15 March 2013

Rex Mottram, Catholic Blogger

"Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: 'Just as many as you say, Father.' Then again I asked him: 'Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said 'It's going to rain', would that be bound to happen?' 'Oh, yes, Father.' 'But supposing it didn't?' He thought a moment and said, "I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.'"

--Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Sometimes I think that Rex Mottram is a Catholic blogger.

If you are unfamiliar with the name, I would urge you to read Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (as I would urge everyone else as well).  Mottram was the Protestant fiance of Lady Julia Flyte, who was Catholic.  In order to marry her he agreed to take instruction from the Flytes' priest.  He proved exceptionally docile to the priest's teachings-- in fact, much too docile.  He was ready to state he believed anything at all just so he could be married in the Church.  The above paragraph is the lament of this priest to the Flyte family as he related Rex's progress.

Well, further to my post of yesterday, I wanted to comment on the so-called Trad complaint-fest about the new Pope.  I have read many more complaints about Trad complaints than I have read traditional Catholic blogger complaints themselves.  In fact, it strikes me that the phenomenon is nearly entirely made up by Rex Mottrams who are waiting for the next Pope to tell us when it will rain.  

And we know that if a trad can't see or feel the rain, then they just too sinful to discern it.

To repeat:  merely noting the Archbishop of Buenos Aires' past decisions relating to the liturgy isn't the same-- it isn't in the same ballpark-- as "trashing the Pope".  Just because someone notes that a hybrid part-novus ordo/part-TLM Mass was said once a month in Buenos Aires after Summorum Pontificum was promulgated doesn't make the new Holy Father a champion for the ancient Mass.  It doesn't necessarily make him an enemy of it either.  It just is what it is.

But this hybrid Mass is not actually the Traditional Latin Mass, Rex, and the problem, Rex, is not that we are too sinful, or not spiritual enough, to see it.

Does this mean we reject the Holy Father?  Absolutely not.  He is Christ's Vicar on Earth.  The man who fills the office might be great, or not, or holy, or not, or liturgically-minded, or not, or any number of things.  The office makes the man, so to speak.  I love the Holy Father, because I should and I must.  I gladly give him my filial obedience.


When I was trying to locate the Brideshead quote above, I came across this post from the past on another site-- there is one excerpt there (from another context) I wish to quote, as it has some relevance to the matters at hand:

  Rex believed papal infallibility meant that whatever the pope proclaimed, it must be so even if it didn't square with what our lying eyes were telling us. The pope is the servant, not the master, of the Deposit of Faith. Some have described the pope as the last absolute monarch on earth, but that isn't accurate; the pope is chained by Tradition.

So, pray for the Holy Father.  He has a very difficult job to do and he has our support.  But he doesn't need people making stuff up about him to do that job, or to do it well.



Marsaili said...

We may be in for some tough times ahead liturgically, but the overreaction of trads (see Rorate Caeli) will not help, but rather it will hurt the cause of tradition. Trads will be seem as the knee-jerk reactionaries that many of them really are, and they will not be taken seriously by the hierarchy. Our new Holy Father will likely do things very differently than our dear Pope Benedict. But he may bring new strengths to the papacy which are much needed, though it may not be obvious at first. Our new Holy Father has a great devotion to prayer and the Blessed Virgin. That's a plus. His pontificate will not be a lengthy one, but let's not tarnish the traditional movement with heaving vitriol at the Holy Father, despite any weakness he may have (and all popes have them). We still owe him our allegience, support, and prayers.

Ryan said...

Timman, ever heard this?

"There's no mean like Church mean."

An old Benedictine monk used to say this to me often. It's true, but not very consoling.

It does kind of suck to feel betrayed by those whom you thought were your brothers-in-arms. Didn't we all get it? Weren't we all on the same page? I guess not.

Don't let it get you down. A little testing from the Lord now and then is a good thing. It makes us grow up.

Strange, isn't it, how events can so alter our perception of the past? How are those salad days looking now? Boy, were we clueless!

A year or two ago I would have said that, in a situation like this, things will eventually become clear. Now I know better.

I'm officially done, forever, with trying to read the "signs of the times."

Like Socrates, I've finally learned my lesson. The one thing I know is that I know nothing.

ATW said...

Dear thetimman:

I'd just like to add a positive note regarding the new Holy Father and a subject you've posted on many times. I'm sure you've seen video of the new pope's "puppet 'mass'" from just two years ago (link below). What may have escaped your notice, in amoungst the singing, dancing, tambourines, puppets, and smiling Jesus crucifix, is that the pregnant woman, who's dancing on the left, has a 'chapel ball cap' on her head. The new Holy Father may have read some of your posts and is really a closet Traditionalist. "Time will tell."


thetimman said...


I understand the point you are trying to make, but I don't entirely agree. I think those attached to the traditional liturgy will-- or won't-- suffer regardless of the immediate reactions of any bloggers. I don't think that the Holy Father would allow such a thing to change his will or actions. I certainly hope not. It wouldn't speak well of him if it would. And I don't see anything wrong with the posts of Rorate, though of course anytime you have a site on the internet people who comment may not be entirely discreet.

