Doing a bit of catch-up yesterday though, I stumbled across a series of posts on Coo-ees from the Cloister that touch (mostly inadvertently) on a number of the themes I'd been thinking about for some time, so I thought I'd get some of my outrage out of the way before talking about some of the other issues on my list!
In particular, I want to talk about the need for the novus ordo world to come to grips with Summorum Pontificum and accept it; and for greater unity among traditionalists.
Now I have to admit, for reasons that will be obvious to most I'm rather hesitant about taking these topics on. But on balance I rather think the time has come to confront some of these issues head on, and attempt to lance a few boils!
My comments will I suspect strike some as naive - there is after all a lot of history and pain behind some of the divisions in our community. But as Christians we are called to constant conversion, and I hope my comments will give some pause.
Being at home in the Church
One of the most significant moments of 2008 for me was Pope Benedict XVI's comments to the French bishops to the effect that traditionalists too have a place in the Church and their right to the traditional liturgy should be respected (remember that outrageous co-option of it by the Brisbane heretics!).
It is a message that has started to have some impact, in France and elsewhere. In fact it seems to me that one of the most important effects of Summorum Pontificum has been to make traditionalists feel that they are indeed part of the Church - not a persecuted and rejected minority, or alternatively the only remaining bit of the real Church!
It is this positive impact that was perhaps best represented by the recent Adelaide (novus ordo) ordination of Fr Mannes, attended by traditionalist priests and laity from around the country, something that surely wouldn't have happened in a year or two ago.
Unfortunately trad bashing is alive and well...
So it was disappointing then to see the revivified Coo-ees from the Cloister devoting a series of posts to mocking the Institute of Christ the King (who don't currently operate in Australia but who are doing good things in the US and elsewhere).
Now the Coo-ees are always slightly outrageous, sometimes hitting the mark and making us all laugh; sometimes falling completely flat, so one tends to want to give them some leeway. And I'll admit a photo of the acolyte juggling five or so birettas as everyone stands around in full vestments is mildly funny.
One post along these lines would have been fine. But three?
Habits and clericals
And really, I just don't see why adding some distinctive elements to one's order's apparel is so outrageous as to warrant a doppelganger picture with Goering and the Institute's superior (post number 2).
In fact most society's of apostolic life, novus ordo and otherwise, have their some distinctive elements to their garb. The Institute, moreover are canons, and thus entitled to choir dress. Frankly, we should be rejoicing that priests are willing to wear clothing that proclaims what they are rather than trying to pretend to be Mr Average next door in an open-necked shirt.
Nor can I understand why traditionalist seminarians are prohibited from mocking the liturgical and ecumenical excesses of the liberals in a photo of a skit from a revue (post number 3).
The reality is that traditionalism is in part a reaction to those very excesses, as the Pope explicitly stated in Summorum Pontificum! And I'd have to say it is a particularly odd criticism coming from a blog largely devoted to such mockery itself...
Accept the right to say or hear the TLM!
Now Coo-ees (perhaps prudently given the tone the comments were taking on) closed down the debate before I could join it - and someone did step in to defend the Institute (albeit in a rather backhanded way, by turning the spotlight on the Fraternity of St Peter instead).
All the same, I do think someone needs to say rather more directly to Hardman Window and fellow travellers: get over it!
The Pope has legitimated the right to say the traditional mass; accept those who like as part of the Church just as we accept Marionite rite, Ukrainian rite and other catholics!
On the traditionalist side of the divide...
Some of the comments on one of the posts pointed to the desirability of the FSSP taking a more active role in evangelization. As my readers will be aware, I'm strongly in favour of all traditionalists being actively engaged in the wider Church, taking on the task of active evangelization, and much more.
I have to say though that the kinds of views expressed in these posts, and some of the responses, are the very reason why traditionalists tend to retreat to their ghettoes!
The comments - from traditionalists as much as from the non-traditionalists - also reflect, to my mind, a lack of respect for the different streams of spirituality within the Church.
There are reasons why we have a great variety of religious orders and surely we should rejoice that there are real choices open to traditionalist priest discerners in terms of the Benedictine-Salesian/baroque/communal style of the Institute, the more Thomist/low mass oriented/French influenced/individual style of the Fraternity of St Peter (feel free to challenge my characterisations!), and traditional religious orders.
