THE UNITY WE NEED NOW
FACES A POSSIBLE THREAT
Social Networks are abuzz with speculation that Pope Francis plans to impose restrictions on where, when, or under what circumstances the Traditional Latin Mass can be offered. While the specifics remain unknown, TLM devotees are bracing themselves for a serious blow to their spiritual lives.
I don’t attend the TLM, the so-called Extraordinary Form. As a convert, I first became acquainted with Catholic worship through the Novus Ordo, the post-Vatican II vernacular liturgy known as the Ordinary Form. I’ve continued to worship in that manner (including serving as a song leader) for more than 40 years.
My one attendance at a Traditional Latin Mass confirmed my liturgical preference. I found the experience rather off-putting. It struck me as something quite different from what I knew as worship. The Novus Ordo, with all its idiosyncrasies, is the mode of faith expression in which I feel at home.
But, having made my spiritual predilections clear, let me say I’m convinced that limiting access to the TLM would be an error of truly historic proportions. As I’ve written recently for a book project in development…
“An earlier generation of Catholic leaders made a tragic mistake when, in the years after Vatican II, they suppressed the Traditional Latin Mass. A worship form that had shaped Catholic souls for centuries was suddenly dismissed in favor of practices which must have felt as alien to people at that time as the TLM felt to me when I experienced it two decades later.”
Instead of broadening the appeal of Catholic worship — “opening the windows,” as Pope John XXIII had put it at the time — this assault on the TLM proved a disaster. It drove people out of the Church in huge numbers.
We have yet to recover from that loss.
Now, don’t bother telling me Vatican II never authorized a massive liturgical overhaul. That indeed may be the case, but it’s irrelevant. What happened, happened.
And I fear this mistake may be repeated. If so, it would be an even greater tragedy now.
Why am I defending a worship practice to which I do not adhere?
Because it would be unjust to keep the TLM from those devoted to it, and also because the Catholic Church is in crisis. We believers are confronted by a combination of moral decadence, cultural decline, and civic hostility that echoes what the Apostles faced in the Roman Empire. And as Catholicism goes, so go all scripture-inspired manifestations of Christian Faith.
The destructive cultural phenomenon known as “wokenesss,” on display in our institutions, in our media, and in our streets, is being presented as a political movement devoted to advancing fairness and equity. Certainly it has political consequences, but at its heart this is a religious crusade, one aimed directly as us.
Those preening idiots and violent monsters attempting to enforce “woke” precepts are not offering a better understanding of social justice. Likewise, the current pretenders to leadership — emblemized by a President whose commitment to the good of the nation is as deficient as his mental acuity — aren’t putting forth a legitimate progressive theory of governance.
No. What we see today is a secular cult carrying on a holy war against Judeo-Christian moral tradition and ethical understanding.
Fueled by a combination of envy, ignorance, and unrestrained sexual craving, leftists have concocted a whole catechism of false doctrines…
- Gender is infinitely variable, and can be changed at will.
- Children don’t have the right to exist as human beings unless women say they do.
- American society is structurally and irredeemably racist at every level.
- Minorities are exempt from the principles of logic, responsibility, and proper behavior (which in any event are mere symptoms of oppressive “whiteness”).
- The ultimate measure of all truth is science (but only if it conforms to “woke” dogma).
…and more. Such ideas are fundamentally religious — warped, perhaps, but religious — in that they reflect a unified, if perverted, philosophy of life.
Thus, a religious response is called for. The Church must defend the truth, drawn from the words of Christ, as recorded in scripture, and maintained through 2,000 years of Christian teaching. It must proclaim clearly and consistently — via pulpit, pen, social networks, all avenues of communication — that this way of thinking is not just misguided, it is evil.
In order to make such a response, the Church needs unity. Call it brotherhood, if you like, an old-fashioned, slightly sexist term, but one that’s highly evocative.
We need brotherhood among all believers — and even among those who lack an explicit religious attachment but nevertheless grasp the danger to society which “woke” ideas present.
First and foremost, however, we need brotherhood among Catholics. As St. Paul put it…
There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free.
I’d put it this way…
There is neither Traditionalist nor Vatican II fan, neither silent pew-sitter nor Charismatic.
All Catholics — and by extension, all people of good conscience — are in this together. And to be sure, we need everybody in the fight, standing side-by-side in mutual respect and support.
