Thursday, September 10, 2015


I read this somewhere:

"In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation with the liturgy, for doctrine, and for Church presige, but without any concern that the gospel have a real impact on God's faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time."

Is this true or too judgmental of conservatives and traditionalists? 


Calvin of Hippo said...

"...concrete needs of the present time"is code for ignoring doctrine and turning the Church into a social work organization which encourages gay marriage, gay priests, birth control, abortion, and socialist political reforms. Doctrine and worship should be primary in the life of the Church and her witness. From the Church's perspective, society's need is salvation...this never changes. It is the fundamental message of the Gospel, increasingly forgotten or ignored by far too many in the Church.

Vox Cantoris said...

Yes, I believe it is judgemental. Everything flows from liturgy and doctrine. These are the twin pillars of our faith. The right worship of God, the hearing and accepting of His doctrine and Commandments and the nourishment by His Holy Eucharist in order to carry out evangelisation and witness and justice. We are not another NGO. This is a stick used by the left to beat up on rad-trads, mad-trads, trads-behaving-badly and any other silly, puerile epithet they wish to use.

Besides, who are they to judge?

Anonymous said...

Fr., you should take a look at the pretty damning video on Rorate with Cardinal Burke speaking about the upcoming synod..nothing to worry about my tail

Jusadbellum said...

Not enough of an argument to actually make a case of neglect of the poor.

You may judge that Fr. McDonald ONLY cares about the liturgy, his magnificent church building, and the other sacraments celebrated therein. But without further evidence we cannot assume this is his sole pastoral activity. To prove that you'd need to see his work schedule and budget as well as take a gander at the general parish' activity sheet.

Now, it's possible some pastors do what they feel like doing not what needs to be done. But it's also possible some know their strengths and delegate to capable lay assistants the tasks they know they are not so capable at.

In any event, claiming someone doesn't do "enough" for the poor is an OLD, OLD, trick - it involves moving goal posts.

Mother Theresa used to travel to New York and the Greenwich area of CT regularly to meet with major donors at parties where she'd ask for millions. Obviously she was spending a lot of time with the rich rather than with the poor. but that work was "for the poor".

Jacob said...

Yes it is judgmental, prejudicial, bigoted, and VERY non ecumenical. These people who criticize us are not open minded and do not want to engage in dialogue with us, nor have a seamless garment approach to us and our liturgy. They need to accept change and welcome a liturgy that is different from theirs. They should open the windows of their church and allow the Holy Ghost in. I think Teresa of Avila said she would die for a rubric of the mass.

TJM said...

Jesus said "My Kingdom is not of this world." I guess liberals didn't read that in their version of the Scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Liberal liturgists also have a preoccupation with the Mass. There has been much more effort put into advancing the "in the spirit of Vatican 2" liturgy than there has been in preserving the traditional Mass. I don't think the statement is to judgmental of the conservatives and the traditionalist; it describes the actions more of the liberal campaigns, first in their changing liturgy and then doctrine.

Jusadbellum said...

What people react to viscerally tends to be the thing they most care about.

So, when I hear "Latin Mass" I'm "meh" OK. Not really for or against it. I only care about decorum and reverence in any rite and language (although admittedly you can't be very reverent with clowns and balloons).

But when I hear liberal "progressives" get really worked up about ad orientem, Latin, chant, no women on the altar etc. it makes me intrigued. It is a big deal for them.

Similarly, the sexual issues - I accept NFP and the Church's teaching on porn, masturbation, chaste dress and guarding one's eyes and heart. But others get really worked up about how old hat this is and almost gleefully admit to being 'modern' (as though our contemporaries are paragons of health and psychological stability what with suicide, rampant depression, vast numbers on medications, divorce rates and addictions higher than ever before...)

It's similar with respect to wearing distinctive uniforms for women religious: some bristle and are visibly upset about the idea of women religious dressing in a habit when they're not at all upset by Police or doctors or construction crews wearing prescribed outfits that the public can readily identify with their profession.

