And While I am Doing Mea Culpas

…here is another thing that affects various members of my audience.

I dislike lots of online Traditionalists. Not all Traditionalists.  Most of the ones I know in real life are quite lovely people.  But the overwhelming number I meet on line, not so much (just yesterday I got the most recent  iteration of the umpteenth “You are a neo-catholic servant of the Judas Council, you Jew-loving bastard”) from the friendly ranks of the Urine and Vinegar wing of Traddery in my comboxes.  And since *most* of my encounters with Trads happen online and not in real life this has tended to harden me against Trads.

That hardness is, I think, wrong.  Particularly when it turns (as it often has in my case) to antagonism and contempt expressed in such a way that the sane and happy Trads in my audience can’t tell if I’m talking about the Urine and Vinegar wing or all Trads.  I don’t need to borrow trouble by speaking with unnecessary lovelessness of a group I find it hard to love, particularly since there are members of that group I love dearly.  It just makes things worse.  I also don’t need to carelessly hurt the feelings of my sane and happy Trad readers by making them confused about who I mean.  I will, unfortunately, have to continue to discuss the responses of the Urine and Vinegar wing of Traddery to Pope Francis since that is going to continue to be news, I fear, throughout his pontificate.  (A Dominican friend of mine, very sympathetic to Trad concerns and High Liturgy, who likes Pope Francis, was chuckling about the old saying, “As lost as a Jesuit during Holy Week” when it came to the Pope’s approach to liturgy.  But as should be the case, he recognized that the Pope’s approach to liturgy signals, not contempt for the Benedictine reforms, but simply a different emphasis in what his pontificate will be about.)  I don’t think the pope is hostile to the EF.  But I think that, unfortunately, the Urine and Vinegar Wing of Traddery is primed and ready to read anything less than “placing what we care about in the unquestioned #1 position on the agenda” as hostility. Hence the shrieks of horror last week and the ongoing paroxysms of panic in many of those circles that even Fr. Z–a sympathetic as someone can by to Traddery–had to take a firehose to.

I, who for reasons given above could not care less about truckling to that narcissism, am a much less sympathetic ear, and my lack of sympathy has often been expressed with needless contempt that has not distinguished between sane and happy Traditionalists and crazy and angry ones.  I think Francis will basically just let what Benedict has done stand without objection but place his emphasis on other issues.  Fine by me.  Fine by my friend. Fine by many of my Traditionalist readers in the comboxes. Not fine by sites like Rorate Coeli, Fisheaters, Angelqueen, the Remnant, fretters about my Protestant, Jew-loving ways and other conclaves of the Urine and Vinegar wing.  So I will try to make the distinction clear between people like my friend and the U&V wing and to pay attention to sane responses to Francis as well.*  So again, mea culpa for my failures in this area.

* Please be aware that, as I have pointed out many times, I have no burning interest in liturgy wars.  I welcome any Mass Holy Church offers me as a gift from God and don’t believe in looking gift Masses in the mouth.  So I have zero interest in fretting about what the Pope’s attitudes to liturgy are and regard almost all  of that conflict as mostly harmful to the Church.  So if you send me emails panicking about altar servers or some children’s Mass he once celebrated that included puppets or whatnot, you will find me cold and indifferent to your concerns.  I am much more interested in the fruits of the Spirit (which I see in abundance in his life, and generally don’t see in the angry and embittered Urine and Vinegar Trads who write to call me a Jew-loving Protestant half-breed) than I am in the aesthetics of liturgy.  When online Traddery begins to taste more like people such as Kevin Tierney, Taylor Marshall and such folk and less like what I routinely encounter in my email inbox, I will start to think its concerns are worth my time.  But I will at least try to be fair when I do address Trad concerns, though I don’t much share those concerns.

John McAfee...
Kevin O'Brien Offers a Retraction and Apology, and Therefore So Do I
Making Reparations
I've been an angry jerk of late
  • Del Sydebothom

    What do you have against vinegar, Mark? Without vinegar, we could have ketchup. Is there a ketchup branch of the traditionalist movement?

    • Mark Shea

      Hm. Issues to ponder.

      • antigon

        ‘Not fine by sites like Rorate Coeli, Fisheaters, Angelqueen, the Remnant…’

        In passim, The Remnant has to date been quite positive about His Holiness, editor Matt hopeful, chief polemicist Ferrara openly appreciative.

        • Richard M

          I was about to say the same thing. The Remnant’s video interviews have been quite moderate to date, emphasizing a “let-give-him-time” approach. John Rao started out initially with a “not good” reaction, but seems to have pulled back somewhat since, echoing Ferrara’s line.

          Obviously, The Remnant has taken a firm (hard?) line on many issues in the past, not justthe liturgy, so it can be easy to rook them in with Rorate, especially since their audiences overlap heavily.

