Friday, May 15, 2015


I have always had sympathy for the old Roman liturgy, and, truth be told, whatever intellectual criticisms I may have, my natural inclination was to lean in its direction. Furthermore, I think it a matter of pure honesty to candidly admit the marginalization of Traditionalists in the Roman Church was, plainly, unjust and has only contributed toward cultivating a widespread reactionary impulse among such circles.

Plainly, the situation was handled poorly and pushed a certain segment to the extreme. The aftermath has helped few. The SSPX who, despite protestations to the contrary, are gradually transforming into an institutional alternative to Rome. Even among those in communion with Rome, one sees the aftermath of an ecclesiastical battering, Traditionalist circles becoming a gathering of the maladjusted minority in the Roman Church.

All of the above being noted, Traditionalists do themselves no favors when galvanizing their ranks with whispers of conspiracy and vituperation of the mainline ecclesiastical body.

Intemperance will destroy the Traditionalist option in the end...which is a damned shame - they will have gone on to finish the job they would like to claim the Post-Vatican II Catholic Church started.


  1. I would agree with you, V, that the marginalization of Traditionalists was and remains manifestly unjust. I would assert, however, that the intemperence is simply a natural result of that injustice.

    Modern RC canon law, which I recount from memory, gives as rights of all the Christian Faithful the rights, inter alia, of being fed spiritually according to their own spirituality, to receive the liturgical rites in accordance with their Ordo, and of being educated as to the teaching of the Church. In large part, the Christian Faithful have been denied those rights for the last half century. Outrage at the denial of those rights, particularly at the hands of episcopal or presbyteral sons of Eli (when they are not being sons of Belial) is only a reasonable response.

    What makes matters worse is that the so-called Traditionalists are being denied the graces of a decently served Mass, of a mature and traditionally informed catachesis, and of a spiritual home life which would enable them to rise above their simply natural response to injustice.

    For myself, I do not know what I would do if it were not for the Russian Catholic Church that I have attended for nearly the last thirty years. I live in an archdiocese where, until a few years ago, the only way to attend a latin mass (either Tridentine or Novus Ordo) would be to go outside the geographical confines of that Archdiocese, which involved a trip of several hours one way. In the meantime, if I wanted to attend a SSPX mass, all I would have to do would be to walk a bit more than a mile to get to it.

    1. Yes, the intempernce is the result of unjust marginalization, although one has to ask at what point does one decide one is sick of being intemperant and implement changes.

      There was no indication that Summorum Pontificum, or any of the olive branches extended to Traditionalists to facilitate their communion with Rome, were intended to put the old liturgy and the corresponding Catholicism that is often attached to it, on absolute equal footing. Traditionalists who wanted to maintain communion with Rome attached themselves to particular phrases, however, in toto, the document makes it very clear that the Pauline liturgy and Catholicism as filtered by Vatican II is the norm and Traditionalists are expected to conceed on that point. At this point, it is worth asking any Traditionalist how long until you make some changes, as Rome isn't about to change.

      I will hand it to the SSPX - they are growning and they tend to have, in my experience, increasingly more well adjusted Traditionalist than those who fight to maintain communion with Rome. Now, there are some interesting aspects of their "worldview" which raise a few eyebrows. Increasingly, however, they are normalizing - there are now a number of people in the SSPX who have never known communion with Rome and do not see much of a need for it. Eventually, the continued growth will be coupled with indifference to the Roman Patriarchate - they will become their own church. It would seem, especially among their younger members, independence from and indiffference to Rome is a psychologically healthy thing.

      I cannot state anything of the Russian Catholic Church. I can only say that you are fortunate to be in an archdiocese where a "Byzantine" Church in communion with Rome has not disintergrated. In my neck of the woods, the ones that are not sustained by a fresh influx of old country immigrants were either assimilated into the Latin Church or they migrated to the corresponding Orthodox Church. My impression has always been that the Byzantine Churches that elected for communion with Rome do not have an easy lot - unless there is a concerted and perpatual effort to maintain their tradition as distinct from the West, assimilation into the Roman Church or attrition into Orthodoxy seems to result. Again, in my neck of the woods.

    2. In my recollection (I grew up in Lowell, and still travel there to visit my mother), there are a number of Melkite parishes in that neck of the woods that are not doing badly: Our Lady of the Cedars in Manchester, NH, which I frequent; St. Joseph's in Lawrence, MA, which I used to frequent; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Worcester, MA; and, of course, the Cathedral of the Annunciation in West Roxbury, MA. There are Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Manchester, NH (Protection of the Virgin), Salem, MA (St. John the Baptist), and Boston, MA (Christ the King). I have visited all of these but the last, although in the case of the two Ukrainian parishes my last visit was well over a decade ago. There was once also the Russian Catholic chapel of Our Lady of Kazan on West Third Street in Southie, but it closed in 1974.

    3. @ William Tighe

      Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Worcester is in noticable decline. Many of its parishoners attend the local Antiochian Cathedral. I've learned a few things "off the record" - we'll see how things pan out.

      Some of the ones you've mentioned are sustained by regulare influx from the old country. A number of the Byzantine parishes, however, are like Our Lady of Perpetul Help. In general, the Ukranians are fairing better in New England, although there is a relatively young, heavily ethnic/immigrent church of...I believe it is SyroMalabar, that appears to be doing well. Again, fairly young community with a steady influx of immigrants.

      If you are in the Worcester area again, I recommend St. George Antiochian.

  2. I think the inherent simplicity of the old Roman liturgy, i.e., the weekly recitation of the psalms in the Divine Office and the one-year lectionary for the Mass, will help it to survive and it may even become popular if it was done in the vernacular.

    1. I've always leaned in the direction of the old liturgy, and I hope it eventually begins to wield some sort of influence.

      There were many Mass-sets that were just exemplars of both literary and religious imagination.

      The one week psalter ought to have been an option in the reformed liturgy of the hours. That, or there could have been instructions in the ordinary on how to abbreviate the office if need be.

      The vernacular would go a long way. I tend to think it was a missed opportunity - and it still less than clear to me how wide spread the Missal of 1965 was - certainly the editions published between 1965 and 1968 would have provided the opportunity for the old liturgy to be celebrated more or less in the vernacular.

    2. "There were many Mass-sets that were just exemplars of both literary and religious imagination."

      Would that that were the case. I would have invited a Mass that rose to the level even of Milton's Comus, or Prospero's epithalamion in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

      Instead, I was beginning to come back to Christ's Church at a time when the standard fare was, indeed, Kumbaya. Variants included the country-western mass, and the attempted gregorian mass, complete with electronic organ and MIDI presentation.

      Sorry, but I was experiencing another flashback to the '70s. "The horror. The horror."