Andrew Motyka Has Impeccable Traditionalist Credentials…

Andrew Motyka Has Impeccable Traditionalist Credentials… September 16, 2013

and likewise warns that the worst enemies of Traditionalism on the planet are Reactionaries.  A fine piece from a sensible and sane Traditionalist.

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  • Dave G.

    Sounds pretty common sense Fact is, that is probably true for just about any group out there. Pick a grouping, and you’ll have some going overboard that others can focus on to make the whole group appear bad. Of course looking in the mirror is also a good plan, since I never want to assume the real problem is always those folks over there.

    • Stu

      Indeed. Here is a bit that cuts both ways.

      “Don’t assume the worst in others.”

  • Stu

    “Traditionalists have gotten a bad shake for many years in the Church. They’re always getting lumped in with dissident and schismatic groups, even when they are no such thing.”

    • Andy Motyka

      Yes. It’s important to recognize why Trads have a reflexive defensiveness. We need to recognize it in ourselves, and try to open up from there.

      • Stu

        No disagreement whatsoever. All too often, those who cry loudest about all so-called Traditionalists being “mean-spirited”, “reactionary”, “self-pitying” etc fail to see to that often such is the fruit of actually being treated that way by others. Only then can we break away from making it an “us” vs “them” feud and instead simply focus on ideas that need to be corrected. Each of us simply has a duty to break the cycle.

        BTW, congratulations on your “impeccable traditionalist credentials”. 😉

        • Andy Motyka

          Ha! I would dispute those credentials, but I think Mark was trying to point out that the article is coming from a friendly.

          • Stu


            But perhaps you can put “ITC” after your name now.

        • Athelstane

          All too often, those who cry loudest about all so-called Traditionalists being “mean-spirited”, “reactionary”, “self-pitying” etc fail to see to that often such is the fruit of actually being treated that way by others.

          Yes, as I have often said: Treat people like social pariahs for long enough, and they may start acting like social pariahs.

          And there’s no getting around the fact that for many years, traditionalists, or even any Catholic who even gave off a whiff of something that smelled traditionalist, were treated this way by many in leadership in the Church, as even Pope Benedict noted. After a while, a certain siege mentality came to arise in some such quarters. It’s regrettable, but I also think it is understandable. It’s human nature. I think of the tragic case of Christ the King Parish in Kansas City (famously related by Michael Davis), where the bishop in 1980 fired the popular, traditional pastor for no apparent reason other than his traditional liturgical leanings, brought in police to cordon off the church while he had workers jackhammer out the altar and tabernacle and wreckovated it, while parishioners stood crying outside. Many ended up joining the local SSPX chapel, which until then had been quite small. That was unfortunate, but you can understand how it happened, and at least sympathize.

          I think we have a responsibility as traditionalists to try to move past that, and to exercise the theological virtue that seems to come with the greatest difficulty for some of us: charity. And I do think that, post-Summorum, that is happening, as many new Catholics begin to attach to traditional sacraments, ones without all the baggage of the 70’s-90’s.

          • Stu

            Yes, the generation shift has indeed made it that the growing face of so-called Traditionalism is the young who know nothing about the siege mentality. The ironic thing is that we may be seeing signs of the situation being flip-flopped. Those who continually complain about so-called Traditionalists being mean to them may ultimately become the cranky, mean-spirited types in the next 10-20 years.

    • Mary

      The only good Traditionalist is a self deprecating one filled with self loathing. Got it.

      • chezami

        There’s that all-too-predictable self-pity!

        • Stu

          Well at least she can’t complain over and over about being “kicked in the groin.”

  • contrarian

    Nice little piece. I wonder, though, if there are some criteria as to what constitutes ‘sensible and sane’ traditionalism. Certainly, a traditionalist should be able to criticize charitably, without necessarily being called insensible….no? I should hope that a trad could charitably criticize Vatican II, etc., without being called insensible or jerky *necessarily*. At the very least, it would be odd if the only ‘sane’ way to be a traditionalist is to ‘subjectively prefer’ the TLM in the same way that some people subjectively prefer Mexican food to Chinese food.

    • Andy Motyka

      I wonder, though, if there are some criteria as to what constitutes ‘sensible and sane’ traditionalism.

      If you need a written criterion to determine if you are behaving badly or not, then your problems lie deeper than the traditional divide.

      • contrarian

        Hi Andy,
        Well, my problems aside, perhaps we might merely say that one should be able to charitably give a critique of, say, the Mass of Paul VI, without automatically being labeled dumb, crazy, or a jerk. Your article very nicely points out ways in which people end up being jerks. I should assume, though, that there are non-dickish and non-crazy ways to go about giving critiques.
        Yet one too often runs across folks who think that any and all criticisms of Vatican II and the Mass of Paul VI, even those critiques offered charitably, are nevertheless dickish or insane…by definition, or automatically. But that can’t be, right?


        • chezami

          How about, instead of constantly pointing fingers at us worthless neo-catholics and our Mass (which happens to be the ***ordinary*** form of the Mass Holy Church offers) and perpetually whining about how your subcullture is only full of jerks because all us heretics are so mean to you, you try the novel project of critiquing yourselves. You’re so full of criticism of others and pity for yourself, why not try reversing the pattern, just for novelty’s sake? Doesn’t it even occur to you think, “Look, if I’m not a dick, *then* can I tell you everything I hate about you?” is, well, what a dick would ask? What I found so refreshing about Andy’s piece was that it was actually predicate on the idea that being a good Traditionalist doesn’t entirely depend on treating almost the entire Church like enemies. Try it. It might do you some good.

          • contrarian

            My goodness!

          • Stu

            Talk about projecting.

            • chezami

              Not at all. I don’t go around, hoping that I can find as many opportunities as possible to tell Traditionalists what’s wrong and defective about them. That’s exactly what contrarian was fishing around for: some way he could tell us neo-Catholics what’s wrong with us and our crappy Mass that no Catholic who is *serious* about his faith would bother with. I, for one, am pretty sick of Traditionalists who have made it their mission in life to tell me what’s wrong with the Mass I go to. If contrarian feels a burning need to criticize his fellow Catholics for going to Mass, he should start with his own subculture. It’s teeming with plenty of aggravating pathologies: such as the burning need to tell us neo-Catholics everything that is wrong with the Ordinary Form and why people who go to the EF are clearly superior.

              • Stu

                “Not at all. I don’t go around, hoping that I can find as many opportunities as possible to tell Traditionalists what’s wrong and defective about them. “

                What? Do you read your own blog? Great googly moogly that has been the majority of your content for some time and I am not the only one who has commented on such. Heck, you have had to apologize repeatedly because of this because it brings out the worst in you. And your defense is often about how traditionalists have repeatedly “kicked you in the groin.” Plenty of criticism and self-pity.

                Contrarian believes the EF is superior and accordingly his
                desire would be that everyone worship in that manner because ostensibly he thinks it would be better for you and the entire Church. Is he correct? That’s certainly debatable but his motivations are seemingly sincere. Good grief, the JW that comes to my door on a regular basis does so because he wants to bring me what he sees as the truth. I don’t get angry because he thinks his religion is superior. Instead, I discuss the ideas with him.

                The better response to Contrarian’s assertions are to ask, “By what measure?” and then objectively discuss such things.

                As to his “subculture” and the need to fix it. How about we concentrate on ourselves first and then move on to the “subcultures” of groups in which we don’t belong?

                • chezami

                  I respond to Traditionalists when they become particularly obnoxious and, for instance, release videos about how all but they are gutless cowards and money grubbing whores, or when they attack somebody like Simcha Fisher en masse to defending Holocaust Denial and call her a “kike” or to do something else egregiously aggressive, crazy, or ugly. The list of outrages I compiled recently are things I most have *not* responded to over the years since searching out and finding Reactionary Crazy could easily be a full time job. It’s only when the Reactionary Crazy invades my space and makes itself a nuisance that I generally respond to it. One of the ways, Reactionaries invade my space is by saying, “Isn’t there *some* way I can find to press on complaining about the Paul VI rite?” I don’t feel a corresponding need to figure out *some* way of complaining about the Extraordinary Form since I think our response to the Mass–OF or EF–should be gratitude, not the search for some way to bitch about it. In short, leave me and the Mass I celebrate in peace and I will leave you in peace. Show up demanding some way you can bitch at me about the Mass I celebrate and I will tell you to go away and find something about yourself to bitch about.

