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.