lineage as “Brazilian” (i.e. the Duarte Costa lineage), I would like to point out that Barbeau, LeTellier, and Taylor possess both Old Catholic and Brazilian lines of succession; I know this because Taylor consecrated me, and consequently I have copies of everything. What you’re seeing in Coomaraswamy’s writing is a manifestation of the Trad attitude toward Old Catholics that I’d mentioned before, where the Costa lineage is considered “socially acceptable” (though in some quarters barely), while the Old Catholic lineage is not. What we see here is Coomaraswamy trying to present Taylor’s case in as positive a light as possible.
Why Is This So TL;DR?
Glad you asked! I made it tl;dr on purpose, actually. And for any readers who may not know, those letters stand for “too long; didn’t read.”
Of course you could always scroll down to the end, but by doing it this way, I hoped to weed out at least some of the people who’d want to do this while having too short an attention span to get to any practical meat. Or to put it another way, people who lack the determination to do any real work.
You see, the point of this “easier way” is to tell you that if you’re really that hard-up for the ability to transubstantiate a Host, and you really don’t care what the authorities in Rome have to say, then the independent movement is the fastest way to go.
In fact, you don’t even need to attend a seminary or so much as pick up a theology textbook. Hell, the tiny bit of theology I discuss in The Magic of Catholicism is literally more education than what some independent bishops have. And that’s no exaggeration!
This isn’t to say the independent movement is full of rubes and idiots, because the vast majority of ISM clergy are some very intelligent people (at least the ones I’ve met). In fact about ten years ago I noticed a “movement within the movement” intent on tightening up clergy training standards and raise the bar for the people being ordained. I thought then and continue to think that’s a good thing, but there are still a lot of bishops who will ordain you just for showing up, no seminary, no background check, no nothing!
And yes, this you have to be careful what jurisdiction you contact within the movement, because going in there sight-unseen is like rolling the dice. Ironically for me it was a Jewish man – Bruce Moore, my mentor in Kabbalah, in fact – who first told me about the Independent Movement in 1997.
He told me “If you’re going to become a teacher of any kind, you need to get some credentials” and then showed me the website for the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch. After checking them out, I got the feeling they weren’t a “good fit” for me and I continued on until finding myself in the Traditional Movement where I eventually ended up being ordained in 2002. Though I did end up making contact with the Independent Movement in March of 2000, I realized I didn’t fit well with what I saw in-person – the independents in my area were a very “Spirit of Vatican II” kind of crowd – and so I decided not to go in that direction.
If you yourself want to look into the Independent Movement, I’d recommend looking over another book, Who are the Independent Catholics? by Bishop Plummer and John Mabry. While Many Paths is an academic view of the movement, this book is provides a hands-on introduction and gives valuable tips when checking to see if a given jurisdiction is a good match for you, as well as a list of questions to ask clergy.
For those wanting a “view from the inside” perspective, I’d also recommend listening to the Sacramental Whine podcast from David Kling, a fellow former Traditionalist who joined the ISM and now serves in the Young Rite jurisdiction. If for no other reason, the fact I just finished an interview with him (“just finished” as in 20 minutes before typing this paragraph!), and it should be dropping soon.
My Eyes Hurt! Can I Stop Reading Now?
Yep, we’re finished now. Having journeyed from the question of whether a layperson can say Mass, to speculations about different degrees of the Real Presence, to the possibility of hacking one’s way into initiatory systems, to the Independent Sacramental Movement and back again.
A little secret before finishing, though. Every time I hit the “publish” button, something inside me always flares up for a second and asks “Did I say the wrong thing? How many friends am I going to lose because I’m saying this?” Well, in this case I’m certainly breaking the party line about what the laity can do, even if it’s merely a speculation that faithful Catholics should never say out loud. So let’s see what kind of trouble this post gets me into!