                  • Stu


                    You scour the Internet looking for obscure bloggers to fit your narrative. Almost all of these people are unknown in Traditional circles and clearly have little to no followers. You actively look for such things and yes finding crazy of all stripes on the Internet can be a full time job….it you decide to make it such. Most of us have found such an endeavor to be fruitless and not worth our time. It’s not worth yours either.

                    Oh, and there are plenty of people who like to “bitch about the Mass I celebrate too.” Sticks and stones.

                    • chezami

                      Take it up with Andrew. He, like me, recognizes that these people are an embarrassingly frequent phenomenon. Meanwhile, I didn’t have to scour anything for contrarian to show up, pleading for the space to find *something*, surely *something* he could kvetch and complain about concerning the Paul VI rite. Don’t you guys realize how tone deaf it is to say, “Well, okay. I’ll come to tea at your house. But you *have* to let me find something about you, your family and your housekeeping that I object to and loathe. Why do you automatically assume that anybody who spits on your ugly taste in carpet is a jerk? You’re shutting down my immensely important opinions about what a tasteless loser you are.” I can do without such social skills.

                    • Stu

                      Andrew and you are nothing alike in this. In fact, in his critique he even counters the generalizations that you are prone to make in this discussion.

                      And you have sidestepped the issue that you do go hunting all corners of the Internet for craziness by pointing to someone in your comm box.

                    • chezami

                      That’s because I don’t go hunting all corners of the internet. I speak from experience in a blog or combox, typically based on personal encounters I’ve had had over the years with Reactionary nutjobs. Exactly because I don’t keep detailed records of such stuff but try to let it go, I don’t have URL for long ago conversations. So when I mention them, I inevitably get told “You’re just making that up” or “No True Traditionalist says such things.” So *then* I go out and find some Traddie out there saying such things to illustrate my point. Then you tell me I “scour the web”. In short, damned if I do document my point, damned if I don’t. Meanwhile, what offended me about contrarian was his eager longing to find *some* way of continuing to tell me how much the Mass I go to sucks. And you still don’t get that.

                    • Stu

                      Again, I ask. Do you read your own blog? Because you absolutely do go and look for obscure extreme bloggers to point out as proof of your assertion. Heck, you did it just a few days ago. And just because you find it on the Internet, it does not follow that such is the typical traditionalist anymore than the National Catholic Reporter is the typical Catholic. Surely you can see this.

                      And I do understand that you are very hurt by Contrarian wanting to discuss the Mass you attend. I failed to see where he said that it “sucks.” I must have missed that. Once had a fellow KOC at my parish in Memphis tell me to my face that the EF Mass “sucks.” That was his problem, not mine.

                      All I have Contrarian bring up is the notion that one form of the Mass is superior than the other. Again, the proper way to handle that assertion is to ask him by which measure and go from there. That’s dialogue.

                    • chezami

                      I didn’t say just because I find it on the Internet it’s typical. I said that my typical experience on the internet is of Reactionaries as the face of Traditionalism. Andy Motyka is pretty tired of the embarrassing spectacle they all too often present. So yeah, we do have something in common. As to you KOC friend, he was way out of line and for the same reason: because you don’t insult the Holy Mass.

                    • Stu

                      You don’t say it. It’s implied. But regardless, what purpose does it serve? Does it make you happy to find obscure people on the Internet and tear them apart? Does it help your readers in highlighting something they probably wouldn’t have found on their own? Does it help build bridges with the so-called Traditionalists? Does it help to actually given them publicity? Does it in any way add to the “Mark Shea Brand?”

                      All I see out of this evolution is a self-licking ice cream cone.

                      And my friend was out of line but he has heart of gold and we talked about it because I wanted him to remain my friend. Indeed, you don’t insult the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass but there is room to discuss the merits of one form over the other in a reasoned and calm manner.

                    • Beefy Levinson

                      Quickly friend, let us do the secret Trad handshake away from Mark’s prying eyes.
                      Mark’s bi-weekly rants about how terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad Traditionalists are made much more sense to me once he admitted it’s largely because internet Trads are mean to him, i.e. “kicked him in the groin.” I can understand why he would dislike them personally. What used to baffle me was his tendency to write of them in OPs as if they posed some dire threat to the Church’s public witness, or that they dominated the Church to the same extent that nutty NCReporter type progressives do.
                      Personally, I’ve never encountered the stereotypical bitter Trad in person. If anything, they went out of their way to welcome me and answer questions I had about the EF the first time I attended one. They exist on the internet, sure, but people say all kinds of things on the internet.

                    • Stu

                      I’ve known three of such persons on my life. One was a lady who we pretty much “ran off”. Another was a just a poor guy looking for something concrete in life. And the third was calling Father Corapi a fraud long before that became popular. Very small group over the years.

                      On the flip-side,I have encountered a lot more Catholics who simply hold beliefs that are heterodox.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      “Again, the proper way to handle that assertion is to ask him by which measure and go from there.” Lori Pieper did just that, and the answer is his own measure, since as you know the Magisterium isn’t the legitimate authority and interpreter of tradition:

                    • Stu

                      And that is a weak measure on his part. But that is where the conversation should take us; his standards. Not name-calling which usually doesn’t work.

                      I think you could put forth some measures by which the EF is superior. I think one could put forth some measure to support the OF being superior. Clearly those in the Church who wanted to change the Mass thought there needed to be improvements or else they would not have done it. Did they hit the mark? I don’t know. I’m not qualified to definitively say. The Church did revise the translations so clearly that aspect was lacking. But ultimately it is above our paygrade. On ship, it would be like me coming to you in our past lives and saying, “I don’t think this course of action is wise and nor do you, but the Old Man does and that is what we are going to do.” In fact, I think that form of obedience merits more because it is a surrender of will.

                      I see nothing wrong with asking the question. The key is to avoid making it about the people who attend each Mass. Christ condescends in both to come down to be on the altar.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      “The key is to avoid making it about the people who attend each Mass.” This I will agree with, but I do and will attack assertions such as contrarian’s because they are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

                      Edit: Contrarian did not ask the question. He began (and I mean historically in this blog, not merely this thread) by asserting, then challenged others (such as myself) for a defense of the faith, while claiming the mantle of the faith and its fullness. When that is your starting point, you’ve already gone grievously off-course.

                    • Stu

                      Fire at will. But let’s attempt to read others with charity and make sure our comments are aimed at building up the Body of Christ.

                    • I think you’re claiming that the crazy comes to you, not you go looking for the crazy. If that’s the case, you deserve a bit of all of our prayer time because you are being positively assaulted.

                    • chezami

                      The crazy sometimes comes to me. Sometimes is comes to friends like Jimmy Akin (currently overwhelmed with lunatic Reactionaries who are firmly in agreement with atheists and Fundamentalists that when the MSM reports Francis is a heretic, you can take that to the bank), or Simcha (periodically overwhelmed with lunatic Reactionaries with Pants Issues or the need to defend Holocaust Denialism). Whenever these people comboxes swell up and burst with nutjob Reactionaries arguing their insane positions, I am confidently assured that it’s a Small Minority and that No True Traditionalists believe this stuff, even when all the Reactionaries self-identify as Traditionalists and dismiss their critics as Damn Librul neo-Catholics.

                    • contrarian

                      Sorry I’m arriving to this late. No wonder my ears were burning during my lecture!

                      Yikes! I thought I was engaging in polite conversation, and I certainly didn’t think I was whining or kvetching or accusing, etc. Feel free to google ‘contrarian’ and ‘Catholic and Enjoying It’. I think you’ll find that I’m not doing what I’m being accused of doing, either on this thread or any other. Or at the very least, others will find this to be true. But oh well.

