Thursday, 21 August 2008

On being angry rad trads...

When Inside Catholic ran a piece about how evil and horrible traddies were a few days ago, I decided to ignore it - we have enough to be stressed about without worrying about the continued frothing at the mouth of some neo-cons! But a rather good reply by Steve Skojec has now gone up on the same site, and I want to encourage you to read it and perhaps contribute to the debate going on over there, so herewith some extracts...

"Hello. My name is Steve, and I'm a 'traditional' Catholic."

So begins my admission of membership in a disparate group that, as you've already read, is far too well known for its bitterness, anger, and lack of evangelical spirit. I don't like being typecast in this way.... I am first and foremost a Catholic, and I detest even needing to wear a label to distinguish myself. Unfortunately, I must, for it is still an uncommon thing among Catholics to venerate many of the traditions that I hold dear.

I'll be honest: There was a time when I was an "angry trad," when I lashed out at others as I clawed for a spiritual inheritance I felt was stolen from me. While this is probably a natural reaction, I now know it gained me nothing. There is no value in promoting the beauty of something when one's conduct in so doing is itself repulsive.

So why, then, are traditional Catholics so angry?

In his homily on October 21, 2007 Rev. Franklyn McAfee, pastor of St. John the Beloved in McClean, Virginia, offered an insight:

What flowed from the promised renewal of the Mass in the late 60s was something entirely new. The American Theologian Avery Cardinal Dulles has pointed out that the new rite of the Mass violated every norm for liturgical renewal prescribed by Vatican II. He said it was the only Mass in history that was put together by a committee. As a result . . . many people stopped going to Mass. Some even left the Church....

People were hurt, immensely, by the drastic nature of the change. The liturgy on which they had been nourished their entire lives became something unrecognizable -- a Mass as alien to them as my first experiences with the old form were to me.... The old liturgy was effectively suppressed, leaving innumerable Catholics shanghaied in a new Mass that adopted a different form, different postures, a different language, and a different theological focus than that to which they had been accustomed their entire lives. They felt alienated and forgotten....

At a conference I attended several years ago, a priest reported the response of one of the American bishops when contacted by a cardinal with whom John Paul II had entrusted the mission of spreading the indult allowing the old Mass: "I am the bishop of my diocese," the bishop said, "Not the Holy Father."

An anecdote from yet another priest concerned a bishop who locked the parishioners of a diocesan-approved traditional parish out of their church during the Easter Triduum, following an edict that no Good Friday services were to be allowed in Latin....

If these are extraordinary examples, it has been a common experience for the average traditional Catholic to have to drive long distances to get to a Mass at an inconvenient time -- often the only such Mass available in the diocese. Nothing was done to facilitate their devotion, while every other Catholic special interest group imaginable was happily accommodated.

This repression suffered for four decades by those attached to the older form has lead -- it is true -- to great bitterness. Not every traditional Catholic is afflicted with it, and among those who are there are many good and faithful people who want nothing more than to be fully a part of the life of the Church.... Nevertheless, it would be false to deny that there is an angry, malignant, ugly streak running through the heart of traditionalism that threatens to rot the group to its core. It has grown necrotic in the years spent without sympathetic leadership, without cause for hope, living constantly with the knowledge that something was horribly awry in the life of the Church.

Then came Summorum Pontificum.... The traditionalists who spent decades arguing that the Mass could not be abrogated -- that any priest had the right to say it, that it was as much a part of the Church as it had ever been -- had finally been exonerated. The Mass that they loved so dearly and fought for so valiantly was finally free, in no small part because of their defense of its status as a Mass immemorial.

However justified it may be, traditional angst has always been counterproductive. If we desire to help build a better Church, one that honors its traditions and pays them the reverence they are due, we must conduct ourselves in a constructive fashion.

Do I believe that the older form of Mass is an objectively better expression of Catholic worship than the newer form? Absolutely -- if I didn't, this would be hardly worth the effort. But I want to argue that position on its merits, and not be dismissed because I'm perceived as a member of a rancorous and unpleasant sub-group of Catholics. Those of us seeking to restore what we believe has been lost have some reputation-building to do if we want to avoid being painted with the broad brush strokes some of our peers have earned for us....

2 comments:

(Another) Louise said...

Although I am committed to the EF, I have to say that I too have become increasingly frustrated by the "ghetto" mentality of many "traditional" Catholics. I am frustrated that our chaplaincy seems so cut off from the rest of the diocese, that we only hear about important events when we read about them in the Catholic papers or by picking up the "Novus Ordo bulletin" (ooh, mortal sin). Although I was not particularly interested in the lead up to WYD08 (got more enthusiastic as it went on - I am no longer considered "youth" having passed my 35th birthday a few years ago) I was extremenly dissappointed to have missed the WYD Cross, and the Indulgence attached to attending the various ceremonies. I have also been rather underwhelmed by the response to the Pauline Year, which I found out about on the Internet, rather than from the pulpit. It has yet to be mentioned, and I sometimes wonder if our priest even knows what is going on in the wider church.
We are part of the wider church, and since we seem to pride ourselves on our adherence to the traditions of the Church, why would we want to ignore these occasions which promote these traditions? If we never attend these events, and never try to interact with the rest of the church, how are we ever going to overcome our rather negative reputation?

(Another) Louise said...

And another thing...

Why do some mad rad trads feel the need to corner newcomers to the EF and give them a diatribe on the defects of the OF, and how all the priests and bishops are so bad?
I wonder why we rarely see them again? %-)