Why trads have trepidation
People in the Catholic web seem to think traditional-leaning Catholics are bitter, self loathing individuals who actively try to sow discord. They thensee the precision of the liturgy and impose on it a reflection of this caricature. This is wrong.
I think that though there is a huge bitter pill that many self-identifying trads have swallowed (including myself at times), one should not view this as in and of itself characteristic of traditionalist’s ideology or spiritual outlook. Many of us still attend the OF mass on a weekly+ basis. Many DO attempt to learn about the various orders, traditions, etc. in the Church. What gives us the dour manner is the situation we feel we are in.
When I was a 21 year old college student, I was excited-nay, ecstatic to learn about the differences between a brother, and a monk, a friar, or a priest and a deacon, that the mass is a sacrifice, that I belong to the latin rite, that the church is more than the latin rite… you get my drift. All of this knowledge is mind-boggling. THE CHURCH IS GLORIOUS AND EPIC!! I discovered this all between semesters of school one summer. I traveled 100+ miles every other weekend and explored dozes of Catholic Churches in the nearest metropolitan area-Benedictine, Jesuit, Franciscan, Maronite, Byzantine, Diocesan EF, the Institute, etc… It was all so beautiful!
After my summer of falling in love with the church and the sacrifice of the mass, the beauty of the Divine Office, and growing in love with my then-girlfriend (now Fiancee) I returned home for a new semester, with a new pastor and a fresh round with our Uni’s Newman center. It was the 150th anniversary of my parish’s founding that year, and the bulletin was alight with all of this rhetoric on our long-lasting community, ancestors, etc.
I thought, “Hey! I love the EF mass! It’s our parishes 150th anniversary. I wonder if to celebrate, we could show our roots and have a one-off EF mass in commemoration?” It seemed like a good idea. I talked about it with some others. Some students seemed interested, but the Newman center leader and the sister who worked in youth outreach both came to me with a look of puzzlement. I was brought into an office, and asked if I was trying to create friction by bringing a 1962 missal with me to the Newman center when praying alone. I said of course not, that I was drawn to the old mass, but that was it. I was genuinely confused by the reaction I got from them. It was almost hostile, like I was someone on some fringe for just loving the church’s past. But I brushed it aside.
I eventually arranged to speak with my pastor, wanting to find out if it would be possible to offer the old mass for the 150th anniversary. That was the real big shock for me. Again, I was 21 at the time. I was excited about the faith, I had met people at different parishes in the state, in their own different traditions who loved the faith, and who loved the church. I felt the same way, and I wanted to share this with my home parish, just once.
I sat with my pastor and began my proposal. After mentioning the “Extraordinary Form” he cut me off. I was told, “Well that’s nice that you like that, but no one here would. It would be a waste of resources.” I asked how he knew that-I used myself as an example, citing that I had no knowledge of the old mass until I stumbled upon it and fell in love. I said that while I was only one case, that-all things being equal-if someone who has not been exposed to the faith in the traditional manner reacts even half as strongly as I and begins coming to mass weekly and learning about the faith, would it not be worth it? I pulled out a list of signatures from 50 families in a 75 mile radius who expressed a desire to help coordinate a once-off TLM at our parish, showing that I was not alone in having such a desire. This is where things took a turn for the worst.
Once I pulled out the list of signatures, things got cold real quick. I cannot remember his exact phrasing, but I remember a word I had not really understood before… “Lefebvrists”. I was off guard-I repeated the phrase back to him, confused. He said, “This is the mass of the lefebvrists, a bunch of schismatics who reject the holocaust. They are not part of the church. ” By the end of the meeting, I had been told that I was better to drive 120 miles one way each sunday, across diocesan lines to go to mass in the EF (ICRSP), that my tithes and those of 50+ families who wanted to attend that form of the mass in our diocese did not matter-we should leave and go somewhere else.
I was heartbroken. I felt cheated-betrayed. I had attended this church since my birth…it was my hometown, and now I felt as if I was no longer welcome. As the months went by, the parish moved in a different direction liturgically than I was. It became difficult to watch certain changes be made, as I read council documents, and attended mass in different locations. I still attended most Sundays in my hometown, but would travel once a month or so to an EF or certain OF masses (or E.C. Divine Liturgies). The enormity of differences I was able to discern between certain OF’s, EF’s, DL’s, and the liturgies in my own diocese tugged at my heart. Coupled with conversations with other young catholics, I discovered that the general understanding and passion for the faith was just not there in the newman center. It was a fraternal club…not a place to grow in holiness. Religious relativism ran the center, with non-catholics being encouraged to partake in the eucharist. Students linked arms and skipped in circles during the recessional. And they all loved it. And I was told I was not welcome. Now at 23, I am alone in the Ozarks.