                      I think I’m raising issues respectfully here in these comment threads, and given the polite arguments I’ve had with others on this blog (including this very thread!), I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this.

                      At any rate, if this fine blog’s host feels my comments are randomly inserting issues that aren’t apropos, or if he feels that my comments are rude…well, I guess I’ll have to disagree. But it most certainly is his house. So I’ll leave. It’s too bad that arguments about this stuff prove impossible for this blog’s fine host. This blog is read by many people, and it would be great if more people were exposed to these arguments. But if the blog’s host doesn’t want such things in his house, then…well, it’s his castle.

                      However! Let’s remember that the ‘house’ is the comment thread. The house…is not the Mass. That’s OUR house. We’re talking about something that is prized by all Catholics–the Holy Mass. Heck, I more often than not attend a Paul VI rite myself. I’m concerned about it because it’s our shared rite.

                      Also: Thanks, Stu, for the nice words. I appreciate you coming to my defense. I love your comments.

                      All the best to everyone.

                    • chezami

                      Exactly the problem is that you really did think you were being polite. Yet the substance of your remark was, “As long as I promise not to act like *those* Reactionarry jackasses, surely all people of good will should agree wht I have a perfect right to tell you losers in the Ordinary Form everything about your Mass that sucks.” The whole notion of, as long “As I’m pleasant about it, can I please go on denigrating your Holy Mass?” as the very *first* place you want to go in conversation with us neo-Catholics only bespeaks a remarkable social cluelessness. It’s like saying, “Sure, I’ll come to your daughter’s party. But I really *must* insist on my freedom to tell her and you what a dog she is.”

                    • Stu

                      I missed where he called you a “neo-Catholic”. Shame on him. I also missed where he denigrated “your Mass.” Double shame on him (And I didn’t even know you had your own Mass).

                      I did read above where he said that he attends the Mass of Paul VI.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      I didn’t know it was Paul VI’s Mass, his very own, I thought it was the Ordinary Form of the entire Roman rite.

                      I guess you did miss where he denigrated the OF. Or do you contend that contrarian asserting the OF is “sanitized”, “doctrinally inferior”, and “lacking in the fullness of the faith” couldn’t possibly be construed as denigration of the Mass by anyone ever? This is the MASS we are talking about after all. contrarian has asserted, in the comboxes of this blog, rupture in the Church since VII (an attack against the dogma of the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium) and asserted, presuming the authority of the Magisterium, the objective superiority of the EF and objective doctrinal inferiority of the OF. He has dismissed the post-VII authority of the Magisterium as suspect because “the VII church *must* say that everything is in continuity” (all quotes are contrarian’s words).

                      Personally, I find it hard to take your criticism of Mark’s handling or frequency of addressing rad trads seriously given the deafening silence in the face of such heresy from you and others of your inclination.

                      This comment, by the way, was written by one of your inclination.

                    • Stu

                      It’s commonly called the Mass of Paul VI just the like the EF is called the Mass of John XIII.

                      And given he routinely attends the OF, I don’t read his word as denigration but rather as his attempts to point out what he believe are weaknesses.

                      Now we can get all huffy about it, or we can engage him in dialogue like Roki did. Which is more profitable?

                      As to my “inclination,” It’s just Catholic. No modifiers needed.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      “It’s commonly called the Mass of Paul VI just the like the EF is called the Mass of John XIII.” Commonly? Quantify and prove, please. But BXVI weighed in on the terminology in the letter accompanying the issuing of Summorum Pontificum, and I find it best to follow his lead: “In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.”

                      Huffy? That is the quality I’d attribute to your comments. Perhaps you meant the inclusive sense of “we”?

                      “No modifiers needed.” That’s good as I used none.

                      Nice job dodging the rest. I guess what I wrote will stand: “Personally, I find it hard to take your criticism of Mark’s handling or frequency of addressing rad trads seriously given the deafening silence in the face of such heresy from you and others of your inclination.”

                    • Stu

                      Good grief. Calling it the Mass of Paul VI is not a pejorative. Nor does it break the one rite paradigm. Relax. And yes, the expression is common. If you don’t want to accept that, then that is your call. .

                      And you are entitled to your opinion of my criticism. Again, your call.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      I know. Snark on my part, in response to snark on yours. You didn’t know that Mark had his own Mass? I didn’t know that Paul VI had his own either 😉

                    • Stu

                      Copy all, shipmate.

                      I did have purpose in calling out the “your Mass” bit. And that is that I don’t believe Mark should take such stuff so personally. Certainly when my friend made the comment to my face (that the EF “sucks”), I didn’t take it as an insult to me. He was misguided and a bit obtuse in expressing that he didn’t like Latin. But we got to root of his issue and talked it
                      out. If I would have gotten offended, that wouldn’t have happened.

                      People don’t always say things the best way that they can. Something about the Internet makes us want to seize upon that and return with venom instead of trying to understand what they are really trying to say.

                    • chezami

                      If that’s what he said then he either couldn’t have said it or he’s not a Truly True Traditionalist since No True Traditionalist ever disparages the Ordinary Form and Catholics who don’t take kindly to being told they are “lacking in the fullness of the faith” are mean. *eyeroll*.

                    • Stu

                      Or he chose his words poorly. Happens to all of us. Again, I put forth his exchange with Roki on how one should engage.

                    • Beefy Levinson

                      I’m curious: do you believe Cardinal Ottaviani was a heretic when he wrote in his letter to Pope Paul VI that the new missal was “a striking departure from the traditional Catholic theology of the sacrifice of the Mass?” Or was Cardinal Ratzinger a heretic when he wrote in the foreword to Mnsgr. Gamber’s book that the OF was a “banal on-the-spot product?” To my knowledge, the Magisterium did not solemnly pronounce anathema upon their opinions nor were they burned at the stake as heretics.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      What a silly question. Read what I wrote more closely.

                    • Beefy Levinson

                      You accused contrarian of heresy for, among other reasons, denigrating the OF as doctrinally inferior to the EF thereby presuming the authority of the Magisterium. Cardinals Ottaviani and Ratzinger are both on record as describing the OF as a manufactured liturgy that is a striking departure from the traditional Catholic theology of the Mass. It’s a simple question: if Traditionalist commenters on Mark’s blog are skirting heresy for having such opinions, then why not their Eminences?

                    • contrarian

                      Thanks, Beefy. Exactly.
                      Moreover, that’s why I use a handle and not my real name. We should be able to deal with arguments themselves, charitably. It shouldn’t matter who they are coming from.
                      And…quite frankly…I’m much nicer than Ottaviani. Or Gamber, for that matter! 🙂

                      That said, I’m happy that Ivan has kindly linked to some arguments about this stuff from former threads. Not only does it offer a chance for casual readers to see the arguments themselves, but it reveals, ironically, where the incivility usually comes from. 🙂

                    • Beefy Levinson

                      These can be difficult discussions because everyone, me included, is so quick to take everything as a personal attack. I thought you and Roki had a good exchange up higher in the thread.

                    • contrarian

                      Ha ha.

                      Good Lord. It’s like…I want to stop the conversation and yell, “Look, you’re all very smart and nice people. Quit with the Adam Sandler (You think you’re better than me!??) routine. Now…break!”


    • At the very least, it would be odd if the only ‘sane’ way to be a traditionalist is to ‘subjectively prefer’ the TLM in the same way that some people subjectively prefer Mexican food to Chinese food.

      A preference for Mexican over Chinese food is only partly subjective. One can do a nutritional analysis, and show that a Mexican diet is higher in X proteins and Y fats, while a Chinese diet is higher in Q vitamins and Z fats. One can say that Mexican food is dangerous to those with certain allergies, and Chinese to those with other allergies. One can say that fajitas will help you build strength while stir fry will help you build endurance.