It's all very relevant.... they may laugh at the Latin and rules and ritual but their gut negative reaction reveals they're still very invested in the whole "revolution" of Vatican II and regard love of the world as more important than the conversion of the world to Catholicism. How else to read their reaction?

To be upset about the otherworldy, radically different language and ritual in the Latin Mass.... the uniforms that set women religious apart, the rules of human life that set Catholic marriages apart from the pagans.... is to show that you care more about "fitting in" than standing out.

John Nolan said...

There is book published recently entitled 'Phoenix from the Ashes - the Making, Unmaking and Restoration of Catholic Tradition' by HJA Sire. Along with the memoirs of Louis Bouyer, now available in English, you can buy it on Amazon (publisher Angelico Press).

Henry Sire is not a theologian, but an historian (educated at Stonyhurst and Exeter College Oxford). The first third of the book is an overview of the Catholic contribution to civilization from antiquity until the 20th century. It is an extended essay which disposes of a lot of myths. As a generalization it is of course open to challenge, although many historical assumptions are equally so, and both England and the USA still filter their history through a Protestant lens.

Once he gets on to Vatican II and its aftermath he is a must-read and difficult to refute. If you read nothing else this year, read this book. It renders most of my comments on this blog redundant.

Unknown said...

Ah. I've been waiting for book recommendations from you, JN.

I don't know about the UK, but here in the US, it's really common for secularists, of all people, to use Protestant propaganda and sources to 'discredit' (or so they think) the Catholic Church. I don't know why they think they're accomplishing anything.

rcg said...

It seems safe to assume the quote is accurate, correct, even. Another way to look at it is that if there is no life in the Liturgy then it is only motion and some noise. I suspect this was the case for many priests prior to Vatican II and why they embraced and even fabricated changes to the Liturgy. I also think they revealed in a Freudian way what they really saw in the Mass when they produced the NO. PI's comments about the Mass are correct from that perspective and perhaps his experience. My experience with the people born since 1970 that have invigorated the Mass is completely different and their execution quickens the spirit of the worshiper and brings the parish alive in the community.

Anonymous said...

Yes, when the Pope states these things, especiallly in an encyclical - so-called - I think he is being judgmental. It also seems to me that he may be suffering from an inferiority complex, perhaps feelings of insecurity and possibly even self-loathing. There has to be something is causing him to write in the following caustic manner:

" 94. . . . self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. . . .

95. . . . In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. . . . "

Personally, I think this Pope is bitter and he needs our prayers. I have never come across such writings in any papacy before. Certainly a lot of what he says does not show any love or mercy ...


John Nolan said...

I was a first-year undergraduate at Durham University reading History when the Novus Ordo came into effect. On the surface it was not greatly different from the rite which had been in place since the summer of 1967, although I realized that the Sunday missal I had used since 1961 was now completely obsolete as far as the liturgy was concerned.

When I came down in 1973 I wanted to understand the new rite more fully. I accepted that the Mass of a mere ten years before had been superseded. I was determined to like the Novus Ordo and bought and studied the General Instruction. I acquired the Latin text of the Ordinary (not easy - it wasn't until 1977 that the CTS produced a cheap Latin-English Mass booklet). I read articles in the Catholic press by experts who were at pains to point out that it was a scholarly reconstruction of a 'purer' rite unencumbered by late medieval accretions. I occasionally attended the 10.30 a.m weekday Capitular Mass in Westminster Cathedral where the Novus Ordo was celebrated ad orientem at the high altar, in Latin, with deacon and subdeacon and full Gregorian Propers. On Sundays one could enjoy the splendours of the London Oratory and even in my home diocese of Nottingham there were priests who still celebrated the principal Mass in the traditional manner and in Latin (new rite, of course).

