Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My "Compromise" on the Term Rad-Trad

Over at Dave Armstrong's facebook page, he wants to issue a real alternative to the phrase "radtrad."  Now I think a lot of the terms he uses are a bit silly and sound goofy, but maybe someone else has a better idea for him.

Wheaton's Law and Catholic Dialogue

It looks like there has been a lot of discussion surrounding my article on why we should drop insulting terms like "Neo-Catholic" and "RadTrad" from our lexicon.  For the most part, it's been an overwhelmingly positive discussion.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So I Got a Case of Bad Luck and Horrible Timing

Just an fyi to readers to stay away from my catholiclane column for the time being due to a security issue.

My regular column suffered a double dose of bad timing:  the day I say we should stop saying "radical traditionalist" is the day some of my brethren through their actions practically justify using the term.

Having trouble accessing blogger on anything but my mobile at the moment so posting is light.  Yet have plenty to say about the Fransiscans, Francis, The Latin Mass and the bad response by a lot of people.  Also have more exciting news which will be shared soon enough.


Catholic Lane is back up and running.  Feel free to visit again.  Link coming soon

Monday, July 29, 2013

Traditionalism and Beating the Expectations Game

A photo on Facebook can tell a pretty great story.  It is why traditionalists like myself are so optimistic.  In short, the photo shows the exponential growth of the Extraordinary From of the liturgy from roughly 1988-2010.  In 1990, there were roughly 60 masses available every Sunday throughout the country.  (Probably 30 of them were in Chicago.)  In 2006, there were roughly 200, a growth of roughly 8 or 9 a year.  This was under the ancien regime of the Ecclesia Dei indult, when the survival of the Mass was dependent on Bishops, many of them openly hostile to the Extraordinary Form.

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.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cardinal Burke on the Sacred Liturgy

There's a lot of awesomeness in the words of His Eminence, but let's just recap a few things

- The Churches teaching on worship is the same before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council.  Those who talk about how we should be glad that Vatican II "changed" the way Catholics worship, they are mistaken.    A clear statement that the liturgical reform we experienced was not the liturgical reform the Council Fathers had in mind.  This is pretty standard boilerplate stuff, but it appears that some of our friends at the big Catholic organziations need reminders of these things if the past few weeks have been any indication.

- The liturgy is God's gift to man, not man's creation.  This cannot be emphasized enough.

- Since the liturgy is the apex of everything Catholics do, there will never be authentic reform of the Church without an authentic liturgical reform.  We've made progress, but we still got a long way to go.
ZENIT: Some argue the liturgy is mostly about aesthetics, and not as important as, say, good works done in faith. What is your view of this argument that one often hears?

Cardinal Burke: It’s a Communist misconception.

- Liturgical laws are meant for man, not man for laws.  They give us the freedom to not be a bumbling idiot in the way we worship God.

And most importantly:

-The moral decay and corruption within the Church goes hand in hand with the liturgical decay and corruption in our parishes.  If you change the way people worship, you change the way they believe.  This works both ways.  That new generation of priests that everyone tends to love as young, holy and doctrinally orthodox?  Even if they only celebrate the Ordinary Form, there's little that seperates them from working alongside or even being a traditionalist, save opportunity.

h/t Fr. Z

The Triumph of Division

I certainly hope Catholic Answers is happy.  They wasted a lot of money on a pointless two hour radio program that didn't help their audience understand traditionalists, "radical" or otherwise.  What they did do was create an incredible amount of ill will from traditionalists, and even those who aren't.  When these kind of circumstances happen, certain traditionalists will go out of their way spoiling for a fight.

I'm not really one to comment too much on the article in The Remnant.  When one gets past Mr. Ferrara's verbal flourishes, one finds there actually aren't a lot of things to disagree about.  I think everyone would agree that nobody is obligated to attend Mass in the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.  Everyone would also agree (or at least they should) that the Church has been under attack from both the world and from within, and that weapon has many names:  the dictatorship of relativism, modernism, secularism, etc.  I think it is also beyond dispute that everyone agrees the Second Vatican Council wasn't implemented pretty good, if at all.  Those who disagree are free to find beef with Pope Benedict (who spoke of a false council of the media that has mistaken for Vatican II) and Pope Francis.

These truths aren't denied by anyone, yet both sides have to act like they do.  Why?  To put it bluntly, people are pretty angry when they are treated as second class Catholics, and they are likely to fire back in kind.  When people aren't around screaming "rad-trad", you don't see too much talking about "Neo-Catholic."  Neither term is actually descriptive of anything.  It simply means "other people do crap I don't like, and I need to condemn it in the flashiest way possible."  They are polemical terms that belong to a previous age.  They are also words that are only meant for the choir.