      But only a fool would deny that both Chinese and Mexican cuisines are *food*. That is, they are both intended for and useful for eating, both for the purposes of flavor and of nutrition.

      Now, there certainly is a subjective aspect: some like Mexican flavors better, and some like Chinese flavors better, and some don’t like either set of flavors. This subjectivity may be a tiny part of the comparison between cuisines, but it is often the deciding factor for what to have for dinner tonight. Why? Because, unless there is some major health factor like an allergy involved, the nutrition of both cuisines offers a basically balanced diet. A person can survive and even thrive eating that food.

      So it seems to me that an analogy of food preferences works well for the preference of one rite or form of the liturgy over another. There are many reasons to prefer one liturgy over another, some objective, some subjective. There may be good reasons for a particular person to avoid one kind of liturgy altogether. But it crosses the line to crazy when one denies that (for example) the Ordinary Form is not a true or valid liturgy, or that God does not bestow grace (or enough grace) through it.

      • contrarian

        Hi Roki,
        That’s a really interesting response. Good stuff!
        I guess I was meaning to bracket the ‘nutritional’ aspect of these two food stuffs, and merely suggest, glibly no doubt, that there is no way to really have an argument about which *flavors* are better (by the way, the answer is Mexican food…ha ha!). Whereby if the only ‘sane’ way to ‘prefer’ the TLM is to say that you just have to ‘personally like it’ better, all other things being equal, well….then who cares, right? There’s no way to have an argument about things that end up being totally subjective.

        But perhaps, as you say, they aren’t equal in every way. Perhaps we should explore these other ways–or at least, as you say, all of the ways that we could categorize as objective!

        Interesting what you say at the end there, though. I think the New Mass is perfectly valid (I better, being that I attend it!), but I’m not sure we should proceed by assuming that those who *don’t* think that are insane. I for one have run across some very charitable, cogent, calm, and sharp sedes. Simply by being a sede, one is not a dick…or ‘crazy’, for that matter. At the very least, I would probably get creamed in a debate with a knowledgable sede!


        • I was assuming practicing Catholics in full communion, not schismatics. Once you accept the authority of the Church, it would be a logical contradiction to deny the validity of the Ordinary Form – ergo, crazy.

          For those who do not accept the authority of the Church, for whatever reason, well, the main argument is no longer about the virtues or drawbacks of any given liturgy, but is really about the authority of the Church.

          • contrarian

            Ok, cool. But by criticizing the Mass of Paul VI, does that automatically mean I’m denying authority?

            “So validity schmalidity. Great. It’s valid. Now, let’s talk about it’s doctrinal problems…”

            That’s something that a practicing Catholic in full communion should be able to say, right?
            I mean, that would be a bummer if it wasn’t.

            • I’m not sure it would be accurate to speak of a valid and approved liturgy as having doctrinal “problems.” It might have a doctrinal emphasis/de-emphasis; it might have a spiritual or devotional emphasis. But if it had doctrinal problems, to my ears, that implies that there is something contrary to the faith in the liturgy itself – which, given the authority of the Church that promulgated that very liturgy, is a logical contradiction.

              In other words, I don’t see the difference between saying a liturgy has a “doctrinal problem” and saying it’s invalid or an improper liturgy – which is either crazy or an argument with the Church’s authority.

              That said, one can certainly argue whether it’s prudent or ideal to promulgate a liturgy with these doctrinal emphases in this cultural context; just as one can argue whether it’s prudent to chaw down on flour tortillas if one has a gluten allergy. But one must be careful to honor and respect the authority of the Church and of the successors to the Apostles who are given stewardship over the liturgy.

              • contrarian


                Nicely worded!

                “…one can certainly argue whether it’s prudent or ideal to promulgate a liturgy with these doctrinal emphases in this cultural context…”


                …Problematic doctrinal emphases…

                I can live with that way of wording it. I think, at the end of the day, your approach is probably the right way to go in these arguments.

                Good stuff.

  • Ann Margaret Lewis

    As I know Andy personally (he’s my choir director!) I can attest to his traditionalist credentials!

    • Stu

      But how do we verify your credentials? 😉

      • Ann Margaret Lewis

        I can give you the secret handshake… 😉 {Some mistake it for Jazz Hands…}

        • Stu

          Shhhh! Not in front of the others.

  • Erin Manning

    I probably shouldn’t weigh in on this, but here goes.

    At one time in my life I believed that what we now call the E.F. Mass probably *was* superior. So many people said so, and I leaned traditionalist anyway, so even though I had never been to a Latin Mass I was sure it would be blindingly obvious how superior to the Novus Ordo it was.

    Then I had the chance to go to a Latin Mass–only twice, but I was able to go. I also got to go to a Novus Ordo in Latin on a couple of occasions.

    After that, I spent a little time (not enough, the Reactionaries would probably say) looking at all the claims of how “deficient” the Novus Ordo really was. What I found was that there were *differences,* but deficiencies really were in the eye of the beholder. Is it really “deficient,” for example, that if you attend an O.F. Mass every day for three years you will hear the entire Bible? Was the removal of some extra-liturgical elements that had been “tacked on” to the Mass over the centuries a sign of deficiency? Is being able to hear what Father is saying a deplorable sign that people don’t understand that he’s talking to God and we’re not supposed to listen, or is it simply the capacity of modern technology that earlier generations would have loved to have had?

    In the end, I realized that a lot of what people liked to complain about re: the Novus Ordo had two main sources: the (admittedly terrible) English translation and the laxity with which the Novus Ordo was often celebrated in various dioceses in America. The translation has been fixed, and I have every hope that adherence to the rubrics is slowly becoming the standard instead of the exception–indeed, it would seem that many of the younger generation of priests expect to say Mass according to the rubrics without exceptions.

    And the Church has sent a clear message by referring to the Novus Ordo not as the Novus Ordo anymore but as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The message is simple: the Church does not see any deficiencies with the O.F. Mass, but wishes to see it implemented according to the vision of the Council for the benefit of great numbers of Catholics of the Roman Rite throughout the world. Clearly, we need to do a better job of the implementation, and equally clearly the Church intends the E.F. Mass to help mold and form what she wishes the O.F. Mass to be–but those who say solemnly that the O.F. is “dying out” and will be *replaced* by the E.F. any day now are not only not thinking with the mind of the Church as she has presently expressed herself, but they’re also not thinking in terms of reality.

    So when a traditional-minded Catholic who attends the E.F. Mass wishes to begin a conversation by saying, “Oh, but surely I can say with perfect politeness and charity that your Mass is sadly deficient and lacking and probably does not serve very well as the proper worship of God or the conduit of the graces of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…” I already know that he or she is pretty much ignoring what the Church has said up to now about the O.F. Mass, and is rejecting the inconvenient fact that to the Church belongs the sole authority to dictate as to the forms of the liturgy and that in rejecting her authority in this matter they are in a bit of danger. At this point they tend to argue that of course the Church has the authority to change the Mass, but that it is obvious to them that she did a terrible job of it and shouldn’t have done it at all and if she would just listen to them and their experts she’d get busy right away making the E.F. the Ordinary Form and banishing the present Ordinary Form to the outer darkness where it belongs…

    Etc. ad infinitum, to use the Latin.

    • Andy Motyka

      Yup. All of this.

      I think there are many ways that the increased use of the Extraordinary Form, through Summorum Pontificum, can enrich the celebration of the Ordinary Form liturgy (and *gasp*, vice versa).

      That the Ordinary Form has been generally celebrated poorly for some time and in many places is a given. That’s an implementation problem, though. Since the Ordinary Form is here to stay, it’s important to do our very best in its celebration. I honestly prefer a well celebrated Ordinary Form to the EF, which is why I’d describe myself as a “semi-Trad.”

      I’m fine with people celebrating in whatever licit form the Church gives, and I am a proponent of improving the quality of liturgy everywhere. This can be done without disparaging others.

      • Beefy Levinson

        The nearest FSSP parish is quite a drive for me so I seldom attend the EF. I like to call myself a “Christmas and Easter Trad.”

