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Happy, Not Brain Dead: Even Joyful Trads Have Limits


There’s an old article of mine making the rounds. The title sort of gives it away: They Will Know We Are Traddies By Our Love. Someone resurrected it from the archives in a coy attempt to paint me as a hypocrite, the same day I published this. I had intended to just let it pass, since this, like most of my work, speaks for itself. But like a bad penny, it keeps turning up. Having had it brought to my attention a number of times in the last four days, I decided to revisit the thing, to see if it holds true.

After all, inquiring minds want to know: are the old Steve and the new Steve are truly at war with one another?!?

I wrote the original article in 2010, when I was a columnist at Crisis Magazine. I had been attending the Traditional Latin Mass for six years, and had already concluded that my preference for it was far more than a matter of taste. We were in the heady days following the release of Summorum Pontificum, and it seemed as though a great revival of Catholic orthodoxy could be just around the corner. Pope Benedict was slowly but surely instituting liturgical and theological safeguards that put many of us more at ease, and the bombshell of his abdication was still more than two years away.

It was a time for building bridges, not burning them, and I had grown frustrated that some of the traditionalist polemics that were prevalent (particularly online) were hampering attempts to get Catholics to look seriously at what the Old Mass (and its entire sacramental and devotional paradigm) had to offer. People were only just beginning to open up to the idea that just because you liked the vetus ordo, it didn’t mean you were automatically a schismatic. We had a long way to go before we could disabuse them of the idea that even the trads with pristine bona fides weren’t all triumphalistic jerks.

In this particular essay, I made several appeals to try to get Catholics across the spectrum of theological orthodoxy to come to the table and work together. In the particular article in question, I tried to explain how coming to appreciate the old Mass was like acquiring a taste for the finer things in life, which at first can be off-putting. I tried to get people to understand that the grumpy trads they encountered were dealing with some serious trauma, and they should try to be compassionate. I took a couple of shots at online outlets like Angelqueen (where my writing had been bashed more than once because I wasn’t traditional enough for them) and The Remnant, which I thought had a tone problem. (I’ve since gotten to know some of The Remnant writers, and if I don’t always agree with their approach, we get along fine.) I talked about how having something so precious as the TLM should make people happy, not angry, and that joy should shine through in how we deal with others, or explain to them why we do what we do.

None of this should come as any surprise to regular readers here. 1P5 exists as a direct result of the ideas that were beginning to solidify in that article. I’ve always wanted to reach mainstream Catholics who would never otherwise consider the merits and claims of Catholic tradition, and show them how beautiful it is. And in that regard, I stand by what I wrote.

But I’ve also come a long way since 2010.

I still think the treasure we’ve found should have an effect on us; it should be evident in the way we speak of it and the joy that we derive from it. If it isn’t transformative in our lives, we run the very real risk of turning people away before they even give it a chance.

But I’ve also realized that I can play the diplomacy game until I’m blue in the face, and people will simply say, “That’s nice for you. Not interested.” They’ll continue to make disparaging remarks about traditionalists at every opportunity. They’ll call us things like “the greatest Catholics of all-time” or say we think we’re “more Catholic than the pope.” Others will never say an unpleasant word, but they’ll also never give serious consideration to anything we’re saying. The Church is different now, you see? The Vatican said the new way is the better way, so they just nod and smile and hope we stop talking.

In 2016, things are a bit more bracing than they were in 2010. We’re coming up on the 9th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. Two years ago, we published an analysis of where that document has taken us, and it’s sobering. In his conclusion to that essay, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski said it plainly:

In the pre-Summorum world, St. John Paul II asked bishops to provide generously for the faithful attached to the Latin liturgical tradition. Nevertheless, such a provision was still understood as a kind of favor, an exception, a special case. This model was decisively put aside by Summorum Pontificum, which regularized the Extraordinary Form as a treasure for all Catholics, to be provided directly by priests. It still happens far too often, however, that provision of the Extraordinary Form is treated as a favor or privilege rather than a just response to a legitimate request, a duty that corresponds to a genuine right on the part of the faithful.

Is it any wonder that there is such a heightened sensitivity, even irritability, among more traditionally-minded Catholics? If you are not so minded, try placing yourself in their shoes and see how it would feel if the thing that most of all enkindled and illuminated your life of faith — the thing that enkindled and illuminated the Church for 1,500 years — was rarely or irregularly given to you, treated as harmful or dangerous, while you yourself were viewed as if you belonged to a fringe group or sect.

