27 August 2009

Nicely Provocative

From Inside Catholic.com comes this thought-provoking piece about a nice side-benefit of the traditional Mass-- the difficulty for the Look-at-me! crowd to ad lib their own personal liturgical revolutions:

The Death of 'Me-Church'

by Steve Skojec

This past Sunday, as I attempted to get my wriggling, squeaking, squirming children settled in our pew for what usually amounts to a liturgical rodeo -- see if you can keep them on their best behavior for eight seconds without getting thrown out of the church -- I noticed the arrival of two women in their sixties who clearly looked like they did not belong. Processing up the aisle in search of a seat, they were dressed very casually, with the short-cropped, boyish, almost intentionally unattractive hairstyles that seem to be de rigeur for the aging members of America's post-feminism movement. They stood out in a sea of suits, ties, dresses, and chapel veils.

Far be it from me to judge based solely on appearances, of course: I may be a Trad, but when I know I'm going to be wrestling with toddlers for the duration of an hour-and-a-quarter-long Mass in the heat of the summer, I'm the first to arrive in a polo shirt instead of an oxford. Even so, sometimes it's just true: "By their fashions you will know them."

This daring duo of anti-patriarchalism might have been guests in from out of town and staying in the hotel across the street, unaware that the 9 a.m. Mass at this particular parish is, in fact, a throwback to the glory days of Catholicism, before the option existed to replace all the masculine pronouns for God in the liturgy with gender-inclusive ones. Might have been, I say, but for the fact that they gave themselves away with their refusal to kneel during such unimportant moments of the Mass as, say, the consecration. They stood like Amazon warrior priestesses at attention, forming a phalanx to defend the rear guard of fruit-loopy Catholicism's last hoorah.

As I looked at them (they were partially blocking my view of the altar, so I couldn't help it), I felt not my usual twinge of irritation at the guardians of "Me-Church," but instead a kind of amused pity. They couldn't perform their non-conformist schtick, mad-libbing their way through responses that, in Latin, they couldn't understand. Hindered by the liturgical language barrier and unfamiliar with the posture of the priest, they were also unable to determine when to hold hands inappropriately during the "Our Father" and were ritually deprived of the showy displays of human affection afforded them by the Sign of Peace.

In other words, the liturgical experience in which they found themselves was horizontal-proof. It resists by its very essence all efforts to make it conform to Man. Instead, within its confines, man (or womyn, if you prefer) must conform to God.

As I watched the priest, his attention turned to the altar and, incidentally, away from their awkward and ineffectual protest, I felt certain that I was at last seeing the death of an ideology that had long outlived its time. The parish was full -- not just with gray-haired hangers-on, but with young families teeming with small children, all of whom demonstrated a deep fondness for tradition, ritual, and respectful worship. The visitors' triumphalistic "We Are Church" mentality was made irrelevant by a more humble, less self-conscious Catholicism. The people around them were far less concerned with having the attention focused on them, and far more concerned with keeping children quiet and well-behaved, and making it through the confession line before Communion time.

This reality is not restricted to the extraordinary form of the Mass, though it finds much substance there. As the Church turns with a view to the past, not just the future, and admits more of its once-abandoned orthodoxy back into its liturgies, the revolutionaries who sought to remake Catholicism are growing old and fading away. The Church is timeless and seems now, at last, to be maturing out of its bi-millennial identity crisis. It is a Catholicism that remembers what it was and where it is going -- to Our Father's house -- where the choirs of angels sing not their own praises but His, forever and ever.


Father G said...


Anonymous said...

Awesome, and Amen!

Thats why I read this blog!

Very, very good indeed.

Long-Skirts said...

"As the Church turns with a view to the past, not just the future, and admits more of its once-abandoned orthodoxy back into its liturgies, the revolutionaries who sought to remake Catholicism are growing old and fading away."


Vestments of red,
Altar cloth too,
Martyrs who bled,
Did this for you.

Gold Tabernacles,
Veiled in red's hue,
Martyrs in shackles,
Hung for this view.

Red mums full bloomed,
In water and brass,
Martyrs consumed,
Burned for this Mass.

Red rays of sun,
Rose-streak the nave,
Their suf'ring done,
Now, red, we must crave!

Anonymous said...

Did you see the survey at NCR? It seems to go against your belief that the younger generation supports the Latin Mass. Those darn HIPPIES seem to be more for it than the younger generation. God luck with the reform of the reform.

thetimman said...

NCR? I think the average age of its readers is 73, so I guess those few of its readers who love the Traditional Mass might be our beloved seniors.

Thanks for the good wishes.

Fight the power!

Anonymous said...

The survey had nothing to do with the readers of NCR. It was reported at NCR.

just wondering said...

i loved this post, it is so...irreducably irrefutable, that it makes me "crave the red". long-skirts, absolutely beautiful.

Latinmassgirl said...


I'm afraid NCR is giving a grossly misleading impression to people. All one needs to do is go to St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis, and see the pews filled with young large families. I have heard that other Latin Mass parishes are the same. The Institute of Christ the King has no priest shortage problem like the Novus Ordo does either. This is also a sign that YOUNG people are interested in the Traditional Mass.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Long-skirts for putting it so perfectly into words.

Anonymous said...

Latin Mass Girl et.al. Keep right on enjoying your fantasy. NCR did NOT do the survey.

Francis said...

What survey are we talking about?

Anonymous said...

Mannish-looking old ladies refusing to take part in the gestures of the Mass prescribed by the rubrics that the rest of the congregation is following? The description of the two "guests" at the Holy Sacrifice of ther Mass makes me suspect that your visitors were out-of-town LCWR-type nuns.

Anonymous said...

I am 'just wondering' if you took as much time welcoming those two 'mannish-looking ladies' to your church as you have ridiculing and berating them in the blog.

Yessiree. You all CERTAINLY know how to welcome outsiders into God's kingdom.

Note to self:
Next time I'm in St. Louis visit St. Francis de Sales...not.

thetimman said...


I didn't write the piece so I can't fit in your preselected box of accusation. You may wish to read the post before accusing as it will at least seem as though you have some reason for doing so. Judging is a two way street.

Anonymous said...

NOTE: Not everyone who attends St. Francis de Sales Oratory agrees with some items or some tones posted on this blog.

This blog is does not speak for the priests or faithful of the Oratory.

Some people love the Latin Mass for its sacredness and beauty.

Latinmassgirl said...

To the NCR watching Anonymous,

I am not fantasizing about young people loving the sacred liturgy. I don't need a survey, I have eyes. Young people are attracted to the Latin Mass, and that is a fact, even if you and NCR disagree.

When it comes to statistics, the surveyor can make the results come out as he wishes by manipulating the questions and conclusions from them, as well as the people chosen to survey.

Anonymous said...

Because your eyes can see some young people at the Oratory, you think huge numbers of young people are interested in the Latin Mass. That's the fantasy.

Latinmassgirl said...


It is not only in St. Louis. I have personally spoken with seminarian students, priests and families from out of town that attend Latin Mass and yes, they all say that it is the younger people who attend the mass.

At the Oratory, there is a good sampling from families as they do not all even live near the church. Some families travel up to four hours to be a part of the sacred liturgy.

P.S. Most of these families have many children; at least five. So think about how they will grow up and marry and have many children who also prefer the Latin Mass. The new mass has just two children on average. So how do you think the church will look in just twenty or thirty years?

Maria said...

It is my experience that while the majority of Catholic young people are apathetic when it comes to religion, the majority of those do have an active faith are more drawn to conservative or traditional Catholicism.