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Recently, I visited Europe, (Germany, Luxembourg, and France to be precise) and was pleased to discover that there is a TLM in Germany, in Trier, and has been for several years. Much credit has to go to Dr. Stefan Schilling, who has been instrumental in obtaining this in spite of much opposition. I'll paste an article here by Dr. Schilling that tells the story, in particular his[i][/i]  story, and I'm sure anyone traveling to Germany will be pleased to know there is a TLM nearby.

Deus Vult!

How I Learned To Love the Traditional Mass

A young doctor relates how he fell in love with the traditional liturgy – and how he  became embroiled in a decade-long struggle to win permission for the  traditional Mass to be celebrated in the heart of what was once Catholic Germany.

As I was born in 1963 -- during the convocation of the Second Vatican Council -- I never actually experienced the traditional liturgy during my childhood. I grew up in a good Catholic family in a modern suburban community outside Mainz, in central western Germany. In my parents' house and in our local parish, we followed  the new postconciliar liturgy of Paul VI.

During the 1960s, our suburb was a newly built post-war settlement, and we had  no church building for many years.  Instead, we used a local hall for Mass, for Carnival events, for every community activity.  Inside, we had only chairs – and of course no way to kneel. There was no sacred space for our village.  We were told that there was no money available for building churches in the Mainz diocese. (Some people even opined that a church was not needed, that the money would be better spent if it were sent to the Third World.)

In the late 1970s, I attended our diocesan high school in Mainz, and I can’t remember anyone ever expressing any critical thoughts regarding the huge liturgical upheaval that followed in the wake of the Vatican Council. After school, I was active in the St George Boy Scouts and it was there that I was first confronted with a peculiarly German post-Vatican II activity, what I call the „Liturgy of the Three Ring Binder.“ 

„Liturgical creativity" was the order of the day, and people would collect ideas to spice up the liturgy in these binders.  The  concept was, I suppose, to invite lay participation and to make the Mass more „relevant.“  No one ever questioned these new  quasi-liturgies,  not my family nor anyone in my social environment.  There was simply no notion of a standard liturgy – all was „creativity.“

By the time I was slightly older, however, I began increasingly to question all of this.  It seemed to me that the new rite was less about worship, and more about featuring the priest at center stage, along with the laymen  who were selected to participate.  The proper focus on the major events of the Holy Mass had been lost long ago.  We were afforded hardly a moment for our own silent prayer, or to await that inner peace so essential for worship.  In the new rite in Germany, every moment had to be filled with „action.“

Worse, one never knew quite what to expect.  In those days, if a Catholic had chosen to attend five or six different masses in  various Mainz parishes on any given Sunday, he would have found a completely different „liturgy“ at each Mass.

Creativity had clearly bred chaos.  Together with other students, then, I became increasingly to long for the "real" worship found in the traditional Mass, where people’s actions were in the background and God was brought back to His rightful place -- in the center of the action, so to speak. 

Now and again we students would drive to a parish in Kiedrich-in-Rheingau. In this parish, the church had maintained a special schola for more than 400 years.  Saints’ days and feasts were celebrated with due solemnity.  The priest celebrated a Novus Ordo Paul VI Mass  reverently and correctly.

At about this time I decided I would no longer receive Communion in the hand. My belief in the Real Presence was too powerful for me to countenance the numerous abuses I had observed because of this practice.  It was not uncommon to see people receive Communion in their hand, turn away and casually pocket the Host.  What did they do with the Body of Christ?  I shudder to think.

At the suggestion of a friend, I attended the Holy Mass in the traditional rite for the first time in 1986 in a parish near Frankfurt.  I watched joyfully as the celebrant handled the Body of Christ in a reverent, convincing and consistent manner.  His careful use of the corporal,  the closed hold of his fingers on the Host from conversion to purification, on the paten and in administering Holy Eucharist in the mouth -- here, it was clear that no one needed to explain the Real Presence.  From the priest’s many gestures and signs, it was abundantly clear to anyone attending  Mass that the Body of Christ was really and truly in the Host he held.

I remember thinking that the form and content of our faith agreed totally in these actions. Only much later did I come across the concept of lex orandi lex credendi; that is, the notion that „the law of prayer determines the law of faith“ and therefore one’s external actions shape one’s inner attitude.