So now we've got another pointless conflict that the good folks at Catholic Answers don't actually disagree with, or at least wouldn't dare to disagree with it in public, as they really are settled matters.  What's sad is that others are actually starting to become a bit more honest in their assessment of matters.  The only problem with this kind of approach is you aren't going to drive up ratings for your radio show or print magazine.  Instead you will do the far more mundane task of slowly but surely laying a proper foundation for true Catholic unity.  Perhaps Catholic Answers would be far better suited instructing its audience how to do that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why We Speak Past Each Other

As I've been mulling over a bigger work on so called "radical traditionalism" (more on this over the next week!), there have been a few other things that have happened which I want to talk about.  In trying to reach out to traditionalist audiences, two different voices gave two different critiques, but both seemed to fall pretty flat.  While some partisans will say this is just proof that trads are obstinate and impossible to have a discussion with, I think a more honest reading gives a far more simpler answer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

How NOT to Speak to Traditionalists

One of the key ways to become a good apologist is to become familiar with those you disagree with.  For example, if one wants to do apologetics against Protestants, you need to actually read their works.  Reading a Catholic Answers tract and proclaiming yourself the next Karl Keating or Dave Armstrong is going to almost always end badly.  Chances are you will fail so epically, you will actually set back the cause for defending the Catholic faith, at least in the heart of one individual who will see your comically bad performance.

Most people would understand this when dealing with our seperated brethren across the Tiber.  Yet swap "Protestant" with "traditionalist" and suddenly all the rules change, and any attempt at due diligence is thrown out the window in mainstream Catholicism.  When Catholic Answers apologist Patrick Coffin does a show about "radical traditionalism", he invites Tim Staples to discuss it.  Tim Staples is a very brilliant man, but let's be real here:  his only exposure to traditionalism is reading a couple blog posts.  As a result, when they do their show, they royally anger not just the "radical" traditionalists, but the good traditionalists as well, those same individuals Mssgrs. Coffin and Staples praised as providing "heroic witness" to the Catholic faith.  They even wrote a follow up article, expressing amazement at this fact.  They spoke to their audience as Jane Goodall, seeking to educate them about the primate traditionalists.  Jane Goodall at least spent time studying the primates.

Over the next few days, I'm going to outline why traditionalists were angry, and more importantly, why the efforts of the Catholic Answers apologists are bad not just for loyal traditionalists, but bad for people attempting to understand traditionalists, and to avoid those who would try to use the good in traditinoalism to justify opinions that the Church has said we cannot.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Closing the Door (Finally) on Vatican II

With the canonization of Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II, many are interpreting these actions as the triumph of the Second Vatican Council, and how now the council will continue to dominate Catholic discourse for the next several generations.  For many of my traditionalist brethren (even those who have no problem accepting it as a valid ecumenical council without error), this gives us distress.  For some of our friends across the way, this gives them another chance to concern-troll the crap out of us.   I would like to offer an alternative idea.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Birthday FSSP, New Columns, and Other Stuff

First things first.  Happy 25th Birthday FSSP.  The Register has a pretty glowing profile of them.  People really underestimate just how important the founding of the Fraternity was.  For traditionalists, they were able to maintain their traditional identity but still do so in communion with the Bishop of Rome.  While I reject the whole line that the Extraordinary Form would not have survived without the SSPX to begin with (I reject such fatalism as if the Spirit would let that liturgy die!), there is no doubt that the Latin Mass would not be where it was today without the FSSP.

For those outside of traditionalism, the Fraternity was very important as well.  It showed people that traditionalists aren't all the wacky schismatic kooks that misguided bloggers liked to portray us as.  Oh sure, we got em, but nowhere near what the conventional wisdom is.  As the FSSP continued to grow, the kooks we do have became a lot more marginalized.  They also helped priests who weren't in the Fraternity learn to say the Extraordinary Form, bringing that beautiful form of liturgy to many parishes weekly.  People saw their liturgical reverence and were influenced by it.

Ironically, 50-100 years from now, the only things we will remember about the relationship between John Paul II and traditionalists are the excommunication of the by then ashbin of history SSPX, the legislation which gradually lead to the Benedictine restoration of the Extraordinary Form, and confirming the founding of the FSSP.  The rest will be a bunch of irrelevant noise to my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

While I haven't blogged much, I've been very busy writing still.  The usual column appeared at Catholic Lane about a New Pentecost, what it is, how the Sacrament of Confirmation helps, and how to make it happen.