        • Erin Manning

          If you could be a Christmas, Holy Thursday, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Laetare Sunday and Easter Trad you could be a CHAPLET. 😉

      • Athelstane

        No, Andy, I see what you’re saying, but, with all due respect, I just can’t agree. I think it *is* possible to say that one rite is, indeed, superior to another, once we understand what the Mass is.

        Yet I grant this creates problems for us, and especially for the advocate of this position. There’s an obligation to make the argument constructively and charitably. And this, it must be said, frequently is not done. And we need to be careful that we are not calling into question the infallibility of the Church in doing so.

        I have been to some OF Masses celebrated as traditionally as you could ask for, such as Fr. Joseph Fessio’s – all in Latin, ad orientem, communion on the tongue at the altar rail, propers chanted, incense used, the pax dispensed with, much greater resort to kneeling. Conversely, we all know (or should know) that many, many TLM’s were celebrated with something less than reverence back in the “old days.” Any rite can be abused, or celebrated with reverence.

        For me, the real difficulty with the OF Missal, even with a “traddied-up” Fessio Mass, is that the dimension of propitiatory sacrifice is too weakened, and the penitential emphases are diminished. And in our modern age, we need that sense of sacrifice and penitential humility even more than our ancestors did.

        I’m saying that we can do better, and that we have an obligation to do better. I’m saying that we can constructively take a harder look at what was done in 1965-1969, and that, indeed, we have a duty to do so. And I’m saying that we need to do so in a way that doesn’t suggest that those who have faithfully attended or celebrated the Pauline Missal throughout their Catholic lives (which includes me for most of mine) are to be condemned or made to feel inferior.

        • contrarian

          Awesome, Athelstane. I can’t improve on this.
          Really great stuff here.

        • Neihan

          Fantastically put.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Bravo. My experience was somewhat similar, except that I spent a good two years in the pews of an EF parish thinking the OF inferior before being rebuked by the very pastor of the EF parish for thinking such. Thank God for him. I gravely regret now that in my pride I looked down upon a Mass. Now I find great joy and peace in the Mass regardless of the form, although my druthers are still for Latin 😉

    • Stu

      Great job at addressing the points that have been made. But by nature that Holy Mother Church took effort to improve the translations, there is room for someone to have an opinion that things were done as best they could be.

      Let’s address the ideas and refrain from going after the person. Worst case, you might be right and the person is simply “off.” Best case, you might find they have a point that you haven’t considered or you might change their mind.

      I have a friend whom I admire greatly. He is a former Sailor that has had a tough life but he has faith like you wouldn’t believe. In fact, some of the things I have seen happen to him or conversions he has played a part in are beyond words. He is a self-described “simple man” and is often prone to taking extremes regarding the OF or other issues in the Church. He isn’t motivated by hate or pride or anything like that. He simply loves Jesus and is concerned. But by talking with him and understanding where he is coming from, I have been a part of smoothing out some misunderstandings.

    • Athelstane

      Hello Erin,

      I appreciate your thoughts (I always do). I still contend that the TLM is theologically richer and more balanced – but, I hasten to add, that does not mean by any means that Catholics who attend it are, ipso facto, superior Catholics. Sinners abound everywhere, yea, even in traditionalist chapels…

      Is it really “deficient,” for example, that if you attend an O.F. Mass every day for three years you will hear the entire Bible?

      I think it can be. I think the 3 year lectionary was a well-intended response by the Council to the problem of Catholic biblical illiteracy. But the reality of human psychology is that depth beats breadth. Taken to the extreme, we could have 15 readings at every Mass, and get through the Bible in a year. But how much would sink in? More to the point, the association of particular readings with given days is lost. (And yes, too many of the “hard readings” are edited and shoved into weekdays during the summer.) I think there was a great wisdom in the old lectionary (which the Church used for almost two millenium), and we abandoned it with undue haste. I think the proper liturgical place to delve more into Scripture is the Office – but no one reads it, alas.

      Is the 3 year lectionary the end of the world, a disaster? No, it’s not. But I think it was a notable mistake, albeit a well-intended one, one which has not, in any case, even achieved its desired end (given that Catholics’ familiarity with Scripture seems even worse than ever).

      Is being able to hear what Father is saying a deplorable sign that people don’t understand that he’s talking to God?

      It could be. The larger problem in this respect, of course, is the abandonment of worship ad orientem, at least during the Canon (mentioned nowhere in the Council). But I think that this is one of those minor tweaks that could have been allowed as an option – i,e., an audible Canon. Just as we could have allowed options for putting most of the Mass (at least the variable parts) in vernacular, lay readers/lectors, etc. Did it require an entirely new rite?

      Some scholars thought so, and what we got was something far more radical. The ancient collects mostly junked or radically re-worked. A radically new offertory (in which the sense of propitiatory sacrifice is – let us be honest – greatly diminished). Penitential prayers cut back. The ancient Roman Canon reduced to one option among four (and rarely celebrated at that). An entirely new calendar. A plethora of options made available, encouraging boundless creativity. Vast changes were rushed through in just a few years, far more than the Council spoke of (although I take issue with even some of those, such as the expanded lectionary). Note that I have refrained from obvious abuses, bad music, new rubrics, poor translations – things that have nothing to do with the Missal per se.

      Now, before Mark gets harumphy, none of these criticisms of the OF is meant a) to deny that it is valid or that great graces flow through it, or b) to cast aspersions on those who regularly attend the OF, which after all amounts to 98%+ of American Catholics, including most of my own family. Charity is essential all around. The celebration of the TLM is no guarantee of faith or even orthodoxy (if it were, how did the 60’s happen?). I hope that there is a way to make constructive criticisms of the Pauline Missal, to make the case for its overhaul, without being toxic or vicious about it – and I readily grant, I am sorry to say, that not all traditionalists make for edifying displays in this regard. Many of us can be, indeed, our own worst enemies.

      Yes, the Church had the authority to promulgate a new rite of Mass, and she did so, and we are bound to accept that in obedience. Whether it was done prudently in every respect is something that we ought to be able to discuss openly and charitably. Infallibility is a very limited protection given to the Church, and it does not protect it from certain levels of mistakes, even in its sacramentaries.

      • contrarian

        Really great thoughts here, Athelstane,

        A few more thoughts on your already great ones regarding the three-year lectionary:

        1) As per the official rules, we don’t actually have to read many of the important parts of scripture in the Mass of Paul VI, even though ‘more’ of the bible is heard over three years. At no point in the three-year calendar is a lector ever *required* to read 1 Corinthians 27ff. Every time it comes up (e.g., Maundy Thursday, Corpus Christi, one other time that I forget), the lector is given the option to stop at v. 26. Most Paul VI missals do not have v’s 27ff even *printed*. I for one have never seen a missal with verses 27ff. Perhaps I’m just always at the wrong churches. But I always check if I’m visiting a new parish. We should keep in mind that this is not abuse, for no rules are being broken if these verses are entirely avoided. A priest or a missal company cannot be accused of ‘liturgical abuse’ if they are not breaking any rules. There are other examples of this, besides the Corinthians. Many ‘hard’ passages are either omitted, or the lector is given the ‘option’ to omit them.

        2) This is anecdotal, so it’s probably less persuasive to some, but: I was raised confessional (read: traditionalist) Lutheran, and we used the 1-year lectionary. I can recite to you, from memory, a lot of scripture (granted, I know the King James, so I probably will lose a lot of people…ha ha!). A lot. This is because i heard the same verses year after year after year after year.

        As a professor once told me, you only really start to learn something once you read it twice.

        The three-year lectionary is like exercising every five days. It’s just not often enough to get any real effects.

        Ditto re your comments on piety and casting aspersions. None of this means anything regarding the piety or ‘inferiority’ of those who attend the TLM. Et cetera, et cetera. But I would maintain, perhaps even to go beyond what you say, that the many scripture-knowing Catholics who attend the rite of Paul VI are knowledgeable of scripture despite, not because, of this mass.

