|It would be so much less off-putting to non-Trads if they could just sort themselves out into|
hermetically sealed social categories who never talked to each other.
From Sacred Liturgy (ed Alcuin Reid) pp132-7
Nonetheless, this conclusion comes with a few caveats which have nothing to do with the Rite as such but with the culture of some of the communities who worship according to it. Some proponents of the usus antiquior can be their own worst enemies and foster practices and attitudes which deter so-called 'mainstream' Catholics from attending Masses according to this form.
Spikey aesthetes for whom no "performance" is ever good enough, are something of a deterrent to parents with children who want their children's experience of parish life to be an experience of embodied charity.
Second, some Catholics who attend the usus antiquior are not only opposed to the post-conciliar form of the Mass but they are also opposed to contemporary modes of dress. While there is no doubt that some contemporary fashion styles are highly problematic from the point of view of feminine dignity, one can dress modestly without turning out like an escapee from an Amish farm. If mainstream Catholics who attend usus antiquior Masses feel as though they have landed on the set of a movie based in a nineteenth-century American mid-west or Pennsylvanian town, populated by Protestants who have a problem with modern forms of transport, they are not likely to come back. People like to feel as though they are mixing in a milieu where people are socially well-adjusted. they don't want to join a community which feels like a ghetto.
This issue is not a problem in every community which worships according to the usus antiquior. It appears to arise in social contexts where those who take a stance of outright opposition to all things modern are either tacitly or consciously influenced by the anti-modern movements within Protestantism. When this paper was first delivered at Sacra Liturgia 2013, which took place on the premises of the Opus Dei University in Rome the author was accused by 'rad trad' bloggers and Twitterers of being a member of Opus Dei, ... [She's not. She's a member of the Knights of Malta and the Constantinian Order.]
Theologically, the problem here seems to be that members of traditionalist movements often lack a hermeneutical framework for cultural analysis. In the absence of any framework for judging what elements of contemporary culture to accept and which to reject, they often end up adopting practices from a past 'golden' era. This is sometimes connected to the problem of an understanding of tradition which is static rather than dynamic. ... While both Catholics and Brethren-style Protestants have good reasons to be critical of the culture of modernity, the theological explanations are remedies are different. This is especially so in the territory of attitudes towards women and the human body.
Thirdly, and most importantly, so called ordinary Catholics do not want to feel as though in attending the usus antiquior they are making a political stand against the Second Vatican Council. ... they probably are people who can distinguish between the genuine Conciliar reforms and what Cardinal Ratzinger called the "rationalistic relativism, confusing claptrap and pastoral infantilism" which was marketed as the fruit of the Council in the 1960s and 70s. Some members of traditionalist communities however continue to believe that the 'claptrap' was the Council and they hold onto that belief with great tenacity. Their world-view would be shattered if they suddenly realised that for twenty-seven years John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger laboured to present Catholics with a wholly different understanding of the Council ...
In short, liturgical issues need to be disentangled from the interpretation of Vatican II issues.
While there is an overlap between the two in so far as some theologians did indeed interpret the Council as a call to accommodate or correlate the Church culture, especially her liturgical culture, to the culture of modernity, there is an alternative reading of the Council, what might be called the Trinitarian Christocentric reading. ...
There are some things here which, if not exactly fair, are at least attempts to articulate widely-held anti-trad attitudes. But taken as a whole it is riven with confusion. For example, is Rowland seriously expecting those who attend the EF to be on best behaviour, hide their true beliefs, and discard their usual attire, when a non-initiate comes through the church door? But the main problem is like this.
1. What sort of traddies is she talking about?
As I pointed out in my original posts, her first point appears to be directed against culturally highly sophisticated EF-attenders, and the second and third against unsophisticated, indeed downright simple-minded and culturally obtuse, EF-attenders. In the aural version, there was a telling connection between the first group and the occasions she attends the EF (ie, she goes with bitchy aesthetes), and the second group and 'families' she has met who attend the odd EF (she's the agony aunt to families who go and endure the more proletarian experience). It is of course possible she is talking about separate EF communities, but she gives no indication of this.
2. What sort of 'mainstream' Catholics is she talking about?
In reaction against the first problem, she talks about families, who are put off by the bitchy aesthetes. In reaction to the second and third problems, she seems to be talking about intellectuals, who are put of by trads' lack of sophistication. Hey, don't they understand the Trinitarian Christocentric reading of the Council? What sort of ignoramuses are they?
|This is what Rowland really objects to:|
It would appear that Prof Rowland has two completely different groups of trads, and two completely different groups of non-trads, in mind. It would also appear that the conflict between the trads and the non-trads she is talking about has got very little to do with theology, and a great deal to to with class. She worries that lower-middle class people going to the EF will be put off by upper-middle class regulars looking down their noses, and she worries about upper-middle class people going who will be put off by lower-middle class regulars lowering the tone with their poor standard of dress.
If her chums are so class-conscious and snobbish, it might be a suggestion that they simply go to a church where they feel more at ease. The housing market frequently arranges things so that parish churches only cater for people of a specific income bracket. This neat social apartheid is disrupted by the need for trads to travel long distances to get to the Traditional Mass. Personally, I've always valued the more complete social community which arises from this mixing, but it seems Prof Rowland's friends can't hack it.
Perhaps, then, the problem is not so much in the trads, as in the 'mainstream' newcomers who've been complaining to Rowland.
Rowland would no doubt object that the issues of clothing and attitude to the Council are ideological. But this won't wash. She's just contributed to a conference full of people with fundamental objections to the Council-as-usually-perceived. She footnotes the possibility of 'a 'smart retro look' which can even be avant-garde'. What she is objecting to is precisely the lack of sophistication in implementing these ideas. She is condemning trads for their lack of money, education, and intellectual and cultural sophistication. She is condemning them, in short, for being ordinary Catholics.
I will focus on some more specific issues, including the clothing issue, in another post.