Norbertine Father Jacob Hsieh is a priest of St. Michael’s Abbey in Southern California. A graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Kevin Vann in 2015. Father was born in Dallas, Texas, to a Vietnamese mother and Taiwanese father. He attended Mary Immaculate Elementary School and Jesuit College Prep for high school before going on to TAC.
His work for the community includes teaching Latin to freshman and junior religion at Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro, and chant at Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Wilmington, a parish of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles staffed by the Norbertine Fathers. He leads the schola for parish’s Latin Mass.
In his priesthood, Father Jacob has immersed himself in the rich liturgical traditions of the Church and has a passion for sharing what he has learned with others. He recently spoke about his love of the traditional liturgy, the importance of Latin and on reviving Catholic education.
Why did you decide to enter the Norbertine community?
There was a Norbertine Chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College who introduced me to St. Michael’s Abbey. I visited the Abbey and was inspired by all of the young vocations there. The priests and seminarians were praying the Rosary and adoring the Eucharist every day together.
The solid formation of the Norbertines was also a big factor in my discernment. The Norbertines have as their main apostolate the beautiful celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the love of the Eucharist and Our Lady. These things drew me to them.
You have an interest in the Latin Tridentine liturgy. As this liturgy has not been widely used since 1969, and you appear to be well under age 50, how did you become introduced to it, and why do you find it appealing?
I actually did not like the Tridentine Mass for many years! It was initially cold and foreign to me. I was not used to the silence and constantly wanted to make responses. I loved the Latin Novus Ordo Mass. It was not until I served the Tridentine Mass and learned about this Mass from the inside that I began to see the grandeur and reverence and eternal Beauty of the Mass of the Ages.
Also, as a seminarian, I was able to serve as a subdeacon at Solemn High Masses. This was absolutely life-changing. I began to see that the Tridentine Mass was a window into the lives of the saints who assisted at these Masses.
For someone unfamiliar with the Latin liturgy, how would you recommend they start attending?
If someone is attending their first Tridentine Mass, they must approach this Mass with the greatest gratitude. Even though they do not understand the Latin and the intricacies of what is going on at the Mass, they must see that this is the Mass that shaped the world. This is the Mass around which all of the greatest churches in the world were built. This is the Mass wherein the saints received their spirituality and grace. We must see that what the New Mass has comes from the Old. We must approach this Mass with the greatest humility and gratitude, casting away all of our preconceptions and comforts. We must enter into the Divine Silence of the Mass and pray to God through the priest.
Then we must attend this Mass a couple of times. I suggest watching on YouTube “Why the Latin Mass is Bringing Young People Back to Mass” done by the fantastic channel “Joy of the Faith.” We have to give this Mass time to settle into our souls. After we get used to the silence and mystery of the Mass and being happy with not understanding everything, but praying to God from the depths of our heart through the priest, then we can get a Father Lasance Missal and begin learning about how to follow a Latin Mass. There are many good YouTubes for this. Learning about the Latin Mass is a beautiful challenge that will make everyone grow more than they ever could have imagined!
You teach Latin, a “dead” language. Why is it important for people to study Latin? Of what benefit will knowing Latin be to them?
When Latin is said to be a “dead” language, this does not mean that no one uses it anymore. This just means that it is frozen as it is and cannot morph. In English, new expressions and slang are constantly developing. In Latin, Caesar and Virgil will always remain the titanic classical works that they are. When we learn Latin, we enter into a whole different way of thinking. Latin is a window into philosophy and history and music and tells us the foundations of Western Civilization. Everyone studied Latin before.
Latin increases our clarity of thinking and our memory. It expands our mind. The power of expression in Latin is magnificent. It is not based on word order. For example, the phrase “Santa Dei Genitrix” means Holy Mother of God. But in the Latin, “Dei” means “of God” and is placed between “Santa (Holy)” and “Genitrix (Mother)”. So in the Latin, God is inside of Mary. This, the mystery of the Incarnation, is painted with words. We can’t do this in English because English is based on word order, for the most part.
