20 August 2013
"I have a suspicion that you are all mad … but God forbid that madness should in any way interrupt friendship."
Let us remain together a little, we who have loved each other so sadly, and have fought so long. I seem to remember only centuries of heroic war, in which you were always heroes — epic on epic, iliad on iliad, and you always brothers in arms. Whether it was but recently (for time is nothing), or at the beginning of the world, I sent you out to war. I sat in the darkness, where there is not any created thing, and to you I was only a voice commanding valour and an unnatural virtue. You heard the voice in the dark, and you never heard it again. The sun in heaven denied it, the earth and sky denied it, all human wisdom denied it. And when I met you in the daylight I denied it myself.
Both this quote and the title of this post come from the great G.K. Chesterton novel, The Man Who Was Thursday. I love this book, as you may know already, and one of my favorite quotes is permanently affixed at the bottom of this blog, summing up my feelings about the Traditional Mass.
The two excerpts above I use as a thematic introduction to two different articles that were recently posted on two different blogs, covering the fractures on the Catholic right. Both are excellent reads. The first is thoughtful and conciliatory analysis of things-- the second one is a bit more strident, but I ask you to read it anyway, as it is a thought-provoker for traditionals and conservatives alike. The opinions of these two gentlemen are their own. We can all draw our own conclusions:
Focusing on Springtime, by Peter Miller
Although verbal skirmishes among Catholics are nothing new, the modern ubiquity of internet communications seems to have accelerated these battles to a fever pitch. Recently, combating the “rad trads” has become a popular front in this ongoing war of words, serving to provide (to me at least) a certain degree of short-term nostalgia. It was a mere dozen years (and almost as many children) ago that similar debates distributed on actual newsprint helped facilitate my willingness to honestly consider for the first time what I had previously dismissed as “traditionalist” sophistries. The results would lead to my abandoning previous prejudices toward these Catholics, and starting a website with a primary objective of helping present and defend those same ideas I had previously discounted. Such lofty goals led to my typing numerous rambling, awkwardly-worded columns (consider yourself forewarned) for which the most obvious wages have been years of anonymous electronically-delivered scorn that seem destined to continue in perpetuity.
The labels may have changed, but the substance of the attacks remains the same. I used to be an “integrist” and “schismatic” but have since graduated to the ranks of “rad trad” and “Pelagian”. At one time I would have eagerly jumped into the fray to offer a defense and take some swings of my own, but these days it’s hard to muster the energy toward such a campaign for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the current ecclesial landscape is much different today than it was twelve years ago, with many of the more contentious points of debate cast in a new context by what has transpired in the Church. But more importantly, it’s become harder for me to see these debates as holding significant importance for the future of the Church, as they are likely to cause more harm than benefit.
Pope Francis is Shaking up the Catholic Right... and the Conservatives are taking it out on the Traditionalists, by David Werling
Traditionalists were attacked when we decried the abdication of the Throne of St. Peter. Nothing good has ever come from the abdication of the Papacy, even when a saint did it. When traditionalists in both Europe and America pointed this out, as well as the novelty given as Benedict’s reason for doing so, traditionalists were attacked as being uncharitable and disobedient by Vatican II Catholics who style themselves as “conservatives”.
These same Catholics pointed out over and over again how precious and lovely the abdication of the Throne was—how it showed the humility and love of a pope too frail and too old to govern the Church in our times. Never mind that the papacy is practically an historical manual on how frail and old men have governed the Church through the ages, even during times lacking the medical sciences our modern world possesses. For these "conservatives", the power of the Holy Ghost is not adequate, apparently, to sustain a man as pope through frailty and old age, at least not in our modern age.