          That won’t last if the Holy Father takes actual, concrete measures against tradition, of course; but so far, The Remnant seems to want to wait for that to actually take place first before opening fire.

          • Mark Shea

            Fair enough.

    • Del Sydebothom

      *couldn’t, I mean. I posted too quickly…

    • Adolfo

      Ketchup is a modernist perversion of catsup!

    • Dr. Eric

      If you’re going to use urine instead of p!$$, I think you should substitute acetic acid for vinegar.

      • Mark Shea

        It’s the acoustics that makes it.

  • andrew

    Urine trouble now.

    • Mark Shea

      Oh dear.

  • WesleyD

    Mark, I was glad to read this post. As with you, the typical Traditionalist I have met online is very different than the typical Traditionalist that I have met in person.

    Here is a friendly suggestion that might be worth considering: In the future, when criticizing some crazy viewpoint espoused by some person, why not omit the label entirely? Instead of posting “Englebert Rutherford, a blithering idiot, is now claiming that ‘Blah Blah Blah Blah’!”, why not just post “Englebert Rutherford, a blithering idiot, is now claiming that ‘Blah Blah Blah Blah’!” instead?

    Although I’m extremely far from politically correct, I see the danger — as I’m sure you do — of making statements such as “I am certain that the African-American O.J. Simpson was guilty of murder” and “It’s amazing how tone-deaf Mormon Romney’s campaign was.” But using terms like “Rad Trad” is even more dangerous, because you don’t have a large audience whose views on race would be shaped by what you write. On the other hand, you really do have a large audience whose views on Traditionalists are being shaped by what you write. From your blog alone, I would be fearful of attending a church that regularly celebrates the Extraordinary Form of the Mass — because what are my chances of meeting nice loving people when so many Rad-Trads are extreme?

    I know that you are always careful to say “Not all Traditionalist are like these jerks.” That is a valuable disclaimer. But suppose you found yourself having to say, on a regular basis issue the disclaimer “Despite what much of my audience supposes from my posts, I don’t dislike all people of Ethnicity X”?. If that happened, might it not be a sign that perhaps it would be better to post on what certain people do without mentioning their ethnicity at all?

    Just a suggestion. I’ll keep reading your blog either way!

    • WesleyD

      oops, my first imaginary quote was supposed to read, “Englebert Rutherford, a Rad-Trad, is now claiming that ‘Blah Blah Blah’.”

  • rachel

    No problem Mark. My husband Jeremy and I are firmly in the sane and happy camp of Trads who are happy with the election of Pope Francis. Granted, we were a little bit upset due to many of the nasty comments being said of him but then I checked out how Mass is done at the Cathedral of Buenos Aries (ironically, it isn’t linked very much) and they do it by the book. So, I don’t think that Pope Francis main job is going to be to screw with the liturgy. There are other stuff to deal with. God bless our new papa

  • Edoras

    I am not sure why in this instance you list The Remnant along with Rorate Caeli. The Remnant as far as I can tell has been pretty moderate and respectful. I think you are yet again jumping the gun and bashing certain Trads who actually aren’t being rabid critics of the Holy Father.

  • Paul

    Did I miss something in the “Becoming a Catholic Handbook”? How is Jew-loving a denigration of your Catholicity? Or is that just your clever way of pointing out the anti-Semitism that sometimes seeps out of some Traddies’ rejection of Nostra Aetate?

    • Mark Shea

      Anti-semitism and the Urine and Vinegar wing are like peas and carrots. Typically, when I hear from those guys, there’s a sinister Jew lurking in their imagination, plotting something evil against the Church and I am guilty of loving him. It’s …. a thing… for these people.

  • Kenneth

    I want to do a video project where I and Sacha Baron Cohen go around giving away t-shirts that say “Jew-Loving Bastard” The logo would be one of those yellow smiley faces adorned with a black Hasidic hat and curly sideburn locks! Sometimes the only way to right a wrong is with a bigger, Seth McFarlan-esque wrong!

  • Christopher

    How can I call myself Catholic and not be concerned about abuses, frivolity,and banality in the liturgy or the casting off of long established traditions? This concern (hurt and anger) is especially poignant when our leader, our Shepard, our Papa is the one championing this casting off. “I”m not doing this.” or “I’m not wearing that.” has echoes of “Non serviam.”

    Pray for the Holy Father!

    • Mark Shea

      The only non serviams I have heard have been from angry Trads freaking out at the Pope. He is not your enemy and he is not the enemy of God. Other priorities does not equal enmity except in the minds of the Urine and Vinegar crowd. Stop it.

      • Christopher


        I’d be glad to take up the discussion of what “other priorities” you think could/should take precedence over the” summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed.” In the meantime, I’ll settle for an apology from you for the name calling and the implication that I think our Holy Father is my enemy.

