30 April 2013

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil Have Nothing to Fear

Not from the Bishops.
Not from the Progressives.

And certainly not from the conservative Catholics leading whatever today's parade is, wherever it will go.

It's enough to make you sick. In fact, Our Lord said something about the sensation and what causes it in Him:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would thou wert cold or hot. But because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest: I am rich and made wealthy and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (Apoc. 3:15-17)

There is always a danger of complacency in any soul that aspires to holiness. All of us, without exception, are to "take heed" lest we fall. But I think it must be an especial danger to those who earn their living, or who otherwise make a profit, off of the Church. When rocking the boat can lose you the means to support yourself or your family, rocking becomes an unwanted and unwelcome sensation.

Which leads me back again to the case of the vindictive and monolithic conservative Catholic blogosphere. I have never seen a group so united in singularity of thought as this crowd, particularly when trad-bashing is afoot. Stalin and Mao could weep that they didn't have the unity of vision with their cohorts in Party leadership that these people do.

Who are these people? They have books to sell. They speak at Catholic events. They have regular, paying columns in conservative Catholic publications. They have blogs and seek donations to help them "fight the good fight". Donate now!

They are pro-life, to their credit. And they will sometimes lament liturgical abuses, but hardly ever leave a parish that promotes the abuses. They are essentially neoconservative in their political outlook, demanding that the 100 mph rush over the cliff to Gomorrah be slowed down to a more reasonable 70 mph.

Their study of Church teaching sometimes includes the early Church Fathers, but then skips directly to Vatican II. The less erudite know of nothing published prior to the new Catechism.

Their plans of restoration, if there any articulated, amount to these: In politics-- "if only we get one more Justice on the Supreme Court!" In religion-- "If only a few more bishops obeyed the Pope!"

Comfort. Complacency. Security.

Except for one thing that bugs them. Bugs them a whole lot. Ruins their mocha latte at Panera like you wouldn't believe.

What is that, you ask? The wholesale abandonment of the faith? Population collapse? Persecution of Catholics around the world?

No, dear reader. What really bugs the conservative Catholic opinion leaders are traditional Catholics, and behind them, the Traditional Mass.

That's preposterous, you say. Number one, this group makes up a tiny percentage of the total Catholic population. And who in this age of diversity could object to an officially sanctioned rite of Mass, one that fed the saints of a bygone age? After all, some of their best friends are trads!

Why? Because the traditional Mass, and by extension traditional Catholicism generally, is the pea under their comfortable mattress. It stands as a possibility-- remote though they think it in the dark hours of the morning (when no one's around)-- that maybe, just maybe, they aren't so snugly in the heart of the Church as they want to believe. Maybe there's something more God wants. Maybe the Mass is as important to the faith as a set of numbered propositions in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

For most of my life, in the post-conciliar era, the conservative Catholic crowd (of which I was one) didn't really have to worry about it too much. The traditional Mass wasn't really available, whether it was officially suppressed or not. In 1988, the Pope excommunicated the SSPX bishops, and, since 1) thisPope did it; and, 2) no thought about the Mass itself was required, that settled the issue.

Alas, this era of good feelings was not to last. Around 2005, with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, trads started to get uppity. Instead of rebuking them, thisPope seemed to tolerate, and in some ways favor traditional Catholics. Because the conservative Catholic's raison d'être is to cheer whatever the press reports to be thisPope's policy of the day, Benedict's rehabilitation of the traditional Mass and by extension those attached to it caused them some angst. In the end, they reverted to form and cheered the Mass on, however halfheartedly and lukewarmly it may have been. And most tried to ID one trad friend, to better boost their credentials.

But it galled many of them, who warned the trads not to be so publicly glad, because it reeked of triumphalism. Anyone who was too hard to take got labelled a RadTrad by the more inane-- a term which can only be defined by the one using the label, and hence a moving target. And though books continued to be sold, and columns written, and conferences led, it seemed like some of the bloom had been taken off their rose-- like maybe they weren't in the main current of the Church's effort to restore anymore. It had to rankle, just a little.

