This article contains sections of the author’s forthcoming book Joy to Our Youth: Why Millennials are Returning to Traditional Catholicism. It is edited here with the author’s permission. If you enjoy this transcript, be on the lookout for this book when it is published.
“You could take the blue pill. You’ll wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. Or you could take the red pill. You’ll stay in Wonderland, and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole really goes.”
The above quote has been immortalized in the famous award-winning movie The Matrix. The term “red-pilled” has been popularized for various moments of an individual realizing the truth about a given circumstance and admitting that he previously held the wrong, but generally accepted, position on a topic (the blue-pilled position). The blue-pilled position within the Catholic world has been the belief that traditionalists are the weird, pale, and miserable individuals who live in bunkers and cling to dead and outdated beliefs. While there are scandals in the Church, the future looks bright by encouraging new, progressive, and innovative practices into the liturgy such as liturgical dancing, guitars, and charismatic renewal. So the story goes. In this article, I will be presenting you with the pill that Millennials and other Catholics are starting to select instead of the blue-pilled position of the Church: the Tradpill.
What is the Tradpill? The Tradpill is the realization that the current state of the Church is a state of emergency. It is the realization that while the Church has gone through crises in its past, this crisis is nearly unprecedented in its desolation and heterodoxy. A plethora of Pew Research Center surveys reveal the extent of heterodox teachings in the Church in the modern United States, including sixty-two percent of Catholics believing that Communion should be given to married people who separated from their spouses and live conjugally with someone else . Only a third of Catholics believe that sodomy is sinful . Over half of Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in nearly all circumstances, and over seventy-five percent of Catholics believe that contraception should be permitted . The Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II found sharp declines in Mass attendance, baptisms, religious ordinations, and even Catholic high schools, or the state of the Faith in Europe .
An example of someone taking the Tradpill and accepting the state of the Church is Dr. Scott Hahn, a professor at my alma mater. He had a Tradpill moment when he praised the leadership of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Viganò, and Cardinal Burke for calling the Pachamama idolatry out for what it was and calling for the sacraments to be distributed during this coronavirus epidemic. He was also spotted attending the traditional Latin Mass with Father Ripperger and famous comedian Kevin James.
There have been almost innumerable experiences of average Catholics becoming Tradpilled. Some are joyful occasions, others humorous, and still others tragic. Dr. Taylor Marshall described his Tradpill moment in his podcast with Timothy Gordon: when he went to receive Holy Communion after converting from Anglicanism to Catholicism. But instead of using an altar rail, seeing a paten, and receiving from a priest (as done among the Anglicans), he was receiving Communion from a layperson wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with Grover from Sesame Street. It was in that moment that Dr. Marshall knew he no longer wanted to attend the Novus Ordo Mass (that is, the 1969 Mass of Pope Paul VI) if he had the opportunity to avoid it, and he began to seek out Tradition.
My Tradpill moment was not as lighthearted. One day before a Novus Ordo morning Mass, I had read an article that described how the paten (the traditional chin plate to collect particles of the Sacred Host) had been diabolically abandoned after the Second Vatican Council, and now particles of the Sacred Host fall to the floor carelessly. The author challenged his Novus Ordo readers to look down at the floor when they go up to receive Communion and see if they can find any particles or fragments of the Host.
During Mass, I had almost forgotten about the article until it was the time to receive Communion. The idea entered my head again as I was walking up to receive, so I said a prayer that I may receive Communion worthily and in an undistracted manner. But I could not help but open my eyes before receiving, and I checked the floor. To my horror, I saw white flakes on the floor by the priest’s feet. I received Communion and was utterly scandalized by what I had just seen.
For the rest of Mass, I prayed, asking the Lord for forgiveness if I had stepped on Him, and for never even considering the amount of abuse that takes place to His precious Body without a Communion paten. When the Mass had ended, I waited for the parishioners to clear out. Once they were gone, I carefully stepped over to the area where I had seen the fragments. They were still roughly in the same spot. I began audibly praying the Hail Mary while I picked up the fragments and placed them into my hand and receiving them reverently, not knowing what else to do.
While I was doing this, a woman from the parish walked up to me and asked me what I was doing. I showed her the fragments of what I believed to be the Host. She took one, placed a fragment on her tongue, and then said: “It must be a cracker! It tastes sweet.”
I responded, “The Host tastes sweet and has the accidents of a cracker, or bread.” She shook her head and told me I was worrying too much.