        • Mark Shea

          When you impute to the Pope “echoes of non serviam” you imply his enmity–and indeed satanic enmity–to God. If you don’t want people to read that out of what you write, then stop using “non serviam” to describe the Pope’s approach to liturgy. Because what “non serviam” classically means is satanic rebellious pride. Not being as interested in Traditionalist aesthetic demands and ultimatums as Trads are is not rejection of the worship of God in Holy Mass. It is rejection of Traditionalist insistence that failure to bow and scrape before Traditionalists is tantamount to rebellion against God, as you just implied it is. I’m happy to apologize for misunderstanding your extremely badly expressed words against the Holy Father. I hope you will also consider apologizing for the implication that he is acting under the influence of satanic pride by not sharing your aesthetic concerns.

          As to the Pope “championing casting off” anything, this is exactly what I’m talking about. “Not being as concerned as you about stuff you obsess over” is not “championing casting off” anything. He has not suppressed the EF, or said a word against it. He hasn’t “championed” anything. He said Mass. He did it reverently. And yet already you are speaking of him as though he is attacking you and all you care about. The tells us nothing about him, but it says plenty about your suspicions about him and your readiness to assume he means to destroy “long established traditions” and enforce “abuses, frivolity,and banality in the liturgy”. Why not wait until he has done something before you accuse him of championing these things?

          • Stu

            Mark is correct. “Non Serviam” is not applicable here.

            I don’t know why the Holy Father chose not to wear certain visible signs of the office, but I will not assume the worst. Could be something practical or could be a comfort thing associated with actually being chosen to be the Pope. But if it is out of a true sense of humility, I would have no problem saying to him that I think wearing those items is very important and out of a sense of humility o the office he should embrace them as visible sign of the OFFICE which he now occupies. It’s not about Jorge Bergoglio, but about Pope Francis, Christ’s Vicar on Earth. And perhaps he will come to that conclusion as well.

            But I do agree with “Pray for the Holy Father.” That’s a lot of responsibility and too many people (forces) gunning for him.

          • Christopher

            In my family, “Non serviam” is used to explain why lil’ Matt is pouting in the back of the van or, to answer the question, “Why is Katie grounded for life?” Unfortunately,” Non serviam” applies to us all including the Holy Father. It’s our fallen nature – concupiscence. I did not mean to imply that the Holy Father was somehow singularly and particularly aligned with Satan?!. I’m actually shocked that you would think that I did. I I suppose that says much about the passion and emotions that are being stirred up.

            When I hear “Vatican officials” – “Dudes in collars” telling me that I should take note of theses signs and that this “first impression” is very intentional I’m saddened. What am I supposed to think? I’m saddened and scared that the Pope could possibly think that the poor want the Church- Christ to be less glorious. So it’s not about red shoes, gold chains, and a mozetta. It’s about where THEY say this is leading.

            Finally, please stop calling people names. “Trad” and “urine and vinegar crowd” are pejorative and insulting.

            • Kevin

              He got that from someone who is a traditionalist. When I used that phrase, it was meant to describe, in a pretty graphic and (admittedly) outlandish way, the style which a lot of traditionalists were feeding off of hostility and negativity, and the way many traditionalists reacted to Francis’ election as Pope. They were immediately out on Google looking for past events to portray the newly elected Vicar of Christ in the worst manner possible, and events which offer only tangential statements before now required in-depth exegesis of just how horrid and evil the man is. This kind of crap was old when Benedict became Pope 9 years ago, and back then, we were marginalized, so much so that even with one sympathetic like Benedict, there was doubt that much could be done.

              It was meant to show a point, that there’s a difference between these trolls who spew nothing but hate and negativity, and sane traditionalism which is well rounded, compromising none of its identity, but having a sense of perspective that they lack.

            • wineinthewater

              When you use a term that has a widely understood meaning that varies from your family’s idiomatic usage, you can’t fault someone for assuming you meant the phrase the widely understood way and being ignorant of how your family uses it.

              “When I hear “Vatican officials” – “Dudes in collars” telling me that I should take note of theses signs and that this “first impression” is very intentional I’m saddened. What am I supposed to think?”

              I would suggest exercising some prudence. The Vatican’s press office is bad about actually speaking for the Pope, why would you then trust some “Vatican officials” or other random “dudes in collars”? Let the pope speak for himself, let his actions speak for himself. If you uncritically accept what talking heads, even Catholic talking heads, say about what this or that means and go exclaiming based on that, you run the risk of falling into the sin of calumny.

              There is no evidence that the Pope wants the Church to be less glorious. There are some signs that maybe he prefers a simpler aesthetic style. There is some evidence that the form of liturgy is not a priority for him. But those are much different. Remember how many have said that the poor are the jewels in the crown of Jesus. That is another way that ours is a glorious Church.

