Sunday, January 16, 2022

Two Heartfelt Letters from a Dedicated Chicago Pastor

St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish
Fr. Anthony Bus, pastor of St. Stanislaw Kostka in Chicago, Illinois, wrote a letter on December 15, 2021, to Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo explaining how the liturgy at his parish makes use of traditional options that are perfectly in line with the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, i.e., the user manual for the Novus Ordo) and how many good fruits he has seen from it. He was subsequently told that, in line with the new policies of Cardinal Cupich, he is forbidden—contra legem—to celebrate Mass ad orientem. In a response dated January 13, 2022, Fr. Bus expresses his chagrin at the direction in which things are heading. The two letters were shared with me by friends of Fr. Bus and I share them here because they express so well the thinking of clergy who were influenced by Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI and who discovered, with joy, the “enrichment” of the liturgical tradition that Summorum Pontificum was intended to promote. There’s a more personal side, too. Fr. Bus has Stage 4 colon cancer that spread to the liver and is receiving treatment at Mayo every 3 weeks. He is one of the hardest working priests in Chicago, and he has been illegally denied “permission” to say Mass facing east together with his people.


Regarding Worship at St. Stanislaus Kostka

December 15, 2021

Dear Bishop Lombardo,

My personal story begins in 1999 when I consecrated my life to the Blessed Virgin Mary as a means to deepen my priestly consecration. I had always had a personal relationship to the Mother of God, but I felt I was at a crossroads and needed direction proceeding forward.

Since then, beautiful things have unfolded here at St. Stanislaus Kostka, but not without struggle — spiritual warfare, but always softened by the humble and sometimes powerful manifestations of God’s abiding presence among us.

As you know we minister to a wide variety of people and celebrate the Holy Mass in English, Spanish, and Polish — three in English, two in Spanish, and one in Polish on a given Sunday. Weekday Masses are celebrated every evening at 7:00 preceded by an hour of Confessions and followed by the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy at the Iconic Monstrance, Our Lady of the Sign, Ark of Mercy. After the Sunday morning Masses, I hear Confessions from 1:15 until 3:00 and then again from 4:30 until 5:15, before the last Mass of the day.

Our weekday Masses draw a large number of people — poor, working class, as well as professionals. The majority are often in their 20’s and 30’s. This also includes families. Most stay for the Chaplet after Mass.

I want to assure you that the Mass is celebrated in the Novus Ordo, following the directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium and GIRM. While Masses on Sunday are celebrated in the language of the people, weekday evening Masses are celebrated in English even though we have Spanish speaking and Polish speaking in the sacred assembly. Often, I’ll lead the people in the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation, Doxology, and Agnus Dei in Latin, but not always. On special feast days such as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I incorporate English, Spanish, and Polish — usually with the readings, petitions, and homily.

I do want to assure you that the Altar of Sacrifice is free-standing and in the sanctuary. For two and a half months it was removed from the sanctuary as major repair and restoration was made to the sanctuary floor. At that time, I celebrated Mass at the “high altar”. When work to the floor was completed the Altar of Sacrifice was returned to its proper place in the sanctuary. It is and always has been a free-standing altar and from this altar alone I celebrate Mass.

Inspired by the writings of Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah, after much prayer and after having prepared the people, I chose to celebrate the Mass “Ad Orientem” at the free-standing altar. Initially, I was going to do this only during the Advent and Christmas season of 2017. That simple, yet significant change in gesture was so transformative that we’ve continued to this day, offering the Mass “Ad Orientem”. This includes weddings, funerals, quinceaneras, etc.

The People of God intuitively understand this and those who come for funerals and weddings often comment on the reverential simplicity and focus it brings to the sacred drama unfolding on the Altar of Sacrifice.

Among other scriptural references, I always remind the faithful that our proper participation in the Sacred Liturgy is that we gratefully and generously “offer our lives a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God our spiritual worship.” Also, I hold close to myself the departing words of St. Paul to the presbyterate in Ephesus — paraphrasing, “I leave now with a clean conscience for I did not withhold from you the full counsel of Almighty God, but be astute and on the watch, the wolves are coming to divide and destroy.”

Again, Bishop Lombardo, we strictly adhere to Sancrosanctum Concilium and GIRM. There are no deviations and celebrating Mass “Ad Orientem” is not a deviation from the Novus Ordo.

For as long as I’ve been a priest, even since the days of my seminary training, the call for dialogue and the call for the ongoing reform of the Sacred Liturgy have been an unending mantra. In my experience the “dialogue” in reality is a quasi-monologue, pushing agendas that further instability and division in the Church. Radical secularism aside, we don’t seem to take responsibility for the multi-faceted causes for defections from the faith which may be unprecedented in the history of the Church.

Today people are wholly confused, full of anxiety, depressed, and not quite sure how to navigate through these unsettling times in the secular as well as ecclesial societies. Those who adhere to orthodox Catholic faith and worship are so often chided, ridiculed, called demented, rigid, and hiding some sort of sickness. Those who come to St. Stan’s are indeed sinners and sick as we are all. This is “a hospital for the sick and refuge of mercy for the sinner.” We “accompany” our people. St. Stanislaus Kostka is open 24/7, and the manner in which we celebrate the Mass gives the people who step through these doors a respite from the noise of the world and strengthens them to persevere in humility and surrender their lives to the Lord.

