Sunday, 25 May 2008

How do we reclaim the Church?

Fr Z has an interesting piece today on how the progressives have managed to skew the agenda, and counselling patience on the part of traditionalists:

There are some things about his analysis I disagree with: he defends Pope John Paul II, for example, as a positive force, when I think most I, along with most traditionalists, would take the view that it was on his watch that the liberal agenda became entrenched (remember altar girls for example).

Where he is right, though, I think, is in insisting that change cannot simply be handed down by fiat - you need to build support for change, and act at a pace that people can cope with. Eventually, a critical point will be reached, and everything will happen very quickly. But we certainly aren't there yet!

He is also correct, I think, in observing that traditionalists often waste time squabbling amongst themselves rather than attacking the common enemy: we all need to be a little more tolerant of each others weaknesses and thologicla differences, a little more forgiving, and a little more willing to give people another chance!

Interestingly, the debate in the comments box has moved pretty quickly (correctly in my view) to the question of whether a few bishops' heads shouldn't be chopped off (an idea that has both major problems and some obvious attractions!).

I came across a great quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen the other day, for the 'Thorn in the Pew' blog. It goes like this:

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.” (before the Knights of Columbus, June of 1972).

Sound advice for us all to ponder I think.

So let me elaborate here on some comments I've made on Fr Z's place.

Reform from above needs support from below

What is important to note about past great reform movements is that they rarely if ever happened entirely from above - rather reforming Popes build on the groundswell created by reforming monastic movements, great saints, and lay action.

Think for example of Cluny and the reforms around the beginning of the first millenium; the historical context for St Francis, St Catherine, and indeed the saints of the counter-reformation such as St Phillip Neri and St Teresa.

Support new communities

Right now, we have a very small nucleus of vibrant traditionally oriented religious communities - such as Clear Creek, Le Barroux, and so forth.

They are important in providing models of the liturgy, a support mechanism for communities of traditionalists, and above all the prayer base that is needed.

We need some in countries like Australia, Canada and the UK.

Support action by bishops and the Vatican

Secondly, we need to urge those in a position to do so to act - how can situations like Bishop Robinson's US book promotion tour be tolerated for example?

Meanwhile in Australia the liberals have already started a campaign criticising the action that has been taken by the Australian Bishop's Conference so far - so right to them in support of what has been done so far, and in support of taking further action against him.

Lay action

Lay people need to take advantage of their rights to demand the TLM, to be able to kneel and receive on the tongue, to attend a mass where the rubrics are followed, to have the traditional devotions, and so forth.

So print out the statement of rights I've put to the right of this blog, take it to a (novus ordo) mass with you, and if you get grief when you kneel to receive, hand it over! Organise a group of like-minded people to go with you. And if necessary, pursue the matter up the line.

Work to convert friends, families and colleagues.

Politely but firmly make known your views to your priest and bishop when problems occur.


Traditionally minded priests need to teach their confreres the traditional mass and encourage them to offer it. They need to help try and bring in 'independent' and SSPX priests. And they need to put aside the theological and personal differences that so often seem to divide those attached to the TLM within dioceses, and support each other against persecutors.


And most of all we need to offer our prayers and sacrifices.

I'd be interested in other ideas on what we should be doing....

1 comment:

Felix said...

It reminds me of a comment someone made: Trads are like St Catherine of Sienna, imploring the Pope to start behaving like a Pope should (and like his predecessors did).