    • Debbie

      I appreciate your concern, and like you, I am horrified (and a little disgusted) by anything that smacks of a lack of reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist. There is literally NOTHING on earth more important than Him, and when we come to Mass to be with Him, the liturgy should reflect that. Some things are absolutely and unequivocally wrong, but other things are…somewhat more open to interpretation.
      Papa Francis is leading us to Christ through simplicity, and it is not a wrong road. The red cape, the tiara, the fancy stole, the gold, the red shoes…these things are all good and fine, noble and worthy…not unlike a good wife. Celibate priests and religious give up the good of married life as a testimony to the fact that our spiritual Marriage to the Bridegroom is so much more beautiful. Celibacy emphasizes the good of marriage – it does not trivialize it. Papa Francis’ preference for simplicity, in his style of dress, his liturgy, and his mannerisms with people do not in any way diminish the good that is found in elaborate vestments and such. It’s just a different way of adoring Christ.
      Do indeed pray for our Holy Father. It was the first thing he asked of us.

  • Susie Lloyd

    I love the new pope, I’m a trad, and I agree with your projection that he won’t mess with the liturgical reforms of his predecessor. I appreciate that you don’t lump all trads into the same category. BUT, I want to point out one thing which you have already made clear yourself: you don’t really care about the issue of the Liturgy. If you don’t care about something, you won’t fight for it and you won’t fight about it. You won’t understand people who fight for it, nor those who fight about it. Maybe your cold indifference will thaw a bit if you will meet a trad who has actually suffered (not just the cranky, gimme-my-mass ones) from the rampant cold indifference of the clerics who have been in charge for so long. I can give you lots of examples. There is a reason people panic. Mercy to them.

  • Sean P. Dailey

    “…particularly since there are members of that group I love dearly. ”

    D’aaawww we love you too Mark!

  • Stu

    As someone who regularly spars with our host, I will say openly that I love Mark Shea. I believe he and I would get along famously in a pub setting. I also love his blog because it provides the right mix of news, thought-provoking thought and a healthy amount of absurdity like howling wolf shirts and such. And because of that admiration, I often give him feedback on this very point. If I didn’t care, I ‘d simply walk on by.

    I think the advice from Wesley is spot on. If some individual, who happens to have a traditional slant, says something stupid, then call HIM on it. No need to label him even if you go to extremes to further delineate the label. It’s simply a wasted energy, no-value added addition to the debate that can actually detract from sharing knowledge.

  • Cindy Coleman

    I am new to the whole “Trad” (can’t find appropriate word) debate. Educate me, please. Suggest some websites. If you wish, I would appreciate if you would characterize your suggestion as to your opinion of the the website (e.g., this is the most extreme views of Trad) and how you regard yourself. I have to admit that most of my introduction to “Trad” has been via Mark’s posts and yes, the picture is not a pretty one.

  • Bill

    Progressives hate the idea that Peter and the Apostles can bind. Traditionalists cannot fathom that Peter and the Apostles can loosen.

    • Ed the Roman

      Gold Star of the Day candidate post.

      • Debbie

        (For some reason, this site doesn’t like one-word comments. I’m a bit mystified.

        • Thinkling

          Thirded. I used to have a saying communicationg the same thing, but it took about three times as many words. Must. Steal.

  • Theodore Seeber

    And just today, Voris is back on his normal traditional rampage against anything resembling Social Justice.

    • Stu

      Based upon that recommendation, I had to go watch as I don’t normally do so. Seems to me that when he refers to “Social Justice” Catholics, he really means those that are very left-leaning and harbor heterodox view and NOT regular Catholics who simply are proponents of traditional Catholic Social Teaching.

      I guess that gets lost in rhetoric as well.

      I think Mr. Voris would also do well to consider Wesley’s advice above.

    • Scott W.

      Actually, Voris highlights the pope’s first homily against people for whom Social Justice is an ends and not a means to lift the poor to heaven. His message is spot on and while it calls out the dissidents, it is also an antidote to the mouth-foamers on the right. To wit: MV will be accused of being one of those damned libruls because he doesn’t demand the Pope deck out in ermine. See it here:

    • Jay Anderson

      I’m not a fan of Voris, but there’s nothing wrong with that particular video.

      • Stu

        I thought the sound was a bit off.

  • Kevin

    Oh look what I’ve started…… From now on I want a dime every time Mark uses that phrase. I’m getting married in June.

    I still think the best antitode to the urine and vinegar way of things is to actually go out and seek out some traditionalists. I’m not saying you have to attend the Extraordinary Form out in Washington Mark. I am saying look for churches where it is offered, and where they are hosting events. Go hang out at some of them. If anything, expliclty say you are trying to build some bridges with those rational individuals.

    Then once you find em, promote the heck out of em. Will have more thoughts on my blog, as this really is something to talk about more. Yet a good reminder is that the U&V wing, like all acidic forms of anything, is mainly prevalant on just the internet, and even then only on a few sites and in comboxes.

