Category: Tradition


I once heard an astute (if snarky) remark to the effect that “conservatives believe the heart of the Constitution resides in the Second Amendment, while liberals believe that the heart of the Constitution resides in Roe v. Wade“; I am reminded of this by the laughably out-of-all-proportion remarks like:

“The best intentions of those recent popes who have presumed to dispose of these precious gifts [papal tiara and other honorific articles] do nothing to mitigate the nature of their offense. While one may wish to see a Church that is arguably more accessible to the common man, no one, not even a pope, has the right to render the Church impoverished.”

and

“The anguish that this breathtaking episode [of the Pope blessing journalists without invoking the Trinity or making the Sign of the Cross] engenders in the faithful Catholic defies description, and yet, I have discovered that many among us have grown so numb to such unthinkable acts of disregard for Our Blessed Lord that the mere retelling of this event is often treated as little more than an invitation to shoot the messenger.”

I can take fancy papal vestments or simple episcopal vestments, I can take the Sign of the Cross or a simple “God bless you,” but what I cannot take is Catholics caterwauling like Chicken Little over a holy shepherd whose tastes and prudential judgment simply differ from their own (“Horrors!” to quote the disgusting and unapologetic anti-papal Rorate Caeli site, which I will not link to), but whose theology and charity seem rock-solid and worthy of emulation.

It amazes me that any of us, struggling even to cultivate our little square foot of the vineyard, has the audacity to crack-open a papal history text, sit behind the computer, and easy-peasy tell the Pope how he should oversee the vast vineyard — and that all it takes is a puff of incense here and a verse of Latin there to right the wrongs! There’s a place for all these deeply-meaningful “little t” traditions, but it is demonstrably silly and highly inappropriate to spew forth everywhere about how awful Pope Francis is because he — with one week of experience! — doesn’t wear this and doesn’t chant that like his predecessors did; our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict did all these things and so much more, yet there is more work to be done. Let’s watch what Pope Francis’ husbandry will do for God’s Vineyard and not presume to virtually plop the papal tiara on our own heads or, as one blogger recently put-it, : “don’t you dare ‘give Pope Francis a chance’!”

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In Catholic circles, since the Pope’s gracious lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops late last week (just Google “SSPX” for more info, or visit the numerous related posts on WDTPRS), there has been much discussion of many related topics, not the least of which is the Mass itself: Ordinary Form/OF (the “Novus Ordo”/”NO”) v. Extraordinary Form/EF (the “Latin Mass” or “Tridentine Mass”).

I have to ask: Why can’t we have and love them both?! In fact, the question is vital but merely rhetorical, as the Church Herself — in Pope Benedict XVI — has validated both forms of the Mass, calling one “ordinary” and one “extraordinary.”

Unfortunately, many in the “Traditionalist” camp (one extremity of which is the SSPX) insist not only that the EF is superior aesthetically and devotionally to the OF (a persuasive argument), but that the EF is the only “true” Mass, which is flatly wrong and derogatory to those who celebrate and attend the OF (the vast majority), not to mention Our Lord Himself, who is present in the Scriptures and His Body at both forms of the Mass.

To put the “Traditional” argument another way:”If A is valid/good and B differs from A, then B must be invalid/bad.” This is clearly false. If it were true, I could say “If I pay a bill with a check, and paying by cash is different than paying by check, then cash must not satisfactorily pay the bill/must be bad.” Nonsense.

These “Traditionalists” further assert that it always follows that those who attend OF Masses regularly are ignorant, immoral and generally lesser Catholics than those who attend the beautiful EF Mass. Needless to say, that assertion not only offends truth and charity, but needlessly repels those who normally attend OF Masses but also love the EF Mass, those who are traditional. Like my family.

I finally decided to explain this today on another blog after two other posters asserted that all EF attendees voted pro-life in this last election and that all OF attendees were ignorant/immoral and voted anti-life. (The original post, which had nothing to do with the form of the Mass, regarded comments Archbishop Burke made about the Bishops’ document, Faithful Citizenship, and the election coverage of the Bishops’ Catholic News Service.) I posted the following.

As a wife and mother who respects and loves the Traditions of the Church, but who usually attends a OF Mass (reverently celebrated) with her family, I have long since grown tired of being told by regular attendees of the EF Mass that the OF Mass—where Christ is just as truly present in the Scriptures and in His Body as at the EF Mass and which the Church has declared to be valid and in fact ordinary!—is, without qualification, causing folks like us to be ignorant of the Faith, immoral, etc. Basically, we are clearly told that we OF folks are not “real Catholics” like you EF folks are. That’s nonsense! Many at both forms of the Mass know and love the Catholic Faith, and strive to live it. Some—at both forms—do not! If the OF is good enough for Christ’s Church and Vicar, why is it not good enough for you?!

Perhaps people who make false and defamatory statements about their fellow OF Catholics might consider that it is often ARROGANT holier-than-thou statements and gestures by EF-attending people that keep others away from the beautiful EF Mass, not the bishops, or ignorance, or bad morals!

Since I (horror of horrors) may wear nice slacks to Mass instead of a skirt, and since I do not yet veil, and since I have four children under the age of four who do not sit perfectly still for an hour at a time anywhere (but who are made to behave in church), I have been glared/stared at, lectured to, and made to feel most unwelcome and alien at the beautiful EF Mass, which is the main reason we do not take our family there very often at all.

I repeat, it is often EF attendees who do the most to keep OF families from attending the EF Mass! Please prayerfully consider this and perhaps promote the good in the EF (of which there is much) and talk less about how icky OF Masses and people are!

P.S. My husband and I voted straight pro-life/pro-family here in CA, and told our children why. I guess the OF didn’t mess-up our morals too badly after all…

I received this response from “Ken”:

Kristen J, I think you have several personal issues that should be discussed with a traditionally-minded priest, but perhaps a blog thread on Archbishop Burke’s comments today is not the best place for you to sort all this out.

And I responded:

Ken, do you know me (or my priest, for that matter)? I don’t think so, but thanks for your heartfelt (?) concern in this public forum anyway. And, even more, thanks for proving my point about arrogant, holier-than-thou, and false statements by EF-attendees repelling OF-attendees. I couldn’t have proven my point as well as you just did.

Furthermore, Ken, I am not the poster who brought form of Mass v. voting into this discussion. Perhaps a rabbit hole, but it needed to be dealt with. And, for the record, since my comment about voting as it relates to OF Mass attendance was apparently lost on at least one reader, my “OF morals” did not lead me to an immoral vote. Furthermore, I fully agree with Archbishop Burke.

The original accusatory posts and Ken’s response offended me, of course, but what’s worse is that messages like this — and they are legion — keep many good people from experiencing the beauty of the EF Mass. Who knows, perhaps such people would be swelling the pews and expanding the EF Mass in their dioceses, and growing spiritually, if they weren’t openly judged and found lacking by their fellow Catholics.

Bottom line: A Catholic may freely choose either of the equally valid forms of the Mass, and — on an unrelated note — he may be either a “good Catholic” or a “bad” one. Regardless, we are all entitled to be treated with respect and concern, not lies and scorn.

In that spirit, I pray for the speedy reconciliation of the SSPX with the Church, and for the unity in Faith that Our Lord prayed for, despite the manifest obstacles. Please join me!

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