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Saturday, 22 August 2015

"Little Ships" Failing In Their Duty To the Fleet

I have never been a true "Traditionalist" in the current Catholic meaning of the term.
For a long time, I was pretty unaware of the sectarianism among those who call themselves Catholic, unaware to the point of obtuseness I now know.
I was a secular musician, and nomadic enough to attend an enormous number of different parishes, chapels, monasteries since I never failed to fulfill my "obligation," (and in fact, was devout enough in a detached way, to attend weekday Masses as well,) -- and I thought the vast differences I observed were mostly due to aesthetics and the taste, or lack thereof, of the priest and music director.

If it was available to me, I was glad to go to a Mass in Latin but this was simply because the music that one heard with Latin lyrics was almost invariably better music than the music one might encounter sung in English or Spanish.
I don't think I was actually aware that there was an "old rite" and a "new rite" and if I was, I would have said that the essential difference was the language in which it was offered.

My impression from childhood was that the Mass changed a whole lot every few months anyway - Oh, new laminated "pew cards" this week, different words for the Creed now.
Oh, Father is coming down and walking around  in the aisles during his sermon now.
Oh, a woman is doing the readings now.
Oh, the other priests don't come over from the rectory now to distribute communion, one of them just stands there and we move past him rather than him moving past us.
Oh, the servers just sit around doing nothing during Mass now.

You know, like that.
So as I heard Mass in a multiplicity of venues, the differences I encountered at first just seemed more of them same. Gradually, I realized that the idiosyncrasies observed were not a result of changes the Church, big "c", had made, but  peculiarities of this church, little "c", this parish, this priest, this part of the country.
So that Latin Mass I had attended? it not just wasn't the same Mass, it wasn't the same Church, there were "Catholics" who were not in communion with Rome, or were in communion with Rome by their own reckoning but wasn't it a shame? there wasn't a real Pope in Rome at the moment.

But wait - this chapel, this other one, did recognize the same Pope as I - but the Church doesn't recognize them?

As I said, as I came to understand exactly what had been occurring in Catholicism, I wasn't really a Trad because - well,  I think A reform was necessary. It just wasn't THE reform that we got.

And I also began to love the old form, but without hating the new one, (I did hate the new theology that many of its supporters incorrectly believed was at its heart and was necessary.)

But Lordie, it was hard to keep track of! who ARE these people? where do THEY stand?
And of course, it wasn't black and white, there were profoundly orthodox people with a laissez faire attitude toward liturgy, there were preservationists who would do anything to support truly Catholic sacred music who were more or less atheists...
I actually made myself a kind of "scorecard", showing the continuum of players in the game, from right-wing crazies with their own Pope Skippy in Arkansas to leftist loonies who thought Gaia and Yahweh were the power couple of the cosmos , so I could remember, as I read, where, judging from their alliances, (yeah, guilt by association,) they were coming from, since even stopped clocks are right twice a day, and even an idiot may teach you something profound and true.

What a scandal, this lack of unity.

I confess I find it somewhat more difficult to suss out the positions of those on the right flank of Catholicism's host, the Ecclesia Militans, (have to use the Latin so no one thinks I'm referring to a particualr media-savvy faction,) because of the heat, even anger I think I see there.

So I am grateful to Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who always seems able to respond to others with both charity and precision, (I love that in our Pope Emeritus as well, and wish, wish, wish, wish that dear Francis, so gifted in the former seems incapable of the latter.)
The current situation of the Church is similar to that of the Arian Crisis in the 4th century: there is a naval battle in the night, where the enemies of the Church attack vehemently the big ship of the Church, whereas in the same time little ships of several true Catholic groups attacks one another, instead of make a common defense against the enemies.
(And that, dear reader, is as good a defense as you are likely to find, for us all to, um... face the same way.)


Mr. C said...

Best essay ever. Wish I could say "Great minds....."

Anonymous said...

Gratias tibi....
(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)