Pope Francis seems mostly ambivalent about liturgy, but the bishops who have grown in power and influence during his tenure are not all so disinterested. Debates are even now ongoing about whether or not traditional Catholicism is in dire straits, and whether traditionalists themselves are to blame for a perceived plateau — or even drop-off — in TLM attendence. These articles coincide with reports about priests living in fear of their bishops when it comes to simply doing what they know is right, and a general sense that authentic Catholicism is being targeted from within, and from the top down.

Things are not getting better. How much worse they will get is an open question.

So if you want to ask me: does all of this make me angry? Sure. Sometimes. Can you blame me?

I believe firmly that any restoration of Catholicism begins with what we do at Mass. A Catholic liturgy that embraces the ethos of Christ’s sacrifice as sin offering, returns our focus to God rather than man, and embodies an anthropology of worship over fellowship is absolutely essential to the future of the Church. The Novus Ordo was designed to move us in an ecumenical direction and away from an explicitly Catholic framework. It has thus unsurprisingly coincided with a massive decline in fundamental Catholic belief. If the Mass is the highest prayer we can offer, if it is the central act of Christian worship, if it brings us into the mystery of the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life, and if it represents the only catechesis most Catholics ever receive, it should be plain that we’re doing something terribly wrong.

That’s not just an opinion. There are mountains of data showing the decline.

And we have to face facts: pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Catholicism are so radically different in almost every manifestation that there is a chasm, not a gap, between traditionalist and mainstream Catholics. As a cradle Catholic, I felt completely alienated when I began assisting at the so-called “Extraordinary Form.” It was unlike any liturgy I had ever experienced, despite being the one that my Catholic ancestors all knew by heart. After years of being immersed in this authentically Catholic paradigm, I now have the opposite problem. If I have to visit an average suburban Catholic parish, I feel as though I’m visiting the place of worship of another religion.

This disparity is clearly not just my perception. Try sending any Catholic who has never attended the other form of their Mass to one for the first time, then ask them for their impressions. I guarantee you won’t find a single person who didn’t feel like they had just experienced something totally foreign. This is why even though Pope Benedict described the two liturgies as “two forms of a single Roman rite,” the experience of the faithful is that they are entirely disparateWith rare exceptions, there is no cross-pollination; whichever Mass people are used to almost guarantees their complete disinterest in the other.

And we’re all Catholic? How does that work?

What about the sacraments? These, too, have been changed. What about devotions? Many have been lost, others have been supplanted. How about our sense of propriety and dress when entering a sacred place? What about theology, on topics as wide-ranging as capital punishment, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, religious liberty, whether or not members of non-Christian faiths (like Islam) worship the same God, etc.?

Catholics now argue all the time because we can’t even agree on what we believe.

Isn’t it imperative that we sort this out? Wouldn’t you be a bit frustrated if you took the red pill and woke up, so to speak, in the Catholic Matrix, and realized that you and everyone you know had been tricked into thinking that the Catholicism they experience is the real thing? What if you had proof that it wasn’t? I mean, documents and history books and theological manuals and encyclicals and devotional handbooks and photographs and even videos…all of it. But what if, even then, your every effort to get them to see it was met with at best indifference, and at worst, contempt?

This is not healthy, ladies and gentlemen. The Mystical Bride of Christ has a split personality, and she is at war with herself. And it’s hurting us. All of us. And the whole world besides.

When I go to a beautiful, reverent Mass, yes, it absolutely fills me with delight and a desire to share it with others. When I have a child baptized in the old rite, and the priest pronounces the words of exorcism over him, delivering him from Satan’s power — the power under which he was born into this world by original sin — I am overjoyed to have been given such weapons against evil, and such a grace-filled start to my children’s lives. When I read what the saints or the doctors of the Church or the popes of old have written about the same issues that face us today, and they cut through all the relativistic nonsense and resonate with the truth, I am thrilled to be part of a Church that has such a deep intellectual tradition and which always spoke up, unafraid of what would come, even if that were martyrdom.

Am I a happy trad? You bet I am. I am happy because I have found that pearl of great price, and I want to share it with the world.

But if you expect me to smile pacifically when you mock and deride what I hold dear and insult me for believing it, you’re dumber than you look.

73 thoughts on “Happy, Not Brain Dead: Even Joyful Trads Have Limits”

  1. Great post Steve, even if it were not responding to your 2010 post. Let me also say that your 2010 post stands on it’s own (even more-so today) as well. I didn’t have any idea until a few days ago that the 2010 post was associated with anything. For me, the 2010 post was simply a reminder that we Catholic’s, and especially those of us who embrace tradition, should speak to each-other like human beings and not like Thomistic Robots

  2. “Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” — St Augustine of Hippo

  3. If someone wants to make the case that mainstream Catholics are happier, or more welcoming to newcomers, that’s fine. I guess there’s a debate to be had there. But when talking about mainstream Catholic’s and traditional Catholic’s attitudes towards each other, any suggestion that mainstream Catholics are somehow nicer or more charitable is just laughable. As I’ve drifted to a more traditionalist position, I’ve never encountered anything like the animosity I’ve heard directed at the Latin Mass crowd.

