Monday, July 29, 2013

Traditionalist but not "Restorationist"

The outrage meter is about to go past 11 on some blogs tomorow.  During an address to the Latin American Bishops Conferences (if we just got rid of these useless bodies poor Francis would have less an opportunity for scandalizing the consciences of some), the Holy Father talked about certain temptations that hinder the full power of the Gospel.  It really was a speech that offended just about every interest group in the Church, for better or worse.

The Pelagian solution. This basically appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in (exaggerated) tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”. Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past.
There are uncomfortable realities here for all Catholics, not just traditionalists.  When we are presenting the Gospel, are we doing so in ways which are still relevant?  Let's take the manner of Latin for example.  Let's say tomorrow Pope Francis announced he was going to replace the liturgy that we know today with the liturgy of the 1962 missal.... except in English.  Would we take that deal, or would we insist on it being in Latin.  Unless we are fools, we would take the English.  Would it be our perfect ideal?  Maybe not.  Yet it would give us quite a bit of what we want, since it gives the underlying principles we hold dear.  So our focus should be on those principles, no matter what disciplinary fashion they are in.

The question basically becomes:  is full abolition of the Ordinary Form, and a reversion to the Extraordinary Form all that matters?

Finally, I have never wished to "recover" the lost past of events right before the Second Vatican Council.  Vatican II didn't cause Humanae Vitae.  Those leaders were in place well before the Council.  Some anti-traditionalists try to frame this argument "if traditionalism is so awesome, how do you explain the near total apostasy Catholicism experienced after the council?"  The near total apostasy part should never be denied.  Yet we should have no problem saying that our ancestors, heroic as they are, had some blind spots, just as we have our current blind spots that we need the help of God's grace to overcome.  (If they were a tad too legalistic, even most trads today are absolute panzies when it comes to suffering, if you compare our fasting to that of our ancenstors.)

There will never be a perfect Church militant here on earth.  But we can say that our generation needs to drink far deeper of the Gospel, and the principles we advocate are a way of doing that.  Few if any trads would say we simply look for a "discplinary solution", and quite frankly, the Pope should exhibit far more sensitivity when speaking on the subject.  As Archbishop Chaput rightly pointed out, Pope Francis needs to act like he is the Pope of traditionalists as well.

So really my brethren, stop taking every statement from the Pope as a way to tear you down further.  Look at it as a challenge to return to a greater fidelity to our principles.  Those disciplines we advocate so ardently are meant to lead to those principles, which is first and foremost a deeper personal relationship with our Savior.  We have had so much success these past 6 years showing the world these principles.  Let us always look for more chances.


  1. The only solution is to stop using the vernacular! Of course, Latin is the vernacular that began to be use by the Latin Rite in the 4th century, replacing Greek. Greek was the vernacular to spread Christianity outside of the Aramaic speaking original followers of Jesus. Aramaic was the vernacular of these followers because Hebrew had fallen into disuse in daily life. And, Hebrew was the vernacular of the people that God chose for Himself. When we stop using all of these vernacular languages, the liturgy will be perfect.

    I’m sure you’ve guessed I’m speaking of the Eternal Liturgy in Heaven. We won’t have full understanding of God’s native language, but we won’t have to rely on any vernacular languages anymore.

  2. Go back?

    Not me. I have no desire to see the pain and suffering that the 70s brought on the Church.

    Time to move forward and that means bringing the good things of the past with us (some of which has been lost) and fixing what was broken.

  3. I agree with your underlying sentiment. But I can't help but feel butt hurt over his comments.

  4. Oh, and I was wondering... have you ever thought on doing a post about World You Day? I mean, what are your thoughts and concerns about the whole thing?

    You seem very level-headed about your approach towards traditionalism and so I'm interested in reading what you think of this.

  5. My facebook snark nnotwithstanding, its okay to feel hurt every now and then. ;) There's also nothing wrong with disagreeing with the way something goes down.

    I just think some of my brethren look at everything the Pope says as a way to tear them down and destroy them. That's likely not true to say the least. But even if there is some criticism, take it and do what you can to improve. There can be no reform of the Church without us continually reforming and improving ourselves.

    As far as World Youth Day, I like the idea. Get the youth together, let them know they shouldn't be ashamed to follow Christ. As one who most would still classify a "youth" (though at the upper edge of it nowadays), I'm good with that. I also find the expressions of traditionalism at these events particularly powerful, and feel those people will do works of heroic virtue in the future we cannot even fathom.

    Liking the idea doesn't mean I think it is always executed in a good fashion. The liturgies more often than not leave plenty to be desired, and the dancing bishops should learn there's a difference between being a fool for Christ, and just being a fool.

    So its a great idea, and every year seems to have its own hits and its own misses. Hey, lot like our present Church!


At this current time due to time constraints comments are moderated. Avoid flaming, chest-thumping and stick on topic and your comments will be quickly approved. Do the opposite and they stay in never never land.