Angry Traditionalists
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Mark Shea has an excellent post on Inside Catholic titled "Angry Traditionalists". Even better is Todd Flowerday's commentary on the issue. For those of you who've sworn off Todd's blog, his basic point is that he sees traditionalists as complaining without a plan to get anything done. A valid point, and certainly we know people of every stripe who do this - compare how many people complain to you at your parish versus how many say "I don't like this, but if you let me help, I'd be happy to help you change it." Or even how many say "I'd be happy to help."

    But immediately I thought of the CMAA. What struck me about the CMAA since I first ran into it is that you all don't fit that mold. The CMAA gets things done with a minimum of complaining. So congrats to each of you on this forum who work in parish ministry. We may have negative things to say about the current situation, but I'm always impressed and inspired by how the first task is not criticism or negativity, but getting things done.
  • Gavin, I'd count you in the "do-something" category. What you and your pastor tried to do was very brave. No doubt you came away with some wisdom on what works and what doesn't, but that's part of the process.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Michael, I'm in the "do anything" category. Some of the words I live by are "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I think I've done every possibility in the GIRM, from psalms in place of the propers, to Latin gradual chants to English to BFW, you name it. I've done what I can to get the program growing at my last church and I think towards the end it started to work.

    And yet the message I see from Jeff and others (particularly the EF Mass where I now sing) is to do what you can with what you have. Two different approaches, but both valuable. I can't really name a single person on this forum who does nothing but complain. In fact, I'm a staunch opponent of the SMMMHDH, because they DON'T do anything but complain. I am so pleased to have found the CMAA where real-world work is emphasized.
  • I think a lot of the real anger comes from having no outlet. Here in S Florida, no one has told me that I cannot bring my schola into their church and even the local NPM chapter is supportive -- I kind of don't know how to react sometimes! Mostly people look at me like I'm from Mars when I talk about liturgy and sacred music. The status quo is so understood here that people wonder why anyone would want something different. Churches are packed, the rock bands play their thing, the priests all do homilies outside the sanctuary, the people hold hands at the Lord's Prayer and do the "orans" thing, and the churches are all mostly built after the 1980s (our diocese is relatively new). And, get this, most of the people here well remember the 1962 Mass. It's a pretty old crowd as you get closer to the coast. Traditionalism here is pretty new and most folks have not developed a reaction to it yet. They just wonder about you. I guess that's a good thing... In any case, I've been spreading the word in a positive way. My only negativity comes when I talk one-to-one with people about contemporary music. I just tell them that I can't take it anymore and avoid it whenever possible and leave it at that. They just stare and wonder...
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    Speaking from N Florida, I agree with Michael that pent-up frustration does lead to anger. Unfortunately, the targets of this frustrated anger are not hand-holding, aisle-dancing, bass-guitar-playing types. Instead, it is often the person who is trying slowly and steadily to push the elephant in the right direction. Nothing that individual does is "good enough." It's "yes, that was nice, but why don't we have an EF Mass/sing the OF in Latin/have altar servers who aren't dressed as Moroccan street merchants/etc." All issues over which the musician has little to no control.

    In contrast, just program some silly contemporary piece (throw in a tambourine if you have one) and the compliments will pour in and the choir members will beam with delight. And, as Michael said, the churches are full of congregants, choirs, and clergy who are doing just fine, thank you very much.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    I understand completely what you mean, but I think we should have sympathy and understanding for the way that the confusion of the past 40+ years has affected people in different ways. This goes for people who prefer tambourines as well as impossible-to-please trads.
  • Yes, that is the most difficult part of all of this. The folks who are, in our opinion, doing it wrong, are not the enemy. They are doing exactly what they have been taught is the right thing to do. They are good people and devoted Catholics. If we regard ourselves as missionaries -- not the ones who compel conversion -- who SHOW people what good liturgy combined with the real musical prayer of the Church can do, then we have a chance. If the right person in a parish sees the light, big things can happen almost overnight. There's a lot to be said for the "creeping effect" too. Sure, I don't like chant and pop mixed together, but if you have the power to do so, gradually start programming more traditional hymns, polyphony, and chant propers in such a way as people gradually become accustomed to it. It might take more than your lifetime, though.
  • I find that I'm most sympathetic with angry traditionalists when I don't have to be around them.
    Thanked by 1ClergetKubisz
  • CPT Tom
    Posts: 11
    At one of the weekend workshops I attended prior to the Chant Intensive I was practically called a sell-out by some of the trads there. My Crime? I had said that I was going to work with the Parish Administrator and Music Director to establish a schola to transform, gradually, one of the masses into a more traditional OF mass. Oh no! I must hold out for a Extraordinary Form Mass, or at the very least a TOTALLY Latin OF, because anything less was selling out.

