Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Church Belongs To Us!

Here is a great article written by John Zmirak of Inside Catholic. Be sure to go and read the rest.

All Your Church Are Belong To Us
By John Zmirak
"Why do you people care so much about externals?" my non-Trad friends sometimes ask me. And they deserve an answer. A few weeks back, my delightfully contentious colleague here, Mark Shea, waded into the conflict between those who describe themselves simply as "orthodox" Catholics, and those who consider themselves "traditionalists." (Just to save space in the comments box, I mean by this term people who favor the traditional liturgy -- not those who associate with organizations under ecclesiastical suspension.)This line has begun to blur more and more in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum, which we Trads greeted as a kind of Emancipation Proclamation -- even as many of our bishops answered it with liturgical Jim Crow.
Still, the division is palpable. It was lying right there on the table, for any who cared to palpate it, last week when I went to dinner with a Trad-minded colleague and a visiting author who'd come to speak at our college on G. K. Chesterton. (The presentation was riveting, and I highly recommend Dale Ahlquist's talks and books.) Like the good Mr. Shea, our speaker is a convert, and he shared with Mark a puzzlement at the apparent fixation traditionalists have on restoring former elements of the liturgy and other Catholic practices that are not essential, and resisting innovations that are not inherently evil. Having come from churches that didn't have the Eucharist, and remaining through God's grace flush with gratitude for the sacraments, many converts really don't understand what the rest of us are nattering on about. We who grew up privileged may seem like sulky, spoiled kids. We owe these good people an explanation.
Sometimes they think we just care about aesthetics. One visit to a Sunday Latin Low Mass without music, recited soundlessly into a marble altar, should put that idea to flight. Compared to a Novus Ordo liturgy in the vernacular, and from a purely human point of view, attending Low Mass can be dull. You feel like you are eavesdropping. If you follow along in the missal, you can feel that you are watching a very solemn foreign film without any subtitles, except that you have the screenplay. There's a reason the old rubrics relegated Low Mass to weekdays, and called (though they were rarely answered) for sung Solemn Mass on Sundays and holy days. Pope Pius X wasn't kidding when he asked for parishes to revive Gregorian chant and teach it to the laity. Nor is there any good reason why Latin Mass congregations don't give the responses along with the servers -- except perhaps the fear that this is somehow the first step down a long road that leads to clown Mass. Get over it, fratres.
Other people think that we are a band of Latin scholars, desperate to put our dusty declensions to practical use. Again, one conversation with the congregants at the coffee hour will dash that infant theory against the rocks. Most of us studied Latin, if at all, as part of vocabulary practice for the SATs, and follow the English side of the missal. I don't know a single Traditionalist who wouldn't prefer the old Mass, facing the altar, said in English, to the Novus Ordo chanted in Latin facing the people. While the universal language of the Church is still to be revered for all the reasons that Vatican II prescribed in Sacrosanctum Concilium, it isn't Why We Fight.



Anonymous said...

Hey I'm curious. And this is not meant as a criticism at all (not sure why it would be interpreted as such, but some people expect the worst from others lol). But, did you go to Catholic school as a kid? Or are you a long self-taught Catholic scholar? I'm just amazed at how much you know, especially about the tradition and all these terms and practices and whatnot. Definitely not things I ever learned in CCD. I don't think it's an age thing either...I mean methinks my mom is your senior and she sure as heck doesn't know all this stuff. She didn't go to Catholic school but she did grow up in a more strict-Catholic time than me. But as far as the different masses and this that the other...clueless lol.

Just wonderin' how you got so smart. :) There's no way someone could learn all this and know it so well without it being deep rooted!

- L

The Rockin' Traddy said...

You flatterer, you!

I did attend Catholic school, I was taught by the nuns (who wore habits by the way), and I was an altar boy. This was in the late 70's and after Vatican II had done it's damage. For the record I had no idea at the time of my schooling about the Latin Mass or what we had lost as Catholics.

I left Catholic school and really had no religion until about 5 years ago when I came back to the Church. When I came back I saw how different the Church had become, with the "altar servers" (most of whom were now girls) wearing stupid looking polyester albs, there were women(!) distributing Holy Communion, and various other things. It was not only the external things I noticed, the sermons were very different and when I attended RCIA, I couldn't believe my ears. I immediately set about learning what had happened, and I came across a wondrous thing - Tradition -

I delved into the history of the Church and read the patristics and absorbed everything I could and soon came to understand what had been taken from us as Catholics. I felt cheated and began to yearn for what I never personally knew - I just knew that I was supposed to know it. Kind of hard to explain.

Now I do what I do (blog) and try my best to do what the modernists cannot do - pass on the fullness of the Catholic faith as has been handed down to us although indirectly - because many in the Church are guilty of attempting to keep our traditions from us, or worse, alter them as to make them unrecognizable.

We have a moral obligation to pass on the faith unadulterated, and that's what I'm trying to do. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

The smiley face may have been overkill on the flatter-aspect ;), but really, I'm not a phony-baloney and I am impressed at how much you know. I'd expect if from a priest or theologian but not a mere 'lay' person. On the other hand, one can thrust themselves into learning anything I suppose if their heart is set on it, which clearly yours was/is!

And the whole going to Catholic school then leaving then returning thing makes sense. That would make any differences stand out way more I'd imagine. Further compounded by the school thing, since as a Catholic school kid you are immersed daily in the traditions (I'd imagine) more than someone like me who went to mass regularly and had CCD just once a week (taught by a parish parent. . not a nun or priest).

And you like history, right? So it all fits together. But still, from what you said, it was only within 5 years that you began learning all the traditional stuff, so I am impressed! I know you have that skill of being able to read and assess something lengthy straight to the point in five seconds and all (while some people never understand no matter how many times they read)...but dang!! Lol!

And what you said makes sense. You want to go all the way and be faithful to the true origins of something, as opposed to knowing you're settling for a watered-down version that was adapted to be easier to swallow. It probably goes deeper than that (spiritually) too. If you're compelled to do something, and it's God-ness, all the more power to you.

Well I can say I have learned a lot from this blog even if half of it doesn't make sense to my humble self. Makes me feel I'm abreast of Catholicness daily! I was raised in the not-as-strict time, always with female eucharistic ministers etc., so I'm not bothered by half the things you are and...although by the religion I should be, I'm sure...I'm not totally bent on emphasis on rituals and tradition (sorry!) But it's all interesting and Catholicy goodness. So keep up the good work, I enjoy the ride.

And thanks for explaining! :)

- L