Monday, March 18, 2013

The Liturgy and Humility

If nothing else, the last few days have been a clarifying moment for traditionalists.  No, I'm not talking about Pope Francis.  At least not directly.  What I am referring to is the line of attack many will make against the Latin Mass.  Traditionalists need to be smart and anticipate this.

What is that line of attack?  For the rest of Pope Francis' pontificate, there will be those who will attack traditionalists the following way.  They will see an emphasis by this Pope for the poor and humble, and ask what is poor and humble about the way traditionalists celebrate their liturgy?  We will then be viewed as not being obedient to the Pope.... again.  First they said it was illegal.  Then under the Indult, we were told it was inferior, and to enjoy our position as inferior Catholics.  Then the motu proprio came out, and they've been looking for another avenue.  They think they have found it.

If the Extraordinary Form and Traditionalism is to survive, we must meet this head on.  Yet we can't do so by just mocking our friends across the way, as much as they deserve to be mocked.  From almost every indication, it is becoming clear there will be a renewed emphasis on simplicity and humility in this pontificate, and maybe even (dare we hope?) a renewed emphasis on penance.

We need to emphasize how the Extraordinary Form helps further simplicity and humility.  Fr. Z has already done a good job in giving a brief look into how the vestments of the priest and his actions, while to the untrained eye might seem pompous, are actually a great symbol of humility.  Everyone needs to do more.  We will need to do something similar for all of the Extraordinary Form.  The prayers, the postures of the faithful, even the architecture, we need to show how all of these things reinforce humility and simplicity in the soul. The liturgy of St. Francis of Assisi's time, the one he would have spent much time in, the one he would have loved, has far more in common with the Extraordinary Form than the "simple" liturgies, and this needs to be emphasized.  If the Church needs a renewed emphasis on humility and penance, then that is what the Church needs.  Yet we need to promote those things which bring about the interior renewal of these things.

Now if people think that is too alarmist, then let us suppose that we strengthen this belief (any time spent among the Extraordindary Form communities will tell you this is already believed), and become more passionate and aggressive in spreading it, and the Pope decides not to listen to the enemies of the Latin Mass, and nothing happens.  We've still managed to become more in tune with an important virtue, and we can never have a sufficient attitude of penance, so it is still a win.

That's our job.


  1. Saint Jean Vianney was both a man who embraced poverty and believed that no expense should be spared for the Mass. In fact, Saint Francis had similar beliefs. I believe that Pope Francis' message of care for the poor would only be accentuated by such a stance on the liturgy. Love God and then love your neighbor. It's a 1-2 punch.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I have similiar thoughts as well, and I think it's something traditionalists should do a lot more theorizing on how to achieve. We really haven't done a lot of that over the past 10-20 years..... because let's be honest, many communities were fighting for their survival from an either indifferent or hostile powers that be.

    Now in those areas where stability exists, its time to start emphasizing how the Extraordinary Form and the overall traditionalist worldview can be beneficial to many goals that other Catholics seek, not just liturgically.


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