    Well, here in Rochester Diocese there is only one mass in one church that is EF and it's almost 2hrs away. Additional among the reasons we have such cruddy liturgies (at least the ones we can do anything about) is because many of the traditionally minded sit around and b*tch and moan, but don't do anything about it. The "it" specifically is to join the liturgy committees, choirs and parish councils in sufficient numbers as to make a difference. They just get ticked off and either go elsewhere, leaving the battle field or just sit and sulk. I've been particularly troubled by this lately as my little schola is still quite small (the number is 3). We are good group, but it would be REALLY nice to have more voices.
  • ok, just to add another example: we had the first EF Mass in 40 years at our parish last year. Afterwards, the trads in the parish (tiny) had this to say about it: they hate the dialogue Mass. That was it.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    Interestingly, a colleague just returned from Spain where she had been working as a volunteer along the Camino de Santiago. A group of French SSPX pilgrims, traveling with a couple of priests and a few seminarians, celebrated Mass in the chapel at the albergue where she was working. Now you can't possibly get more conservative and traditional than the French SSPX, can you? It was a dialogue Mass. They all said the responses. Further, all of the priest's readings and prayers, with the exception of the Canon, were audible.

    There was also a wonderful aspect of technology at work in their Masses along the Camino. The pilgrims would be scattered along the camino - walking at different speeds, staying in different albergues. The priests would call ahead in the morning to find a church or chapel for the evening Mass. When the arrangements were made, the location would go out by text message.
  • From my limited observation (Juventutem 2005 and 2008), I think that the youth movement in the traditionalist sphere is:

    1) Of a High Mass mentality;
    2) Devoid of the bitterness of their predecessors (indeed, since they weren't present at the upheaval);
    3) More inclined to engage the "outside world" and others "outside the sphere" (here is a particularly visible example);
    4) More apt to display the "affirmative orthodoxy" ascribed to Pope Benedict.

    Of course these are generalizations, and there are exceptions. Still, it's encouraging.

    So, when all else fails, there's always God's own Biological Solution... ;-)
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,033
    I'm not sure it was an excellent article.

    I find Mark Shea's musing on this topic a bit tiresome. It's clear form other things he's written that he not much interested in the reform of the liturgy or the Tridentine mass, which is fine, but it makes one wonder why he returns to the topic of traditionalists and their "anger" over and over.

    At any rate, Shea paints with a very broad brush. One ends up with the impression that a good proportion of those who attend or who are sympathetic to the EF are a bunch of joyless cretins. Almost any serious movement, whether you agree with it or not, is going to have its angry, bitter side, but characterizing a group by its most loopy members is unfair. The problem is that anyone who takes the liturgy seriously and is critical of what might be going on is liable to be tarred as "angry." Oh, well. There are fringe people in the pro-life movement as well, but I don't see it as helpful to suggest, however broadly, that pro-lifers in general tend to be this way, or that there is something about their cause which leads to bitterness. I agree that this forum and NLM is an exception to what Shea writes about, but then he doesn't mention places like this . . .

    Shea seems to underestimate the pain and alienation that some have been through in the past 40 years. This is not to condone joylessness and bitterness about the Church, but simply a plea for more understanding. He writes that the angry trads offer no constructive solutions to the problems they complain about - but then neither does Mr. Shea.

    Sam Schmitt
  • One could easily counter with the angry progressivists who just go ballistic whenver anyone mentions Latin or chant or high church liturgy -- why are so many of them nuns?. There are troubled people on both sides of the argument.
  • CPT Tom
    Posts: 11
    Father Z over at What does the Prayer Really Say? Says that the liturgy is like a road if you go too far to the left or the right you fall into the ditch. In that I have to agree, that is why I don't really identify with anything except being a Catholic (large C). As such, the Holy Father says and writes that it is laudable to restore tradition, and that the VII documents weren't really followed, how can I not respond to tradition and beauty? Being Catholic is easy...especially if you approach it with the humility and openness to the Truth and the actual Teachings of the Church. It can also be hard when we are prideful and are disobedient or look for the loopholes to do our own thing. This is when there is trouble or confusion.

