Brilliant response to priest who wants to introduce new rite on Chartres Pilgrimage

Response from Cyril Farret d'Astiès to Father de Sinéty, author of an article on Aleteia about the Chartres pilgrimage:

Original story

Dear Father,

Your article on the success of the Chartres pilgrimage has not gone unnoticed. That's fair enough.

Oh, I can understand your frustration, which you express with disconcerting naivety in the first lines of your article.

I don't understand it! Ever since the Council, which decreed a permanent springtime and a radiant dawn, everything has been going wrong and floundering: religious practice, vocations, baptisms, the denarius, the place and influence of the Church... For the past sixty years, all the indicators confirm the dramatic collapse of Catholicism. Emmanuel Mounier called it a spiritual Sedan! And you persist in denying the link between the pastoral turnaround that underpinned the reform and the calamitous results that have come out of it? Because it was to speak to the people of the time that everything was sold off, rewritten and changed. It was, as you write, "to adapt it to the changing world" that your elders made "the liturgy evolve". And you claim not to understand the "spectacular decline" in your pastoral work? Come on! We should firmly reiterate why the liturgy is not first and foremost a matter of pastoral care; it is first and foremost the worship we give to God, but there is not enough time in this little letter to develop this essential point.

You criticise us for rejecting the current practice of millions of Christians around the world. But you, for your part, reject the practice of billions of Catholics who over the centuries have prayed and lived with this ritual, which is much more than the missal of "Saint John XXIII", according to a bad formula full of innuendo. You lament not having been able to take part in the Chartres pilgrimage a few years ago because you couldn't celebrate Mass there. I'm sorry, but you could have, because when you were chaplain to the students of the Île-de-France region, it was not only possible to learn to celebrate the ancient liturgy, but - let's not beat about the bush - it was even encouraged by Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum pontificum. Obviously today it's more difficult, but it's not yet impossible for your generation of priests. However, without wishing to make us feel too sorry for them, it is traditional Catholics in particular who have to suffer bans, warnings, restrictions, pettiness, chicaya and 'invisibilisation', as the woke priests of consumer society put it... But never mind all that nonsense.

To come to the Chartres pilgrimage, of course, is to want to understand its spirit and accept its fruits; it's to take an interest in what it has to offer; it's to discover this liturgical heritage which is, as you may imagine, the common heritage of the Latin and Roman Church; your heritage, Father, as well as mine. Otherwise what's the point? There's a saying that you don't come to a monastery with your own rule.

You compare the figures: 16,000 at Chartres is less than 35,000 at the World Youth Day. Figures, though they always titillate our pride, are not the right key to understanding success. Just think (as an aside in the form of a personal and probably not very original example) that it was partly because of the WYD in Compostela that I aspired to something different and ended up going to Chartres and adopting the traditional liturgy. The key to understanding this is the spirit of the pilgrims. Pilgrims who are very representative of a youth thirsting for God, a radical thirst, without half measures, a demanding thirst. A thirst made all the more ardent by the drying nature of our society, which is an enemy of God, and which the Reformed liturgy, partially adopting the tics and manners of the time, is struggling to quench.

Denigration, you may ask? No, not at all; there's a form of slander in denigration that isn't right and that I object to. But criticism, yes. Criticism of everything that is lost, mistreated, forgotten or distorted in the reform. Of all that the reform deprives both God of the praise that is his due and us of the spirituality we need.  If you had come to the pilgrimage, contrary to what your lines suggest, you would not have heard so much criticism. Instead, you would have seen in action what the traditional liturgy offers that is incomparable: piety, praise, transmission. And you would have seen what the priests who accompany the pilgrims and who are the ministers of this traditional worship offer: the gentleness of mercy, words that are both demanding and comforting, the light of faith explained, the virile exhortation (yes, virile; that's not a dirty word) to holiness...

Come on, Father, you've got 11 months left to learn how to celebrate the liturgy with the traditional missal and pack your rucksack. The pilgrims will welcome you, they will celebrate you and you will finally find the answer to your question: Why?

Cyril Farret d'Astiès