        • Athelstane

          I can recite to you, from memory, a lot of scripture

          Exactly so – this is precisely what I was getting at. Depth beats breadth. It is remarkable how much wisdom we end up finding in what the Fathers of the Church gave to us, when we really stop to consider it.

          As a friend of mine once put it: While the goal of Sacrosanctum Concilium 51 was good, that the people have more exposure to the Bible, the means adopted were not well fitted to the end and had costs that the authors did not realize. The quest to improve the scriptural literacy of Catholics goes on; but it will have to be achieved by other means.

      • contrarian

        “Note that I have refrained from obvious abuses, bad music, new rubrics, poor translations – things that have nothing to do with the Missal per se.”

        Precisely! Very well put!

        This has nothing to do with the 1973 ICEL (“Oh God, You are nice. Help us to be nice too.”). It’s about the changing orations and Canon in the Latin itself.

        And as I sometimes say, to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, if its just about Marty Haugen, then the hell with it.

        • Athelstane

          It’s about the changing orations and Canon in the Latin itself.

          Well, the Canon was not changed (despite the efforts of some) – though the other Eucharistic Prayers were added as options in its place – but certainly the collects and propers were, most of them going back as far as we have records and sacramentaries, and they were changed in ways that shifted their thematic emphases. I have always found that to be one of the most remarkable changes made in the new rite, since the Council did not call for it, nor was there any popular demand for it, nor was there really much literature in the new liturgical movement urging it in the years before the Council. Yet it was done. People may not think much about the collects, but they do matter, and they do penetrate more than we realize.

          The person to read here is Lauren Pristas of Caldwell College, who actually has a new book out on this subject: Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons before and after the Second Vatican Council.

          • contrarian

            Ah! You’re right. I had in mind the first offertory prayer (‘Accept, Oh Holy Father, this spotless host…’ (“a marvel of doctrinal exactitude”)), which was axed. But this is not part of the Canon. I was thinking it was. My bad, team.

            “People may not think much about the collects, but they do matter, and they do penetrate more than we realize.”

            Oh, exactly.

            More to the point, so many of these collects in the TLM are offensive to my Lutheran friends, as they are Catholic-specific (that is, from their perspective, heretical!). It’s hard for my Lutheran friends to get offended by anything in the new Mass–and certainly nothing offered in the new collects. That’s not nothing!

            Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll pick it up.

            • Athelstane

              I’m confused here – you’re using Erin Manning’s identity, but you sound like Contrarian. Did something in Disquis screw up?

            • Athelstane

              P.S. The book is pricey – $45 on Amazon – but one of the essays on the collects is available in an earlier form on her webpage:

              • contrarian

                Thanks, Athelstane. I’ll try to pick it up at my university, or get it through interlibrary loan if they don’t have it. Thanks for the link. Really great stuff there.

                Weird that I’m showing up as Erin. I mean, I’m flattered that the computer gods would assume my writing was hers, but I’m sure she’s a bit chagrined about it!
                Ha ha.

                • Wait–contrarian was showing up as me? That’s weird!

                  I used to have an account with this commenting system but I can never remember my login. Maybe it’s time to reset it…

      • Erin Manning

        Athelstane, here’s my problem with this: assuming that you are right that the O.F. is deficient (whether because of the 3-year lectionary, the “junked or radically re-worked collects,” the fact that people can hear Father and he’s speaking in a language they understand without having to read along, or whatever else liturgical experts might think) then which of the following is true:

        1. In choosing to promulgate the Novus Ordo Missae the Church was being:

        a) bad

        b) wrong

        c) misguided and imprudent

        d) ignorant about the issues you and others raise

        e) all of the above

        f) none of the above; and

        2. In choosing to clarify that the Novus Ordo Missae is the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Church continues to be:

        a) bad

        b) wrong

        c) misguided and imprudent

        d) ignorant about the issues you and others raise

        e) all of the above

        f) none of the above

        My problem here is that I don’t think I’m qualified, as a lay observer of the liturgy, to tell the Church she’s being any of a-d or especially e, since it’s not my job to sit in judgment like that over the liturgy. If duly ordained ministers of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are given the task of sitting in judgment over the liturgy and in due time after careful study they announce a-d or even e and what they plan to do to rectify the issues, I will cheerfully accept their verdict and judgments as well as cultivate a helpful spirit toward whatever portion of the implementation falls to me as a lay person in the pews (usually just a matter of getting the responses right, unless it’s decided that it’s much better for no one but the male choir members and/or male altar servers to respond on behalf of the laity for reasons that would doubtless be clear to all at that point).

        For reasons I fail to understand, though, lay observers of the liturgy on the E.F. side seem to think they are indeed fully qualified to pronounce these judgments AND to promulgate their opinions for the good of all (unless I am mistaken and you are actually Father Athelstane of the Congregation for Divine Worship, in which case I sincerely beg your pardon). My fear is that it is simply not spiritually healthy for a lay person to cultivate a spirit which says, “Why, of course the Church is sadly mistaken about X and I know what is right and just,” whether X is the liturgy, moral theology, or the question as to whether drinking a glass of milk on Ash Wednesday between meals violates the fast or not.

        • contrarian

          With respect, Erin, I worry that you are being a bit of a legal positivist about this. I can be a loyal Catholic without sticking my head in the sand.

          This stuff can’t be taboo.

          And keep in mind that to point out the changes in the collects, etc., isn’t to state *opinions*. To hypothesize as to the promulgator’s intelligence or lack thereof, or to offer a conspiracy…THAT’S to offer an opinion.

          This is about facts. I don’t have to be an expert to state facts and deductions. I merely have to be able to read. 🙂

          I’m happy to say that I don’t have an opinion on the motivations or intelligence levels of the promulgators of the new mass (well, that’s a lie: I do, but I wouldn’t ever write about that in a comment box).

          To simply point out that we no longer have to read 1 Corinthians 11:27ff, and that hardly any of the collects of the new mass are offensive to, say, confessional Lutherans, whereas most of the collects of the old mass are–well, that’s not offering an opinion. That’s stating a fact.

          And to follow the syllogism where it leads (re the superiority of the old mass vis a vis the comparative levels of Catholic doctrine contained in each set of collects), that’s not offering an opinion either. It’s stating a fact; it’s letting the deduction go where it logically leads.

          What we DO with those facts and deductions, or what we conclude from these facts, well, that’s above my pay-grade. Most definitely.

          I think part of the problem was that people assumed that talk of ‘superiority’ was an implication about the personal piety of individual Catholics. Totally not what was meant. I happily admit that I’m a crappy Catholic. I also happily admit that I attend the Paul VI rite. I’m concerned about it because I have a canonical right, as an informed parishioner, to raise these concerns.

          • Contrarian, I think that you slightly confuse opinions and facts above. You think that the old collects were offensive to confessional Lutherans and the new are not; I’d want to poll a bunch of confessional Lutherans before I decided that this was a fact. Further, I think that jumping from that point to saying, “Thus, the E.F. Mass is superior, because if our prayers aren’t offending the hell out of Lutherans there’s something deeply wrong with them…” is a bit much.

            Not only that, but as I mentioned to Athelstane above, we would have to know a lot about what was being done and why before we could be secure in our judgments about them. If the collects were being recreated to emphasize things that weren’t emphasized before that doesn’t automatically make them bad, for instance; if they were being rewritten in the light of one of the Masses of one of the other three major or more than twenty minor Rites of the Church that might also be interesting to know. Where I think people sometimes trend too far is when they say as if it’s historically provable fact that the O.F. Mass was deliberately dumbed down and “Protestantized” by secret Communist anti-apostle priests who were trying via the Second Vatican Council to destroy the Catholic Church once and for all.

            So, what I’m saying is NOT “Never criticize a liturgy.” What I’m saying is: don’t default to the option that makes nearly everyone involved in the creation and continued promulgation of the O.F. Mass either an evildoer bent on Mass destruction or a dupe who doesn’t understand or care about the liturgy. Because in battles over liturgical matters, charity is quite often the first casualty.