    • In a way, the fact that we have to discuss who is more welcoming at Mass shows me that the Protestant wing of the Catholic Party has the upper hand. That type of discussion is rife within Protestant sects. Rife.

      • So true! What aggravates me even more is the public accusations of Cardinals and Bishops that they “just don’t like this Pope”. As if, there is something drastically WRONG about just not liking someone, as if to not personally like or love the pope is a mark against their character. Since when did the church become so controlling it dictates that even the pope “MUST be liked”. We are talking about faith, liturgy, practices, and holy matters that impact lives and souls. Why are we insisting on ‘liking’ the pope? I’m positive there were holy men of old who didn’t particularly care for the Holy Father. Were they discredited for it? The ugly part is the rush to assure all that “I LIKE the pope. I really do!”. It’s all so….grade school. We are in a climate of utter fear today, which can be felt within and without the church. We are living in a totalitarian regime within and without the church as well. It can be FELT. Fear, fear can be perceived. Surely good men are frightened of this papacy and the times. We see no one willing to stand up to this on the horizon. God must raise up some saints. We need divine intervention.

  4. As I read Fr. Longenecker’s article, the following juxtaposition came to mind:

    A) The Offertory of next week’s Holy Mass, i.e. the Second Sunday after Epiphany:

    “Shout with joy to God, all the earth. Sing ye a psalm to His Name. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what great things He hath done for my soul. Alleluia.”

    B) The Introit of any Novus Ordo Mass wherein Father is feeling particularly spry:

    “Happy is the man who loves the Lord. Happy is the man who walks in His way. On the upright the Lord shall shine like a lamp to light the dark. He will be slow to anger, for He is God, not man.”

    A musical summary, if you will, of the stark contrast between authentic Catholic joy and the vaguely heretical spiritual infantilism inculcated by the New Pentecost.

    • Music, art, literature and architecture reflect the culture. The culture of the Novus Ordo is the cult of man, divorced from the supernatural and the sacred. A noisy, busy, banality where Christ is present only in the community of the people, gathered together in a social, club-like atmosphere for a community meal. All of its music, art, literature and architecture have been designed to reflect this, to codify the cult of man as the central essence of worship.

      The culture of the Tridentine Mass on the other hand is the Catholic culture. Centered on God, reverent, holy; its primary purpose is the re-presentation of Christ’s ultimate Sacrifice and the music, art, literature and architecture all speak the language of sacrifice, reverence, and holiness.

    • Surprised that they actually allowed “happy is the MAN”??!! That must have slipped past their liberal minds. Not inclusive…….Yikes!! Sister Pantsuit wasn’t paying attention…..

  5. The nastiest person I ever met at my husband’s former FSSP parish is now dead, or so I’m told. He won’t be hectoring any more women who didn’t come equipped with veils. I think I managed to kill his gloating story about “when we were still Independent” – i.e. before the renegade chapel they used to be was regularized by the bishop – in one memorable encounter on the day we met. He said that they used to hold Mass at the Doubletree in those days. I remarked that it showed how a different perspective changes one’s understanding: even the ugliest modern church, however displeasing, at least didn’t have people committing adultery upstairs while the Mass was going on. I thought he was going to have apoplexy.

    • Propriety in Worship
      1 Cor: 3-16: “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every women who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head-it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves; Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice-nor do the churches of God.”

        • Tradition also required women to cover their head during Mass.

          Commenting on these verses, from Haydock’s Bible Commentary, 1859 edition:

          “To have the head covered at public meetings is, according to St. Paul, a mark of subjection: the man was created to be head over the woman, who was made subject to the man, being made of him, of his rib, and the woman made for him, not he for the woman. The man in a special manner is the image of God, not only by his immortal soul, in which sense also the woman was made, to God’s image and likeness, but inasmuch as God gave him a power over all creatures, and so he is called the glory of God. For these reasons, as well as from a received custom, St. Paul tells every woman that in prayer or in prophesying in public meetings, she must have her head veiled, and covered in testimony to her subjection to man, her head, otherwise she dishonors herself.”

          Of course modern woman (and man) rejects this clear teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Church as they reject so many other clear teachings of Sacred Scripture and of the Church in which they disagree, thus becoming their own god.

