One of the things I've always stressed that traditionalists need to keep in mind is that we can't be utopians. In our criticism of today's state of affairs, we run the risk of acting as if the previous eras were not just good, but perfect. Phil Blosser touches on this in a way. The Church is filled with sinners, and sometimes things are better or worse as a result of that.
This got me thinking though. What was "normal" for the Church? I suppose if one were willing to look at history, one would find the following as normal:
- A Church outlawed and persecuted
- A majority of the worlds population full of people who reject the Church at best, and are outright hostile to her at worst
- Leaders that were average at best at governance
- Leaders that were average at best in holiness, and quite often outright scoundrels. I'm not talking about disagreeing with someone's mode of governance, I'm talking Benedict IX levels of scumbaggery.
In 3 out of 4 of these, I would argue things are more or less as they have always been. While the Church isn't outlawed in most places today, her influence isn't what it could be, and mediocre would certainly be a way to describe the state of things today. Mediocre Catholics doing mediocre things. Is this really what we want, a "normal" Church?
It reminds me a lot of mans condition. While Catholics must reject the Protestant notion of total depravity, there's no denying that the normative condition for most men in human history is that of sin, continued by greater sin, followed by damnation. The beauty of the Gospel is that it offers a way for man to get out of this horrid situation: faith in Christ Jesus.
Likewise, we traditionalists aren't promising a golden age once people start taking the liturgy seriously, and start becoming more mindful of what came before. We are however advocating that doing a lot of things traditionalists advocate will offer an escape from the mediocrity of history the Church frequently finds herself in. We will never be perfect as long as we are composed of human elements wounded by sin. But we can do better, and we should do better.