Friday, September 26, 2014

A few notes...

A few housekeeping notes before I try to get back on track with the lay of the land.

Fr. Chadwick has rightly offered some criticism with my rather loose use of Gnosticism in detailing Traditionalist ecclesiology. I will not try to defend my use of the term, as I think his criticism just plainly makes sense. This said, there is an aspect of Traditionalist ecclesiology that alienates the broader ecclesia. At the moment, I am still not entirely sure how to describe it. Fr. Chadwick, however, has, in my estimation, considerably more knowledge of both Traditional Catholicism and Traditionalism than I; he has  serious experience, whereas mine is, I would argue, limited to what one should commonly expect in American culture.

It is important to note that what I have written in this series and will (hopefully) write going forward is not meant to convey my personal judgments on things, let alone imply any sort of moral positioning. I have, as I think anyone who takes such things seriously gone back-and-forth internally and verbally. At a certain point, one reaches equilibrium. One comes to accept what one can and cannot change and learns to work with both. There were things I overtly resisted twelve years ago that, in retrospect, really weren't worth protesting. Institutions go about their way and have their identity. To reference a song, you can spend your time "shouting at the world you'll never change," but "it's what's inside you've got to rearrange." (Score one for the Irish) One can apply that principle to almost any institutional reality. A colleague of mine has a very promising project in Belgium which utilizes Spiritual direction as a module of psychotherapy. I asked him to account for his notable success. He replied, "Kenosis, monastic community, and the hierarchy is totally irrelevant to me." One reaches a point of equilibrium, or perhaps detachment is a better term. One accepts what is and what can be changed, realizing that often the only things that you really have any influence over are the thing most related to yourself.

As such, what I am writing in this series of posts is more an attempt to construct a working narrative that notes the important sign posts on the road ahead. It is an attempt to describe the situation as it is, without gravitating towards any extremity.

In so far as this is an attempt to construct a narrative, it  should be noted that no designation or descriptive is necessarily absolute. Especially on this topic, there are always persons, tendencies, and ideas that defy boundaries and make their presence felt in seemingly contradictory places.

Like any writer, I have my bias and will eventually reveal it. For full disclosure, my biases will always lean in the direction of biblical criticism, pre-Reformation Latin Christianity, and the urgencies of our contemporary context.

Fr. Chadwick also mentioned the reforms of Holy Week and the impact of papal infallibility on the Roman liturgy. With regards to the reforms of Holy Week, many others, with more detailed knowledge than myself, have written about this watershed moment in the modernization of the Roman liturgy much better than I could possibly manage. For my part, I have contributed one small entry into the discussion and, for now, I will leave it at that. As pertains the influence of papal infallibility, I believe I have mentioned that, however, briefly elsewhere and, frankly, it is another area in which I think someone else could to a better job than I. I will only say this, when the Mass and Office of the Conception were changed to fit the definition of dogma, the principle of lex orandi, lex credenti was compromised and a new perception, a very modern perception, of the purpose of the liturgy my estimation, I could be very wrong.


  1. I don't think you are wrong at all, and I hope you don't feel I have been shooting you down. I'm not even challenging you. You feel as disinclined to go into the technical liturgical details of Holy Week as I about the last four pontificates (other than John Paul I). Your instincts and reasoned reflection are a great inspiration to me. Please keep the reflections coming...

  2. Thank you.

    I thought your critique (as I read it) of my description of Traditionalist ecclesiology as quasi-Gnostic was accurate; it was a somewhat sloppy use of the term on my part.

    I will continue with this series. The weekend is family time, so, I'm trying to hold back the urge to write until Monday or Tuesday.