On a final note, I wish to emphasize, celebrating Mass “Ad Orientem” has transformed my priesthood immensely and has been transformative for those who find here all those wonderful places of encounter with the Lord as written about in Sacred Scripture. Through much prayer and thought I will continue offering the Sacred Mysteries, Ad Orientem. I pray that our tranquility and peace in the worship of Almighty God not be disturbed.

Thank you for taking the time to hear me out. Be assured of my prayers Bishop Lombardo. Already I wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas.

God bless you and Our Lady keep you in her care,

Fr. Anthony Bus C.R.
St. Stanislaus Kostka, Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy


January 13, 2022

Dear Bishop Lombardo,

Thank you for consulting the Archbishop regarding my request for permission to offer the Holy Sacrifice, “Ad Orientem.” I will comply with his directive that this is forbidden in his Archdiocese.

Even so, the Archbishop does not provide evidence that “Ad Orientem” was abrogated at the Second Vatican Council. As I read Sacrosanctum Concilium and the [Paul VI] Roman Missal the implication is “Ad Orientem” was not abolished or prohibited — on the contrary.

Liturgists, prelates, priests, and religious had a glorious time after the Council, taking liberties to “change the face of the Church.” I recall as a young teenager in Florida when a priest from Chicago came to our beautiful parish as its new pastor. He right away “renovated” the church into what looked more Baptist than Catholic. In those days, Baptists had strange notions of the Catholic faith, but they loved our beautiful churches. I think they were as shocked as we were at what became of our parish church. As a teenager, the Church I loved very much turned upside down and through my young mind, lost all relevancy — it seemed to just disappear. Like so many others I turned away from the faith even though I had always felt a deep-seated call to the priesthood. My return to the faith only came years later and that’s a whole other story.

As I mentioned in a previous email to you, even though I intuitively knew by the grace of God that something’s been amiss in the reform of the Sacred Liturgy, the depth and richness in the writings of Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah became for me the key that unlocked the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice and the mystery of the ministerial priesthood, In Persona Christi. I believe their writings and expositions hold the key to the reform of the Sacred Liturgy and the priesthood.

It’s no wonder why the young are drawn to those who hold to Sacred Tradition in worship and in life. If the Church’s agenda is to Protestantism or make herself acceptable to the world, she’s been effective and thus, one can explain in part, the mass apostasy from the Catholic faith on the part of priests, religious, and laity alike. The faith of the Ancients of Old, is discarded for what’s been called Moral Therapeutic Deism. One doesn’t need the Church or Christ if it’s just about feeling good.

Again, as I’ve suggested in previous emails to you, there’s a point when the constant chiding of the Holy Father, that we are “demented, rigid, or hiding some sickness” because we hold to what has been handed down to us, wanting to remain Catholic in solidarity with our ancestors who heroically and courageously defended the faith in times of persecution, cause us to turn a deaf ear to his exhortations. In reality, we can’t help but listen because he is the successor of Peter.

Indeed, we are passing through a time of persecution. Do we go the way of Jesus Christ or do we accommodate and compromise our faith in deference to the world?

The Holy Mass is the renewal of our fiat — a renewal of our covenant with the Lord and His Mystical Body. Therefore our primary participation in the Holy Mass and the renewal of our sacred covenant to the Lord is that we offer ourselves “a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God our spiritual worship,” quoting St. Paul. We do this in union with the sacrifice of Jesus, for Jesus, through Jesus, and in Jesus — to the glory of the Father. The Sacred Mysteries offered, “Ad Orientem” facilitates this so beautifully in preparation for Holy Communion, and always in anticipation of the Lord’s coming at the end of all things.

Forgive me Bishop Lombardo if I’m sharing with you things you already know, I just need to unburden my heart of the pain I feel at what is happening in the Church. Many faithful Catholics are being cruelly demoralized — thrown into confusion, which is something the Pope admittedly takes joy in, and are purposefully being pushed to the fringe. There will be no place for our voices in the so called “Synod on Synodality.” This is something we know for certain. I don’t mean to be offensive, but my words come from a place of having been offended over and over again for far too long. I speak for many because I listen to many who are away from the faith or trying hard to hold to the faith.

These are strange times, no doubt. I entrust us all to the benevolent and gracious love of the Blessed Virgin Mary — she is not frozen in the pages of Sacred Scripture and continues to fulfill the will of God — a prophetic presence for the time in which we live.

Again, as always, thank you for hearing me out. Be assured of my prayers for you and all who hold the lofty office of successors of the Apostles, governing, sanctifying, and prophetically leading the Lord’s flock entrusted to the care of their pastors.

As Pope Benedict said, “The false deities will be unmasked through the suffering faith of simple believers.” Pope Francis said, he wants, not a new Church, but a different Church. The Church is Christ’s Church. One wonders what he means by this or why his mercy is shown to some while disdain is shown to others. I don’t mean to end on a sour note, but I can’t resist this. The Church is in need of renewal and reform in every generation as the Council states. Perhaps the “surprise of the Spirit” will undo the harm that’s been done and bring us back to our identity as members of the Mystical Body of Christ as opposed to mere Global Citizens where man/woman are the central protagonists to the unfolding of a New World Order. The governments and corporate elites of the world along with the Pope and some Prelates are quite open to accepting this frightening reality. Perhaps this will hasten the coming of the Lord.

Again, thanks for hearing me out Bishop Lombardo! I do appreciate it.

God bless you always,
Fr. Anthony

(P.S. After I had prepared this post, but before I had a chance to enter it into Blogger, Fr. Z shared the second letter, which is now on Fr. Bus’ s parish website, and made some excellent additional comments, which I recommend to the reader.)

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