Alison said...

I thought NLM did a great job. It was very balanced. I agree with Marsaili and was disappointed with words like "horrific" used to describe the new papacy. We do all kinds of things that hurt the Traditionalist movement and I think that is why we it hasn't grown in the last 8 years the way I hoped it would. For instance, if a certain bishop prays the Old Mass and has since the 1980's, comes out and writes why he loves it but his reasons don't suit some Traditionalist he is criticized. If I am not a distributionist or I like Winston Churchill then it can almost be like you don't believe a tenet of the Faith. Then, I start to expect that it is not just about the Mass. At least this time, I do except that for the most part it is about the Mass. It was so comforting and exciting at the same time to see Benedict come out on the balcony eight years ago. We'd all been fans for a long time. Then the unknown comes out and he is a Jesuit. We are back liturgically to the way it has been with the exception of Pope Benedict. It just hasn't been that great liturgical for like the last four popes. The main thing to remember is that if we are truly living a spiritual life we can never really lose. Didn't Belloc say something like, "Thank God we live in a world so easy to depart ourselves from."

Anonymous said...

Timman – the Rex Mottram and thisPope posts are your best ever, better even than your John Burroughs Satanic Prom masterpiece.

The last 50 years show that ultramontane papolatry is not a fitting attitude for Catholics. “The Pope said it/did it, so it must be right. Until the next Pope says/does something different, then it will be wrong.”

Newman, a true traditionalist, was an “inopportunist” when it came to the definition of papal infallibility. He did not deny the dogma, properly and strictly defined, but thought it inadvisable to declare it at the Vatican Council.

He has been proved prescient. Because of a misguided understanding of papal infallibility, many “conservative” Catholics now believe the faith is defined by what the current pope believes and does. In fact, the Faith is the Pope. The Pope is the Faith.

Such a perspective might have been forgivable in 1870, with Pius IX gloriously reigning, but in 1962? 1974? 1988? 2009? March 2013? Really?


Archibald Asparagus said...


The traditionalist movement isn't defined by what you read on a weblong or in a combox.

If you want to find out what serious neo-cons think, read George Weigel, von Balthasar, First Things, or Communio. (Well, maybe not Weigel.) Don't read Facebook or the combox at NCR.

If you want to know what serious traditionalists think, read . . .

Well, I guess there's Gamber, Amerio, and Gherardini. But that isn't much.

That's why we haven't succeeded. We've not even begun to get really serious.

We're looking at years and years of hard labor before our position is taken seriously at the very highest levels.

Alison said...

Hey Archibald, I am practically an old lady who has been attending the Traditional Mass since I was in my 20's. I started in college. Admittedly, I am far from a Tradtional Mass now. I don't really go by what is in the combox. Yes, there are balanced and exemplary traditionalist but some of the things that have happened face to face and it real life don't even come close to the combox and FB bad experience. That includes being told I have a guilty conscience on this very blog. These things happen in a regular diocese parish but they never bother me as much. I guarantee that sometimes the crisis is not so much in liturgy and dogma as in charity.

Athelstane said...


"Trads will be seem as the knee-jerk reactionaries that many of them really are, and they will not be taken seriously by the hierarchy."

I really do not think that this is fair. "Many of them?" How many do you know? Or do you assume that the combox at Rorate or a Fish Eaters thread is a representative sample?

Because in the living, breathing traditionalist parishes where I go, I don't see the combox crazies.

The blogosphere has a way of drawing a disproportionate sampling of the agitated. It's imprudent to assume that it's representative of anything, whether it's religious, or political, or anything else.

Athelstane said...

Hello Timman,

"And I don't see anything wrong with the posts of Rorate, though of course anytime you have a site on the internet people who comment may not be entirely discreet."

While I have growing concerns about what I'm nearing out of Buenos Aires, I do wonder if our friends at Rorate didn't dash out of the gate a little too quickly.

Some folks, of course - not just the liberals, but the Mark Sheas of the Catholic world - won't give credit to folks like Rorate no matter what the time of day, or how deferential they are. They have their stereotypes of trads, and nothing will dislodge them. But I think the testimonies and evidence of how Bergoglio has operated in Buenos Aires - even assuming that it's as bad as some of the evidence suggests that it looks - could have been presented in a more sober manner. I would have presented Marcelo Gonzalez's testimony, to be sure, but I would have waited at least until day two, and presented it with other items as well; whatever else it is, it's secondhand. When you start out the song with your speaker turned to 11, there's nowhere else to go when the outrages start to unfold. (Which I hope and pray they won't).

Peggy R said...


I saw Shea's post yesterday...about Mahoney's terrible tweets which oddly Shea made about the "Trads". I and a few others leaned on Shea for his broadbrush remarks about "Trads" He took the post down before the afternoon was out.

Athelstane said...

Hello Peggy,

That's typical Mark Shea - Post first, think later. He not only wears his heart on his sleeve, but perceives every prick as a sword thrust through it.

He is, deep down, a warm man of faith and principle, but lacking heavily in self control.