Since the election of Pope Francis (and some of the overreactions of various traditionalists) I've had several friends ask me what at first may seem like an odd question. Why do traditionalists care about the Latin Mass so much? We aren't like the moonbat crowd that rejects the validity of the Ordinary Form, so what's the big deal? If you aren't a traditionalist, it can be very tough to describe the attachment we have towards the extraordinary Form, even if we view the Ordinary Form a valid and lawful mass as we must.
When you go through dark times as a Catholic, you usually have a lot of avenues to turn to. You have Church socials. You have friendly priests. You can seek encouragement from prominent Catholics that what you are doing is right. For the longest time, traditionalists had none of these things. They were faithful catholics persecuted in their own parishes. Around the dioceses, they were seldom at the socials, as it was made clear they weren't welcome. If you had a bishop who decided to offer a concession (and it was almost always a concession!) for a Latin Mass, it was typically in a bad neighborhood in a bad time that you were forbidden from advertising about. If you found out about the Latin Mass, it was by accident more often than not.
These negative opinions were reinforced by a lot of the commentariat amongst Catholics. It was never any surprise that the likes of National Catholic Reporter despised us. Yet amongst magazines like Crisis Magazine, the disdain for traditionalists was unparalleled. Janet Smith will lecture against contraception, always presuming the goodwill of those who nevertheless do a very bad thing. Yet a traditionalist is a fossil, a relic of "yesterdays Church" who stands in the way of true progress in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
Considering these factors, traditionalists tended to become tight knit small communities at the Latin Masses they went to during the Indult days, even in spite of those in authority doing everything possible to keep them apart. Things began to change with the election of Pope Benedict, albeit in subtle ways. I would say that there was never any revolutionary change under his pontificate for traditionalists. Instead, we slowly but surely were able to rejoin the church at large. Most Masses were still in the city (as they were designed for that kind of Mass) but they were a lot more out in the open now. You started having religious orders like the FSSP encounter incredible growth, to where they are just now beginning to pump out the first generation of priests where the Latin Mass was an acceptable thing to celebrate.
Once traditionalists had that all important stability (rarely do we worry anymore that a bishop might wake up on the wrong side of the bed and outlaw the mass in his diocese), we were able to develop stable communities, host events, develop homeschooling networks, and begin to pass on to others all the good we have to offer, with little of the bad. We even have leaders in the church who are not just sympathetic to our causes (like Pope Benedict XVI was), but outright advocates of our cause. 10-15 years ago, a Cardinal Ranjith or Bishop Schneider would have been unheard of. The Congregation for Divine Worship has been ran (or had secretaries) who could count as close allies like Cardinal Llovera. In short, the growth of traditionalists in the last decade has been stronger than many would have thought possible before Pope Benedict.
Even with all this growth, it is still a young phenomena, and many fear that without leadership encouraging traditionalists, it will whither and decay. I think such fears are overblown, but I can completely understand why they exist. We are too used to the old ways and sometimes forget how much we have accomplished, and how much more we can accomplish. Yet I ask those who aren't traditionalists to keep this in mind whenever these discussions come up. For traditionalists, the Latin Mass has been a rock of stability in our faith lives, and nobody wants their rock taken away.