The work I'm most happy about however appears at a place that might strike some readers as odd.  During the so called "Westian Wars", one of the biggest promoters of the views of Mr. West was Catholic Exchange.  (They originally ran the horrendous Janet Smith hit piece on Dawn Eden, debunked by yours truly.)  Yet I'm glad that chapter is closed.  This week they gave me the opportunity to write my own take on the Wednesday audiences, and why I think the popular understanding of the audiences (by the likes of Smith, West, et al) misses the larger point of those audiences. 

I'm hoping they will give me a chance to develop the thought further (the comboxes got pretty lively so there is certainly interest!), but consider this column an opening teaser to building a Theology of the Family.

Hope to return to regular blogging next week.  Planning on writing on so-called "radical traditionalism", develop a bit more of my CE column, and whatever else I come across.  Lots of changes in my life the past month obviously (thank you for all the well wishes and prayers after the wedding!), and there will inevitably be many more changes to talk about.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Michael Voris, Dave Armstrong, and Catholic Derp

Over at his blog and Facebook, Dave Armstrong is offering a critique of popular Catholic evangelist Michael Voris, and some of his more stinging criticisms of much of what passes for Catholicism today.  I find myself agreeing overall with what Dave is saying:  Voris is writing checks with his mouth that can't possibly be balanced.  Yet I find the answers he is offering unsatisfactory.  Just to make things clear, I don't think there's necessarily a disagreement, I just want to go off my own way on this, and hopefully provide a better diagnosis.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sts. John Paul II & John XXIII

St. John Paul II.  Get used to saying it.  Say it with joy, say it with reluctance, say it with gritting teeth, but prepare to say it nonetheless.  We should be happy.  A pope is being canonized.  Yet there are some who aren't going to like this.  Holy Mother Church has done a lot of things you didn't like.  This will be one of them.  Accept it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New Column at Catholic Lane on Confirmation

I think the Catholic intelligentsia is pretty good at listing the seven gifts of the Spirit that come from Confirmation, we are good at treating Confirmation as a "rite of passage", but I think we really forget (or at least forget to teach) what the actual reasons are for why we undergo the sacrament.  That is what I tackle in my latest column at Catholic Lane called Why Confirmation?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Alternative to Pop Culture TOB

Time to return to a favorite subject of mine, one it increasingly seems I beat the drum for alone.  A lot of people were critical of Christopher West and the popular TOB evangelists.  Yet with a few exceptions (such as the final section on Dawn Eden's book My Peace I Give You and several wonky essays by Alice Von Hildebrand which theology buffs eat up but I suspect the average faithful scratches their head over), my ideological allies have done nothing but criticize, and have offered few alternatives.

As I have said many times, this is unfortunate.  We have an opening, should we choose to seize it.  We've always felt that the pop TOB evangelists (while getting several things right) strayed from sound Catholic principles on some of their ideas.  We've even shown from the texts of the Wednesday audiences how this occurs.  Yet I also think we've conceded too much of the narrative.  We concede to them that the Wednesday audiences are primarily some catechesis about sex and sexuality, a "gospel of the body" (As Mr. West used to term it in his less guarded days), yet an honest reading of the text actually makes clear that wasn't the point at all.

The real point of the texts are actually based on very sound traditional Catholic principles.  This is good for two reasons.  Once traditionalists get over that initial skittishness of anything "modern" and realize a lot of what has been promoted in the pope's name is wrong, his message can be defended by a group that would seem to be the logical constituency:  people who are very militant about large families.  We also have a knowledge of previous Catholic social teaching we can bring to the discussion that our friends across the way normally do not talk about.

For actual fans of the texts, this should be a positive development because it allows you to probe deeper into these texts, when you work with the same understanding and sources the Pope did.  At its bare bones, TOB is a biblical study on the first two chapters of the book of Genesis.  What you don't hear from the pop TOB evangelists is that this style of biblical study is very ancient, and was something people throughout the Church have done frequently.  They've done it so frequently there's even a name for it:  Hexameral Literature, after the Hexameron.  When you look at the Church Fathers who wrote Hexameral Literature, it is a who's who of Doctors of the Church:  St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Basil the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, and countless others.  As we have demonstrated elsewhere, it is also quite clear that in several instances John Paul II is borrowing and developing the profound insights of earlier Popes such as Leo XIII in his Wednesday audiences.

Tomorrow I'll be giving the few readers of this blog a taste of several essays I'm looking to get put online somewhere that provide this alternative to the popular understanding, as well as a better understanding of these sources.