I couldn't see why there were those who disparaged the Novus Ordo, as long as it was celebrated properly. I now know better. We know its genesis and the dubious characters who were behind it. We know that the fabrication of a new rite contradicted tradition; it was without precedent. We know that if the Council fathers had been told they were voting for the abolition of the Roman Rite and its replacement by a new one, a majority would have voted against it. We know that its historicity was bogus, partly from ignorance but largely from design or at least wishful thinking. It was all made possible by Paul VI. The 1969 preamble which accepted the Protestant definition of the Eucharist and excluded the traditional Catholic one was actually signed off by him although it is doubtful if he had read it. He signed off the Lectionary without reading it because he trusted those who compiled it.

I find my naîveté of forty years ago somewhat embarrassing but we did not have the facts at our disposal. The reformers had left a vast paper trail but it took some years to unravel it. Michael Davies was the first, but we also have the first-hand testimony of Fr Antonelli and Fr Bouyer, the scholarly dissection of the Council by Roberto de Mattei (2012) and (ironically) the memoirs of Bugnini himself. Actually, one of the seminal books about the council (Viltgens: The Rhine flows into the Tiber), which catalogues the machinations of 1962 which decided the Council's future course, appeared as early as 1967.

I do see signs of continuity and tradition. I can attend the same Mass as I experienced in my childhood without having to go too much out of my way (twenty years ago this would not have been feasible) and I make a positive contribution through singing the chant. I can leave the world as I entered it, with the same time-honoured rituals in the same time-honoured and sacred language. Yes, I had to live through Vatican II and the disastrous pontificate of Paul VI but Christians must accept trials. I am less concerned with the Church (protected as she is by the Holy Ghost) than I am with secular authority which uses the flawed concept of democracy (oligarchy justified by occasional reference to popular prejudice) to impose a new secular and surely diabolic immorality on its subjects.

WSquared said...

If the traditionalist or conservative in question understands how the liturgy connects and is able to speak to everything else-- especially the Gospel and including the needs of the present time-- then yes, it's too judgmental. See "Laudato Si'" for a good example: read it holistically through the lens of the Catholic sacramental worldview, where the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life." Trads and conservatives have been given a real opportunity in that encyclical to show why the traditional liturgy with its reverence and focus makes such a difference-- and they will blow it if they keep reducing it to "the environment" and "climate change." Some who are in the sacred music field are answering Francis's call.

But if the traditionalist or conservative makes the liturgy more of a badge of identity to the exclusion of being transformed by Christ, then no, it's spot on. With so many of the discussions here, with perhaps the exclusion of Fr. McDonald, I have seen so much discussion of people's liturgical preferences and the technical details of the liturgy, but with little to no effort to relate it all back to Christ. There is also the danger of separating "lex orandi, lex credendi" from "lex vivendi," which, by the way, encapsulates the trad/progressive split-- to say nothing of modernism's split between matter and spirit-- pretty much perfectly. Trads can decry modernism all they want, but if they are cleaving to this sort of dichotomy, they are as modernist as the progressive modernists that they spend all their time condemning, if only because they've ceded way too much ground.

The TLM is indeed about Jesus Christ. So why won't those who love it just SAY SO?

Jan, if you think that the Pope necessarily is singling out trads for ill-treatment, I'm afraid that it is you who is behaving in a manner that is bitter, judgmental, and lacking in mercy. Especially after the directives he gave to Cardinal Sarah to continue B16's work. For one, you should know that the tendencies he criticizes applies just as much to liberal progressives, and that in so far as they *do* apply to any one of us, regardless of which way we lean, then we should ask God for the grace to do better. Which, by the way, is what Confession is for.

Jusadbellum, your last paragraph nails it (though the rest is excellent and spot on, too).

George said...


I am puzzled by your comment at 12:34 AM. What you say about a "conservative [who]makes the liturgy more of a badge of identity to the exclusion of being transformed by Christ" may be true for some, but I don't know that it characterizes all that that many of them.
I don't know how it applies to those who comment, and have commented on this blog. It may, but I have not gotten any clear impression of that, although it is possible that it's the case for some. I myself have no problem with either the Novus Ordo (if done properly and reverently) or the TLM. I have, however, heard disturbing accounts from some who have attend the Novus Ordo in other parts of the country.

