Monday, January 30, 2017

What, then, should we do? Part 3: what it means for you.

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Latin Mass Society Waling Pilgrimage to Walsingham.

The first post in this series is here, the second here.

In the last two posts I have given a number of reasons why the defence of the Faith and those upholding it will best be done through the movement for the restoration of the Traditional Mass. This post is about what that means in practice for you, dear reader.

First, let me summarise the reasons for what I know will be a uncomfortable conclusion for many good-hearted Catholics, some of which I have discussed at greater length in the previous posts.


1. The Traditional movement maintains good relations with faithful non-traddie priests and laity, and does not typically exclude anyone when it comes to particular projects in defence of the Faith. Non-traddie conservatives are often less open-minded.

2. The movement combines a high level of cohesion (both common purpose and common cultural reference-points), with a looseness of formal organisation which makes it very robust.

3. The Traditional Mass acts as a barrier to those not serious about the Faith: or converts them. The orthodoxy of the liturgy and of those attached to it are mutually reinforcing.

4. The movement’s historical experience has effectively innoculated it against Papolatry.

5. The movement provides the dense network of collaboration and mutual support, within a reliably orthodox community, which is needed for priests and laity who want to maintain the Faith in the current crisis.

6. The Traditional Mass both symbolises and reinforces our connection with the Church’s tradition in all its aspects, which is essential to the long-term solution to the crisis.

Finally, to bring our deliberation back to something in our power to do, contributing to the movement is something which every Catholic, and every reader of this blog, can, personally, do.

It is frustrating to see a crisis unfolding and to feel helpless. People long to be able to get involved in some useful way. The generic advice to fast and pray is good, of course, but it is natural, and a healthy instinct, to want to do something more specifically related to the issues of the day. So do! Don't just sit on the sidelines.

If you understand the role of the Traditional movement in providing moral and sometimes practical support for priests and laity upholding the Faith (5), and the essential place a sense of Catholic continuity with the past has in restoring orthodoxy (6), and further the providential characteristics which makes the movement as it currently exists less vulnterable to attack than anything comparable (2-4), then it is evident that you can do something about the crisis. Anything you do to support the Traditional movement, to make its network bigger, denser, and more effective, will be a contribution to the defence of the Faith, and the movement does so much, in so many places, that no one, anywhere, can fail to have a part to play. No one.

Fasting and praying will have greater meaning, and indeed greater value in the eyes of God, if done in conjunction with others on some kind of organised plan. Ok, so you live in an Antarctic research station with only penguins for company, you don’t like the Traditional liturgy, and you have no money at all: you can still join, online, a sodality (/confraternity / guild) associated with a traditional Institute or lay apostolate which prays in a systematic way, supported by the celebration of Masses, and towards whose intentions you can contribute your rosaries, fasts, and sufferings. The Latin Mass Society’s Sodality of St Augustine (no joining fee) is an example; there are many others. (The websites of the Traditional Institutes would be a place to look further.)

The next thing to do is to educate yourself more deeply, not primarily in the latest conspiracy theory (fun though these can be), but in the Church’s tradition of spirituality. This will bring you into contact with issues of liturgy, theology, and history, and if you don’t yet see the point of the Traditional Mass, then your questions will begin to be answered. It is not optional for Catholics to be informed about central aspects of the Faith, in accordance with their abilities and general education. Newman’s ‘well-instructed laity’ is a necessary bulwark of the Church in its human aspect. The Traditional movement provides you with endless free opportunities to do learn about the Mass and the Faith, from the FIUV Position Papers onwards. Unless you are really penniless, however, buy a few books as well.

Even if you can’t physically get to any Masses or other devotions, you can still support your local Una Voce / Latin Mass group, and one or more of the Traditional Institutes, with your prayers, membership, and financial contributions. Everything in the traditional movement is run on a shoestring, which means that donations go a long way. Everything, that is, apart from what is needed for the service of God, when quality of materials and workmanship have special importance. How wonderful, and how rare, to be able to contribute to a movement with these priorities!

If you are neither house-bound nor marooned in Antarctica, get yourself to the Traditional Mass. Numbers attending these Masses are all-important. Perhaps we shouldn’t think this way, but we, and our opponents, inevitably do: it is essential for morale, for our ability to resist attacks, and for the spread of the apostolate, that people make the effort to come to our events. Not just Sunday Masses, of course: the Traditional movement puts on all sorts of devotional events, pilgrimages, conferences, and social gatherings. If you want to do something for the Church, help your local Traditional-Mass-saying priests and groups by supporting their initiatives. Why not support your ordinary local parish? Not because that is bad, but, for all the reasons outlined above, if you want to do something specifically about the current crisis, you need to do something to support the Traditional movement.

Go along, and volunteer to help. In the Traditional movement, there is always something to do. This may sound absurd, but I spend many hours stuffing envelopes. Latin Mass Society volunteers spend many Saturdays manning stalls, or giving people tea to pilgrims. Priests in traditional Institutes find themselves renovating their homes and churches. Diocesan priests celebrating the Traditional Mass may have no one to serve their Masses. The possibilities for expanding and making more splendid and attractive the provision of the Traditional Mass are limited by a shortage of people who can sing Gregorian Chant. There are vestments to mend, cakes to bake, and children to catechise.

It may be, dear reader, that it is impossible for you to contribute in any of these more complex ways. If so, go back to the earlier items in my list. But don’t ask ‘what are we to do?’