So, in the fullness of time, when thatPope was no more, and thisPope seems (and seems is all one can yet say) to be less favorable to traditional Catholics and the traditional Mass, the conservative opinion leaders wasted no time in shredding their rivals for Papal affection.

You see, trads are anti-Semitic. Well not all of them, there are a few good ones (but, hee hee, not really). And if you're a good one, you better flagellate yourself in public whenever we, the guardians of Catholic opinion, tell you to. Once isn't enough, oh no. Dance, rummy!

The basis of the charge, whenever it is leveled, is obscure. They know a trad who is. Or they read it's rampant. Or wasn't Williamson one? Or somebody with a watch that a trad asked to tell them the time once, turned out to be, after 30 seconds of hard research reading some other neoCatholic blog, to be a holocaust revisionist. Easy charge to level, impossible to shake. Once they coat you with that smear, they become rubber to your glue.

What does this have to do with the Mass, or with Catholic Tradition? Nothing. And yet, everything. The traditional Mass is the guardian of the Catholic Faith-- particularly as that faith has been traditionally taught and understood. The Mass and the faith it defends both demand a decision, for or against the truth. They demand conversion, whether one is Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Protestant or atheist. It rocks the boat against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.

All in all, it's enough to make a conservative Catholic blogger downright uncomfortable.

So, the so-called conservative bloggers and their fellow travelers will continue to throw traditionalists under the bus, as they travel to the next parish talk while writing their next book (pre-order now!).

It's a shame, really. There ought to be common cause between conservatives and traditional Catholics on most issues facing the Church in our modern crisis. But really, I understand now that there isn't. Too many have a vested interest in the current paradigm. We need abortion to have a pro-life ministry. We need abuses in the novus ordo in order to sell books decrying them. We need Marxist nuns so we may sneer at them. And so on.

The brief Prague Spring from 2005-2013 is over. The current attacks on tradition from "conservatives" taught me not to look for help from that quarter in the future. Next time 'round, we won't be fooled again.

If some of this bothers you, I apologize, and ask you not to condemn me. After all, some of my best friends are conservative Catholics. Not all of them are like this, just a few. There are some good ones, I'm sure.

If you need me, I'll be back at the crazy table.


Trying to be Charitable said...

I am a little late to the "blame game" in this discussion. However, I have often noticed that when these converts-to-Catholicism apologists comment on things, they seem to not have completely embraced the concept of Christian charity.

In my own Traditional circle, when we encounter those who hold beliefs that might be considered "crazy" to the normal way of thought, we simply smile, nod and walk away, reminding ourselves to not engage in such a discussion with that individual in the future. We don't condemn them to their face or tell others that they are horrible people or completely cast them off, as seems to be happening in articles (like Ms. Fisher's) and their com boxes.

I suspect this stems from these apologists' previous way of life in the Protestant faiths, in which if you don't care for some of the people (or their beliefs) who are in your current church group, you simply search for another. There is a lot of diversity under the roof of the Catholic Church, which is lacking in most Protestant denominations.

Delena said...

I forgot what it's like to actually comment on your blog--why don't I do it more often? Oh, that's right--last time I did a guy name Ted and I went head-to-head over what an "appropriate" headcovering is.

Wait. Am I digressing?

Back to the post:
Nicely put.

There is a reason I don't read the Mark Sheas, the Simcha Fishers, and even the (gasp!) Father Zs out there. I like my blood pressure to remain stable. For people who are all about Catholics not being divisive, they have surely drawn the line and shown where they stand. If you stand over on THAT side of the line, well...

We'll be in St. Louis soon. Will Ted be around?

Peggy R said...

I've stayed out of this. I am stuck w/NO mass these days, though it may change soon...I do not PREFER the NO, though I'd be at peace w/an NO by the book...alas, that is asking too much.

I have been shocked by all this divisiveness. What's made Shea so anti-trad? He says it's just online people. So, he's judging real people by what he reads online? Where a fake could simply be pulling his leg, or just a few fanatics looking like more than they are (which is a tactic of the Left I understand)?
Never heard of Simcha F until this incident. I do find it interesting that the Catholic apologetics profession is dominated by converts. (I'd rely on Fr Z for reliability and continuity, however.)