    • Mark Shea

      The main problem is that I’m not interested in Traditionalism and no more have an interest in building bridges to Traditionalism than I have in building bridges to the Stamp-Collecting Catholic community. They are welcome to their interests and more power to them, but I don’t share their interests much and would basically never report on their interests if they were not so consistently a source of disruptive narcissism, nasty hate mail, murmurs of schism, creepy anti-semitism and general raucousness. If Catholic Stamp Collectors were instantly issuing pissy calls to rebellion over Francis’ sinister lack of interest in th 1939 World’s Fair Commemorative Stamp and making threats about refusing to submit to him–and doing so loudly and ubiquitously enough that it actually constituted a scandal and a threat to souls, I would discuss that too. But they don’t do that while the Trad community is a frequent source of such noise. If somebody sends me information on Stamp Collecting as a Catholic, I will post it as a public service as I post info about Trad stuff as a public service, But I generally don’t pursue subcultures I have no particular interest in and I tend to actively avoid subcultures who have proven to me many many times that they are a rich source of people who hate me and who frequently stick shivs in my ribs and spit on the hands, even of those who try to help them. No doubt there are many diamonds there. If those diamonds want to seek me out as fine fellows like you have I’m happy to meet them and delighted to make their acquaintance. But I’m not highly motivated to wade into the septic tank of hatred, spite, and venom I’ve experienced from that subculture and *look* for diamonds.

      • Kevin

        Here’s why you should.

        We aren’t a subculture like catholic stamp collectors for several positive reasons to. Do you and your readers like liturgical reverence, or at least want to see more of it? Good traditionalists tend to be pros at that stuff.

        If you have readers who are into homeschooling (don’t know your personal views on it yourself) that’s another area that traditionalists tend to be way in front on. A lot of vibrant homeschooling communities are organized and ran by traditionalists, and they’ve gotten pretty good at seeing what works and what doesn’t.

        Culture of death got ya down? Go step foot in any good traditionalist community, and they are thriving with children. Sometimes, might even get in the way of the silence at Mass, yet nobody seems to care.

        When you come to any group on these Sundays, you’ll find that things like these are our interests more than just the Mass, as important as that is. We talk about ways to get more people to our parish to experience the entire life of a robust parish, not just a liturgy in Latin. We love our Latin Mass, we love our liturgical reverence, but there’s a lot more to traditionalism than that.

        And since you yourself concede that past experience tends to harden your view, perhaps broaden your horizons a bit. Not bad advice for the readers as well here. Not everyone is as set in their ways. ;)

        • Kevin

          And hey, I’m not naive. I know you got your biases, some justified, others justified only by your conscience against traditionalists. We all got our faults. Yet I think the wider reader audience is better served by seeing something that is the complete opposite of what passes for a lot of traditionalist descriptions here.

        • Stu

          I didn’t realize I was part of such a toxic subculture but in adding to Kevin’s points:

          We also like traditional Catholic Social Teaching. You will find many men at my parish after Mass discussing things like Rerum Novarum, subsidiarity, etc. And in terms of politics, the men of my parish are much more “Catholic” than GOP or Democrat party.

          We are great at fellowship. Not unusual at my parish following the 10:30 am Sunday Mass for people to still be at church past 3pm with the kids playing and adult discussing all manner of issues with each other and our priests.

          We support our diocese and Bishop. Bishop’s appeals and Spiritual Bouquets find maximum support among our parishioners.

          We are growing and support vocations. At my parish alone, we have produced about 20% of the vocations in the diocese. One to FSSP, One to Clear Creek and three diocesan.

          Mark, you do need to get out a bit and expand the sample size much more. Comboxers no more represent “Traditional Catholics” any more than Cardinal Mahony represents the College of Cardinals.

  • vox borealis

    No doubt there are many diamonds there. If those diamonds want to seek me out as fine fellows like you have I’m happy to meet them and delighted to make their acquaintance. But I’m not highly motivated to wade into the septic tank of hatred, spite, and venom I’ve experienced from that subculture and *look* for diamonds.

    This is an interesting statement. Mark seems to post a fair amount on Trads, whom he claims not to be interested in. Usually these posts decry the rotten fruits produced by awful traddies, etc, etc. Then a more traditionally-minded commenter takes offense at the post, to which Mark or another poster respond how when Mark posts about trads, he really means the Urine and Vinegar group who don’t really represent most trads. Yet this statement seems to imply that, according to Mark, the majority of trads are toxic, their communities are cesspools, and so the diamonds who happen to be among them are, it is implied, quite rare.

    Now that’s fine and good. It’s the host blog and of course no one can really comment on what he has experienced with respect to traddies. But just so we’re all clear, when Mark puts up posts about trads, he really means pretty much all trads, excepting the few diamonds out there, whom he has no desire to find. Or have I misunderstood?

  • Will J

    I see liturgical reverence at most masses I attend. Some parishes are friendlier than others, sometimes due to the pastor and sometimes due to the parishioners. Anyone who claims they have the unique answer is suspect.