      • Understanding doesn’t justify rotten manners. I know very well that there’s nothing about the Extraordinary Form (here’s a tip: it’s called the Extraordinary Form, not the Traditional Latin Mass. Saying “Traditional Latin Mass” instead of Extraordinary Form just _screams_ SSPX) that requires attendees to be obnoxiously rude, especially to newcomers. It’s the attendees’ sense of themselves as being a precious remnant of virtue and orthodoxy that causes the rudeness.

        • I despise the term “Extraordinary Form.” It’s novelty and a diminution. I’ll take Traditional Latin Mass, TLM, Old Mass, Vetus Ordo, Gregorian Rite, Venerable Rite, Ancient Rite, etc.

          Placing the term “extraordinary” (as in, “the exception to the rule”) in front of what should be the liturgical experience of all Catholics stings. Every time. It’s a reminder of what was stolen.

          Yes, it’s now technically correct. Yes, I’ll publish it or even use if it the situation demands.

          But I’ll always do it through clenched teeth.

          There should not be two forms of the Roman Rite. They most certainly shouldn’t be so different that they look like different religions.

          And hey, I’m not even SSPX.

          • Then you despise Pope Benedict, because it was his term, and his expressed wish that both forms of the Latin Rite be very generally available in parishes.

          • What an absurd non sequitur.

            One can most certainly despise a term created by a person without despising the person.

            One can disagree that offering the both “forms” of the Latin rite is of general benefit to the faithful without despising the person who wanted that either.

            I disagree with people all the time. Sometimes I can’t stand their choices. It certainly doesn’t mean can’t stand THEM.

          • “There should not be two forms of the Roman Rite. They most certainly shouldn’t be so different that they look like different religions.”

            This is a supremely important point that most people miss, and very few are even discussing the fact that, to this day, we still do not have a true demonstration of the true intentions of the VII Fathers in the Liturgy. The closest we have to this is the TLM.

          • The Church needs a Bugnini-in-reverse who can do what Bugnini never did between the publication of Sacrosanctum Concilium and 1969. They need a do over of that time period for the liturgy, and a Missale Romanum that narrows enough what the 1969 Missale Romanum opened too much—either that or we just go back to 1962; this is what most liturgically informed Catholic are doing now (in the absence of the do-over).

        • Please provide creditable documentation that prior to Vatican II, the Catholic Church had two separate and distinct Roman Rite Masses, teaching different theology-Protestant in one, Catholic in the other-and one using Protestant prayers, Protestant music, and Protestant practices. One called “ordinary” (the Protestant one) and the other called “extraordinary” (the Catholic one.)

    • So Father was nasty? Sad but true we have nasty people on all sides of every issue. Was what he taught wrong? That’s the only question. It can be hurtful to our pride when truth is taught by a nasty guy. Get over it.

  6. Part of the problem here is that “happiness” is such a vague concept. If one is looking for an optimistic smile and a feeling that all is well, one will never find it among the Fathers or Doctors of the Church. If one is looking for earnestness, compunction, clarity, and, at times, denunciation of sin, ignorance, and error, one will find it among the saints in spades. Is all this compatible with happiness as the Church understands it? Of course — because it is about seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and knowing in faith that He will provide for our needs, even to the greatest need of all, our need for salvation. The happiness of the beatific vision is a most profound, serious, and wondrous bliss.

    • 1P5 should do a piece on this issue of happiness and sorrow, as it has been bothering the church for a few years now as anyone without a smiley-face demeanour has been on the receiving end of criticism. Joy, as explained by St Thomas, is not wholly incompatible with sorrow. To wit:

      I answer that, As stated above (1, ad 3), a twofold joy in God arises from charity. One, the more excellent, is proper to charity; and with this joy we rejoice in the Divine good considered in itself. This joy of charity is incompatible with an admixture of sorrow, even as the good which is its object is incompatible with any admixture of evil: hence the Apostle says (Philippians 4:4): “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

      The other is the joy of charity whereby we rejoice in the Divine good as participated by us. This participation can be hindered by anything contrary to it, wherefore, in this respect, the joy of charity is compatible with an admixture of sorrow, in so far as a man grieves for that which hinders the participation of the Divine good, either in us or in our neighbor, whom we love as ourselves.

      Given that there is clearly much in ourselves, in our society, and in our church that is contrary to the participation of the Divine good (whether in us or others), there is consequently ample room and reason for sorrow in the charitable hearts of Catholics. To castigate them, therefore, as sourpusses is unjust and foolish. If anything, to show no sorrow at our sins and those of others and to not be saddened by what is wrong in the church bespeaks an indifference and lack of charity.