    I enjoy the CMAA and the reform of the reform...we do pursue the Truth through the music for the Mass so that we beautifully praise the Lord within the Liturgical traditions of the Church. That is what matters, not our preferences or dislikes. This last truth is what escapes many parish laity and clergy, because they have either not been taught, have been taught wrongly, or through their pride they shutter their ears and eyes.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    I have seen the traditionalists from two sides. In the Latin church where I work, nothing is ever authentic enough for them. Father isn't wearing the correct liturgical shoe laces, or something similar and equally silly. Some of them have shown up at the Byzantine church where I worship. They are shocked that we use leavened bread. Haven't we heard of Trent? We explain that we have been using leavened bread for nearly 2,000 years now. And that Trent was called to address Protestantism in western Europe. There were no Protestants in the east, and the church was fighting Islam, not Protestantism. Trent said nothing affecting the eastern churches. Eventually, after much complaining that we don't do the liturgy "right" they leave clutching their rosaries with grimaces on their faces. Of course, we are glad to see them go. I understand the hurt over losing the EF mass and that many have suffered because of that loss. However, some of these folks are just sour, unpleasant, modern-day Calvinists who don't find much joy in anything.
  • Calvinistic Catholicism. Now I've heard it all. I've been lucky to not have had too much contact with the hardcore folks. That's a good thing cause I'd be tempted to grab them and shake them vigorously while shouting "You're going to ruin this for all of us!" Well, maybe I could control myself, let's not find out.

    The short road almost never goes anywhere worthwhile.
  • Andrew
    Posts: 22
    I witnessed a lot of "anger" on the part of priests and bishop towards Catholics who rightly questioned the "reforms" introduced in the 1960's and 70's.

    It seemed to many Catholics at that time that faith and morals were not only questioned by mocked and ridiculed at the parish level by priests and religious.

    Why do you think Archbishop Lefebvre reached such a large audience?

    And if it weren't for Archbishop Lefebvre, there would never have been an "indult" for the 1962 Missal (the edition Lefebvre used). The indult of John Paul II was a reaction to Lefebvre's consecrecration of bishops.

    Rome panicked.

    The "permission" to use the traditional Mass rite of the Roman Church didn't come from the "good will" of the pope.

    John Paul II and Ratzinger were too busy supporting the Legionnaires of Christ of the sex scandals fame -- while vilifying Lefebvre.

    In any event Lefebvre's "disobedience" proved right -- it provoked Rome to free up the traditional Roman Rite Mass.

    Thank God for Lefebvre's "anger"!

    The Catholic Church has lost a lot of its moral credibility as a result of the sex scandals -- in which John Paul II and Ratzinger were implicated.

    I wager the Catholic Church will be greatly diminshed during the course of this century -- and non-issues like "angry Traditionalists" will pale in view of the bankrupt dioceses and closed churches.

    Incidentally, as a result of the sex scandals, many Catholics gained an insight into the myth of priestly celibacy -- Richard Sipe's studies in particular -- which indicate that a mere 2% of priests have been 100% celibate -- i.e. never "fooled" around sexually -- that at any given time 20% of priests are in heterosexual relationships and another 10% in homosexual relationships and that another 40% are "making attempts" at celibacy (a "labile" group) -- and then we have the ephebophiles and pedophiles which are a smaller percentage -- but who make the newspapers because of the illegal activity.

    Too much damaging information has been leaked for the average person to take the Catholic Church seriously as was the case in the past.

    In this context, I doubt many Catholics trouble themselves regarding "canonical" status vis-a-vis Rome.
  • OK... Do you think John Paul II may have actually sympathized with Bishop Lefebvre's wish to retain use of the 1962 Missal? The pope can hardly be characterized as a pandering liberal except by those on the margins, and Benedict XVI has been an answer to traditionally-minded Catholics' prayers even if some refuse to see this. Sorry, Andrew, but the SSPX has grown into something much different than its founder probably intended. From what I can see, and this is only empirical observation, the society has become a home for some very uncharitable people who have no interest in communion with the Church unless it repudiates Vatican II. Don't get me wrong, I often get sick to my stomach when I read about what happened after the Second Vatican Council, but I have to believe that boat will be righted at some point. With the help of the NLM and CMAA and the traditional blogosphere, I believe it will happen. I just have no interest in being around mean, uncharitable people, whether they be right or left of center.

    Can you point me to some evidence that the last two popes were somehow complicit in child abuse? I'd be very interested to see that.