            • contrarian

              HI Erin,

              Great stuff. Thanks for your response.

              When I say ‘to offend’, I don’t mean ‘to anger’. I mean ‘to find heretical’.

              And when I say ‘superior’ I mean ‘has greater concentration of Catholic-specific dogma’.

              (As a side note, as a former Lutheran, I *loved* the Tridentine Mass, even though I found it filled with heresy. The Old Tridentine Mass was our foil for catechism class, and we studied it. I admired the fact that, like our Lutheran Mass, the Tridentine Mass had a no-nonsense approach. It was was saturated in unambiguous Catholic dogma. It was heretical, but bad ass. It was explicit and uncompromising, and I admired that. When I went with my Catholic friend to his church, well, not so much. Of course, my Lutheran Church had chanting, kneeling, reverence, Bach, and Praetorius, and his church had guitars, silly hymns about being together, and was decorated in a way that would make Zwingli blush with pride. But yes, I know: not the point.)

              That said, an opinion poll simply wouldn’t be necessary, since confessional Lutheranism is a stable and objective body of doctrine. Finding when and where heretical doctrines (for a confessional Lutheran) are found in Tridentine orations is simply a matter of charting. No poll required.

              It’s relevant not because we want to offend, but because a Mass that a confessional Lutheran doesn’t find heretical left and right is mostly likely a Mass that, by definition, has eased up on, or even compromised, its own Catholic-specific ideas. Confessional Lutherans and Catholics have profoundly different ideas about forensic justification, the nature of the will, the propitiatory sacrifice of the Mass, and the merits of the saints. That the Paul VI rite not only doesn’t constantly offend a Lutheran, but doesn’t offend *hardly at all*…well, that’s relevant.

              (Heck, it doesn’t even hardly offend *Methodists*. Who cares about the confessional Lutheran!)

              The question is: cannot I, as a good-standing Catholic, suggest that this empirical fact about the less-than-Cathlic-specific Mass….is *troubling*, whatever the motivations of the promulgators were? Is there any way to say that the fact that the Paul VI rite is less saturated (that’s being diplomatic) in Catholic-specific dogma is a *good* thing, regardless of the intentions of the promulgators? I have trouble seeing how.

              How can that *possibly* be good?

              Though I certainly agree that one should not suggest Masonic conspiracies, or insist on wicked intent (well, you *can* suggest these things, but it’s best to share such theories at dinner parties or over drinks at a pub…not on a comment thread. :))

              Interesting response to Athelstane. Your stories regarding your efforts to baptize your youngest kids…how terrible. But I can relate! Never have I pined for my old Lutheran church so much as when I’ve tried to get my kids baptized at my Catholic parish.


              All the best, Erin. Your comments are great, both here and over on Dreher’s blog. Your own blog is great too.

              • Just to clarify: those weren’t my kids; I was being sympathetic to other families who shared their horror stories–and yes, it included one from a Catholic mom-of-many who tried to go to the required classes, which she could have taught blindfolded, before the baby was born and was told, “Oh, no. We don’t allow that.” When she complained that they didn’t allow even nursing infants at the class which would make it very difficult for her to attend after the baby’s birth her concerns were brushed aside.

                I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree a bit about the O.F. Mass. Certainly, I love that our young Methodist pianist/organist (the organ was a recent gift and is unfortunately not a good one) says the Creed with us (since the new translation, anyway!) and any other prayers he can, including the Our Father and a prayer for vocations Father leads every week. I love that we have so many catechumens every year. I love that Father makes it a point to find out if people aren’t coming regularly and to tell them they should. Now, maybe all of that good stuff was happening in parishes right up to the Council and the older Catholics (some now deceased) who said they couldn’t afford Missals and just prayed the rosary at the Low Mass every Sunday and made sure to get to Communion a couple of times a year weren’t the rule. Maybe the older Catholic gentleman (and longtime CUF member!) I knew who explained in astonishment at one meeting that nobody had ever told him what Catholics meant when we prayed in the Apostle’s Creed that Jesus descended into Hell, and that he was so surprised in his late 60s to find out what that actually meant that he couldn’t stop telling everyone he knew about it, wasn’t a great example of preconciliar catechesis either.

                My point here is simple: if cramming three years’ worth of readings into the Mass doesn’t make people Biblically literate, maybe cramming lots of high-level doctrine and theology into the collects (in Latin!) wasn’t having the desired results in terms of proper religious formation either. Why not give the Church a little time here? In her Entish ways, the forty years and counting since the Council are about the length of a Franciscan’s homily on the Beatitudes. We should practice the virtue of patience, is all I’m really saying.

                • Athelstane

                  One more time, Erin (can’t help myself):

                  My point here is simple: if cramming three years’ worth of readings into the Mass doesn’t make people Biblically literate, maybe cramming lots of high-level doctrine and theology into the collects (in Latin!) wasn’t having the desired results in terms of proper religious formation either.

                  Well, to that I would say that I think it’s wrong to weigh down the Mass (of whichever rite or form) with too much didactic purpose. Ultimately, the Mass is foremost a latreutic act, even for (especially for, perhaps) the most ignorant and unlettered medieval peasant. That is not to say that lex credendi, lex orandi is not a truism here; I think it’s clear that it does have a role in shaping our belief (which is why certain highly progressive parishes and orders refashion the Mass with all sorts of liberties and abuses).

                  Biblical literacy is a serious problem for Catholics – and I am thankful to guys like Mark for doing their bit to address that. And it was in 1962 as well. The Church Fathers rightly recognized that problem. But I think they were misguided in thinking that a vast expansion of the lectionary would have any measurable impact in rectifying it. More serious encouragement in saying of the Office would help. So would more Bible study in parishes. But dumping lots more readings into Mass hasn’t done much save to make homiletics even more of a challenge for priests and deacons, and we’ve lost the ability to retain more by the vital associations of readings with certain days every single year.

                  I don’t expect the lectionary to get altered any time soon; it still has too much support, and there are more urgent issues which command a wider consensus (the new translation was a big enough battle as it was). But I think the groundwork can be laid now, even by laity, for improvements to the OF at some point later in the 21st century, even if I don’t live to see it.

            • Athelstane

              Hi Erin,

              Where I think people sometimes trend too far is when they say as if it’s historically provable fact that the O.F. Mass was deliberately dumbed down and “Protestantized” by secret Communist anti-apostle priests who were trying via the Second Vatican Council to destroy the Catholic Church once and for all.

              Actually, there’s considerable written evidence that members of the Consilium had as a priority making the reformed liturgy more…well, inviting (or at least less alienating) to Protestants. I don’t think this is a disputed point.

              I do agree that mucking about in conspiracy theories about intentions is unhelpful. At the end of the day, we take the missal in front of us, and evaluate it on objective criteria, because that’s all that really matters.

              Because in battles over liturgical matters, charity is quite often the first casualty.

              Sadly, that’s all too true.

        • Athelstane

          Hello Erin,

          Thanks for the thoughtful reply. If you like, I think my answers would be: 1) c and d; 2) c and d. In part because I need a further definition of “wrong” or “bad,” and on their face, it suggests a category of error I am loathe to impute to the Church.

          But you raise a larger question which is important here, and I think it goes right to the heart of something I’ve observed at work in the Church for a long time (formerly in myself): What does obedience to Magisterium demand of us? And what does it permit?

          Here in places like Catholic and Enjoying It! and your blog, we all want to be loyal to the Magisterium, in part because that’s what Catholics are supposed to be, and in part because we’ve all suffered from the effects of those who are not, mostly on the theological “Left.” As laity – even as priests – we don’t want to have to be in the business of second-guessing everything in our worship and devotional life, let alone be our own Popes in matters of faith and morals. Mark isn’t entirely wrong to say of the liturgy: “Just give me my lines and blocking, please.” We want to have trust that the Church has provided us with what we need to give that which is most pleasing to God, and most efficacious for our own salvation.

