Here is a story I’m going to completely paraphrase and probably slaughter just a bit, but I’m sure the point won’t be lost.
From the holy priest who served as facilitator for this weekend’s silent retreat:
There was once a young boy who grew up with a beautiful young girl. They knew each other their whole lives. He knew everything about her and one day, took her for his bride. They lived in great happiness for many years, loving one another faithfully. Tragedy strikes. One day, with little warning, he’s told that his bride has been killed, while traveling abroad. He’s never allowed to recover her body, but mourns, and as people do, eventually moves on.
He meets another young woman. She is lovely, not much like the first wife, though there are a few similarities, yet he loves her for herself. He is faithful to her, although from time to time, he remembers his first love, with a wistful longing.
Forty years go by.
One day he receives a call…there was a mistake. His first wife is not dead! She had been held captive, kept in darkness and only let out infrequently, but has been set free and will be restored to him. Joy…confusion…a conundrum…
To whom does he owe his allegiance, his fidelity? To the first bride, the holder of his past, his youth, his memories and his first love? Or to the second…she who sustained him throughout his grief, giving him comfort and solace in his latter years? He loves them both…
The young man: the priesthood, our holy priests
The first bride: The Traditional Latin Mass or Extraordinary Form of the One Roman Rite
The second bride: The Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form of the One Roman Rite
It is a conundrum, isn’t it? The original bride isn’t dead…beautiful, resplendent and majestic, she lives and she holds the memories and traditions of the ages. The second bride has provided comfort and solace for the past forty years and was never meant as a replacement for the first, and her bridegroom has loved her for herself.
This is the struggle that so many of our good priests are experiencing, particularly those with their own memories of the “first bride.” To be told she is gone, to mourn and then find her again! To have our Holy Father release her, restoring her dignity as a true bride…is there any wonder that our priests, young and old, are returning to their first love?
I try to imagine that I’m the first bride…I’d like to think my husband would owe his allegiance, his fidelity…