22 February 2014

Quick Thoughts on Catholic Traditionalism

I kind of want to be a Catholic traditionalist, but I am also kind of reluctant to be one. Part of it is a form of protest. After all, I am Catholic already; I should not have to move "further up and further in" to find the purely pure "real" Catholics. I am also just a regular man. I try to be a good Christian, but I do not try all that hard to be extra-spiritual. I would rather read a good novel than the Summa Theologica. Many of the saints frighten me, with a level of devotion I find intimidating. We have a wonderful parish that celebrates the Ordinary Form in a fairly reverent manner. For the Latin Mass, I would have to drive all the way to Seattle for a Sunday morning Mass, or wait until 5:00pm for one in Tacoma. For just a regular man, this is crazy stuff (cue the traditionalist complaint that they drive four hundred miles each way for the Latin Mass, and on the way they have to fight hordes of albino monk assassins sent by their own bishop; okay, so I admit to some spiritual weakness here, but I am still new).

I have also heard the horror stories about some of the more "interesting" denizens of traditionalism. "Did you know Jewish Freemasons created the heliocentric heresy in order to more effectively fake the moon landing? If you don't home-school your kids, you will burn in the second deepest level of Hell, right above the women who wear pants and the people who defend Tolkien on Twitter."

Of course, I know most traditionalists are not like this. They simply believe that the Church expressed its teachings more clearly in a pre-Vatican II sense and with a pre-Vatican II Mass. Much of what has been done in the last fifty years has made a mess of the faith. Therefore, like debugging software, it is often best to roll everything back until we get to where everything still works. At least I think that is the idea; I dropped Computer Science and majored in English instead.

As I have said before, I nearly became Orthodox instead of Catholic, because of all the mess. However, as the traditionalists say, the mess is a bug, not a feature. Bishops, priests, nuns, and others in authority decided that the New Springtime of the Church was a great time to turn the Church into something else. It has gone...badly. One should hesitate to attribute malicious intent, and yet...

...........Just adding a few more of these........................

I have observed three (or four; see below) basic camps within the Church (I ask my reader to pardon the repetition from previous posts). There are the liberals, who desperately want the Church to have values indistinguishable from the secular culture. Groups like "Catholics for Wholesale Infant Slaughter" or "Catholics for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat" are popular (I'll take the conspiracy theorist from paragraph two over them any day, since they are not, you know, going around actually killing people). The second camp are the conservatives, as they are often called. They are very loyal to whatever the pope and bishops are teaching right now. If the pope said tomorrow that we are at war with Eurasia and always have been, the conservatives would write untold thousands of words affirming that this is indeed so. The third camp are the traditionalists, who claim to believe what Catholics always have. If their beliefs seem strange, it is because everyone around them has changed. The fourth camp is actually camping, and whatever they are cooking smells far better than the sandwiches we brought.

I do not like that these separate camps exist; I just want to be Catholic, and I wish all these other people could be, too. Of course, the real battle is between good and evil, and the battle lines are drawn through every human heart. It matters not if you follow Paul, Apollos or Cephas, if you do not follow Christ. So, who follows Christ? It is those who do what He says, who live as He lives, who love as He loves. Who is doing that?

It is no secret that most Catholics really are not all that Catholic (and many of them transition to, "I was raised Catholic, but."). I knew this long before joining the Church, so I have not been shocked or disillusioned. However, there is a difference between bad Catholics who know the faith but who do not live up to it, and malformed Catholics who have no idea what the Church teaches and yet are Hell-bent on changing it. The traditionalists would say, I think, that in the pre-Vatican II days, there were plenty of the former, but it has taken the "hope and change" post-Vatican II days to cause such an explosion of the latter. The former may repent, even on their deathbeds, but the latter see no need to repent.

At any rate, this debate and exploration is like a family dispute. Where I fit in this Church family is a matter for debate, but there is no doubt this is my Church. This should be your Church. It really should. There is no such thing as my truth or your truth. There is only truth. And truth is a person, Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

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