  7. I belong to an exclusive TLM church (diocese approved) and yes, there are a lot of stuck-up jerks, not all, but a good sizable amount. That said, I use to go to a church near the Oregon coast where they are mostly liberal and my family is conservative (the girls wore veils, we knelt for communion, etc). I think we got the WORST treatment there. Same goes for other liberal churches I had the “pleasure” of attending throughout the years. I’ve had people kick my feet when I knelt for the Lamb of God prayer, self-righteous little old ladies who would wrench my hand away from me to hold hands during the Our Father. Rude looks and laughs when the girls wore their veils. Ehhh…. yeah, traddies can be jerks, but the liberals… OH BOY!

  8. Well said, Steve. How can it be that I’m just as much a fan of yours as I am of Father Dwight Longenecker? Because, I could never arrive at the truth if I didn’t listen to both sides of a legitimate argument. Because, I believe both sides are honest and truthful. Because I’ve seen in my life what you have seen. I haven’t been to a TLM mass since 1999, when I visited Rome. It’s the mass I grew up with and adored, so I see your perspective and admire your faithful witness.
    I yearn to attend the TLM again and rediscover the joy of my youth.
    I just got my new issue of STAR (St. Austin Review), a publication edited by Joseph Pearce (a man I admire deeply), and which I wrote for, along with Fr. Longenecker, in the same issue just last year. This January/February issue focuses on the life and writing of Evelyn Waugh.
    Read it.
    You, Steve, said at the beginning of this month that you wanted to focus on the positive in 2016. Maybe, this can be the beginning of real, enlightened and inspirational dialogue so that the reader can benefit from each side and can grow in their faith, their hope, and in their witness to our Lord in this year of mercy and forgiveness.
    Sorry, to chastise both of you, I’m a teacher and it’s in the blood. God bless.

  9. In this era when even my dog is more Catholic than the Pope, earthly happiness in this sojourn through the vale of tears is greatly over-rated.

  10. “And we’re all Catholic? How does that work?” Of course it doesn’t really work and it isn’t really true. You needn’t apologize to anyone for an appropriately dark outlook in 2016. Even if Pope Benedict was on the level in reviving certain aspects of tradition, it was brutally snatched away and why wouldn’t it be? The Devil hates. He loves our suffering and our sense of betrayal. Despite what Pope Benedict said, Vatican II represents rupture and it cannot be interpreted according to the hermeneutic of continuity. It was a carefully planned coup that was successfully executed. As John Senior once wisely remarked after years of begging and pleading with the hierarchy and even trying to convince himself: “There is no ‘crisis’. We lost.” Period. Boom. End of story. Did we really think that the minions of hell who stole the Church fair and square would give it back so easily? No way. We need only take a close look at the Church-approved Marian apparitions in Good Success, LaSalette and Fatima to understand the Satanic hatred for the Church and her members. This Satanic hatred resulted in a Masonic war against Her in the mid-1800’s, the likes of which just a hundred years later we can barely appreciate, resulting in the captivity of the Holy See to Satanic forces in Europe. That Pope Leo the Great in the late 1800’s, and Pope Pius X were able to speak out boldly was an indication that the Church was bloodied but unbowed. But eventually, those same diabolical forces, in this age of diabolical disorientation (as Our Lady of Fatima warned) “won” possession of the Church hierarchy in 1958 and remain in possession of Her today. These are not “modernists”, they are not “misguided”, they are not “liberal”. They are either (a) Devil Worshipers who have traded salvation for temporal goods or (b) useful idiots who have ascended to high levels in the Church precisely as a result of their apostasy. We need only to look at the demonic sculpture placed in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall entitled “The Resurrection” in 1977 to know that the institutional Church serves Satan and everything it does now is to suppress the Catholic Faith. If we can take comfort in anything now, it is that we have access to the Old Rites, the Rosary, the works of mercy at all. We are the Remnant, and that’s not just a magazine or an idea. We are what’s left. And further, we should be somewhat vindicated by the recent display of occult material projected on the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Christ-denying video spot the Vatican just released showing Pope Francis cavorting with false-religionists. These things, and things like them, establish clearly that the institutional Church hierarchy is under Satanic direction. We know this now. This should be cause for great sorrow first, but also tremendous gratitude that we see through it, and a stark invitation to martyrdom (both dry and wet). We can not legitimize these people (heretical Popes, prelates and priests) by standing next to them. They have chosen Satan and his Satanic New World Order instead of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost.

  11. And Dr. Kwasniewski’s comments from two years on the 7th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum ring just as true today. 500 weekly TLM’s in the country suggests that there has been *some* effort to implement Summorum. But it’s been an effort made at great cost, and in the teeth of serious opposition. Sometimes I’m amazed that we have gotten as much as we have.