I don't care for Shea much anymore, for a couple years now. I do often read and get irked. If one takes out Trads in one of his critical posts and puts in African American, he'd be called racist. I think one could do the same for Fischer's post you link.

X said...

Gilbert K Chesterton : The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.

Look, these people hate orthodox Catholics for the same reason that an ox hates a bull or a gelding envies a stallion. No matter how they may paw or strut they are impotent, and it's dem rude of you to throw those things in their face!

Long-Skirts said...

Spot on , Timman!!


Brer bishops
Brer priests
And brer people of god
Love the new Rite
Think the old Rite is odd.

Brer mother of ten cried,
"The old's tried and trued."
Brer people of god cried,
"Chill out
Take a lude."

Brer priest said,
"Ms. Brer have a coke
Serve with me
And together we'll create
A two Rite harmony!"

With these words
Brer mother got sick
And threw up
So brer priest urged her, "Go!
If you can't drink our cup."

"So you're urgin' I go?"
And her head she did scratch,
"Jus' please don't throw me
In no Pius the
Tenth Patch!!"

But brer priest
Flung brer mother
Out the door shut the latch
And forced her to land
In a Pius the Tenth Patch.

So mostly the
New Rite is given the nod
By brer bishops
Brer priests
And brer people of god.

But high on a hill
Brer mother of ten
Is singin' and kickin'
Her heels
Up again...

"I was born and raised
In a Pius the Tenth Patch
Known as the Catholic Church
And there still ain't
No match!!!"

thetimman said...

Thanks to all for the comments. X, Chesterton gets it right, as he usually does.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm happy for my naivete.

Seriously, I tried to read and understand the Shea column and the Fisher column. I really did. They are both completely incomprehensible gibberish unless you are well-versed in the players and their prejudices (I assume, at least) about traditional Catholics, conservative Catholics, ultra-traditional Catholics, traddycon Catholics with a half-gainer, and whatever other witty label they can concoct to Balkanize Holy Mother Church.

The double-reverse sarcasm made me feel like I was watching the Abbott and Costello 'Who's On First' routine without being in on the joke.

Sometimes, the internet is a great source of information and generator of important debate on important matters. Other times, and I would classify the Shea and Fisher articles in this category, it just becomes a forum for snarky inside baseball wiseacres to fling poo at one another over manufactured and blown-out-of-proportion issues.

Assuming that the Shea/Fisher "debate" was about placing blame on some segment of the Catholic Church for past statements interpreted as anti-Semitism (and I'm not sure at all that is what was going on), there are far more important issues to debate. That's not to minimize anti-Semitism, or anti-anythingism, but playing 'gotcha' doesn't help anyone.

Timman, step back and take a deep breath. This flawed Catholic (and I'd like to think I'm relatively well-informed) has no idea of what any of those critics are talking about.

SLPS Parent

thetimman said...

Proud SLPS Parent,

Thanks, great comment. You are one of the good ones!


Jane Chantal said...

It feels as though we're in for a long little wander-in-the-wilderness as the aftershocks from the election of our new Holy Father play out. It's as though we are disoriented and groping through smoke and rubble after an explosion, which is not the way Catholics ought to be feeling at such a time (duh).

There's a lot of venting from various quarters, and a lot of -- what’s the phrase? – unfocused rage. It seems to me that we should be about the business of analyzing the emotions that are flying around, and seeing what can be done to turn them into something that’s actually useful. But it’s still too early. Too early to expect those tiresome individuals who are getting their jollies scolding “RadTrads” to acquire some class, and too early to be impatient with people who are distressed and feeling as though they have lost, or are about to lose, something infinitely precious to them. Eveyone needs some slack right now.