My answer may disappoint some readers. It would be nice to think of ourselves as queuing up before St Bernard to vow to go on crusade, and then marching off to smite the infidel. But no one can imagine that the current crisis can be solved quite like that, fun though it sounds. What is needed is a cohesive and and dedicated body of the Faithful, in support of a substantial number of truly faithful priests, to make it absolutely, if quietly, clear, that the Faith will not be taken from them. That is exactly what I am offering you the chance to take part in.

And did I mention this? Booking for the Chartres Pilgrimage (British Chapter) is now open.

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7 comments:

  1. Excellent series, thanks!

    One specific question: do you know if there is any coordination of Gregorian Chant scholas? I sing a bit myself but my local choir only sings at a handful of Masses a year, and I would be keen to do more on that front.

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    1. Yes. The Schola Gregoriana at Cambridge is one such organisation.

      It has its heart both an academic approach to chant and a desire to introduce as many people as possible to it.

      In order to increase participation in singing chant, the Schola has a number of affiliated scholas around the country. These tend to be formed locally and are supported by the Cambridge Schola, but are not governed by it. The associations are quite loose.

      The Cambridge Schola is very happy to send out experts to provide singing days, etc (but there is a cost to this).

      Contact numbers:

      01727 835493 (or 07738 377498 if no answer)

      www.scholagregoriana.org

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  2. Thank you for these three posts. I may decline to drink the 'people tea', however.

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  3. There is a distinction within the traditionalist liturgical that is important to this discussion. One part of that movement does not just want to promote the traditional Latin liturgy; it wants to restore it as the sole liturgy of the Latin Church and eliminate the Novus Ordo. That is the objective of the SSPX. It was the objective of Michael Davies as well. Other traditionalists do not have this objective, at least openly, but work simply for expanding the traditional mass. The former group certainly provide a good security for Catholic orthodoxy generally; but those who associate themselves with these groups need to know what they are signing on for.

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    1. Good point. I don't know if any more mainstream traditional groups have a stated long-term policy about the Novus Ordo, but it's hardly been needed so far; we've just had to concentrate on making the Old Rite more widely available. Talk of what we would do with the NO were the tables to be turned is perhaps premature.

      For my part, I think if I were Pope I'd keep the NO because so many people are used to it and it would be wrong to scare them away. But I'd make it conform to the traditional calendar and use all the traditional collects, readings etc rather than the new ones, and I'd abolish all the funny business (you know what I mean).

      Priests would be obliged to offer both forms, and seminarians would have to be taught them both.

      Then we really could argue that we had two forms of one rite, one in "poetry" and one in "prose" if you like, which weren't in sympbolic opposition as they are now.

      I'm expecting my red hat any day now...

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    2. I recall the occasion when the priest in charge of the SSPX church in Dublin condemned those who went from his apostolate in the suburbs to the (then) Indult location in the city centre. He felt that they were abandoning the "undefiled altar" to frequent "a gilded picnic table". It's not just the NO that some of them reject but also the TLM licitly celebrated in official parishes. However, as the laity associated with the SSPX are not members of it, there's not really much that the superiors can do about it.

      (A slightly amusing aside: the altar in the SSPX church in Dublin is the one the Anglicans left behind when they sold it; the altar used in the diocesan TLM was abandoned for a wooden versus populum alternative about 1970, and never had the NO celebrated at it. So, which is the undefiled altar and which the gilded picnic table is difficult to discern.)

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  4. Thank you for this excellent 3-part essay. May I suggest that another integral part of this loose coalition loyal to orthodox tradition would be the personal Ordinariates erected under Anglicanorum coetibus?

    1. The largest of them, the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in the U.S. and Canada, now has a young, energetic, and above all, very orthodox Bishop in the person of HE Steven Lopes (whose recent pastoral letter on matrimony very much took the Chaput-Burke-Sample line on AL).

    2. If my own Ordinariate parish may be any indicator, I'd say the majority of former Anglicans and Episcopalians who joined the Ordinariate often did so at tremendous personal cost for the Faith, severing old friendships, and in some cases, even breaking sacramental communion with their own spouses who did not follow them across the Tiber. Like most traditionalist communities, these folks are intimately familiar with the concept of serious sacrifices for the orthodox Catholic Faith.

    3. There were not only individual sacrifices, but communal ones as well, when entire congregations were deprived of their (beautiful, traditional) churches and property, and forced into exile by their former Protestant masters. For example, see the cases of the former Episcopal churches of St. James the Less and Good Shepherd, both in Philadelphia, whose two congregations now form the core of the Philly-area Ordinariate parish. Very ugly lawsuits. Or look at the case of the thriving, vibrant, orthodox Anglican Use parish (not in the Ordinariate [yet], for various complex reasons), Our Lady of Atonement in San Antonio, TX, currently under attack by its own archbishop: www.saveatonement.org

    4. The Divine Worship Mass promulgated in Advent 2015 has vastly more continuity with Tradition (especially with its roots in pre-Reformation English Catholicism) than the Novus Ordo, but -- contrary to, say, an EF Low Mass, all too frequent around here -- may be significantly easier to digest for a newcomer not yet exposed to authentic Catholic Tradition. Ordinariate parishes also tend to be very exceptionally musically strong. As a formerly atheist, now inquiring friend of mine put it, the reason he ended up sticking with the Ordinariate parish in his initial "parish-shopping" is because "it's the only place I've found where they sing Byrd, Tallis, Palestrina... and mean it!"

    These are just a few of the many reasons why I think we need to foster Ordinariate-TLM community collaboration, and see each other as fighting in the same trenches of the same war. Most importantly, as Ben Franklin famously put it, "we need to hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately!"

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