  12. This is an excellent article from Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP and exorcist
    (so a priest who tangibly understands which prayers and mass are most
    efficacious). The article discusses the merit of the old vs the new mass
    and why the old mass is more meritorious:,%20F.S.S.P.%29.pdf
    I’d advise sharing this with anyone who thinks the old mass is just a
    matter of taste or aesthetics, or clinging to the past, or the sole difference in the two forms is that one is in Latin.This article is perfect for someone genuinely trying to understand the consternation on the part of so many
    traditionalists. It’s frustrating taking on the role of apologist for the mass, a mass passed on with charity unchanged for 1400 years and one that produced the greatest saints in history! It’s a real effort not to become embittered. I found Fr. Ripperger’s work helpful and a source of hope but also helpful in providing concrete explanations for others as to why the Novus Ordo mass is so problematic. Most don’t realize better liturgy exists or understand the profound difference between the two forms so this information is tremendously helpful. Highly recommend reading!

    • Father Ripperger is terrific. However, FYI, he is no longer associated with the FSSP. Father Ripperger belongs to an association of exorcists, and I believe he is stationed in Omaha. His work is certainly sanctioned by the Bishop there, and I believe he concentrates on exorcisms. The FSSP is an association of priests who are mostly in parishes to bring the Holy Mass and Sacraments to us and therefore Father R is no longer a parish priest.

  13. “The Mystical Bride of Christ has a split personality, and she is at war with herself. And it’s hurting us. All of us. And the whole world besides.”

    The Church has members who give signs of schizomania with trying to make the perfect imperfect by distortion, by disobedience, by compromise, by lack of holiness. Some want a holy looking church without being holy, some want a watering hole of mutual likes while others want the divine. Those who attend mass make it a sacred experience because the sacred is there. Somethings can be improved especially if it invovles a disobedient spirit. Whether the Church is celebrated in all her glory or in her small daily mass, her treasure of Jesus is par execellence. The sad reality of war is the battle within, the battle without, portions of hearts and sacred places can take a beating but with Christ are still standing in our midst.

    The temples of the Lord need to be open for a self annihilating world. How many souls have brought us Jesus, how rich are we from such
    encounters, may we be a temple with a treasure for ourselves and all who encounter our presence in the world.

  14. I am told that when the annual conference called the Roman Forum first landed in the little town of Gardone Riviera about 25 years ago, and arranged with the local parish priest to use the beautiful Baroque church for the daily traditional form Mass, the local people were up in arms. They demanded to know why the church was being used for this foreign, alien religion. This was a Catholic parish, they said. No other religion should be allowed to use it.

  15. I also have to laugh a little when accused of being “angry” or “hateful” by people who seem to do little online other than spew vitriol. Guys… calling someone names online is kind of, well, “angry” and a little “hateful.” I’ve never in my long internet career of saying countercultural things been attacked by tradtionalist Catholics. I’ve certainly many times had the treatment from the “conservative” novusordoists. Many times.

  16. Thanks Steve. I think we owe it to the Church to help support efforts to make the Novus Ordo Mass more reverent and especially to support the new diocesan priests who are more traditional in the sense of being reverent, pius and actually seem to believe what they say. Giving them encouragement is very important . Things like fewer altar girls, better hymns, Catechetical instruction in the weekly parish bulletin, emphasis on confession, etc. Over the last several years there has been good progress along these lines at our Epiphany Cathedral Parish in Venice, Florida. This is important because 99% of Catholics attend the New Mass.

    • “99% of Catholics attend the New Mass.” That is a problem and attempts to make it more reverent fail as soon as the priest moves on to the next parish.

      • I think we must try to encourage all the priests to do their job as best they can. The key is the attitude of the Bishop. Our Bishop Dewane is very good. He even set up an exclusive FSSP Latin Mass, only parish, Christ the King in Sarasota, FL.

    • I agree with you, in part. Better NO Masses can be a gateway drug for the TLM. They were for me.

      But the terminus of these efforts can never just be a reformed OF. It will always be insufficient, and the efforts to make it better invariably make it resemble its predecessor.

      To my mind, this is a lot of effort to accomplish something that could simply be done better by returning to the drawing board and moving forward – slowly and carefully.

    • The Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in the diocese of Bridgeport, CT is another example where the Novus Ordo Mass is very reverent. The music is lovely, there are no altar girls, incredible preaching from the pulpit (including the use of the words “Hell – you will go there if you don’t stop sinning”), emphasis on confession, priests that genuflect, not merely nod, solid instruction in the bulletin…all the things you point out, Mr. Dowd. Yes, it is possible….now, I know there still issues with it and many serious, yet I agree with you that we need to work with what we have and make it better.