I was equally impressed by the traditional rite’s common orientation in prayer.  That is,  the traditional rite does not make the priest the center of the action (though to be fair there are many priests who do not seek this center stage).  Instead, his place is almost akin to that of the head of a procession in a village feast.

Finally, there was plenty of silence, especially in the central part of the Mass where we are called really to pray with the celebrant.  I was also delighted to find that my private prayer was no longer seemingly an affront to others – something to be „talked to death.“  The Holy One was the focus of this Mass, not the person of the priest nor the performances of amateur liturgists.

Here, I felt spiritually secure and at home.  Over time, I came to love the liturgy more and more,  despite the fact that traditional Masses at that time were hard to find for me, and indeed for anyone in Germany. For me, this liturgy touches my interior life, something I can hardly put into words.  Perhaps it is the experience of what we call  "grace.“

Over the years, I often wondered why Catholics were not permitted to attend both liturgies. The de facto ban on the traditional rite irritated me, the more so because pretty much everything else in what one could term liturgical „peculiarity“ was allowed and indeed encouraged.

I’m chagrined to report that the seminary of the diocese of Trier – an important Catholic community since the time of the Romans – organized what was billed as a „techno worship“ in the Millenium Year 2000.  In an another example of egregious quasi-liturgy, my niece was confirmed at a Mass here which featured a  German Idol hit entitled  "No Angels," performed at the loudest imaginable decibel level in the presence of the Bishop.  (You will forgive me if I employ a useful American phrase here: „You can’t make this stuff up!“)

Liturgically speaking, in Germany everything seemed possible  -- as long as it was loud, obtrusive, unseemly or embarrassing.  The single exception to this rule was any request to allow the traditional liturgy.  Any such request was treated as if it were indecent and, indeed, reprehensible.

I learned this after I graduated from my medical studies, and established my family in Trier in 1993.  This was when I first approached the now-deceased Bishop of Trier with a request to permit an Indultmesse here.  A need was not seen by the bishop.

Thank God in those days for the good priests in Trier who offered a respectful form of the Paul VI "ordinary" Mass.  Our family found such a community in the parish church of St Paulinus, and there our three daughters were baptized.  For these many years, our family has lived with both forms of the Roman rite - the ordinary and the extraordinary – although for years we had to drive many miles every Sunday in order to do this.

When the new Bishop Marx of Trier was installed in 2002, I began asking him for  permission to celebrate the Holy Mass in the traditional rite in our diocese. During our subsequent correspondence, I collected about 300 signatures to support my request.  After over two years of  painstaking correspondence with the Diocese’s Consultancy Department, permission was finally granted at the end of 2004 for a single Indultmesse to be celebrated on Sundays and holidays in Trier.  Permission was conditional, however, on the observation of many restrictions regarding place, time, inter alia, etc.

This was eleven years after my first request to the bishop of Trier.

In spite of the limitations established, I’m happy to report that the response to the Mass has been such that the diocese has agreed to provide a separate priest for pastoral care in the extraordinary rite in the Trier jurisdiction.

Naturally, we greatly rejoiced over the long-prayed-for September 2007 Motu Proprio from Pope Benedict XVI.  In the Diocese of Trier, we hope and expect a future of „normality“ in the usus antiquior of the one Roman rite. However, we also  pray that this Mass will serve once again as a most useful „gold standard“ by which all other Masses will come to be measured.

Such standards, one could argue, are essential in a civilized world.  In 1850, Sir George Biddell, Royal Astronomer to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, located the Prime Meridien at the Airy Transit Circle in the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England.  In the years since, the prime meridien has usefully served as the basis of the orderly measure of the latitudes and longitudes.  One could not imagine a world without these precise geographical measurements.  How would we know where we were?

Similarly, the traditional Mass serves as the standard by which the Church can measure her liturgy.  Now, thanks to the courage and vision of the Holy father, this centuries-old beloved traditional Roman rite is at long-last back among us. Recognized again after more than 35 years of de facto abolition, the Mass has regained its full citizenship in the Church.

Deo Gratias!

Dr. med. Stefan Schilling
Trier, Germany
May 2009

The traditional liturgy is today regularly offered in Trier.  For more information please visit

The FSSP has a modest presence in the South and West of Germany, as does the SSPX.
Anyone ever traveling to Germany and needs an EF should visit that site.  It has a near-complete listing of EFs in the country.