As one who prefers the Latin Mass but isn’t utterly repelled by the Novus Ordo -- I trust this establishes my lukewarmness credentials? -- I’d just like to add (a propose of one of your links) that I can’t find a thing wrong with Mr. Hoopes’ article, “Why Catholics Are Grateful to George W. Bush”. Given that we still inhabit the fallen World and its temporal plane, is there something wrong with giving credit where credit is due to a man who, in important ways, showed courageous moral leadership? Were you expecting President Bush to accomplish every item on the ultimate Catholic wish list? He isn’t a Catholic (lukewarm or otherwise) and has never claimed to be any kind of hero, yet he stood up for life, AND for Catholics, as no one else in his position ever has done, and at a time when doing so made him even more despised by the howling progressive pack than he already was. Why on earth any Catholic would be lobbing spit wads at him at this point is beyond me.

Thanks, Timman, for giving me an opportunity to vent my focused rage :-)

thetimman said...


No problem, and fairly stated.

My Hoopes citation was a bit of a reach, because he made the necessary qualification that foreign policy was not a Catholic win with him. Otherwise, I think we would disagree with the precise amount that any domestic policy failures were the result of intent versus defeat. But I don't want to clog the combox with a can-of-worms topic changer.

To me, Roberts and Obamacare = the death of the rule of law. And Mr. Bush takes blame.

Christophe said...

Also, thetimman, they take out after RadTrads every so often in order to drive up web traffic. After wallowing around 7 comments when they blog about the joys of charting or John Paul the Great, a jab at the Traddies will generate 300 comments in no time.

Anonymous said...

I almost hate to pose this question, because in the tone-free realm of the internet, it may come across as snarky. I do not mean it to be so - I pose it as a genuine question aimed at getting to the root of things:

Do you believe anti-Semitic comments are more prevalent in the traditionalist Catholic community than in the wider Church or populace? If not, are we saying that Ms. Fisher is lying or exaggerating the significance of comments by Mr. Gonzalez, Bishop Fellay, Bishop Williamson, and others she has known personally? If so, even though "more prevalent" need not imply anything more than a tiny minority, does even the tiniest disproportionate occurrence indicate an issue to be addressed? I would argue the traditionalist community has less room for error - after all, the only time it makes the news is for things like Bishop Williamson's comments, so those are the things that set its public image, fair or not. (Yes, Ms. Fisher's label of "Rad Trad" is an amorphous term, though one might make the same argument for "neoCatholic" or "conservative Catholic".)

And now a second question, equally vulnerable to coming across wrong, and equally genuine in its effort to explore the deeper questions:

How many converts, especially ones who are not converting due to marriage, does the Oratory have each year? If it is many, then I'd be very interested to hear what drew them in particular, whether it be the beauty and mystery of the Tridentene Mass, or the personal enthusiam of traditionalists for the Faith, or something else. (Obviously, the Holy Spirit being the overarching factor.) If it is few, then is it because the Tridentene Mass is too mysterious for most non-Catholics and nominal Catholics to approach? I am by no means suggesting a re-suppression of - or anything other than the organic growth of - the Extraordinary Form, but I often get the impression that the Novus Ordo is blamed for Catholicism's current plight. Instead, I see the Novus Ordo (at least, celebrated with God-centric reverence rather than congregation-centric entertainment) as an absolutely necessary means of meeting people where they are at.

I'll be interested to see what folks have to say.

Bryan Kirchoff
St. Louis

Sir Galahad said...

Scratch the surface, ever so slightly, of a hip, super-cool, neo-con Catholic and you will find a liberal. Always. Without fail.

They're also intellectually challenged, insufficiently educated, and easily manipulated

Let's face it. The only reason they get away with this stuff is because they can--and they will only stop when they get screwed to the wall for this drivel. Or until someone starts using them to serve our causes. Please, you give them way to much credit. They have so little going on that I'm perfectly baffled as to how we have managed to get whipped by this miserable bunch. We must be even more pathetic than they.

Stop whining and put yourself in a position to deliver the blow.

By the way, who the heck is Simcha Fischer?

Isn't she the one who had a run-in with Joey Buttafuoco?

thetimman said...


I'll try to answer your questions, and invite anyone else to do the same.

1. No, I truly don't think anti-Semitic comments are more prevalent in trad circles. But I think the term is so amorphous that any two people could be comparing apples and oranges. I think the answer might might sense by drawing an analogy: if you tried to convince a person with an inclination to homosexual acts to be chaste, and maintained that sodomy is gravely sinful matter, are you "homophobic" or "anti-gay"? Say you love them with Christian charity but try to convince them to cease a disordered lifestyle. Does this men you're anti-gay?