You are a teacher of religion. Every statistic in the Western church shows that the practice of the Catholic faith is in decline. Why do you think this is, and what can we do to reverse the situation?
The Church is in decline because people are not being taught the Catechism and they are not tapping into God’s infinite mercy through the sacraments. They are not being taught the Faith. People do not know God and don’t care about him or have some messed-up notion of him. …
What is the best way for parents to teach their children the Faith?
Parents must teach their children the Baltimore Catechism. They have to teach them how to pray the Rosary. They have to pray as a family and pray from their hearts every day together. Fathers must bless their children from their hearts. Fathers must lead their families to Church and mental prayer. Mothers must keep the fathers accountable in their prayer life and they must practice mental prayer for 15 minutes at least every day. If a couple does not know what mental prayer is, they must read St. Francis de Sales book, Introduction to the Devout Life….
The above comes from a June 30 story by Jim Graves in the National Catholic Register.
Amazing how people who push the TLM forget to mention that it had a monopoly for about a thousand years and it was the world before science so religion was the only game in town. If the vernacular had been permitted for Mass 800 years ago, maybe we’d have a much better church today. Maybe in 1,000 years when the vernacular is ancient the church will wonder what took past Catholics so long to ditch Latin Masses.
Before science? Were you educated by Jesuits?
Disce quasi semper victurus vive quasi cras moriturus — learn as if you’re always going to live; live as if tomorrow you’re going to die..
from Latin Words and Phrases Every Man Should Know
The Latin Mass — a pearl of great price.
The vernacular Mass — the Mass of the now and future.
Anonymous, In the ancient world, there was always a clear separation of the sacred from the profane. When you enter a church, you are entering the domain of God. You make the Sign of the Cross with holy water, and behave quietly and reverently, genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament. A church is a holy place– not like a worldly place at all. Vernacular languages were not used in church, because they were considered too profane and vulgar. For priests to speak aloud their prayers and rituals, before God, was also considered vulgar– it was considered to be more holy, to sing, or chant, in Gregorian Chant. The holiest parts of the Mass were done silently, by the priest, before God. Vernacular languages were used just for everyday secular life. In European countries, people were used to learning and using different languages for different reasons. In previous eras, spoken and written Latin was also used in the universities, in the courts of monarchies, in the courts of law, and in legal and government affairs and documents– not the vernacular languages. Even today, Queen Elizabeth II has what is called the “Royal Cypher,” which appears on all government buildings and all Royal documents– “ER”– or “EIIR,” which stands for, “Elizabeth Regina,” or– “Elizabeth Regina II.” Latin also was used in science, for example– in the classifications of plants and animals, and in medicine and pharmacology. Priests used to converse in Latin, and seminarians, until Vatican II, also often had some of their classes taught only in Latin. Latin is still the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, and all documents of all types, of popes and prelates, are first written in Latin, even the Documents of Vatican II, all editions of the Roman Missal (for both the Novus Ordo and Tridentine Masses), and then, translations are made from the Latin.
Sorry, in my above post of July 3rd at 6:06pm, the Royal Cypher for Queen Elizabeth II– “EIIR” stands for “Elizabeth II Regina.” And “ER” is the shorter form.
Everything you stated is a preference, not a metaphysical necessity nor revealed truth.
The Church has decreed that the full, conscious and active participation of all the faithful be the aim to be considered before all else in the celebration of the liturgy. That aim is better served by use of the vernacular when celebrating Mass.
Pope Francis has stated that the liturgical reform is unstoppable.
Anonymous, yours is also a preference, following the current pope. And yes, I also stated many historical facts.
following the current pope????
You don’t follow a pope. You follow Christ.
Anonymous, whoever you follow is your business.
Latin started being used (instead of Greek) because it was the vulgar (the ordinary, the common). St. Jerome’s translation of the Bible into Latin in the 4th century was the translation into the common language so it is called the Vulgate.
Anonymous. you need more ecclesiastical training.