  17. I’ve noticed that when a traditional news source brings up a legitimate concern, most mainstream Catholic news sources simply respond by calling that person an angry “more Catholic than the pope” conservative etc. They always seem to focus on the anger of the traditionalist, but rarely if ever address the actual legitimate concern that was brought up. This seems to me to be the problem of why traditionalist and mainstream circles are not properly communicating with each other. We are too busy focusing on the tone of an article versus the actual content of what is being said. This is why the tone does matter and I think Steve makes some good points in this article. We should continue to speak out when we have legitimate concerns, but do so respectfully, calmly, without arrogant smark and over the top sarcasm, and without unnecessary ad hominem attacks (i.e., stick to the point) so that the mainstream Catholic cannot try to play the angry trad card in response. If they still play that card, well then there’s nothing else you could do.

    Regarding welcoming at mass, I’ve periodically attended a parish that only says the TLM, and I can only think of one or two occasions where I’ve actually spoke to someone. I understand that while mass is going on or while we are in a sacred place, we should be prayerful and respectful. This doesn’t bother me personally because I understand it. However, if a newcomer came to the parish that had never attended TLM, there’s a good chance they would feel alienated. It seems that the TLM is only focused on serving that small niche of Catholics that are seeking it out by driving an hour to get there. Therefore, we don’t really need to teach about why we love the TLM because we are preaching to the choir. But if we really want to grow this thing, we need to find creative ways to invite others to the TLM who would not normally seek it out by themselves. I contend that sitting in mass with a scowl on your face and not saying hello to the other TLM-goers is not going to magically bring others from the outside to appreciate it.

    • You know that with multiple Masses being offered, it isn’t always easy to tell if someone is new. Is that a new person, or do they usually go to Mass at another time? Do they just normally sit on the other side of the aisle? Are they using the missal in the pew because they left their missal at home? What’s funny is that you can keep glancing over, trying to figure out if they need help, but then you kind of worry that they will think you are looking at them because they “don’t belong” or aren’t welcome. I don’t know any TLMers that wouldn’t help anyone who asked for assistance. At the same time, I understand that some people coming for the first time might want to fly under the radar. Oddly enough, the exact same thing would happen at a Novus Ordo to someone whom had never attended Mass before. Maybe they aren’t kneeling because they just had knee surgery. Maybe they aren’t saying the responses because they just don’t like to. But it seems awfully odd that so many Catholics will accuse TLMers of being unfriendly without ever first telling someone, “Hey, I’m new here. Do you think you could sort of clue me in?” Every single time I have seen someone do this, the person next to them helped to guide them along during the Mass and tried to talk to them outside of the sanctuary.

      • Good points and refreshing to know that your experience with TLMers has been so positive! I’m not suggesting we poll everyone before every mass if this is their first time, but perhaps find ways to let newcomers know they are welcome there and provide resources with instructions on the TLM in the back of church. Maybe the priest could address the congregation every once in a while before mass letting people know where they can find resources to help them learn if they are still new to the TLM. Maybe many TLM parishes are already doing things like this, but I think it would help. Putting myself in the shoes of a newcomer, I could envision it being intimidating and I know I would be nervous about reaching out to a stranger in the pew to ask for help.

        I’m a parishioner at Cantius in Chicago and they offer workshops on the TLM several times a year plus have books/resources to teach people. They offer both the NO and TLM every day, so those resources can be shared with people who attend the NO who may be interested in trying the TLM. Its been a great blessing!

        • We do have guides in the pews (no way to miss them) and more materials out in entry. The parish’s website has a whole section of information and resources for people who are new to the TLM.
          But when you come right down to it, if I am a first-timer, it is my responsibility to ask for help, if I need it. No one is going to be able to tell that you are new. And thank heavens we don’t have deacons asking the newcomers to stand up at the end of Mass and announce where they are from, so everyone can clap for them. We’re supposed to believe that American Catholics, who certainly seem to have no problems asking for assistance or asserting themselves in any other area of their lives, need to be treated as fragile china at a Mass? I just don’t buy that.

  18. Steve, take heart in that you at least allow commentary and are willing to face the charge of hypocrisy that is, in truth, just a growth in understanding. Something we all experience.

    Fr. Longenecker, however, for all of his previous spewing via assorted articles has removed the combox on his website. He blamed this on the supposed vitriol of those commenting. The reality is, he was unwilling to take the time to examine his own inconsistencies.

    But in true fashion, he points the fingers at another. Sad.

    • Oh, trust me. I fantasize about closing the comment box all the time. So many hours of my week are spent reading, moderating, and responding. And often, the ability to speak is exploited by those who should most keep silent.

      But for the sake of those who really do contribute good things to the discussion, and for whom the community here is important, I don’t.