I think the real issue on the anti-Semitic charge is that trads generally believe that Jews are called to conversion like everyone else. The old covenant, fulfilled by Christ, is superseded and He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. So, acknowledging the eschatological dimension of end-times conversion, there isn't salvation open to Jews any different from Gentiles. They can't be saved by merely clinging to the shreds of the old covenant-- they are called to the new.

And though many, maybe even a majority, of conservative Catholics might agree with that, many don't, being influenced by several equivocal pronouncements from bishops' conferences and, let's face it an inter religious dialogue that tends to indifferentism. And those who hold to traditional teaching may feel bad in proclaiming it. I don't know.

Like those who "tolerate" homosexuals by confirming them in their sins, those who publicly hold that Jews don't need to convert to the faith aren't really loving them, but instead do them a disservice.

I believe all the other misunderstandings, relevant or otherwise, start there.

2. All the evidence I have is anecdotal, but the Oratory sees a lot of converts from other denominations, Judaism, atheism etc. in fact, I spoke with a convert friend today (who converted with several other friends of hers from the same denomination fairly recently) about publishing a short piece she wrote about the reasons she converted. Very beautiful. And the catalyst was the Mass. I hope to post it very soon, in fact.

I really believe the Mass compels. Because truth and beauty compel. And they in a certain sense divide.

I hope that begins to address yours. I hope others join in.

long pants said...

I thought traditionalists and conservatives were the same thing.

Aged parent said...

Brilliantly stated, sir. Thank you.

Aged Parent
The Eye Witness

Sarto said...

Excellent post. Sadly, it's all too true. Further such comnmentary is provided in the following essays:

Revenge of the Neo-Cats by Hilary White


The Justice of the term 'neo-Catholic' by Christopher Ferrara

Athelstane said...

They are essentially neoconservative in their political outlook, demanding that the 100 mph rush over the cliff to Gomorrah be slowed down to a more reasonable 70 mph...

And then there's Mark Shea, who makes no secret of his disdain for neo-con wars or neo-con political parties. But too often, it feels like (because it is presented like) a maneuver to establish his independence and Catholicity. With a vengeance. After all, it leaves him with no political hostages to fortune.

Either way, he's still afflicted with a profound case of ThisPope. Makes you wonder how he might have reacted had Malcolm Ranjith been elected as Pope Pius XIII.

Athelstane said...

Hello Bryan,

Do you believe anti-Semitic comments are more prevalent in the traditionalist Catholic community than in the wider Church or populace?

As Timman says, it's hard to answer this question without defining the term. And even if you so...making a comparison like that to the rest of the Church or the wider world is tough.

To me, anti-Semitism is, like racism, an irrational prejudice, a prejudice against Jews qua Jews. It's often manifested in an excessive fixation on that group, often to the point of conspiracy theories.

Is there an anti-Semitic element in traditional circles? I think most of us realize that there is, though it probably runs in a spectrum. For my part, I also think that it's smaller and more on the margins (and disproportionately active online) than the Mark Sheas of the world like to think. I think there's...a certain contingent, definitely a minority contingent in the SSPX (so let us refrain from painting with broad brushes, especially with a Society whose founder's father was sentenced to a Nazi concentration camp), frequently attached to Bishop Williamson (another convert, BTW), where there is a kind of obsessiveness with the Chosen People at work. It also seems to be more of an issue in Europe, where there's a long history shaping some of these attitudes in traditional circles. I see less of this sort of thing in regularized traditional communities, at least in my experience. It's hard to quantify. It's not like I take polls, or have seen any polls.

I also think that too much of what is assumed to be anti-Semitism is what Timman refers to as a discomfort in some of these circles with Church teaching on salvation for the Jews. Shea will insist, and has insisted, that he rejects dual covenant theory, and I take him at his word. But the effective tone and thrust of his commentary suggests that he drifts uncomfortably close to it at times. Perhaps it's unconscious. But in many of these conservative circles, there seems to be a real fear of being accused of anti-Semitism...or at least a fear of giving offense to Jewish friends who run in the same culture war circles.

