Friday, August 27, 2010

A New Una Voce Chapter in Houston?

In the interest of promoting the traditional Mass, I am helping Jon Merrill spread the word about the formation of a new Una Voce chapter in Houston. Here is his letter inviting interested idividuals to contact him:

24 August 2010

To any interested party, concerning the proposed formation of a local chapter of Una Voce America (UVA) in Houston:

I have recently been advised by Una Voce America that the former UVA chapter in Houston, “Mater Ecclesiae,” being “basically inactive,” no longer has “chapter” status with UVA. UVA indicates that this development now allows interested parties in Houston/southeast Texas to apply to UVA for the formation of a new, local chapter of Una Voce America. (There apparently cannot be more than one UVA chapter in a single geographical area.)

If you would be interested in meeting to approve a “UVA-Houston”-chapter application to UVA, to elect officers, etc., please respond to me at: . Provide me with your full name and email address, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible with a meeting time and location.

For those unfamiliar with UVA, or with the International Una Voce Federation (FIUV), of which it is a member association, here are the links to their respective websites, where you’ll find a description of their mission and activities:


From the UVA website:

Una Voce (from the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity – with one voice) is an international federation of associations, founded in 1966 in Rome, that now includes national associations in 17 nations on every continent. It is dedicated to ensuring that the Roman Mass codified by St. Pius V is maintained as one of the forms of Eucharistic worship which are honored in universal liturgical life, and to restoring the use of Latin, Gregorian Chant, and sacred polyphony in Catholic liturgy. … Una Voce’s mission is to support only the celebration of the Tridentine/Gregorian Rite Mass within the Church, in union with the Holy See and the Bishops united with the Supreme Pontiff of the Church…

From the FIUV website:

The International Una Voce Federation is a lay movement, and its principal aims are to ensure that the Missale Romanum of Pope John XXIII (1962 edition) is maintained in the Church as one of the forms of liturgical celebration, and to safeguard and promote the use of Latin, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. … The Federation is not an organization run from above by a central committee. Each national association is an autonomous body that is encouraged to do all that it can to achieve the objectives of the Federation at the local level but the International Federation is better placed to represent the common concerns of traditional Catholics world-wide at the highest level of Church government. Negotiations with Rome tend to be carried out behind the scenes and are not normally made public. … Since Pope Benedict XVI promulgated his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in 2007 the work of the International Federation Una Voce has increased dramatically. … The cause for the restoration of tradition has reached a crucial stage with the bishops of the world in the process of sending accounts to Rome about the implementation of Summorum Pontificum in their dioceses. I have no doubts that many of these accounts will not be favourable. The International Federation Una Voce is now established as one of the major voices of the Catholic laity worldwide and it needs to be a strong and vigorous voice for the laity when promoting the cause of tradition, and responding to the negative attitudes from Episcopal conferences.

As far as what the specific, practical mission of an “Una Voce-Houston” chapter could be (and the following is merely my own opinion), it could help to keep in mind some recent comments by the chairman of Una Voce America, R. Michael Dunnigan (in The Catholic World Report magazine, April 2010). Reflecting on the role of “Latin Mass Catholics” in the Church, Dunnigan writes:

I believe that the Holy Father envisions a rejuvenated Roman Rite in the Church…and I suspect that he sees Latin Mass Catholics as making crucial contributions to this vision. [What would be the role of ‘Latin Mass Catholics’] in the wider Church? One might say that there are two possible models. The first model of the community is what I would call the “lamp” model, or the “city on a hill” model. I would suggest that, in such a model…Latin Mass Catholics might be understood as an exemplary community set apart, like a lamp on a lampstand or a city on a hill. The second model is what I would call the “leaven” model, and in this model, like leaven in bread dough, the community could be understood as exercising a direct and beneficial influence on the Church as a whole through interaction with other members of the faithful and cooperation with local dioceses. … [B]oth models have a great deal to be said for them, not the least of which is that both are derived from Scripture.

I would think that, to justify its existence and make a meaningful contribution to the Church, a local Una Voce chapter would want to emphasize that latter, “leaven” model, attempting to “exercise a direct and beneficial influence” on the Church through public, overt, interactive efforts to make better known and promote among “other members of the faithful and the diocese” the Traditional Latin Mass/Gregorian Rite/usus antiquior/Tridentine Mass/extraordinary (or classical) use of the Roman Rite. As the UVA chairman notes, the other model, that of the “exemplary community set apart,” also has much to recommend it…but it hardly requires the creation of an Una Voce chapter to put it into effect. In that connection, note that there is already in existence in Houston an informal group working to make a diocesan-approved classical-rite personal parish a reality in the archdiocese. If you are primarily interested in that particular worthy objective (which partakes a bit more of the lampstand than of the leaven model), rather than in Gregorian-rite “missionary” work among the lay faithful and the clergy, your participation in an active, leaven-ish Una Voce chapter might be duplicative, not worth your time, or not responsive to your interests.

A final, pessimistic opinion, which one hopes is mistaken: Under the present ecclesial dispensation, and given generally-prevailing attitudes in the Church in the USA regarding the Traditional Latin Mass and its adherents, attitudes which range from not-so-benign neglect to active hostility, a “UVA-Houston” chapter has about as much chance of effecting short-term meaningful changes in attitudes and practices as covert Christians in Riyadh do of influencing the House of Saud. I would suspect then, that if a Una Voce chapter member expects to see lots of tangible results this side of the Great Divide, he will experience more than a little frustration. It is probably better to think of participation in Una Voce as a “futile” labor of love…or at least of (painful) Catholic duty.

Best regards, Jon

Jon Merrill
2122 Woodland Park Dr.
Houston, TX 77077 USA

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