      • The fantasy runs parallel to the desire to shut down the back and forth with our kids. Dialogue, that is the real thing, is arduous at times, requiring skill and much patience. But it is that kind of encounter that makes for a strong team that can work together productively.

        That said, the hypocrisy of certain positions could be easily called out in comboxes currently shut down and/or subject to a Fascist mentality. And not called out as an I-told-you-so, but as a demonstration of the learning curve that – when revealed – gives liberty to all to admit they still have much to learn.

        Thanks for owning your positions, Steve, all of them. And for owning being human in as much as you are only able to comment on what you know and understand at a certain point in time. Those who attempt to hide what they’ve learned and the development of their own positions are the same that often keep others from changing position or growing out of fear of looking like a hypocrite. God bless.

  19. Wow. It is so strange that I read this from you today. Just a little while ago, I was in the car listening to Dennis Prager. And he said we have arrived at a point where the two sides in America can no longer bridge their differences. Right after I heard it, I thought, “It’s just like the Church.”
    The traditional Catholics I know ARE joyful. But that joyfulness is grounded in a healthy awareness that this time, this place, is the valley of tears. We are called to dying to self, taking up our crosses. I try to teach my children the importance of purity, holiness, self-mortification, and to help them see that true love is about wanting what is best for that person. At the same time, I see my nontraditional Catholic friends embracing models that are about social justice and the joy-filled now. It’s about how “relevant” the Mass can be made to teens or special interest groups. It’s about the latest and greatest retreat where you bare your past to laity who are acting as spiritual guides, because they went through the retreat and have a special binder.
    I look at that, and I fear that is what my children will gravitate towards. Why believe the priest who says “x is a sin”, when you can listen to “well, x might not be the best thing for you, but we don’t want to judge.”
    And so I have found myself unable any longer to read the writings of those who say all is well, the pope is great, and we all need to quit being such pharisees. Heck, hell might be empty anyway. It doesn’t ring true. I can’t even find much common ground with other supposedly pro-life Catholics, because far too many of them have now latched onto this idea of “responsible parenthood” and plotting their procreation without ever considering that God will provide.
    I used to think that when people posted the comment, “Different religion,” it was catchy. Now I just think it’s accurate.

  20. The Church allows different masses, the danger is to create an enviroment of ‘your mass is a bunch of_____ and needs to go. The Church has
    said differently and until she says otherwise we need to make sure people don’t feel less Catholic because their Mass is not without some
    issues that can be remedy. We should be thankful to celebrate the Mass in the ways the Church has given to us without harming the unity of
    diversity within her members. The Mass celebrated through centuries still didn’t create the perfect christian society because free will can attend the beautiful, live in the beautiful and still choose the world for the garden.

  21. I go to a TLM maybe twice a month. I think you are entirely correct! The Mass is everything and if we get it wrong most of what we get right will not endure.

  22. Agree with you on every point. I don’t think the situation can be exaggerated, our faith is in dire straits. Out of my entire extended family, very few attend Mass regularly. We have recently made the decision to attend the Latin Rite, having discovered one locally, to our delight. We were no longer comfortable with the NO Mass, seeing worship devolve into something else, not sure what, but no longer feeling like Catholicism.
    What will happen to a church that is basically divided into at least two distinct camps. Traddies appear to be the much smaller number. I have no data, but that’s my perception. If things continue as they are in the Vatican, with a pope that is as progressive and mercurial as this one, things may deteriorate further, and could lead to a split. I almost, almost mind you, welcome it. What we have now is a debacle, and it is fatiguing. I admit, I’m tired of this pope, tired of progressive Bishops, fearful Bishops, weak Bishops, cowardly Bishops, liberal Bishops, and God-knows-what-all-else Bishops.

  23. To say this: ” If I have to visit an average suburban Catholic parish, I feel as though I’m visiting the place of worship of another religion.

    This disparity is clearly not just my perception. Try sending any Catholic who has never attended the other form of their Mass to one for the first time, then ask them for their impressions. I guarantee you won’t find a single person who didn’t feel like they had just experienced something totally foreign”

    This is hyperbole. Another religion? My god, have you no perspective? Sure, it’s foreign, it’s in Latin. But they are far more similar than different.

    Then this: “Catholics now argue all the time because we can’t even agree on what we believe.

    Isn’t it imperative that we sort this out?”

    It is sorted out. Vatican II happened. Obviously a small group of people, you included, don’t like it. But it’s sorted. The ICEL made some little changes in 2011, lots of the traddies snorted and were derisive. If anyone is ARGUING, its the traditionalists who still love to be contrarian, and need a thorn in their sides to gripe about and feel normal. At least that is MY experience of almost every TLM goer who strikes up a conversation I did not ask for.


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