    • Will J

      Just to clarify, I mean the unique answer to the best liturgy or the best parish.

  • TMLutas

    Mark, I think you’re missing a fine opportunity. Consider how the wellborn protocol might be used. Take the nasty trads and ask the nice trads to pray for them and bring them to a better understanding of what traditionalism should be about.

    Oh and popcorn, don’t forget the popcorn.

  • Mark R

    Liturgy isn’t everything. When I was heavily involved in the Byzantine rite, that dawned on me and most of my cohort eventually…yet this seems to happen less with Trad. Roman Catholics.

    • Richard M

      With respect, traditionalism is about much, much more than the liturgy. The liturgy is just a visible manifestation of what Catholic Tradition is all about.

      Far more than just liturgy was changed in most places in the Church in the 1960′s.

      • Allan

        But you can understand how people would believe that, right? When we rejoice over the election of a new pope, and then read the insults and slanders cast at him (by an admittedly extreme group, but traditionalists nonetheless), merely because they don’t think he’s big on the Latin Mass? Obviously it’s not every traditionalist, but this stuff really is out there, and not completely uncommon.

        In my own personal view, I believe that the act of separating themselves from other Catholics makes it almost unavoidable for traditionalists to look down their noses at those they call “Novus Ordo Catholics” (odd to refer to people who don’t like or speak Latin by a Latin name, but there you go). It’s probably also why the accusation of Pharasaism (?) sometimes get thrown about, as the Pharisees were known for separating themselves from other Jews to maintain their holiness. It seems like you’re saying the Mass in the vernacular doesn’t bring one the holiness or graces that the Mass in Latin does, so the rest of us must not care about those things, and are of course, less holy than traditionalists.

    • Stu

      Foundations for skyscrapers aren’t everything either but they are absolutely essential. How we worship God matters. It is the most important thing we do and from my experience it sets the tone for discipleship because people pick up on cues that they see in the Mass. When it is banal and people focused, people pick up on that. When it is focused on Christ actually being present on the altar, people pick up on that. I once had a very thoughtful Muslim that I was debating tell me that he could never believe in the Real Presence because he had been to Mass and could easily see by the posture and disposition of those Catholics present that they didn’t really believe it was Christ on the altar. He said, “If I had really thought that was God, I would have been prostrate on the floor in His presence.” Indeed, that is one man’s experience but I think we would be foolish not to realize that many Catholics slowly adopt the same mentality.

      I’m not sure why a false dichotomy has been created by some between beautiful and transcendental liturgy and helping our fellow man. From what I have seen, many of the Saints who were priests embraced a life of poverty and service to the poor but spared no expense in giving everything to God during the Liturgy. It seems to me that this mentality truly reflects Christ telling us to “love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind” and then “love thy neighbour as thyself.”

      • Erin Manning

        Okay, I probably shouldn’t jump in on this and people have mostly moved on anyway, but here goes.

        Stu, when you write: “How we worship God matters. It is the most important thing we do and from my experience it sets the tone for discipleship because people pick up on cues that they see in the Mass. When it is banal and people focused, people pick up on that. When it is focused on Christ actually being present on the altar, people pick up on that…” etc., this is where you start to lose Ordinary Formers like me, because you are sort of implying that the Ordinary Form is actually too deficient to be proper worship of God, being “banal and people focused.” Now, maybe you’ll come back here and say, oh, no, the O.F. Mass itself can, if celebrated in Latin and with extreme liturgical correctness, be just barely substandard or even nearly as good when compared to the E.F. Mass, but we all know that it never really is celebrated well enough to be anything but a terribly deficient expression of the worship of God, etc. Or maybe you’ll say that the O.F. Mass is deficient, and even celebrated perfectly it isn’t as good as the least carefully celebrated E.F. Mass because the E.F. Mass is intrinsically holy while the O.F. Mass is not. Or maybe you’ll say nothing of the sort, and instead say that you are *only* calling the O.F. Mass banal and people focused when it is being abused, but that in fact it’s exactly as holy as the E.F. Mass when celebrated correctly–but I think you’ll agree that there’s a huge space of difference between those three points, right?

        Because the first point seems to say that the absolute best O.F. Mass isn’t really holy enough, though it might be close. And the second point says that the absolute best O.F. Mass is actually deficient as compared to the E.F. Mass and can’t even be close to holy. And the third point says that the O.F. Mass could be holy if we could be sure it would never be abused, but since we can’t, we probably ought to scrap it.

        The problem with all three of these points is this: none of them reflects the mind of our Holy Mother Church, who alone has the right to regulate the Church’s liturgical expressions of worship in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When there have been questions, for instance, about whether some non-Latin Rite Mass (for instance, in Eastern Rites that reentered communion with Rome after an absence) expresses what the Church intends or not, it is the Church who gets to decide, and when she has spoken, she has spoken. If people disagree with her decision, they are free to tell her so, and she is free to alter her decisions, but the decisions are hers to make, as she alone has the authority over the Mass.

