Before I begin, let it be known that by pointing out a defect that I have seen within the traditional movement, I am not in any way criticizing traditional Catholicism. In fact, I am doing the opposite, I am so enamoured with traditional Catholicism – “AKA Catholicism” – that I only hope to shed light on something that is damaging to the thing I love so much.
Sadly, the enemies of Tradition love to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to finding things that are off-putting about the setting of the traditional movement. I have seen, and heard it all before: “How can you say that Tradition is good, look at all those mean Trads online!” Or, “Why do they all have a chip on their shoulder? I just can’t see how that is from God when they are so sour!”
To be clear, the insults from those who despise the religion of all their ancestors are often rooted in nothing more than a caricature based on a partial truth which has become a stereotype. Nonetheless, the half truths are still partly true and the stereotypes are effective because they play off of realities – even if overblown realities – that are visible enough.
Therefore, I ask for your patience and charity in reading this assessment, and please understand that I am only trying to help the traditional movement, something to which I have devoted much of my professional life and most of my personal life as well.
Negativity is Murderous
Negativity is a killer of rightly ordered thinking. What I mean to say is that when we exist in a state of negative emotion, we see everything through a negative lens. Now, there are negative things in the world and in the Church, and at times it is appropriate to respond to negative things with negative emotions.
However, when negativity becomes our baseline, we become negative overall, and fail to see things as they are.
Without sounding too much like Chicken Soup for the Soul, there are positive things that happen every day, even in the worst of scenarios. We could be severely injured, but the sun is still shining. We could be in prison but develop a devotion to the Rosary.
We could lose our job, and find out we didn’t like that job anyway.
You see my point. Again, I am not pretending bad things don’t happen, but if we get to the point where we view the world as only a negative place, we are missing a huge chunk of what is real.
If we miss a massive amount of positive data and stimulus from our surroundings, then we cannot expect to make smart and prudential decisions much of the time. The reason for this is because in order to make good decisions, you need to see things as they are. If you cannot see what is good and positive, then you cannot see all that is real. If you cannot see all that is real, then you cannot make decisions that will make the best of your real-life situation.
Negativity Makes Us Ungrateful
The other day, I had the pleasure of sharing in the Requiem Mass for a young man who passed away last year. His parents are wonderful people, and it was a staggeringly beautiful Mass and evening. Many of us were in awe of how joyful an occasion it was, given how hard the moment was a year prior.
The reason it was so joyful is because of traditional Catholicism.
The fact that all the proper and ancient traditions of mourning and healing had been followed by the family and the priests who guide our parish made it possible for people to grieve and accept God’s will in a rightly ordered fashion.
What a blessing it is for Catholics who have found traditional priests who can guide them through such difficult times, as they are formed by traditional norms to do so.
My wife and I left the event astounded at how fortunate we are to have found the SSPX and Tradition. In essence, those of us who have found the diamond in the rough that is the traditional faith have found the pearl of great price.
We have won the lottery. More than that, we have won the eternal lottery.
Of all the Catholics on earth, there is a small portion that has been blessed with the access that some of us have – not only to the Sacraments, but to everything that Tradition offers.
It is lost on me how any traditionalist could not be beaming with gratitude and happiness at the mere thought of having the opportunity to walk into their parish and hear Latin, and smell incense, and see beautiful images and hear wonderful sermons.
None of us deserve any of this! We are wretched and awful sinners… I know I am. It is incomprehensible that God could ever deign to offer something so precious as the traditional faith to the lot that we are.
If we are traditionalists and we are not grateful, then there is something wrong with us.
Negativity Defeats Us
We have all seen a film, whether it be a military film or some other adventure flick with the following trope: the protagonist finds a solution at the last moment to overcome insurmountable odds, even as his comrades have given up hope.
Maybe he is escaping jail, escaping aliens, or maybe getting out of the ghetto – it could be a number of situations.
The point is, the hero wins in the end because the hero does not believe the narrative. He knows he is as good as dead, but he lives as if it is not his time to die. He knows he is uneducated, but he acts as if he has the know-how to succeed.
When we take the red-pill that is often offered upon entering the traditional paradigm, it is easy to become irresolute in our perspective on the Church.
“All the bishops are heretics.” “Every Novus Ordo Mass is an abomination.” “Medjugorje isn’t even real!!”
Even if that were true, what is that to you?
Has God asked you to fix the Church? Has He asked you to form the bishops? Are you in charge of what other people believe?
The character in the film who overcomes all the odds against him does not concern himself with the failures of others, but instead believes he will succeed no matter what.
Those around him who have allowed themselves be overcome by the bad news become useless, annoying, and incapable of winning. In fact, they often die in the movie as a sort of “told you so” about the dangers of being a negative Nancy.
I saw this with COVID and the lockdowns. I live in Canada, which may be the only nation left on earth where the unjabbed are more or less not allowed to leave the country. I understand the Covidian tyranny as well as anyone.
Nonetheless, the mandates are lifting, most have lifted, and our lives are better. There were people clamouring on about concentration camps and worse – all of which were coming “anytime now” – just like how the Leftists kept saying all the unmasked and unjabbed would get extremely sick “anytime now.”
As bad as it was, the worst parts did not come true, and the people who were the heroes throughout the Covidian nightmare were the ones who did something about it.
There were many people who saw the truth of the fraudulent regime that took over our lives, but they allowed themselves to be defeated by the narrative as much as those who gave in to the narrative.
Saying, “What is the point of resisting the government, we will all be in camps soon anyway?” is not much different than saying, “Why would you resist the government, do you think you know more than them?”
If this sort of mentality affects our view of the Church or the plight of other Catholics, then we are not much different in the Catholic context.
Do Not Consecrate Your Negativity
Presently, Russia is about to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary – by name – albeit in a way that is not as clear as we would like.
Yes, the pope is consecrating humanity, as well as Russia, and Ukraine. How dare he! Doesn’t he know humanity is already perfect?
There are a million arguments as to why it will not suffice, and there are a plethora of apologists who could make your head spin with reasons why that is the case.
However, it may be acceptable to Heaven, and it might work.
If it does, please do not allow yourself to be amongst the stereotypes of “Trads” who could be living in an age of peace and Catholic revival, yet not allowing himself to believe it to be so because he just stubbed his toe.
Accentuate the positivity, as they say.
Obviously I’m not predicting it will work. I’m not saying we can’t be realistic about probable outcomes. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t advocate vehemently that the pope and bishops strictly fulfill Our Lady’s request.
For all we know, it might be yet another papal failure.
And with the current occupant of the chair of Peter, no scenario seems more likely than such a dismal downturn.
But still – let’s not destroy all hope with so much negativity. After all, Our Lady promised that it would happen – whether with this pope or some future pope. Russia will be consecrated and will be converted.
That’s a promise.
I understand some will be upset with me for having written this – who I am I to tell you not to be in a bad mood? The hubris!
But seriously, all I’m trying to say is this: there is nothing negative about traditional Catholicism – joy and hope, even in the little things God creates every day, are very traditional indeed. Some of us as Trads are just terribly negative and it is terribly unhelpful.
This Friday, may God’s will be done. Fiat.
Kennedy Hall is a contributing editor for OnePeterFive. He is the author Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity and Lockdown with the Devil, a novel about 2020 published by Our Lady of Victory Press. He is also a writer at Catholic Family News and LifeSiteNews. He is married with five children and lives in Ontario, Canada. You can find his work at kennedyhall.ca.