Simcha Fisher and Mark Shea believe that it's incumbent on us as traditionalists to more vigorously beat the bounds, to make it a point to read the anti-Semites out of the movement. I don't feel that impulse because, in the living traditional communities I run in, I just don't run into it. I know it's out there online, in places like Ignis Ardens, but I don't see the obligation to mount a campaign against them out there. I don't have the time, nor do I have the means.

poeta said...

I think Trying to Be Charitable has got a point about the Protestant habit of division and exclusion. What seems so often lacking in converts is the sense that the Catholic Church is a family.

You don't run down, shun, or walk away from your own family. Ad quem ibimus? We're all in it together, for life, in an unbreakable bond. We support each other and assume the best of our brothers.

I'm not even sure they entirely get that the paternal bond with ThisPope is familial rather than a sort of Führerprinzip. Families can have disagreements but never lose charity or mutual support.

Martin Sloan said...

The other example of complacency that needs to be addressed is the false sense of security that the FSSP brings to the "traditional" arena. I attend an FSSP Mass weekly, but hey turn a blind eye to the problems within the church and anytime the local ordinary does something specious they ignore it. They are compromised because they have no bishops and rely on the "good will' of local bishops who "allow" them to say the Mass of All Times. They , unfortunately, have more in common with the juring priests of the French Revolution than with the martyrs who defended the Faith and did not compromise

Athelstane said...

Hello Martin,

They , unfortunately, have more in common with the juring priests of the French Revolution than with the martyrs who defended the Faith and did not compromise.

That's a deeply unfair and uncharitable characterization of the FSSP - or indeed any of the regularized traditional societies, such as the Institute.

thetimman said...

Athelstane, I concur.

Anonymous said...

Great Post! A few comments on the comments.

Delena, I still think those snoods are frumpy and classless. Sorry.

Oh Mr. Kirchoff, how did I know you would grace us with a comment.

Long-Skirts, you never fail me. I always scroll past your comments, but there is something calming about your reliability. Thank You!


Bill said...

I think conservative(?) Catholics take unknowingly after Modernists when they, the conservatives, applaud almost any novelty Rome allows. So I hope and pray they'll read or reread Pascendi Dominici Gregis and rethink their conservatism. Tradition in Action's Atila Sinke Guimaraes is right, in my opinion, when he says that conservatives need to become traditionalists, and traditionalists need to be counterrevolutionaries. We need more priestly orders that are like the SSPX.

Anonymous said...


My observation (having some family who are SSPX) is that those who assist exclusively at the Extraordinary Form tend to look down at the rest of us who assist in the Ordinary Form, as though they were practicising a superior form of both the mass and the Chrisitan faith. Benedict taught that they are two forms of the same thing, yet the traditionalists will give you the impression that is superior. I think this is where the resentment by the "conservative" Catholics comes from. Even if your writing you compare "traditional Catholics" vs. "conservative Catholics". Are those of us who believe and practice the faith not all "Catholics"? You complain about attacks, but then attack Ordinary Form by saying that it is the Extraordinay Form that is preserving the faith as traditionally taught and understood. What does this say about the Ordinary Form? Where does this reasoning lead? To the SSPX and schism, I think.

I assure you, I am not your enemy. I see the abuses in the Ordinary Form. But I also saw a lot of people quite frankly not paying attention and milling about at SFDS. My heart cringes when I see the altar girls (and have to explain to my daughters why they never will) and the panoply of "extraordinary" ministers, but then I make them put the host on my tongue, and I feel a little bit better.

- STL Attorney

thetimman said...

STL attorney,

Thanks for your comment. I do not, nor should I dare, look down on anyone else regardless of which Mass they attend or even if they are of a different or of no faith at all. I have lots of my own failings and problems. I did not invent the Mass, and if I love the EF you can rest assured that I did not add any goodness or beauty to it. Nor do I give myself any "credit" for finding it, but thank God for His mercy.

So, I think it is easy for both "camps", if you will, to think the other looks down on them. We think we're better than you, and you think you're saner than us, eh? ;-) But this is mere perception that charity and humility can overcome among people of good will.

That being said, and acknowledging that the substance of the Mass is identical, regardless of approved rite or form, I quibble with your statement that Benedict said they were the "same thing". He ruled they were two forms of same rite.

And forgive me if I continue to maintain that the accidents, as opposed to the substance, of the two forms are vastly different, and that in them the EF is vastly superior. Vastly superior. And it is these accidents that make it the "guardian of the faith" as I labelled it here. Subtlety and completeness of thought is impossible for me, especially in a combox, but let me put it in a way I sometimes do: Someone who attended the EF would be struck by the fact that God is God, deserves our worship, and is really present in the Blessed Sacrament. The worship is serious business. On the other hand, though there is nothing contrary to the faith in the OF, one could attend it-- if they didn't already have that faith-- with much less overt reminder that Christ is present in that same Eucharist.

I say nothing of the abuses so common in the OF (which in part is caused by the spirit of the age but also in part by the inherent lack of stability in some optional parts of Mass, changeability of readings and prayers, etc. I think the EF is far less likely to be abused by its structure. This is also part of the "accidental" superiority.

This opinion of mine does not make me any better than you. One could make a very convincing argument that it places me in much greater danger of being judged unworthy of the blessings I receive there.

Let us neither judge the Catholic worth of the other camp, and have charity toward both. The strident tone of my post was directed at certain opinion leaders of one camp who I think have unfairly smeared traditional Catholics. I don't wish to smear those Catholics who attend the novus ordo, and if I did, I apologize.

Unknown said...


To me, your blog seemed to criticize the politics of "neo-con" Catholics. Do you think Catholics should withdraw from politics? Do you consider yourself a "Catholic anarchist", which is what Joe Sobran called himself?

thetimman said...

I'm certainly not an anarchist. Good governance is important, and Catholics have an interest in it.

Athelstane said...

STL Attorney,

I would second pretty much everything that Timman says.

And add: Yes, I *do* believe that the Traditional Mass is, objectively, superior in many ways to the Missal of Paul VI; or, to turn it around, the Missal of Paul VI is impoverished in certain unfortunate (if sometimes well intended) ways: the one year calendar, the vastly reduced options and prefaces, the ancient collects and propers (with their much greater emphasis on the Four Last Things, and less emphasis on our actions), the more precise and reverent rubrics, the offertory, the greater clarity of the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice...one could go on and on.

But this can create a certain temptation for adherents of the Old Mass: a temptation to think that not only the Mass you attend is superior, but so also are *you*. The reality is that attendance at the TLM is no guarantee of salvation, or even wisdom; indeed, all of the progressives who did so much damage in the 60's and 70's were brought up on the TLM (albeit probably celebrated indifferently in many places)! The overwhelming majority of Catholics attend the Ordinary Form, and so in good faith, and usually without even any other option even if they want one. Christ *is* just as present there, in the Eucharist, and graces do flow through it. We should never lose sight of that.

So I am sorry that you have encountered such attitudes of superiority by TLM adherents. I have seen such, but it is not always the case. I prefer to say, simply (with Pope Benedict) that the Old Mass is a great treasure, one which can offer the Church a greater sense of her true self, and its members a better sense of their nature, as it is made more widely available. It's not about us. We are, all of us, alike in being poor sinners in need of the grace offered through Christ's sacrifice.

TradDadof4 said...

I would note that of all the Kenrick ordinands to the priesthood this month (for all the dioceses Kenrick is contracted to serve), only *one* has expressed an interest in the extraordinary form (Deacon Nathan - and even he has yet to be certified as proficient). We are moving backwards in this regards.

X said...

A final note on this topic, among other things it's about money. Conservative Catholics don't compete with Liberal Catholics for money, they compete with the Traditionalists and well they know it. No one who is going to give to Ave Maria University is going to give to Catholics for a Free Choice but they might just give instead to the FSSP or God forbid the SSPX. I've never in my life met a poor Conservative Catholic, they are always secure, though they often seek to mask it. As a better man than me once said about such people, "they're kind of into the money thing."