        As I’ve read this thread, I keep seeing the traditionalists participating here saying things about how important the liturgy is, how the proper celebration leads to good fruits in terms of Catholic life, etc., and none of that is cause for disagreement because as an O.F. Mass attendee I agree heartily. I just happen to think that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is perfectly capable of showing the importance of the liturgy, of being the Roman Rite’s primary expression of the worship of God, and of leading to good fruits in Catholic life and virtue, just like the E.F. Mass. When I say this to some trads though (not all, of course) they get angry and say that no, the O.F. Mass produces good fruits only by accident, being a sadly deficient form of the worship of God, lacking the proper prayers, and in general being designed to produce only narcissism and spiritual naval-gazing–and never mind that it’s the *ordinary form* of the Roman Rite–the Church should know better, and as soon as the trads grow enough in numbers and can prove by the incredible virtue, goodness, and holiness pouring out from their churches that Rome has been utterly wrong about this O.F. Mass business all along, the O.F. Mass will go the way of New Coke, and future generations of Catholics will be deeply embarrassed that otherwise good popes ever went along with this nonsense.

        Well, you know, time will tell. But I tend to think that when the Church is in favor of something it can’t be all bad. And that if abuses are the problem we should fight against abuses (but being careful to remember that some things we might think are abuses actually aren’t, and that charity is more important than liturgical fussbudgetry). And that if both the E.F. crowd and the O.F. crowd could show each other mutual respect and love instead of superciliousness on the one hand and ill-will on the other we might stop fighting over whose Mass is best and start building each other up–brick, as they say, by brick.

        • Stu

          Go to Hanceville and visit the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament whether Mother Angelica resides. Go to Mass there in what they call the “Mass of Vatican II.”

          It’s Novus Ordo. It’s also very beautiful. The singing itself moved me to tears.

          Then ask yourself, why isn’t Mass at all OF churches working towards that. Why the liturgical nylon vestments? Why banality and why not beauty?

          I prefer the EF and always will. Accordingly, I think it is better otherwise I wouldn’t choose it. But I don’t think you read more conclusions into that view.

          • Stu

            “But I don’t think you SHOULD read more conclusions into that view.”

            And since I am adding. During my last deployment, daily Mass was Novus Ordo and often I was the only one there. Best part was that when it was just me and priest, he would say Mass ad orientem. He preferred it because it helped him focus on the prayers and what he was actually doing up there.

          • Erin Manning

            Stu, one of my sisters is a Sister at Casa Maria in Birmingham, which also has a lovely Mass. But their chapel and the Mass are very simple. Simple doesn’t mean ugly or deficient or banal; the Sisters hope to build a bigger church someday, though.

            As a member of my parish choir I’m sympathetic for calls for more beautiful music. But one thing you have to realize is that a parish is not a monastery or convent. Not only do volunteers provide the music in most parishes (including ours; we only pay the organist/pianist), but the congregation gets quite vocal about music selection. Roughly 1/4 of the people want more chant, more Latin, and more traditional hymns, another 1/4 is happy the way things are, the next 1/4 don’t care about music at all, and the final 1/4 thinks we’re driving the youth away by not using bongos and tambourines and singing that hip, groovy, relevant (!) 1970s stuff. Oh, and that last 1/4 complains the loudest about solemn and sacred music, and one parishioner threw such a hysterical fit about our attempt to chant the Mass parts in Latin that Father (being a wise man who picks his battles) asked us to chant them in English instead (which we do). Unlike people who visit a church like that in Hanceville who are making a voluntary choice to be there, people in parishes have widely divergent views about what is okay and what isn’t–and while I agree that effort should be made to encourage people to understand the Church’s liturgical principles, many parish priests are so busy undoing the bad catechesis of the last 40 years that they don’t have a lot of time to spend re-educating the person who equates Latin with some terribly unfortunate experiences of his youth, say.

            This is one of the reasons why I think that the arguments between E.F. Mass attendees and O.F. Mass attendees so often break down: people who seek out an E.F. Mass usually want to be there specifically; that is, they know about the E.F. Mass in Latin, they’ve familiarized themselves with the old Missal and calendar, they may even remember the Mass from their youth, etc. An O.F. Mass is attended mainly by Catholics who live somewhere in the vicinity and who are more than nominal Catholics. Sure, in parts of the country where there are many Catholic churches people can pick and choose which Mass at which church they want to attend, but many of us don’t have quite the same level of choice available to us. Which means that that “Here comes everybody…” quote is very applicable.