This event affected me more than any of the intellectual arguments, prophecies, visions, or heresies I encountered when I was researching the origins of the Novus Ordo. But in this moment, all those resources were enhanced and given extreme clarity. The words of Our Lady of Good Success echoed in my head: “My Most Holy Son will see Himself cast upon the ground and trampled upon by filthy feet” . Later on, I read a quote from Bishop Athanasius Schneider that confirmed this tragedy: “There is the grievous fact of the loss of Eucharistic fragments because of Communion in the hand. No one can deny this. Fragments of the consecrated host fall to the floor and are subsequently crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God is trampled on in our churches! No one can deny it. This is happening on a large scale” .
I was officially Tradpilled.
Thousands of Catholics all over the world are experiencing similar circumstances to mine. They are discovering the beauty of traditional devotions that have been abandoned: the Latin Mass, Vespers and Benediction, the rosary, fasting, tenebrae, etc. The statistics demonstrate this reality. A recent study found that while Novus Ordo parishes have been shrinking, traditional parishes have been growing . Another study found that the average traditional parish has larger family sizes, younger attendees, and higher male attendance . While the modern Church painfully attempts to reach the youth with guitar Masses and rock songs, young Catholics find themselves enthralled with the traditional Latin Mass. The most recent example of young Catholics embracing Tradition was seen at the National Catholic Youth Conference of 2019, when the Solemn High Mass packed St John’s, the church located right across from the conference center .
Not only is Tradition able to assist the Church by attracting the laity of all ages and both sexes, it but can help solve the vocation crisis. Traditional orders have seen an increase in the number of priestly ordinations, and female religious vocations have also been aided by traditional devotions. For example, an order of nuns in the United States turned from the modern innovations of Vatican II back to their pre-conciliar devotions, and the results were astounding, “The Discalced Carmelites have turned from the modern Church’s reforms of the 1960s and embraced ancient traditions — particularly the traditional Latin Mass. Now their order is booming, with multiple at-capacity monasteries dotting the eastern U.S” .
This article will not be enough to Tradpill you. The Tradpill is a personal experience, not something that can be read about. Hopefully, whoever is reading this does not attend a parish where the Eucharist is left open to abuse as I did!
More than any story or argument, increased prayer and attending the traditional Mass can Tradpill an individual. I highly encourage everyone reading this article: find and attend the Traditional Mass once this crisis is over. Attending the Latin Mass for the first three times is difficult and different, but it is just as Pope Benedict XVI said: “[t]he Extraordinary Form is difficult in the way that anything that’s rewarding is difficult, like classical music when what we know is mainly popular music” .
When this crisis is over and the churches open back up, you will have a choice on your hands. You can take the blue-pilled position and pretend nothing ever happened and that everything is back to normal. Or you can take the Tradpilll, as thousands of other Catholics have, young and old.
 Michael Lipka, “Most U.S. Catholics Hope for Change in Church Rule on Divorce, Communion,” Pew Research Center, October 26, 2015.
 Id., “U.S. Catholics More Hopeful Than Expectant of Changes to Church Teachings,” Pew Research Center, March 12, 2014.
 Id., “Vatican Synod on Family Highlights Discord Between Church Teachings and U.S. Catholics’ Views,” Pew Research Center, October 3, 2014.
 Kenneth C. Jones, “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II,” Oriens Publishing, St. Louis:2003.
 Father Manuel Sousa Pereira, “The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana Volume I,” Tradition in Action Inc, 2005.
 Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Christus Vincit, Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age, Angelico Press, Brooklyn, N.Y., 2019, 230.
 Jeffrey Cimmino, “Traditional Catholic Parishes Grow Even as US Catholicism Declines,” Washington Examiner, November 2, 2019.
 Joseph Shaw, PhD., “The Extraordinary Form and the Evangelization of Men,” Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, position paper no. 26, September 3, 2012.
 Gregory Dipippo, “Tradition is for the Young: EF Mass at the National Catholic Youth Conference,” New Liturgical Movement, November 29, 2019.
 Drew Belsky, “Latin Mass, Church Traditions Bring Boom in Vocations for US Order of Nuns,” LifeSite, August2 13, 2019.
 Nicholas Frankovich, “It’s Extraordinary,” First Things, September 26, 2013.
Kenneth A. Dobbs is a writer and educator from Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. His first experience teaching was at a polytechnic school in Austria, and he also had the opportunity to tutor students from China and Belarus. He graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in history. He has written and field-tested lesson plans for Sophia Press Institute, including its Infusing the Faith textbook series. He currently teaches history to eighth- to twelfth-grade students at Holy Family Academy in Manchester, New Hampshire, and is excitedly awaiting his marriage to his fiancée in August.