After the translation by St. Jerome of the Vulgate Bible, and the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church as the official state religion of Rome, the Catholic Church began a new development, as the State religion. All through the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical Latin, or Church Latin, was a unique development from Classical Latin, with a different pronunciation, also. Ecclesiastical Latin is holy! There were many religious developments, during this time in history. You might ask Fr. Hsieh to explain all about this– it is all very fascinating,
I wished this had been followed better.
The Norbertine priests are such a gift to us. Interestingly, the orthodox religious orders are growing with an abundance of vocations. And parishes that have Latin Masses are growing. Why would the pope want to eliminate the Latin Mass?? It doesn’t make sense…
And two more Norbertines were ordained today at St. Michael’s Abbey! Thanks be to God for our Norbertine canons.
A wonderful priest. Wish we could have some Norbertines in the SF Bay Area. The SF Cathedral will finally have its very first Latin Tridentine public Mass, on Wed. July 7th, at 3pm– a Low Mass, to be offered at the little Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, by Fr. John Chung. You can call Star of the Sea Church for more info.
Fr. John Chung will actually offer a Latin Tridentine Low Mass on the first Wed. of each month, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the SF Cathedral– starting this Wed., July 7th. You need a reservation, though. You can call Star of the Sea, or email Juan Carlos Lopez at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Did anyone see the recent news story, where a strange “Pachamama”-shaped monstrance was made somehow, and used for Adoration at a Mexican church near Guadalajara, while the pastor was away on vacation? The monstrance is shaped like a naked, pregnant woman, with the Sacred Host inserted in her pregnant belly. This parish has daily Adoration. Wonder if the bishop will sternly discipline this church, for this horrible sacrilege?
Why is it a sacrilege to put the consecrated host in Mary’s womb? I thought trads honored Mary? I guess we’re not allowed to show art with Mary pregnant?
Anonymous, you should read the news story. One easy place to find it, is in the website of EWTN, or the “National Catholic Register,” now owned by EWTN. This monstrance was not Our Blessed Mother, Mary! It was the naked, pregnant Amazonian Pachamama idol! There have recently been some big problems with this, since the incident at the Vatican. The parish priest was very upset! Apparently it was a prank.
There is plenty of art with Mary pregnant-but not nude. The baby Jesus is shown nude in art, which I always thought was weird.
Anonymous, as you have said previously, you are a huge fan of the New Mass and of Pope Francis. Were you also a big fan of Pope St. John Paul II? What do you think of Pope Francis completely changing the John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family, and the Pontifical Academy of Life– completely erasing the work of Pope St. John Paul II? What about Pope Francis’ very controversial and ambiguous approach to Catholic moral teachings on Marriage and Pro-Life?? And what about his controversial writings, such as the post-synodal exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia?” What do you think of the Amazonian Synod, and the Pachamama scandal?
a huge fan of the New Mass and of Pope Francis??? A fan???
What kind of secular thinking is this?
Stop being so nitpicky. Just means someone likes it.
What kind of thinking? Your kind of thinking, Anonymous. And that’s also your business.
So sorry. I think you think I am a different anonymous because your clapback made absolutely no sense. I see you are in an argument with a different anonymous and probably thought I was that one.
Anyway, we are Catholic. We don’t do fandom of the Mass and the Popes.
I am seeing here the same error made at that parish in DC.
It doesn’t matter what anybody likes. You just do what you are supposed to do. If it pleases your senses or sensibilities, fine. If it doesn’t, too bad.
Catholics pay, pray and obey.
This is what has changed and why there are stupid arguments over the Mass or the Popes. People want to “have it their way.” Self-will. The thing that Catholics used to be really good at knowing they were not supposed to indulge.
God tests people by giving them experiences that they do not like in the Church.
Who criticizes a Catholic and tries to demean them for liking a Pope or a Mass?
Maybe this is because of feminism or feminization. Or narcissism. My intention is not to insult you but to admonish you.
Anonymous, you have no business insulting or admonishing anyone. Period. Get off your high horse, bully!
It is actually a duty and a work of mercy.
I dunno… there are some people who post here who are fans of the TLM. Big time.
Dont worry Anonymous I will continue to attack and insult modernists like you as much as possible.
Wilmington? Isn’t that where that huge oil refinery is?