          I think what happened, however, is that some in power in the Church abused that trust in the remaking of our liturgy back in the 60’s, and the most of the rest of us (bishops, priests included) obediently, with good intentions, went along with it. Not enough to make the sacraments invalid, obviously, or incapable of channeling grace; but enough to shift the meaning imparted in ways that would be more amenable to the modern, western mind: more focus on our actions, less on God’s or the supernatural; less emphasis on the “Four Last Things.” A case in point: the stripping out of all of the exorcisms in the new rite of baptism. Still a valid baptism, no question (my godson was baptized in it); but something was shifted there, and not a small thing. It bothers me, and I think it ought to bother all of us, at least a little. Not enough to make us doubt our faith or our Church (as Newman said, a thousand difficulties do not make one doubt), but enough to ask questions.

          And among what I might call conservative (for lack of a better word) Catholics, I think this attitude hardened as well. The desire to uphold rightful authority in a Church overrun with people keen to disregard it or arrogate it has been extended to all things, with the curious result that we vigorously defend new innovations that we might otherwise challenge if they had come from another source. There’s a risk here for not just an unhealthy ultramontanism, but a chronological ultramontanism, that we may not be wary enough about. As laity, I think we have an obligation to be critically engaged with our tradition, and to realize the limits of the charism of infallibility. The Church will never err and has never erred in matters of faith and morals; but it can make mistakes in lesser matters. Intellectually we know that, but most of us are reluctant to think it could do so in our liturgy. Well: I think it can, and I think 1965 was not the first such time. As a layperson (with or without my advanced theology degree) I think I have a right to respectfully explore that. But I also have an obligation to do so respectfully, charitably, and in obedience, when it is called for.

          A closing thought: You mentioned the potential barrier of Latin, and I think it’s a fair question to ask. I think there is much to be said for a sacral language, but I also think it is less critical than many other things that were changed. The introduction of the vernacular, I must concede, seems to have been the most popular change made in our sacraments. Yet if only that had been the only change made! The vernacular really isn’t my beef here (even if it is that of some others). I may not have the authority (the better word than qualified) to make a formal judgment on these things, Erin, but I think I do have a right as a lay Catholic to raise concerns about them, respectfully. And that’s all I’m doing.

          • Erin Manning

            I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your reply, too, and the one above this one recognizing the potential danger of creating a suspicious attitude toward the Church; when I hear (not from you, of course, but from some) people say quite earnestly, “Oh, all of our bishops are evil; you know they are all modernists and they are working to destroy the Church…” I tend to back away and hope the cutlery is secure.

            But I would say that as a lay person and a Catholic my deference to the Magisterium is pretty much limited to matters of faith and morals–I can, and have, been critical about other things ranging from sacred music to the various hoops parents must jump through to get the sacraments for their children and so on. To me, these things are proper to me in my various roles as a lay woman: I criticize (some) sacred music as a member of a parish choir, and I criticize unduly burdensome requirements for, say, baptism of infants when their parents are registered parishioners and attend Mass every Sunday (except the one time little Athanasius decided to be born on a Sunday, perhaps) but the parish priest won’t baptize the youngest until the parents have signed up for and taken three required classes which can’t be taken until after the baby is born (and, oh, you can’t bring the baby, or any of the other six children, and if you miss a session you have to start all over next time the classes are offered, etc.) because as a mother and the first teacher of my own (now teen aged) children it appalls me to see parents put through this stuff, and so on. In other words, I criticize the things it’s proper for me to be concerned about as a lay woman, a wife, a mother, living out my vocation in the Church.

            For the liturgy, all I can honestly say, and all most people can honestly say, is “It was changed in the recent past.” Few of us would have either the authority or the qualifications to say anything more with certainty, because the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not our proper role (we assist at that offering, but we don’t offer it ourselves). So even to say that it is bad or troubling that certain prayers of exorcism were dropped from the new baptismal rite is to me a step too far, because I don’t know why that decision was made, whether in removing those prayers a deliberate decision was being made to align the Roman Rite more with the past or with the East or with some other good thing, etc. Do we think that the new baptismal rite would not have the power to reject Satan (and all his works, and all his empty promises, etc.) just because those specific prayers were removed, by those given the authority to do so, under the guidance (presumably) of the Holy Spirit?

            So to assume that there was something sinister or troubling or even absent-minded and vague about that removal seems to me to require a leap against the charity we are supposed to have when giving people the benefit of the doubt if we don’t know their motives or the context of their decisions.

            • Athelstane

              Hello Erin,

              I don’t want to belabor a thread that’s fallen off the main page. Let me just say this: I don’t say that the distinction you’re drawing between acting against abuses or unwisdom in acts of the local Church and those of the universal Church, or at least the particular Church (i.e., the territory of the USCCB), is wrong as a basic distinction – but that doesn’t mean that both aren’t open to lay input. I think all of us have fought those fights at the local level. And I have shared many of the same battles you’ve had to fight. I don’t think you’re obliged to fight at the next level.

              But on these larger issues, I think that decisions that don’t impact actual promulgation of doctrine are open to lay input, if it’s informed, respectful, and in a spirit of obedience – and that ranges from how sexual abuse and financial oversight are handled to revisions of the liturgy. (And I grant up front that this input from traditionalists has not always met these criteria.) The reality is that people like me (or you) can now resort to having our babies baptized in the old rite now, if we’re concerned (not rejecting, just concerned) about the new one, and that change came about mainly because of lay activity and lobbying.

              If all tradition-minded laity had simply stayed quiet, and accepted the new rites, despite their misgivings, there’d simply be no Ecclesia Dei, no Summorum Pontificum, no traditional societies or orders – or, for that matter, probably not even the new translation of the 1970 Missal – no matter how much Archbishop Lefebvre and some unhappy priests had complained, or how ever many books or articles Cardinal Ratzinger or Msgr. Gamber had written to criticize certain aspects of the Pauline Missal. The same is obviously even more true of how the Church, both the USCCB and at the Holy See, has been forced to change the handling of sex abuse cases. And the result would be a missed opportunity at restoration of our liturgical life, because it’s clearly having an impact on newly ordained priests who have come to see their celebration of the New Mass, and their own priesthood, in a new light after encountering the Old.

        • Athelstane


          One other point – and I apologize for being so verbose in the combox:

          My fear is that it is simply not spiritually healthy for a lay person to cultivate a spirit which says, “Why, of course the Church is sadly mistaken about X and I know what is right and just,” whether X is the liturgy, moral theology, or the question as to whether drinking a glass of milk on Ash Wednesday between meals violates the fast or not.

          I fully agree (i really do): There’ s a danger here, and some traditionalists aren’t aware that they’re walking into a minefield here. If the left ends up with a hermeneutic of suspicion toward almost anything in the Church between 312AD and 1962, it’s possible for traditionalists to end up with the same problematic attitude toward anything in the Church since then. If you’re not careful, you end up like the SSPX, or worse. Or a combox warrior making a jack*ss out of yourself in Mark’s blog, scandalizing your fellow faithful (and yes, Mark has a point here, alas).

          But I would say that this doesn’t mean that we can’t be critically engaged with promulgation of these things. Strong formation, and a good spiritual life, is needed here, to be sure. Since you raised a fast question, here’s a case in point: Virtually all bishops’ conferences from the 60’s onward did away with the Friday fast (in favor of some “other penance”), a rule that went back to the Early Church. Well, the conference in England & Wales has just restored it. Were they wrong – i.e., imprudent – then, or are they wrong now? Is it not possible for me as a layperson to suggest to my ordinary, respectfully, charitably, that however good the intention here, practice has proven this to be unwise for the spiritual health of the Church? Is it wrong for me to suggest in public, respectfully, that this rule ought to be revisited?

          There’s nothing to keep from fasting on my own on Fridays (or today, an Ember day), of course; I know that. But I do think that obedience is not incompatible with a right to be critically engaged with the daily ordering of the Church.