A new assault on the TLM would make achieving brotherhood even more difficult. It would stoke resentment. It would gain sympathy for individuals and factions that are already busy sewing seeds of division — both those within the Church who exploit the failures of our ecclesiastical authorities, and those outside who claim Catholics aren’t even Christians.
But brotherhood works in more than one direction. TLM adherents must grant equal respect to those of us who worship in the Ordinary manner. As I’ve also written…
“Traditionalists are often blisteringly critical of the Novus Ordo. I understand that the feelings of those committed to the Traditional Latin Mass are strong, and that they reflect a certain sense of mission. But the invective directed at post-Vatican worship can reach levels of severity I’ve never seen matched in comments about the TLM.”
I hope that whatever adjustments to the TLM may come from Rome, they aren’t such as to fulfill the fear currently growing in the Traditionalist community.
I pray for my fellow Catholics, my fellow defenders of the Faith.
I pray in brotherhood.
Historian Victor Davis Hanson compares the current “woke” revolution with the student-driven revolt of the 1960s…
“Our 21st century revolutionaries are multibillionaires with flip-flops, tie-dye T-shirts, and nose rings, but with the absolute power and desire to censor how half the country communicates—or cancel them entirely.”
He notes that, given their economic and political power, what he calls the “top-down revolutionaries” pose a greater threat. But on the upside, Hanson sees an inherent weakness in their approach…
“While this elitist leftist revolution is more dangerous than its sloppy ’60s predecessor, it is also more vulnerable, given its obnoxious, top-heavy apparatus — but only if the proverbial ‘people’ finally say to their madness, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Conservative commentator William Kilpatrick examines the thinking of what he calls “The Woking Dead,” which for all the revolutionist fervor, he sees as little more than a collection of failed ideas. Writing on Catholic World Report, he observes…
“Although the woke people consider themselves to be in tune with the latest ideas, the belief systems they embrace are an amalgam of dead ideologies. Having very little sense of history, the woke don’t realize that the ideas they just discovered a few months ago have already been tried and failed. More often than not, they failed in spectacular ways — resulting in destitution, famine, and mass murder before they were finally exterminated.”
One of the key elements of the “woke” agenda is Critical Race Theory, a slyly subversive tactic that exploits America’s all-too-real history of racial injustice to divide and undermine the nation. But as corrosive as CRT is, University of Pittsburgh senior Gabe Kaminsky, an intern at The Federalist, points out how The New York Times, among other major media, is doing everything it can to convince us that CRT is really nothing more than a scary rightwing fantasy…
“…those who support it — either openly or in practice by writing in favor of its tenets — insist it is no big deal. Nothing to see here. But CRT is not merely a ‘collection of words’ without an underlying ‘concept.’ Claiming as such is not only silly but naive.”
Writing on American Conservative, Catholic traditionalist gadfly Michael Warren Davis examines the current tensions between trads and the Vatican, and observes that the defensiveness of his fellow TLMers (or aggressiveness, depending upon how you look at it) has contributed to their problems…
“As anyone familiar with the trad scene will know, ‘traditionalism’ these days is defined as much by its hostility towards Pope Francis as it is by love of the Latin Mass. A whole cottage industry of anti-papal media appeared on the Catholic Right ….
“The fact is that no other ‘clique’ within the Church shares our reputation for disobedience and uncharity. Whether it’s the Eastern Catholics, or the Anglican Ordinariate, or the JPII fanatics, or the mommy bloggers who are really into Tolkien and essential oils…trads are in a league of our own here.”
If you haven’t seen it, take a couple of minutes to watch a Fox News video of Yeonmi Park, a young girl who escaped from North Korea. Her observations about the brainwashing she discovered at Columbia University has gone viral, and with good reason…
“I expected that I was paying this fortune, all this time and energy, to learn how to think. But they are forcing you to think the way they want you to think….”
“Even North Korea is not this nuts. North Korea was pretty crazy, but not this crazy.”
You know I love good satire. And some traditionalist critiques of the Novus Ordo are quite clever, such as this meme which purports to provide guidance markers for Catholic hobos searching for a Mass to attend. You have to read closely and think carefully, but some of these “hobo symbols” are very witty.
Fr. Richard Heilman offers some wise and timely advice…