Reading the comment below, this is not the impression I have gotten:
"I have seen so much discussion of people's liturgical preferences and the technical details of the liturgy, but with little to no effort to relate it all back to Christ. There is also the danger of separating "lex orandi, lex credendi" from "lex vivendi," which, by the way, encapsulates the trad/progressive split-- to say nothing of modernism's split between matter and spirit-- pretty much perfectly."
From what I have gathered, one of the trads arguments is that the way the liturgy is celebrated, especially with the TLM, engenders in the congregant a more reverent, spiritual disposition toward receiving Christ in the Eucharist, and this then obtains a greater spiritual benefit, which will then form and transform one,s "lex vivendi". In fact, they have an unfair advantage in their argument in that they can point to all the saints of the Church whose lives were formed and transformed, and who did not know any liturgy other than the TLM. Now, I know one can argue about whether there is a greater spiritual benefit to attending the TLM vesus a properly and reverently celebrated Novus Ordo. It may well be that on the whole, those who favor the TLM have a greater spiritual disposition and devotion in the practice of the Faith in their daily lives.

At any rate, this blog has provided an opportunity for those reading it to become a lot more knowledgable about the liturgy(thanks primarily to Fr McDonald and John Nolan).

John Nolan said...


You are deluding yourself. Don't worry, I did the same for years. If you want to realize the enormous damage done to the Church by the Second Vatican Council, just look at the evidence; it is all around you. We didn't want to believe it and so we suspended objective historical judgement until it became so obvious, so incontrovertible, that eventually we had to confront it.

For a start, we couldn't believe we were living through a period of calamity equivalent to the Arian crisis and worse than the Protestant reformation. With our Ultramontane instincts derived from the 19th century we couldn't accept that popes could be misguided or even heretical.

All the seeds of destruction can be found in the Council documents. The fact that there is sound doctrine in them as well is immaterial. One would not expect an Ecumenical Council to openly repudiate tradition, but the ambiguity of most of it is in marked contrast to what every other council of the Church, going back to the early centuries, had set forth.

Anonymous said...

WSquared, I never said that the Pope was singling out trads. You have made that assumption. Therefore, it is obvious you have drawn that assumption because, to you, the Pope's comments relate to traditional people in the Church. I think the comments he makes - whoever they are directed at - are uncharitable and to use your words "bitter, judgmental, and lacking in mercy". I have said before and I'll say it again, these sorts of comments are noteworthy in that they issue from the mouth of a Pope. I can't recall any such similar vitriolic comments coming from a Pope before and I would welcome it if you could point to any other Popes that have made such comments about anyone in the Church like this?

What Pope Francis has said about his priests juxtaposed against what St John Paul II The Great has said to his priests shows a stark difference in language and attitude:

"My thoughts turn to you, dear priests, as I spend this time recuperating in hospital, a patient alongside other patients, uniting in the Eucharist my own sufferings with those of Christ. In this spirit I want to reflect with you on some aspects of our priestly spirituality.

I will take as my inspiration the words of Eucharistic consecration, which we say every day in persona Christi in order to make present on our altars the sacrifice made once and for all on Calvary. These words provide us with illuminating insights for priestly spirituality: if the whole Church draws life from the Eucharist, all the more then must the life of a priest be "shaped" by the Eucharist. So for us, the words of institution must be more than a formula of consecration: they must be a "formula of life".

If you are happy with the caustic language used by this Pope then that is your choice. Other Catholics, like me, are not happy with it and will continue to say so. St John Paul II The Great and Benedict XVI always spoke with love but Francis does not, despite all his manifestations of mercy he is manifestly unmerciful and unloving and there is always a root cause for the caustic sort of language that he uses.