Individuals may not personally understand or be attracted to the approach of some particular school of spirituality currently practiced amongst traditionalist priests in Australia, be it Dominican, Franciscan, Ignatian and/or Fraternity. We may individually prefer a medieval, Tridentine or baroque style of worship. And we can certainly have a debate about the respective merits of these differing approaches.
But while accusing a competing school of spirituality of shortsightness or worse may well have been traditional in the past (think Jesuit vs Dominican!), in our current situation in the world we should surely try to remember to treasure the diversity of our Church's patrimony and defend it against the destruction of tradition that has been going on in the wider Church, rather than attacking unnecessarily particular streams of it ourselves on the basis of individual taste, theological opinion or simple prejudice.
There are legitimate differences of opinion on many issues that are matters of prudential/pastoral judgment and even on issues that are still within the realm of theological opinion. Most of these are arguably not 'core' to the traditionalist movement.
These do need to be worked through and discussed in an appropriate, balanced way.
But the great danger, it seems to me is that now that we have the right to the Mass, we might fall apart into ever smaller warring factions over some of these things.
Take the issue of concelebration, for example, raised in comments on one of the Coo-ees posts.
On this, the Fraternity of St Peter takes the view that it was founded to say the traditional mass exclusively and its constitutions reflect this. Similarly, there are a number of diocesan priests who prefer to attend 'event' masses with their bishop in choro. Canon Law guarantees their right to take this position - no one can be forced to concelebrate.
At the same time, we can hardly reject the concept of concelebration altogether given the regularity with which it is used in papal masses. The Institute, one gathers, does allow for concelebration, and there are some celebrated examples of senior traditionalists concelebrating for particular reasons.
Individual preferences and theological opinions on this issue may well determine whether you should be a member of the Fraternity or not. It may determine whether one attends a concelebrated mass or receives at it.
But I would hope that traditionalists could try and respect the individual and institutional decisions on matters such as this and try and work together and look past these kind of things - consider what unites us rather than what divides us.
The reality is that we are not trying to recreate 1950, but to create our own, in many ways quite new, vision of the Church, albeit drawing on the patrimony of the Church to do it. Traditionalists (and for that matter the wider Church) are creating their own customs (consider for example the case of mantillas, pretty much unknown in the Australian Church before the 1980s except in migrant communities), and joining in the process going on in the wider Church in making judgments about what is and isn't acceptable from the reforms. This sorting process will take time.
On the unity and evangelization front, I actually thought there were a number of very positive things that happened last year. Let me just highlight a few.
At Juventutem it was wonderful to see Fraternity, religious and diocesan priests all involved in the ceremonies and/or attending in choir. And Juventutem was itself - together with a number of special event masses throughout the year - a wonderful vehicle for exposing many people to the Traditional Latin Mass and Gregorian chant.
Similarly there was strong symbolism in having a non-FSSP cleric (in the form of Fr Jordan SJ) acting as a deacon at the recent FSSP ordinations in Australia, and I gather a similar diversity of priests participated in the ordination of Fr Sumich in New Zealand.
At the Christmas Midnight Mass in Adelaide, where the priest, deacon and sub-deacon were respectively a Dominican, a Fraternity priest and a diocesan priest, was nice to see.
Now I don't imagine all (or perhaps even any) of this was easy to manage!
Personalities, competing perspectives, and different levels of knowledge and experience, as well as many other factors always come into play when different groups do things together.
But the reality is that we need each other, despite our differences, if we are to offer back to the Church the riches of tradition that are needed to fight the secularism, schism, heresy and indifferentism that afflict the Australian Church.
And it is in the interests of our traditional communities too. While Melbourne and Lewisham have enough resident priests and qualified persons to have Solemn Masses regularly, for example, none of the other traditional communities around Australia do.
Yet surely the Solemn Mass, at least for Sundays and First Class feasts - or at the very least the odd special occasion - is the norm we should aspire to? And it can be done, if use is made of the priests that are sympathetic to and/or regularly say the traditional mass.
So here is my proposition: let's all make learning to play nicely with each other, and respecting (legitimate) diversity one of our focuses for 2009! Let's pray for unity and work to heal some of the rifts that have been allowed to fester in the past, and make use of all of those who care about the traditional mass in our efforts for the future of the Church.
After all, if we can't model respect amongst ourselves, how can we demand it from the novus ordo community?
Just a reminder therefore that comments are welcome provided they go the issues, practices and actions rather than attacking individuals or institutions as such. And please, give yourself a name.