            What does that mean in terms of the liturgy? Well, for one thing, it means finding out the situation on the ground before you criticize it. If Father is wearing ugly vestments because he likes them and he stubbornly refuses to have any other, that is one thing–but if Father is wearing ugly vestments because the parish church is in desperate need of a new roof and the cost of new vestments seems unjustified unless generous parishioners are going to step up to the plate and buy them for Father, that’s quite another. If the choir is singing the same four Marty Haugen songs every week because the five elderly choir members can’t read music and the choir director/organist/religious ed. director/parish council member/etc. doesn’t have time to teach them any more and can barely play the organ anymore herself, maybe the problem is that the parish isn’t prioritizing the music enough to pay someone a decent living wage to lead the music efforts, and not that the elderly choir members are stubborn members of the Marty Haugen Fan Club.

            Charity covers a lot of things. The beginning of charity is getting to know your neighbor instead of dismissing them as the nylon vestment/banal music crowd.

    • Kevin

      And as I said to Mark, the only people who think that don’t spend time amongst traditionalists.

      The liturgy is incredibly important. It is meant to be our primary catechist and the source of our culture. Yet there are a lot of other things that contribute to healthy Catholic life.

      Last social I was at after Mass, what were we traditionalists discusing? Problems Distributism faces in an information age, and how they can find common ground with the more free market folk when it comes to intellectual property and copyright reform, all soundly rooted within Biblical principles!

      Other people were talking about how to properly homeschool the kids without making them sheltered exiles. Still a couple others were listening to a Catholic professor wax esoteric on philosophy. Sometimes you have us helping out people new to the Latin Mass. Other times we are discussing apologetics and evangelization. And sometimes we talk about whatever. I myself love to debate and discuss baseball, and why Justin Verlander is such a beast.

      So yeah, with all due respect, the only people who can say all traditionalists care about is the liturgy don’t actually know any traditionalists personally.

      • Stu

        If I didn’t know better, I’d think we went to the same parish.

  • Chris M

    aaaaaaand I had to leave the Traditional Catholics FB group today due to the number of horrifyingly insane borderline sedevacantist posts. Internet Traddism is just too easily dominated by its tinfoil hat brigade, which is unfortunate because it makes it easy for a casual observer to paint the rest (regular ol’ faithful Catholics who just have a love of the traditional liturgy, devotions, etc) with the same broad brush; many of whom have shown up in the comboxes here feeling a bit hurt being so broadly brushed by a friend.

    • Stu

      Pope Benedict XVI effectively opened the “traditional ghettos” for us. Same should be true for Internet versions of the same. While there are still people within the Church who are hostile to anything resembling a traditional Catholic outlook on things (devotions, encyclicals, liturgy, etc), it is time for us to abandon the siege mentality, open the gates and go out to evangelize. The “cat is out of the bag” and it isn’t going back in. So-called “traditional Catholicism” is a youth movement. Anyone who visits one of these parishes notices that right away as well as the vocations. Our Bishop was very open in recognizing it the last time he came for visit.

      • Chris M

        I agree entirely. I think we also need to do a better job of evangelizing WITHIN the Trad community, especially to counter the “Vatican II is the root of all evil”, “Novus Ordo=Invalid”, “Ecumenism=Syncretism” and “JPII Koran Kissing Heretic” memes as well as the tendency to go off the rails about private revelation.

        • Kevin

          And if you look in most Churches where the Extraordinary Form flourishes, you really don’t see a lot of this stuff. We still got a lot of work to do (as even one person spouting that nonsense in public is a scandal), but this is why I want people to actually go out and get to know traditionalists. Invincible ignorance is one thing. Prefering to stay ignorant so it fits your preconceptions is tragic. You might be pleasantly surprised.

          • Clario

            Friend, if you’re at a parish where the people use newspeak such as “Extraordinary Form,” you’re not among traditionalists. Real traditionalists reject all Vatican II inspired Orwellianism, no matter its source.

            • Mark Shea


              So, anyway, as I was saying, people like Clario are my *principle* experience of Traditionalists on line. That’s what makes me so grateful for people like you, Stu, Sean and others providing the counter-witness to this repellent Phariseeism that people like Clario display. Folks like him are the greatest enemies healthy Traditionalism faces.

  • John H.

    My family and I were founding members of Immaculate Conception Latin Mass Parish in Colorado Springs. (We’ve since moved away). We love the Traditional Liturgy. So Mark, I thank you for this mea culpa. And while I think, as you have noted, you can at times be unfair to Traditionalists; I also agree that there are far too many Traditionalists who fit the Vinegar/Urine vein. Take for example this article on Fr. Z’s blog in which a 1 year old girl is literally yelled at before Mass had even begun for saying “Baby Jesus.”

    Too many Traditionalists miss the forest for the trees. Faith, Hope, and LOVE are superior virtues to piety, and LOVE is the greatest of all (cf. 1 Cor 13). And as St. James says, “love covers a multitude of sins.” I long for beautiful and faithfully celebrated Liturgies. But I also long for a loving community. Far too often a church that offers the TLM has one and lacks the other. And if we “Traditionalists” are not careful, we can lose everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve.