I’ve been an angry jerk of late

I’ve been an angry jerk of late September 6, 2013

Erin Manning writes:

Mark, I read your piece on the liturgy today, and you know I agree with you on the substance.  For me the lay women thing was cleared up when I learned that in the West the Church divided roles into clergy and lay, so that when formerly clerical roles were opened to lay men and boys there wasn’t a really good reason not to let lay women do them too (except for education and certain customs of not letting men and women mix in public settings, which died out a long time ago).

But the thing that has me worried is the combox tone.  Whenever I’ve gotten really angry at commenters and wanted to swear at them (I’m bad at it, so I usually don’t anyway) it’s because I’ve lost sight of their humanity a little–easy to do when they’re telling me why abortion is grand or why anti-gay bigots deserve what’s coming, maybe, but that doesn’t excuse it.  I get why the Trads can produce that level of anger–if they would use their faith and knowledge and so on for the good of the Church instead of constantly devolving into Us vs Everybody Else stuff–!  One can only imagine.  But at the same time, I’m a bit concerned about the spiritual effect this is having on you.

I know, I’ve got no right, etc., but I’ve been saying a daily Hail Mary for you for years now, so when I saw all that darkness today I got worried.  Your heart is so much better than that, and the Trads really aren’t thinking with the mind of the Church on a lot of this stuff–which is exactly why the Church in her wisdom is tolerating them at present, something they never really seem to realize (which is maddening, sometimes, especially when you read their triumphant predictions about how the O.F. will be suppressed and women ordered to cover their heads again any day now–but I try to remember that actually they’re a bit insane about this stuff, and that the best thing a sane person can do when dealing with the insane is to humor the insanity without giving credence to it).

Erin, you’re a good egg and I appreciate your loving rebuke. Yeah.  I’ve been on a pretty short fuse this week and I’ve been out of line–very out of line. Two hours of sleep in the last 48 haven’t helped.  Nor did coming back from vacation to find my mailbox full of pitchfork-waving reactionaries denouncing people I like and respect as gutless cowards and money-grubbing whores, all on the word of a reckless and profoundly self-serving demagogue and hypocrite.  Also unhelpful was the parade of reactionary lunacy from Pharisees announcing the End of Days because Pope Francis bowed courteously to a woman. This, piled on top of years and years of

and all coupled, as ever, with Reactionaries blubbering and wailing their victimized wail of self-pity when the whole world fails to accept their arrogant condemnations or recognize their arrogant superiority.

I won’t mince words: I can’t stand those kind of people and it is precisely those kind of people who are the common face of online Traditionalism–often to the horror and embarrassment of sane Traditionalists. Multiplied hundreds and hundreds of times over the years, the nauseating effect of their sin (and that’s what it is) piles up. And coupled with their endless pontifications on who needs to be kicked out of the Church (basically everybody who is not them) it added up to this in the past week:

In short, I chose not only to hate Reactionaries but to regard them with cold and resolute indifference (which is more serious since, as JPII observed, the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference). The thing about coming to hate somebody is that you usually have plenty of really good reasons to do so. Lots of hatred is not irrational at all. It is highly rational: you can’t stand that guy or those people because they are a constant source of malice, pain, frustration, pig-headed sin and strained excuses for it all.  So when people say things like, “Don’t give in to senseless hate!” you immediately think, “There’s nothing senseless about it.  I can give you 20 excellent reasons right now why it makes perfect sense to hate those jerks.”

So you’re thinking, “Some apology, Mark. All you’ve done is say why you can’t stand Reactionaries.” Yes.  That’s a feature, not a bug. I don’t know how to work through anger at repellent and unjust behavior without naming it for what it is. I don’t know how to forgive sin by pretending it doesn’t exist. Whereto serves mercy but to confront the visage of offense? And online Reactionary Traddery has piled up a mountain of offenses, not the least being its titanically prideful assumption that every time some Reactionary stabs some innocent in the ribs with a pious shiv he is “speaking truth to power” and the outrage he generates is entirely due to the guilty conscience of wretched sinners recoiling from the light of TRVTH.

No. It’s not. Very often–in fact, usually–it is normal people reacting to the disgusting pride of Pharisees tying up heavy burdens and not lifting a finger to help, or straining at gnats and swallowing camels, or compassing land and sea to make a single convert and making him twice the son of hell that they are. Online Reactionary Catholics are the single most toxic subculture I have ever encountered in the Church. Reactionary Catholicism spends its wasted time on legalistic trivia.  It gets off on evil power trips  by cruelly inflicting guilt on scrupulous people who are already staggering under heavy psychological burdens. Reactionaries pose as courageous defenders of the Faith while huddling in bunkers and attacking people who have made genuine sacrifices and suffered huge losses for Christ.  One can only stand to listen to the threadbare “You have to understand how much they’ve suffered” excuse for so long and the sellby date on that one expired years ago.  So, no: I don’t much feel like I owe those people an apology for saying that their wretched and evil behavior offends and angers me. Injustice is pretty much what anger is designed for, according to Thomas. I owe God the duty of forgiveness to those people and I do apologize to him for letting my anger and cold contempt for them get the better of me. But I don’t owe nasty Reactionaries an apology for being angry at the way they act. They owe their victims apologies, most recently the decent people they smeared as gutless money-grubbing whores. And I have not heard one syllable of an apology from them for that or much of anything else, though I have heard plenty of self pity from them because normal people take offense at their behavior–which just adds to my anger at them.

So what do I do? Well, the command is that if you have anything against anyone (penitent or not) you must forgive (Mark 11:25), which I did not do.  Instead, I added to the toxicity, both in my heart and in cyberspace by choosing to lash out and freeze up with contempt.  So I begin with the fact that Erin’s still right: my anger is toxic too and dangerous to the soul and harmful to innocents.  Therefore, I also start with where I have sinned: namely, letting my fury and contempt float off and start affecting my relationships with innocent bystanders. So, for instance, I owe reader Stu an apology for lashing out at him.  There are a number of other comboxers in that cross fire whose names I can’t recall.  I apologize also to them.  I likewise ask forgiveness of the various good and decent Traditionalist friends I hurt with my anger.

Perhaps the worst injustice I committed by giving in to anger, hatred and contempt was summed up by a sweet kid of a sweet family I know who wrote, “I’m sorry this is what  you think of me.”  Ouch.  His family was the one persecuted and threatened by a local SSPX chapel when they left and re-established communion with the Church.  They paid dearly for that decision at the hands of vicious Reactionaries and I’ve always admired them, as well as just flat liking them as the good and joyful people they are.  And ironically, by giving in to anger and contempt, I gave in to hurting those guys, which is pretty low in my book.  So my profoundest apologies to them too and to all my many other decent friends in Traditionalism who caught shrapnel when I blew up at Reactionaries.  I was wrong to choose anger and hatred.  Mea culpa.

As to the Reactionary offenders remembered and forgotten in the (partial) list of repellent Reactionary sins above, I was also wrong to refuse forgiveness to them.  Given the gravity of Jesus’ warnings about that, I therefore extend forgiveness for the Reactionary sins chronicled above (and those I fail to mention or remember).  I do it unconditionally.  I don’t do it because I think it will be received by the people I forgive. Based on past experience, I find that offers of forgiveness extended to Reactionaries are almost certain to be seen as lah dee dah acts of condescension from somebody who should be ashamed to so much as call himself a Catholic.  But I can’t help that. My job is not to make sure people who have sinned against me and people I like and love accept my forgiveness.  It is to forgive whether they do so or not–indeed especially if they don’t repent.

Why? I extend forgiveness for a simple reason, because Jesus commands it and I don’t want to go to hell.  That’s not really a very spiritually superior reason, since I should do it because I love my neighbor.  But the truth is, I don’t love these people.  I can’t stand them.  So I start with the truth of where I am: with the fear of the Lord that is the beginning, though not the end, of wisdom. It’s the best I can do.  I also ask for the grace to grow in love for Reactionaries so that I can  someday forgive for a nobler reason that the fear of hell.  But that’s going to take some work for a jerk like me.

I also ask for forgiveness for any other readers hurt and offended by the ugliness of my actions.  I know at least one reader wrote to say it was too toxic for him.  I assume there are others.  I’m sorry.  Forgive me.

Finally, a word of thanks to the various folk (many of them very sweet and nice Traditionalists) who have written encouraging things reminding me that while virtually all Reactionaries are self-proclaimed Traditionalists, noi all Traditionalists are Reactionaries.  Your patience with me when I fulminate is deeply appreciated.  Not to go all bumper stickery on you: Please be patient.  God is not finished with me yet.  I shall try to remember the same with Reactionaries.

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  • Colin Corcoran

    I’m sorry to say that I too stand enlightened by your explanation. Please keep in mind that not all “trads” are SSPX, or full of hate. In essence please don’t tar everyone with a general brush. I like to think of those of us in the middle as TLM’ers who find a deep connection to God in the extraordinary form and in the ritual and try to obey the CCC to the letter (even the hard ones).
    But I have all too often found myself on the receiving end from both progressives who see me as regressive and hard core trads who are mad that you can share their faith but not all the baggage. With our wives and daughters veiled and lugging around 1962 missals with our large families spouting Latin it can be hard to tell us apart.
    Now to the root of it – After several years of feeling caught in a crossfire between what God was calling me to and what other humans wanted me to do. I lucked into a community. The downside is this – I have become indifferent to both sides, I can be drawn into an argument but mostly I just ignore them and you’re right – that is not love nor hate – it’s something worse. I’m tired of seeing the Church tear itself apart from the inside because of Libido Domine. I reluctantly changed parishes to the TLM paris after years of impassioned pleas for just one extraordinary form mass per month and being told it wasn’t in keeping with the charism of the parish.
    It’s time we focused on our common ground, the persecution is already rolling along and Catholics are assisting it from within. I can tell that you see this too – thankfully you reach a large enough audience to effect a change of heart if only in a few.
    You keep up the good work, and I’ll work on my indifference to the radicals on my right and left. None of us are perfect, just striving for perfection, and love thy neighbor is the hardest of Christs teachings.


    • chezami

      Nor are all Reactionary nasties SSPX. It’s not that neat.

  • The Ironic Catholic

    I appreciate this honesty, and can resonate with your general frustration, although I tend not to get angry–I get depressed (although some say that’s internalized anger). I frankly avoid comboxes (well, except my own!) for this reason, which is a shame, but good things happen there–or at least can. But may God have mercy on all of us. The infighting drains me like almost nothing else, and that’s saying something.

    Working on being an apostle of joy, but good gravy, there is work to do, Lord!

  • JP

    I hit “indifferent” years ago, and I don’t even have the option of a TLM Mass! I sympathize, Mark and appreciate your frankness.

  • Ryan Ellis

    Speaking as a non-Traddie you’ve often accused of being one, I have one simple question:

    “Can I ask for Masses everywhere to be reverent and obedient to the GIRM or the rubrics involved without being accused of being some wack-job?”

    Not in your column, apparently. I don’t know about all the other stuff you’ve listed. I just want to go to a random suburban parish at 10AM on a random Ordinary Time Sunday and not have to wince. Is that so much to ask?

    • Marthe Lépine

      Well, the way I see it as a non-US Catholic, being in the habit of “wincing” during Mass, of whatever kind, just makes me wonder if the person doing so is actually at Mass to worship God with their brothers and sisters in Christ, or to watch how those brothers and sisters in Christ do their worshipping in order to see how much they measure up. If your eyes were on Jesus during Mass, maybe you would see that some of the ways the liturgy is done in a particular parish setting may seem awkward, but they are probably done by people who are trying to do the best they can with the resources and the talents they have. For example, as I have said before, our choirmistress in my parish is a professional country singer (admittedly, from a small band in a small rural town – but in my informed opinion about music, who is very good at what she does) who donates her time and her efforts to the Church because she is Catholic. There is no way at all that she could ever be attracted to Gregorian chant! But in my opinion as a member of the choir in a semi-rural parish, there is nothing wrong with the choice of music if it reaches the members of the congregation and brings them to worship together.

      • Peony Moss

        Depends on why you’re wincing. For example, there are still parishes out there where the pastors feel compelled to “improve” on every part of the Mass – up to and including the Eucharistic Prayer- with their own ad-libbing.

        • Ryan Ellis

          This is obviously a much bigger problem. Say the black, do the red. Where Shea is wrong is lumping in this concern with those of radical fringe rad-Trads. Caring about liturgy doesn’t make you a nutball.

        • enness

          Thank God in any case. I am realizing now, it is a privilege that not everyone will experience in life.

      • Ryan Ellis

        A couple of answers here, Martha Lepine:

        1. You’re setting up a straw man argument. I never said I longed for a random suburban parish to have a Gregorian Chant choir that does all XVIII Mass settings regularly. I simply said I longed for the random suburban parish to follow the rubrics of the Mass they are celebrating. This includes celebrating liturgies in a sober and reverent manner. That can be done entirely in English, etc.

        2. You are making the cardinal mistake of liturgists everywhere–focusing on what is best for the congregation (or what they think is best for them), instead of what is the best worship we owe to God. Put simply, we owe God the worship that comes from obeying His Church. Say the black, and do the red. If there were zero people in the pews or an SRO Sunday, the liturgy should look the same.

        3. Saying “the Mass can be done horribly provided it’s valid” is a pretty weak argument. We should obey the rubrics and do better for God than that.

        4. I have no problem with country music. I do have a problem if country music replaces with regularity the text and music the Church has given us to sing at Mass. Parishes should be using the Introit, Offertory, and Communion antiphons as their principal Sunday music offerings. If you want a local flavor, that should be reserved for music before and after Mass.

        This is hardly a rad-Trad position, unless you want to say Chant Cafe, et al, is rad-Trad.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Oh… And our little church could not possibly afford an organ (and other maintenance problems such as a furnace, a roof that does not leak and windows that actually keep the winter outside have to take priority when there have to be special collections for church maintenance), therefore the electronic piano/organ, guitar and other string instrument will have to do!

  • Andy, Bad Person

    I appreciate your frustration, Mark, though I come at it from a slightly different angle. As someone who works in the liturgical world and considers himself rather traditional, I find myself frustrated by the breed that you discuss here. I feel like it damages the actual work towards claiming tradition.

    I’ve really been heavily influenced of late by Sherry Weddell’s “Forming Intentional Disciples.” I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, it’s really made me focus on individuals and has helped remind me that we’re all in this Church together.

    As the online guru Sister Mary Martha always says, “Love your fellow Catholics. You’ll have to share heaven with them someday.”

  • BigBlueWave

    Here’s the thing. Atheism is rampant. Abortion is rampant. Souls are being lost to all manner of evil, and you’re worried about Michael Voris commenting on salaries? The Catholic infighting is stoopid. Who cares what Michael Voris thinks? Seriously, how many people actually listen to RadTrads? I *share* your disgust with RadTrads. But you are giving them far too much power by getting so pissed off at them. They are a *fringe*. Their own lunacy discredits them. Isn’t this what Pope Francis meant by being “self-referential?” If you stop being their audience, they will stop pissing you off and you will stop giving them credibility. Geez .

    • chezami

      No. They are not fringe. They are the face of Traditionalism on line. And they have an impact greatly disproportionate to their numbers. They are to be opposed, not excused or ignored. It is exactly because all these other [problems plague the Church that their nasty and poisonous assaults on innocent people have to be rejected, not overlooked. I’m sick of these people sucking all the oxygen out of the room. The popularity of a dangerous demagogue is a serious problem.

      • BigBlueWave

        ” And they have an impact greatly disproportionate to their numbers.”
        Traditionalism online. There you go. Honestly, outside of the internet, I just about never come face to face with RadTrad, and what I’ve seen of them does not worry me.

        What’s the bigger problem? Trads who decry pants on women, or liberals who don’t even get that the Magisterium has to be obeyed?

        Their influence may disproportionate to their numbers, but they’re a very small fringe to begin with. Liberal influence is not disproportionate to their numbers. And that’s the problem.

        • chezami

          The internet is a big and increasing important gathering place for Catholics, like it or not. It matters greatly that Reactionaries have such a presence.

          • BigBlueWave

            Not as much as the fact that the vast majority of Catholics don’t even attend Mass. This is a far bigger deal than fighting over altar girls.

            • chezami

              And yet when folks like CA try to confront that problem, their principal enemies are not the Catholics who miss Mass, but the Reactionaries who do everything in their power to destroy CA.

              The number of Judaizers in the early Church was dwarfed by the number of unbaptized Jews and pagans. But Paul spent considerable energy confronting Judaizers because they had the power, working from within, to destroy the gospel message.

          • HornOrSilk

            And, despite what BBW suggests, these positions on the net I have witnessed first hand. They come out of a significant portion of the “trads” when one goes to the communities and talks with them.

        • enness

          While you’re looking for the “bigger problem,” you have admitted both are problems.

          Personally, I think out-of-control liberalism is heading speedily to its natural end and will burn itself out sooner rather than later. I find that the threat to watch is the less-obvious, stealth one.

      • Peony Moss

        I came on this morning to suggest that, at least for a time, you declare the blog a traddery-controversy-free zone and just take a vacation from the topic for a while. This answers that question.

        • PeonyMoss

          Meaning, thank you for explaining why you continue to engage this topic instead of taking a vacation from it.

          • chezami

            I’d *love* to take a vacation from it. Virtually the only time I address Trad issues is when a Reactionary acts like a Pharisaic jackass and attack somebody I care about. I find liturgy wars to be numbingly boring and have no interest in most of what Trad culture cares passionately about. I would ignore them completely, were they not endlessly attacking innocent people I like far more than I like Reactionaries. I like sane Traditionalists just fine. They are welcome to their interests and passions. I just don’t share them for the most part and don’t think I need to. As long as a Traditionalist doesn’t feel the compulsion to tell me I’m a bad Catholic because I don’t share his interests, I’m fine. It’s just that so many of them can’t resist the urge to say or suggest or insinuate that, as a matter of fact, me and “my kind” *are inferior Catholics. That’s when I start getting all Captain Kirky again.

            • Churro Pope

              Ahem. He was an Admiral during that scene. AWOL, mind you, but an Admiral.

              • chezami

                My cheeks burn with shame. I am unworthy to be a Trekker.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I happen to have grown up in the 40’s and 50’s in an area, the province of Quebec, where Jansenism was still rampant. I think that the rigidity of some of the jansenist attitudes can be compared with that of some RadTrads. In any case, one of their false teachings was that most of the time, lay people were not worthy of receiving the Eucharist, an attitude that seems to me to be an extreme form of the “receiving the host standing, in their grubby hands” attitude of some Trads towards ordinary Catholics doing something that the Church actually allows. And would you like to know what consequences such rigid attitudes can bring? Just do a little research and look at how much the French Canadians from Quebec have become more and more secularized. And I remember a very old and very wise priest teaching a retreat in France mentioning the same problem: He attributed much of the losses of the Catholic church in that country to “depriving the children of God of the bread of their Father”.

      Don’t underestimate the danger to people’s faith of such extreme traditionalist attitudes.

      • Athelstane

        The reason why the “Quiet Revolution” erupted in Quebec did not, I would submit, have much if anything to do with latent Jansenism in Quebecois Catholicism. Rather, it had a lot to do with the French bishops’ misguided introduction of Catholic Action into Quebec to take up youth ministry in the 1930’s – and the generation of Quebecois Catholics it ended up forming in very unfortunate (and highly individualistic) ways.

        The book to read here is The Catholic Origins of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, 1931-1970, B=by Michael Gauvreau.

        • BigBlueWave

          Well, I think the Jansenism may have made liberalism attractive. I mean who wants to be an old fogey reactionary when you can be a cool progressive? I think the real reason the faith fell is that the average Quebecker wasn’t terribly knowledgeable about their faith, even before Vatican II. As they did not have to defend their faith, they didn’t have to learn it.

          • Marthe Lépine

            And how do you know this? My own parents were probably not average… but nevertheless, the more I read Catholic blogs originating in your country, the more impressed I become with my mom’s teaching ability (I was homeschooled for most of the primary classes) and deep knowledge of the faith.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Do you mean to teach me about the history of my own country? Of course, latent jansenism had nothing to do with the “Quiet Revolution”. However it had done some serious damage generations earlier, and had been responsible for many Quebecers having rejected the faith. Other things that happened later were partly a result of that early abandonment of the faith.
          And, by the way, my own father was an early member of Catholic Action groups in Quebec, and I was involved too at some point in my life, and I don’t see the justification of your comment about this.

      • BigBlueWave

        Yeah, has absolutely nothing to do with the lack of faith education and the rampant liberalism. There hasn’t been a genuine Jansenism in Quebec since Vatican II.

        Liberalism is the far greater threat. At least RadTrads comprehend the notion of obedience to Magisterium.

        • chezami

          No. They don’t. They are the other side of the coin. They hate the Church as much as a Progessive Dissenter does. And they have less capacity for humility.

        • Marthe Lépine

          You did not get my point, did you? The damage done by jansenism in a couple of centuries before Vatican II lives on in the generations that follow those whose faith had been affected by jansenism. When these people left the Church, they brought their children with them, and their children’s children, since obviously they did not provide faith education to them. The faith has been lost for several generations, in France as well, and that left the door wide open to secularism, among other ills.

        • enness

          “Liberalism is the far greater threat”
          …For now. Don’t underestimate the swing of the pendulum.

      • enness

        Exactly. The harm done either way is real and not something to blow off.

    • Alma Peregrina

      @BigBlueWave: I’m portuguese, so I can’t speak for America. But I learned not to underestimate fringe nutty movements.

      When one catholic friend of mine told me, some 15 years ago, that abortion on demand was being pushed by a radical left-wing movement, I laughed. I was entering medical school at that time and I knew that it was a scientific fact that life begins at conception. Also, Portugal was a very conservative country on sexual matters at the time.

      So, yeah, let’s not give those left-wing nutters credence. Their own lunacy discredits them.

      Well, not even 10 years later, that “fringe” left-wing movement founded it’s own political party. Who got some seats at the Parliament. And became highly influential on other two left-wing parties with representation in the Parliament.

      And they got to legalize abortion on demand in Portugal. By referendum.

      And I used to think that only nutcases could believe two men or two women constitue a “marriage”. Since, 15 years ago, that idea was ridiculous to the majority of portuguese people (still is, I think). Well, now gay “marriage” is legal in my country.

      No! Do not underestimate “fringe” ideologues! Never think that their own lunacy discredits them! Denounce them strongly from the start or their lunacy will spread everywhere…

      And the Church is more valuable than a country. We cannot let fringe traditionalists (not confusing them with sane traditionalists) destroy her from the inside. Because, it’s in time of crisis that fringe nutcases are considered as serious alternatives. And the Church in the West is in crisis.

  • Marion

    Mark, I don’t envy you your ministry. You are such an excellent writer and thinker; I wish you didn’t have to put up with the goofiness some folks seem to like to dish out. I think I will follow Erin’s example and say a prayer for you daily.

  • Mr. Shea, thank you for writing this, both for the positive example of true humility that it shows, and for clarifying how you feel about the “good, decent Traditionalists”. I don’t always agree with you, but I do respect your intellect, erudition, and zeal, and it would genuinely sadden me if you painted the faithful, sane Traditionalist members of the Church with the SSPX brush. As Im sure it would upset you if someone you respected labeled you as a war-mongering neocon solely because you are an American.

    I pray that the Blessed Virgin Mary, on her birthday, bring you the gift of a new start of grace and the beginnings of the spiritual growth towards the purer love that you so obviously lng

  • Guest

    I personally believe the OF of the mass and the EF are going to be brought closer to one another… at least that’s what I think Pope Emeritus BXVI intended. But what do I know.

    • data_file_7

      Yes, I think that was his goal.

  • Elmwood

    Hey that Jordanian Queen is good looking!! I’d wash her feet any day.

  • Matt J.


    Pardon my ignorance on the matter, but I don’t understand why you, Mark Shea, have such an axe to grind against Voris.

    I’ve been a fan of you, as well as him for a while now, and I honestly don’t understand what seems to be you seething hatred of the man. As best as I can tell, he’s not a “rad-trad” in the sense properly understood. He is well within the norms of orthodoxy in his opinions. Yes, he’s aligned more towards positions that rad trads ALSO are aligned with, but that doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, nor does it make it wrong. If Lenin liked medium rare steak, doesn’t mean that Chesterton is a communist for eating one 🙂

    I have to say, after watching his latest video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbTrOKbl98M) where he explains the history of the RealCatholicTV debacle, and all the various things that happened, that maybe you should just talk to the guy in person (like he suggested in the video). Talk to him, as a person. Not as a scary boogey-man “profoundly self-serving demagogue and hypocrite,” but as another human being.

    At least try to see it to get a perspective of where he’s coming from. I didn’t understand his anger and brashness either, until I understood the history of what was happening with his apostolate. Suddenly the things he says, and why he says them, make a lot more sense. It doesn’t make everything he does “right,” (and I’m not defending every single thing he does) but at least it provides a perspective as to why he’s doing it. I’m willing to stake a lot on the fact that he’s not doing it for personal glory. I might be wrong, of course, as I cannot read hearts of men (and neither can I read yours).

    It looks to me like you’re both on the same side, but with disagreements on the particulars. That’s fine, but can you seriously stop with the bile? Does it help you? Does it help the Church? If Voris is right (and at this point, on the main points he’s trying to make regarding the problems in the Church, it’s hard to say he’s wrong), then it does nobody any good to keep treating him as a “fringe nut”. It’s uncharitable and sinful, and it hurts the Body of Christ.

    I used to be very puzzled why St. Paul had to write in the matter which he did to stop some really stupid bickering that was happening in the Early Church. It looks like nothing has changed.

    • chezami

      I thought I was very clear. Because he is a reckless demagogue who poisons his cult against innocent people, offers a parody of the Church’s teaching, and does very serious harm to the Church.

      • Matt J.

        You didn’t actually read what I wrote, did you? 🙁

        At which point is he presenting a “parody” of Church teaching? I’m serious. Like I said, I’ve been listening to him for a while, so unless he’s pulling a fast one one me, you’re going to have to educate me on this one.

        Sure, there are times that I think he’s off-base, but generally speaking, what he says when it comes down to the faith (and not particulars about how it’s taught, expressed, etc… all matters of personal opinion which are debatable) is solid and orthodox. That doesn’t leave much room for “parody.”

        Are you referring to his episode on NFP? Granted, I’ve not seen *ALL* the Vortex episodes (especially the older ones), but I don’t think he’s talking about holocaust denial, woman pants, and Vladimir Putin worship. Please provide some examples of “parodies” of Church teaching, if this is in fact what he does.

        • chezami

          Yes, I did read you. I just don’t understand your confusion. He presents a parody by framing his entire presentation of the gospel as though everybody and everything he talks about is “lies and falsehood”. He is fundamentally uncharitable. He soft sells anti-semitic cranks. He treats innocent people as enemies and heretics and teaches his cult to do the same. He speaks with endless contempt for the bishops. He treats the Mass with contempt if it’s the OF. He has slimed a good bishop as part of a gay cabal. He has never, ever, admitted to an error or a sin in a single thing has ever said. He is a character assassin. If that’s not clear, I don’t know to make it clear.

          • Matt J.

            >>>Yes, I did read you. I just don’t understand your confusion. He presents a parody by framing his entire presentation of the gospel as though everybody and everything he talks about is “lies and falsehood”.

            Well, the Vortex is but one part of what he’s doing, so it’s not “all” that, but sure, it’s a part of it. While it can be a bit cheesy, here’s the thing… seeing as how people have crapped all over him in the past (again, watch video that I linked, where he talks about it), any reasonable person on this planet would then start to behave with strict suspicion towards these people. That’s how humans work, for better or for worse.

            >>>He is fundamentally uncharitable.

            At times he can be. Frankly, at times, so are you and I. I wouldn’t say that he’s “fundamentally” uncharitable, but certainly has a difficult personality for most people.

            >>>He soft sells anti-semitic cranks.

            Can you elaborate? I think he featured E. Michael Jones once, but I don’t know how “anti-semitic” he is. I sure didn’t like Chris Ferrara very much either. But if this is as bad as it gets, it doesn’t seem that “bad” 🙂

            I know one thing that Voris said that really pissed people off is that he doesn’t really consider modern Rabbinical Judaism as an “authentic” Judaism. He compares it more to a “Protestant” vs. “Catholic” sort of thing, whereas he sees modern Judaism as a “religious debate club”.

            Historically speaking, I don’t know if he’s all that wrong, since with the fall of the Temple in 70AD, the fundamental nature of Judaism changed. They no longer had a priesthood, sacrifice, or a land of their own (until recently, but it’s a secular state). Vatican II elaborated on these things in certain ways, and I don’t think he ever denied anything Vatican II said. In so far as this, he’s not a “RadTrad” in the worst sense of the word (e.g., a schismatic or a heretic)

            Is it his view on Judaism what you consider “anti-Semitic”?

            As to “soft-selling” cranks… that’s something that I think is a bit valid. It’s a bit of a digression, so I won’t go into this too much, but at best, he’s just playing to his base (not pooping where he eats, so to speak). He should be a bit more critical of cranks, IMHO, and not give them a free pass. I bet if he does this, nobody will like him 🙂

            >>>He treats innocent people as enemies and heretics and teaches his cult to do the same.

            “Cult” eh? Nice. :-/

            In his zeal, he may have targeted people that may or may not deserve it. I won’t defend him on all counts. But I don’t really see him doing this routinely. Many times he doesn’t actually NAME names, and speaks in generalities only when it comes to sensitive information.

            >>>He speaks with endless contempt for the bishops.

            This is a tricky one. He’s clearly very angry about many things, most (or all) of which are completely legitimate.

            He sees a certain relationship between the various Bishops, the rampant liberalism in the Church, the empty Churches, and the sex scandals.

            Bishops he criticizes (apart from the Corapi debacle) are either dead and/or publicly scandalous (e.g., Bernardin).

            That’s fair game, in my opinion.

            How he handles it may be debatable, but the fact that a lot of these bishops HAVE screwed up is no longer able to be denied. How one handles in reporting this is a matter of debate. If I recall correctly, he’s on good terms with several bishops, and featured them as guests on his Mic-ed Up series. So surely he’s not all evil, Mark 🙂

            Different personalities handle things differently. But I’m starting to have much less sympathy for these bishops. Certainly saints (not claiming he is one) were able to criticize bishops.

            >>>He treats the Mass with contempt if it’s the OF.

            I’m actually watching for this. I’m not 100% sure if he has contempt for the OF Mass as it is, or for the various abuses and inadequacies. He rarely says things directly on this matter, so it’s a lot of “reading between the lines.”

            There’s “valid” ways to criticize it, and there’s heretical ways. I’m not convinced that he’s crossed that line to my knowledge (calling the OF illicit, invalid, etc.). Has he said anything directly contemptuous towards the OF, or is it just hints and suggestions? There’s room here for legitimate Catholics to debate the matter, without either being vilified as a heresiarch.

            >>>He has slimed a good bishop as part of a gay cabal.

            Referring to the Corapi thing? I think Voris completely dropped the ball on that one.

            >>>He has never, ever, admitted to an error or a sin in a single thing has ever said.

            Agreed. The Corapi thing was pretty stupid on his part, and he SHOULD have said something about it afterwards when SOLT came out with a statement. If I recall correctly, he didn’t mention that at all. Sad.

            Perhaps he considers it “collateral damage”… I don’t know. I do hope that he modifies his attitude a bit on this regard.

            >>>He is a character assassin. If that’s not clear, I don’t know to make it clear.

            He can be, but so can you. So is anyone that’s opinionated and has zeal, but isn’t yet a saint.

            There are times that I don’t think he does justice to authentic journalistic standards (and Catholic charity), and tends to “jump the gun” so to speak. But that being said, he does a great deal of good as well. This doesn’t excuse his shortcomings, but we are called to charity to others. Your current attitude towards him will certainly not help things along.

            What strikes me as strange is that in many ways, you and him are very similar (yet he’s also your “arch-villain” as of late). That’s why I enjoy reading/watching you both. 🙂

            I think that’s why it bothers you so much that when you screw up, you (eventually) apologize profusely, yet when he does something stupid, it goes by without notice from him. Pray for him, then.

            I don’t think that either of you have bad intentions. I think both of you love the Church a great deal.

            He wants to bring to light a problem which he honestly believes is one of the worst the Church has ever seen (worldwide). Statistics like 2% of 4-some million Catholics attending Mass in the Netherlands scares him horribly, and he’s acting on this to do something to fix it, doing what he knows best (journalism).

            Not to try to psycho-analyze everything here, but I think he may see himself something similar to an Edward Snowden of the Catholic Church. If you praised Snowden for doing what he did, you shouldn’t then criticize Voris for doing something similar (again, personal failings aside).

            Not everything he’s doing is right, but I have a certain amount of respect for an idealist “underdog” working for transparency in the Church. I’m not at all certain, as you seem to be, that his motives are vile. As time goes on, I’m more convinced of the contrary.

            But please regain a sense of balance on all this. Not everything he’s doing is wrong. Throwing words like “his cult” around are basically a tacit blanket disapproval of anything and everything that comes from him. I urge you to use more care with how you speak, since I don’t think such language is warranted at this point. It’s poisoning the well, and you know it. This isn’t “Maria Difine Mercy.”

            Assuming that Voris speaks the truth (which is an assumption I will grant him, until shown otherwise), his latest video explains the history of his apostolate, and how the mainstream “Catholic establishment” (bishops, chanceries, etc.) are actively vested in some rather nasty business.

            If it offends you terribly that he has cruises during Lent and has an attitude of “us vs. them”, before you get upset about it, you have to ask whether or not such an attitude is warranted or not, and whether it has a legitimate place in the Church.

            He may believe that he is called to educate Catholics to KEEP them Catholic. For you, it smacks of RadTrad “Remnant” elitism. For him, he’s trying to do what he knows how to do best in order to save a sinking ship.

            The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church… but it doesn’t mean it won’t be trampled in specific places. He’s trying to do what he can to keep the faith alive in the US.

            You can’t read his heart in the matter, so you might do well to take him at his word.

            His message might not help certain groups (maybe Protestants for example) very much. But his target audience is to help Catholics understand their faith, since the vast majority of them received a terrible education in the matter. Give him credit where credit is due. In this way, he doesn’t stink of heterodoxy in the very least. And so, it’s disingenuous and erroneous to call him preaching a “parody” of the Catholic faith. His personal shortcomings aside, his orthodoxy is pretty solid.

            But isn’t that how the Church operates? Different members, and all that? Must you have a hostile attitude towards him at all costs, and read all he does with a hermeneutic of suspicion?

            That’s crossing the “fundamentally uncharitable” line, IMHO.

            I just think it’s stupid that people on the same side are doing this.

            Anyway, I apologize for making this so long. God Bless.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Reading this, I am reminded that nobody is always wrong or always right. But the fact that Voris is often right and that he probably has good intentions does not necessarily mean that when he is in error, the error he spreads can be dangerous… And what counts is how much influence those errors can have (since much of what he is correct about can be learned from other sources), and there is nothing wrong with pointing out what is incorrect or misleading.

  • Lauren Enriquez

    Excellent, wonderful, and honest. Kudos to you, Mark, for your candor, spot-on-ness, and humility. Your observations all outline my own experience with uncanny accuracy, and your apology is very genuine. Here’s to hoping jerks like you and me can one day claim the noblest of motives– true love.

  • Florentius

    I’m a “semi-trad” who’s had conflicts with both sides. In my experience, the best thing to do with the invincibly ignorant crazy-trads is to ignore them. Don’t engage with them. There’s no point because they are not going to change their tune and the more you argue with them, the more they become convinced that you are part of the cabal. The best thing to do is pray for them and ask them to pray for you. God
    will deal with them and if their apostolates are not inspired of the
    Holy Spirit, you may rest assured that they will bear no fruit.

    The crazy-trads have no power. Zero. Nada. They have a few blogs and other outlets that reach maybe 50,000 people total. Big whoop. Nobody outside their echo-chamber listens to them. If 1,000 of them send you nasty-grams, well that’s what the “delete” button is for. If you ignore them, they’ll leave you alone eventually. If you keep provoking them, however, you can be certain that your inbox will continue to fill up.

    Meanwhile, there is a real problem in the Church in America. Too many of our prelates and clergy are still dissidents beholden to local political interests and caught up in the malignant zeitgeist. If this weren’t a problem, guys like Michael Voris wouldn’t have a ready audience of devout but frustrated non-Trad Catholics. Not everyone who listens to him is a “Rad-Trad”. He’s tapping into the very same frustration that the laity has dealt with for the past 30 years–the same frustration that Mother Angelica gave voice to so fearlessly and effectively on EWTN back in the 1990s.

    You want to make guys like Voris irrelevant? Then beat him at his own game and do it not with vitriol, but with love. Speak out for those millions of non-trad Catholics who live in dioceses where the dynamism of the Church is being tamped down by those who run things at the chancery offices. Be a voice for those who feel like the Church takes their money and funnels it to non-Catholic and even anti-Catholic political and cultural causes. Don’t provide cover when bad actions are revealed–like some Catholic bloggers recently did for CRS. Be brave. Be charitable. But criticize forcefully when it’s warranted–even if it threatens your meal-ticket to do so.

    • Squiboda

      You’ve been saying the same stupid stuff for 15 years to excuse yourself for acting like an ass.

      -dirty hippy hits Jenny in the face

      “It’s because of that bastard Johnson and this war!!!!”

      Forrest – “He should not be hitting you Jenny.”

      Seriously Mark. It’s been well over 10 years. If the “online trads” are forcing you to constantly act like an ass then maybe the problem is you shouldn’t be online. Grow up or get out.

      And no, I’m not a trad. I attend a vanilla NO parish.

  • contrarian

    I’ve converted to a new religion, and changed (and reconsidered) theological and philosophical positions in the course of my young life. When people ask me what book was most important in my conversion to philosophical position x or theological position y, I tell them. But I usually don’t tell people something equally important: that it was reading philosophy and apologetics blogs, and the arguments on comment threads, that led me to important ‘a ha!’ moments.

    This might surprise some old fogies, but it won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog and others like it. The internet is a funny thing that way. It’s not all dogs on skateboards. There are some smarts cats running blogs–experts, professors, intellectuals, etc.–and sharp folks (experts, professors, intellectuals, smart people who aren’t any of those things) following them on comment threads.

    Certainly, a comment thread isn’t for the weak-kneed, and it probably isn’t the right environment for people with thin skins or difficulty ignoring the crazy. But if you can take a punch now and then, and if you can restrain yourself from responding to a jerk store, you can probably learn a lot by reading and engaging in online arguments, provided that it’s the right blog.

    This is such a blog.

    There are some terribly smart people on the comment threads of *this* fine blog, and some impressive erudition is displayed during combox battles.

    Given the level of knowledge that I’ve witnessed here on the comment threads, no doubt good discussions can be had on this blog. They ARE had! So we should be able to have discussions about positions that are perhaps out of the comfort zone of the fine author of this blog, without things going all to shit. To wit: traditionalism and its various strands. As long as we approach these issues piece meal, and we look at the issues themselves and not the moral characters of certain people associated with those positions, or equate the position (and rhetoric) of two radically distinct commenters, or assume that the commenter is saying something that he really isn’t explicitly saying….well, we’ll be able to make some progress. This might mean simply ignoring people who decide to be dickish. But oh well. Ignore them and argue (the issues themselves) with the people arguing (the issues themselves).

    Perhaps, moreover, if this is done, not just by us commenters, but also by this fine blog’s host, a quarterly ‘mea culpa’ by this fine blog’s author wouldn’t be necessary, and we’ll help filter out drive-by snark. For drive-by snark will simply look out of place, and after a while, the trolls will edit themselves (it’s only human nature) and look somewhere else to troll.

    Right now, snarky drive-by comments don’t look out of place.

    I’ve taught online classes. The merits of an online class is that discussions proceed without nonsense, since…well, no one is going to be a dick to their fellow online classmates, even if they aren’t physically sitting next to them. And, of course, no one is going to be a dick to the person giving them a grade (I don’t envy the host of this blog).

    But more relevantly, the students are graded by the content of their arguments and not by their rhetoric or snark. Snark and rhetoric are fine, but it doesn’t improve their grade. There’s real motivation to both be civil, and to argue the issues themselves.

    So…perhaps discussions of traditionalism and its various merits (or problems) might proceed better on this blog if we thought of this like an online class, with Professor Shea at the helm. If we did that, we’d be able to do something that no online class could do: educate not just ourselves, but all of the people who are *reading* the comments and not commenting themselves. And that’s a lot of people! It’s just a matter of making sure we are arguing the issues themselves, and not falling back on rhetoric and association. As I say to my students, if you can’t hack it on the discussion boards, have the decency to drop the class.

    Moreover, if Professor Shea, for reasonable reasons, cannot filter out his own negative experience with traddy trolls when forming a response to civil commenters on his blog, he might do well to simply let us civil commenters have at it by ourselves. We would be grateful to have the opportunity to use his comment threads.

    Obviously, this advice won’t be heeded by everyone, but I certainly see a lot of the same handles from thread to thread. You people know who you are. You are damn smart people! Yes, the numbers here are small, but many people are reading and not commenting. Imagine how instructive we could be to someone confused about a certain issue, if we all decided to *argue* the issues. 🙂 And, as mentioned, if we did that, the trolls would get intimidated and move elsewhere. It’s a Malcom Gladwel’ish point to be sure, but it might well be true anyway: we could most certainly establish tipping points.

    As someone who cares about some of these issues, and as someone sympathetic to many positions espoused by ‘traditionalists’, I’m quite interested in having civil debate about this on this–a well-written blog read and discussed a lot of people–without things going all to hell. My handle ain’t for nothin’.



  • Erin Manning

    Mark, I only had the guts to write at all because you called me out a few times back when I was apologizing for torture and/or shilling for Republicans, and I still deeply appreciate that even now, because I was being a complete jerk about that stuff (not to mention trying to twist Church teaching in just the right way so I could go on being an apologist for politicians–have I mentioned lately how sorry I am for having done that, ever? No? Well, I am). You’re *good* at that fraternal correction stuff, and I’d hate to see you give it up.

    But, well, “fraternal” implies that we’re thinking of the other guy as a brother–a sadly deluded, mistaken, wrongheaded, pigheaded stubborn brother sometimes, but a brother nonetheless. Ultra-radical Trads have always seemed to me to be like the older brother of the Prodigal Son–they can’t see the gifts they have; they can only see God’s gifts given to people who don’t (in their eyes) deserve them, and blame everybody but God for that–and that’s before we even get to the bit about how faithful adherence to the most perfect form of the Mass they can find (their view, not mine) does NOT mean they deserve God’s gifts either, because none of us does.

    What I think, though, is that the Reactionaries are coming from a place of deep, deep fear. They worry that their Vatican II baptisms weren’t good enough for God (really, some of them do). They worry that the time they spent in an O.F. parish not speaking up when Father skipped the Kyrie will be counted against them. They fear their own sins and doubt God’s mercy. And they project that fear and dread onto everybody else, because the only comfort they seem to be able to find in that place of pain is, “At least we’re exclusively going to the Mass God likes instead of that trashy one! At least we’re doing everything right, unlike those hippy-dippy Catholics! At least we chant! At least we forbid our children to have anything to do with the culture! All of those other so-called Catholics are fornicating contracepting abortionists, so surely God will look kindly on us–why, look at how much we suffer to be right!”

    The real tragedy here is that they’re not just the older brother of the Prodigal Son; they’re the servant who buried the talents out of fear of his master. Christ makes it pretty clear throughout the Gospels: the option to build a bunker and let the rest of the world go merrily to Hell is not open to us. God will ask us to account for our use of His gifts, and Heaven help us if we have to go dig up the box we buried them in out of fear that they might be touched by any corruption.

    So, they do need our prayers and forgiveness and help and love to overcome that fear. Some of them never will, perhaps, in this life. But all we can do is keep trying.

    • Andy

      The fear that you cite runs rampant in my interactions with the reactionaries in the church. “Fear”‘ to quote from Herbert’s Dune “is a mind killer.” When the emotion that is most present is fear the ability to change or to accept someone else disappears.
      It becomes difficult, and this is what our host is dealing with, to ignore the fear, to ignore the associated behaviors. It is this fear that leads to cults of personality, it is the fear that leads to “feelings of superiority” which translate into attacks.
      But where I disagree is that I am not sure that they believe that God will look kindly on them. I see in their reactions an unhealthy fear of God – a fear that says I must destroy those who are impure. I think that forces the “reactionaries” to become even more virulent. It is this fear that leads to these folks saying “leave the church” or that the OF is not the real mass.
      By the way the “progressives” have the same issues.

      • contrarian

        Hi Erin and Andy,
        No doubt, there are trads who have some severe emotional issues, and it could well be right that they are ruled by an irrational fear (or fears). But we should remember to engage charitably with those trads who offer arguments instead of offering a psychological diagnosis. It will do no good to simply offer a psychoanalysis.

        Remember: anyone can give a psychoanalysis, and no psychoanalysis can be falsified.

        (To wit:
        “You only think that way because you are afraid.”
        “Actually, I’m not afraid at all.”
        “Well, you might think that you’re not, but deep down, DEEP DOWN, you are.”

        If trads offer arguments, we should deal with them and not psychoanalyze them.
        I for one agree with many positions associated with traditionalists, and I consider myself a pretty happy, un-fearful fellow. I’m married to a beautiful gal, I have a bunch of rowdy boys, and I’m pretty damn happy. I fear the Yankees and have emotional attachments to Shea Stadium, but that’s about as far as fear and emotion rule my life. 😉

        • Andy


          Let me address your fear of the Yankees- I am a Yankees fan and have emotional attachments to them because of a nun who had two nephews in the system – unfortunately one was a catcher and the other played first base in the early to mid 70s. So be gentle please. 🙂

          I agree about dealing with arguments as they occur. I was referring to my own situation – as the chair of the pastoral council for recently consolidated cluster – 6 churches to to two, with on e priest and on retired priest to say masses. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was going to hell because the TLM was offered only once on Sunday and then it was at 8 AM, with two priests to offer 7 masses, because one has to offer at the Neuman Association. I had to in my position require more TLMs. If they weren’t offered then I was responsible for so many others besides myself going to hell. It is hard to deal with that argument. Or perhaps my new favorite – our retired priest is arthritic and has asked that a large man be on the altar when he says mass so he can move around and genuflect and the like when he has to. This I am told is a violation of the liturgy, and it is up to this 80 year old priest to follow the liturgy as written and not add an aide. Followed by the question what are you and the pastor going to do about it? I encounter these demands(?) arguments on a weekly basis.

          I as well find myself attracted to some of the positions of the traditionalists, and then I encounter these folks. From the Catholic Encyclopedia – Fear is an unsettlement of soul consequent upon the apprehension of some present or future danger. As I was told – responsible for so many going to hell. This what I was referring to an unsettlement of the soul – I think this unsettled nature leads pronouncements and actions to allay the fears.

          If I sounded like a psychoanalyst, please forgive me.

          • contrarian

            Oh, no worries, Andy. No doubt, you’ve dealt with some traddies who expected the impossible, and were less than polite when explaining their reasons why–assuming they even bothered to explain their point and didn’t just yell at you, which is more likely.

            I myself have to make sure to bracket my own experience going into these arguments. I’m familiar with very nice, reasonable folks interesting in implementing a TLM who, for many years prior to 7/7/07, were told to go suck it by their bishop, and who have been less than successful implementing a TLM since that date, even though they have provided the diocesan parish both the personnel and the resources. Similarly–stuck as I am here at St. Zwingli’s, with a TLM a major commute away, and a Novus Ordo Mass free of idiocy nowhere in sight, I myself will read this fine blog’s author’s musings on liturgy and those who argue about such things and think, ‘What is Mark smoking?’ But then I remember that he’s dealing with a different set of experiences, and I keep that in mind.

            It’s like that scene from Notting Hill, where Julia Roberts character awakes to find the paparazzi outside of the apartment. She freaks out, and Hugh Grant doesn’t know why. “Our perspectives are different!” she yells.


            Yet, even when this author’s fine host doesn’t, it’s always best for us commenters to bracket our experiences when arguing with someone on the internets, and deal with the arguments themselves. Real progress can be made that way, not just for those arguing, but for the scores of folks out in cyberspace reading along. This no doubt will involve ignoring a lot of riff raff, and perhaps even this fine blog’s host. He is gracious enough to let us argue with each other on his comment threads.

            And believe me, I have my own psychological hypotheses re those who disagree with me on the virtues of the TLM, but it’s best to leave them at bay.

            Then again, I’m not sure why I should be saying any of this stuff to you, or even trying to engage you civilly, given that your’e a Yankee fan. I must be crazy. 🙂

          • Kathleen M. Ritter

            Andy — I am telling you in no uncertain terms that you are going to hell because you are a Yankees fan.

  • Iohannes

    Mark, if you do really forgive those people, their sins will in your sight change from threats that ruthlessly uncover your vulnerability and helplessness to series of desolate tragedies, which unfailingly elicit sorrow and compassion. I acknowledge that extreme measures must occasionally be taken in order to protect the innocence, but to take extreme measures against those whom you have compassion for always causes excruciating pain instead of eliciting a sense of power to remedy vulnerability. Compassion and deep sorrow can be principal signs of genuine forgiveness.

    • chezami

      Who appointed you arbiter of “If you really do forgive those people”? One of the many things I can’t stand about Jansenist Traditionalism is its infallible ability to kick people when they are down and to load down struggling people with “You’re not trying hard enough.” demands for instant perfectoin. Thanks for nothing.

      What is the *matter* with people like you?

      • Cassandra

        Who appointed you arbiter over these things you rant about, Shea? It’s hilarious to watch you in your hypocrisy.

        I’ll watch for my comment to get deleted. Suppressing criticism is important to maintaining narcissism.

        • chezami

          I’m not arbiter of anything. I’m a free man with opinions and ideas. And you behavior is the perfectly predictable fulfilment of Reactionary mercilessness.

    • enness

      Perhaps it was an unfortunate choice of wording, but I thought that Iohannes seemed to be alluding to the nobler way of love that was in fact mentioned in the OP…I could be wrong.

  • Brennan

    Well, speaking as an ultra Rad-Trad who hates everyone and anything that doesn’t conform to the Church of Me and is desperately trying to get my Archbishop to excommunicate my entire parish (including the priest) I have reached a conclusion. It may be a fairly obvious one. And that is, between conservative (for lack of a better word, I don’t mean it as an insult) Catholics and traditionalist Catholics we literally have nothing in common.

    Yes, we may adhere to certain doctrines in the abstract sense but beyond that it is a no-go. If someone doesn’t actually care about the liturgy beyond a mere lack of abuse, then yea, we have nothing in common. Or thinks there’s no problem with altar girls, standing for Holy Communion, and communion in the hand pretty much because the Church has allowed it, then yea, we have nothing in common.

    And note I’m talking about the views of mainstream traditionalism here, not anti-semitism, sedevacantism or any other offshoot that should be rightly condemned. And yea, I don’t like anyone attacking Catholic Answers regarding the salaries of their staff–it’s a bit gauche, to put it mildly.

    So these differences will most likely continue ’til Kingdom Come as the differences are fundamental and one is no more likely to get a traditionalist to stop caring deeply about the liturgy and all those other things conservatives in general don’t care about than it would be for conservatives to suddenly want all women to wear headscarves to Mass.

    I don’t know what the solution is, probably these differences were there to be potentially exploited prior to the Council but after the Council the way things developed there is now a rift between those (traditionalists) who dislike most of the changes after Vatican II, particularly in regard to the liturgy, and those (conservatives) who will defend all of these changes to the full because they were promulgated by the Vatican.

    Maybe we should just not be talking to each other; usually you only get somewhere in discussion if you have something in common. Or perhaps any discussion should just be set up in the form of a debate.

    • chezami

      Probably depends on what you do more than what you think. If you stay, then there’s hope. If you leave because your opinions are more important than the Church, then you, more than most people are in danger of the everlasting fires of hell. Because you,. more than most people, really know that outside the Church there is no salvation. You’re entitled to your opinions. You’re not entitled to condemn others for not sharing them.

      And, by the way, its absolute hogwash that you have “nothing in common” with your fellow Catholics. Grow up.

      • Brennan

        I would, by the grace of God, never leave the Church. I don’t expect prudential decisions regarding things like liturgy to line up with what I think is best so I’m not surprised when they don’t.

        Yes, we share the same faith, but when it comes to just about any viewpoint on, say, liturgical matters and what traditionalists and conservatives consider important we really don’t have much in common. That’s what I meant. But thanks for telling me to “grow up” but I’ve got to say “no way” because if I do my Mommy won’t give me a cupcake whenever I throw a hissy fit and start crying! So it’s really not a possibility for me.

        • Fr. Denis Lemieux

          Brennan – ‘conservative, not traditionalist’ priest here (if we must have labels which I deplore, those are mine!). I love the Eucharist with a love that takes my breath away. Sometimes I have a hard time getting through the words of Consecration at Mass, it is so overwhelming. Our Lady is my Mother, my queen, my guide, and the most beautiful of all God’s creatures. The Sacrament of Penance is my life line, my direct access to the mercy of God, and it is the great joy of my priesthood to extend that to all who come seeking it. Do we have anything in common yet, or should I keep going? I have more…

          • MaryRoseM

            Awesome, Fr. Denis!

          • Brennan

            Hi Father,

            I’m sure I overstated my case in my first post. To be more specific, I think it’s in liturgical matters that traditionalists and conservatives often don’t see eye to eye.

            But yes, I’m sure we can share a love for the holy Eucharist, confession, and the Blessed Mother and I’m sure your love for these things and for our Blessed Lady is reflected in the way you celebrate Holy Mass. God bless you Father.

            • Fr. Denis Lemieux

              God bless you, too! Let us never despair of finding common ground, and let us pray for one another always.

              • Brennan

                Yes, that’s good advice Father. Thanks.

          • Sigroli


    • Elmwood

      Your posting reminds me of how ultra-traditionalist Eastern Orthodox view “Roman Catholicism”, that we have little in common and they see little to no distinctions between “Roman Catholics” and mainline protestants.

      Be careful with being overly consumed with the accidents of the liturgy. A friend of mine left the catholic church and became Orthodox because of her devotion to pre-Vatican II liturgical piety . She and many traditionalists seem to believe they will be saved by this piety, like Pope Francis said by comparing them to Pelagians.

      • Brennan

        Hi Elmwood,

        While I believe the liturgy is extremely important to the life of the Church, I agree with you that it is no reason to leave the Church over, regardless of the state of the liturgy. There is only one Church founded by Christ with Peter as its head. God bless you.

      • “Ultra-traditionalist” Orthodox who do not see a distinction between Catholics and Protestants are schismatic themselves. Pray for them. They are in rebellion against their own bishops. In extreme cases there has been violence over it.

        The bishops of both Catholicism and Orthodoxy admit that we are one Church, though profoundly wounded.

  • Mark, What is most redeemable about your post is its sincerity. You don’t leave your thoughts on the matter hidden but explain how you feel and what you believe you should feel and do. It helps to know exactly what you object to and I share some of your concerns.

    For me, the real issue here is charity and dialogue method. I have had my run ins with Reactionary Traddies lately, and I struggle with my belief that they have a narrow view of the Church, and are self-righteous, putting some form of rigidism in the way of Charity, and condemning all who don’t accept their beliefs. I have also seen a friend’s theological opinion treated rather harshly on this blog. The source of the differences that lead to these problems are legitimate differences of opinion and belief. Its the method in which we present, the charity in which we disagree, and fairness towards folks that treat Church law and other practices more strictly or less strictly. In the end, we need to bring the professionalism of a theological or philosophical debate found in a professional journal to our blogging. I’m not saying the writing should be the same or leave out your sharpness of wit but treating differences of opinion and belief with clarity of argument not harshness in our language.

    • Athelstane

      Charity remains the virtue that traditionalists struggle with the most, unquestionably. Faith and hope – they usually have in abundance.

      There may indeed be something in the traditionalist mindset that creates this struggle, but I think it must be noted that for many years post-1965, those of a traditional mindset or sympathy (which might have been no more thought out than a dismay at the loss of how they had always worshiped) were treated with zero charity by many in Church leadership, to put it mildly. And this hardened some of them. Not all of them, but some.

      All of which is not to make an excuse, but just an observation. And an explanation.

      It has been my hope that Summorum Pontificum would defuse these tensions, loosen things up, create more charity on BOTH sides as it brought new people (and clergy) into traditionalist Masses and communities with out the baggage, brought many traditionalists in turn into the mainstream of the Church. That seems to be happening, gradually. I can see real differences in how things have changed over the last ten years. I hope and pray it continues.

      • Stu

        This is true. Those in the past who were hurt by years of being marginalized have softened some and they are much older now. The pull to the EF is a youth movement. It’s becoming a completely different demographic daily.

    • John Hiner

      “Charity” is the love of Jesus Christ for God the Father. Is that what you are talking about?

      • moseynon

        Charity may start with that love, but it is much more than that. As Christ pointed out, the two greatest commandments are to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

        It is that second commandment in which we Catholics most often fail, especially those of us who post online.

      • Yes, we imitate the Love of Christ for the Father when we love others, as Christ loves them.

  • Dave G.

    I just don’t have time this morning (I work Saturdays) to comment. There were a couple positive things here, but a couple things I see as problematic and concerning. Wish I had more time but I don’t. I’ll be praying.

  • I’m confident they don’t ID as “reactionaries.” I’m grateful for that, at least.

  • Athelstane

    “Reactionaries physically threatening the OF untermenschen in my parish…”

    This really happened? Threats of physical violence? For worshiping in the OF/NO?

    Seattle is a spicier place than I thought.

    • Sherry Weddell

      Yes. It did happen. I was there. It was a stunning first experience of Catholic Traditionalism.

  • MaryRoseM

    Mark, you reacted quite rudely to a comment I made about the “liturgy police”. Your response to me was “tough” , “if the shoe fits”. You don’t know me at all and yet you reacted to my comment as if I was somehow an enemy. I’m not a traditional Catholic. I’m an obedient Catholic who follows what the Catholic Church teaches here and now. The GIRM makes it clear what is permitted in the liturgy. I get upset when “both sides of the coin” are disobedient. It is utter nonsense to believe laity can only receive from the consecrated hands of a priest and that one must kneel to receive. I’ve seen this happen during mass while a Deacon and an EMHC are also available. Some in the congregation would rather form a line to wait for the priest. Also, what gives any priest or deacon the right to change the words of the liturgy? Just what gives a Deacon the right to assume the orans position of the priest when the Lord’s Prayer is being recited? It doesn’t. Hand-holing by the congregation is also incorrect. Why? Because it is not the Lord’s prayer that unites us at Mass, it is the Eucharist. Are any of these offenses terribly serious in nature? No they are not but the fact remains that everything the Church does has a purpose. The fact that these inconsistencies are pointed out does not, in my opinion, make me or anyone else the “liturgy police”. Whether one identifies with the “left” or the “right”, both are incorrect and prideful positions. I do not understand why there needs to be division. Just what is it that makes some people believe they know better than the Church? Lastly. all of us are entitled to respectful dialogue even if there is disagreement. Christian’s are called to this.

    • enness

      “The fact that these inconsistencies are pointed out does not, in my opinion, make me or anyone else the “liturgy police”.”

      Correct. It depends more on how, where, why, how often, etc.

  • Rachel

    No harm done Mark. My husband and I identify with trads really because we love the Extraordinary form of the Mass (its the one we primarily go to). However, we are also VERY disgusted with the attitudes exhibited by some online reactionaries (the sort you mentioned in your post). If we were also caught in the crossfire, we are not offended. It happens. That said, keep up the good work you do 🙂 and God bless you.

    • chezami

      Thanks Rachel. You’re a sweetheart.

  • Magdalene

    I love tradition and the EF form of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This does not make me a ” rad trad” or a ” reactionary” nor even a ” traditionalist”. I belong to a normal but very good parish where we do not even have the EF but I can go to another on Sundays that does.

    Having just returned from a trip and having visited a number of parishes, I can tell you that the state of some of them is deplorable! Ugly churches with the tabernacle somewhere else….in one case across the hall and two rooms over and Mass was Mass the Musical. There is no reverence and liturgical abuses are in evidence and it is an endurance to attend. THIS is what drove heartbroken people to find a place where true doctrine is taught and there is peace and reverence and true hymns as their hearts longed for.

    You are describing schismatics and not all wanted to be but could find no home in an irreverent Novus Ordo parish. some did become embittered and angry. For over 40 years in so many places there has been little catchesis and so few understand the Holy Eucharist and the sacramental life now. Catholics put the present corrupt administration in power…why? Because so many do not either know or do not accept the teachings of the Church.

  • Polombo

    A fraternal suggestion: Dial down the rhetoric. I think you’ll feel less angry if you emit less fire.

    • senrex

      This type of irrational anger springs from either fear or guilt or both.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Over the top it is, but irrational it isn’t.

      • Donna

        It’s not irrational anger. It’s very rational anger based on abusive behavior of others.

  • Polombo

    But also thank you for your honesty, and your fidelity to Jesus where fidelity is apparently difficult. This is obviously not the time to pursue a controversy, but please consider the possibility that people can strongly believe a trad diagnosis of the Church’s current ills without having contempt for Catholics who disagree. You rightly say forgiveness must begin with the truth of sin, but it’s not perfectly clear to me that all of what irritates you is sin.

  • moseynon

    Mark, the reason I don’t blog is because blogging exposes oneself to all kinds of insults and personal attacks, often from persons who do not use their real name. That sort of anonymous sniping would quickly overwhelm me, weak as I am, so I have a lot of respect for high-profile bloggers such as yourself.

    I think it is good for all of us commenters, especially those who do not use our real first and last name, to remember that bloggers are personally vulnerable in ways that we are not. They suffer the same hurts which we might, if we were so public. The difference is that we are in the shadows, essentially hiding. Persons such as Mark are out in the spotlight, and can not avoid any brickbats that we might hurl.

    Charity dictates that we be careful not to criticize the blogger himself, although we may want to point out disagreements with what he has posted. That said, Temperance dictates that our disagreements be couched in moderate words.

    • contrarian

      We also need to remember that we are using a free service, and expecting, free of charge, to engage with the blog’s host.

    • enness

      Blogging would be a serious temptation to all kinds of things for me.

  • Stu


    I appreciate the personal apology and of course I accept it (I always will). In our ongoing discussion on this topic, I have never thought that your motivation was malicious. I do, as I point out, believe your conclusions are wrong and have attempted, bluntly at times, to make my point. But I would also hope that you likewise recognize my intent has been sincere and my bluntness is akin to me telling you over a few beers that you are being a “butthead” about something.

    But let’s see if we can continue some good exchange in this part of the cycle of discussion. And again, I will be blunt but with sincere intent.

    You clearly have a “thing” for so-called traditionalists. That’s undeniable and I would say this post of your is proof of that. Now can it be said that some so-called traditionalist have a “thing” with Mark She? Absolutely. But they aren’t here and honestly I don’t know who “they” would be. And I honestly believe that is where we run into danger. That is, when we turn our issues with specifics things that individuals do or say and personify them into some group which we then “loathe.” I don’t think it is productive and eventually just turns into the Hatfilelds and McCoys (Catholic blogger edition).

    I would never deny that there are so-called traditionalists who are jerks, over-sensitive, judgmental, have some wacky theories about things, mean-spirited, holier-than-thou, etc. Absolutely there are. I’ve met some of them. But I have met people like that in Navy, in my civilian work, at Catholic parishes that don’t offer the EF, in civil service, etc. In fact, I would submit they are everywhere. But can’t we refrain from making it an “us” vs “them” thing. Can’t we instead just focus on ideas and call out the bad ones all while giving some the benefit of the doubt that they might not be jerks, but just sincerely wrong in approach even with a noble intention. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? And likewise, can we not put the sins of minority onto a whole group of people?

    When Mark Shea talks about ideas or points out bad ones, he is great. Really great. When Mark Shea goes after individuals, personalities or groups, he stinks. And I think that is because he just isn’t good at it. It’s like Ford Motor Company making furniture or TV dinners. Just doesn’t work. It’s bad for us. It’s bad for him and it’s bad for the “Mark Shea Brand.”

    May God bless you, always.

    • Paul H

      “When Mark Shea talks about ideas or points out bad ones, he is great.
      Really great. When Mark Shea goes after individuals, personalities or
      groups, he stinks. And I think that is because he just isn’t good at
      it. It’s like Ford Motor Company making furniture or TV dinners. Just
      doesn’t work. It’s bad for us. It’s bad for him and it’s bad for the ‘Mark Shea Brand.’ ”


  • Embajador en el Infierno

    I am an ordinary cradle catholic, married with a few kids, who could probably be labelled a “traditionalist” (of all labels that’s the one I find most absurd for a catholic. All catholics are “traditionalist” by definition) but most probably a “soft” one, meaning I have no links whatsoever with the SSPX, and I am only an occasional EF-goer (If only our Cardinal Archbishop……. but let’s leave it there).

    I have been a reader of this blog for quite a long time. I have also quoted
    extensively in my own very humble internet outpost and directed readers here. I appreciate the very unusual, inteligent and original take Mark gives on many
    issues (torture, for instance) where people uncritically swallow whatever they hear on their favourite TV network. Also, I share the author’s distrust for bi-partisan politics (which is a feature of most of the Western World, not just the US). I am, however, growing increasingly tired with the author’s obsession with

    It started with humorous (actually some of them quite funny) occasional comments, it continued with soft tirades that then developed into something
    heavier, and has gone into full throttle with posts such as this one.

    It’s boring, Mark. Very boring.

    My tuppence worth: I can’t understand why you spend a single minute on issues and people that get you so worked up with. If you don’t know what to write about, just don’t write anything. Much better than this stuff, that is getting bloody tiresome. I am sure that long-time readers like myself will still be here waiting for your intriguing comments for as long as it is needed.

  • Dave G.

    Just got home a few ago. Busy night. Here’s a brief thought. Be careful hyphenating other Christians. Or Catholics in this case. Deal with individuals and what an individual says, after appropriate steps have been taken to go to the individuals directly. Don’t fall into the easy pit of verbal carpet bombing, or making non-committal accusations that allow for easy denial later. Remember apologetics is a ministry, and your readers are your flock in some ways. If you must take the unpleasant step of confronting a wrong, do so with charity and with the hope of healing and leading sheep back to the flock. Do unto others and all that. Avoid rationalizations used to ignore clear guidance on how we should deal with others, especially other believers (there’s quite a bit of that in the Catechism, come to find out). Be careful of those who encourage you to do what you’ve otherwise apologized for in the past. Watch out for ‘good job!’, that’s what they taught me as a pastor. Hope it helps.

  • senrex

    Mark Shea converted to the post-conciliar Church in 1987. Like most post-conciliar Catholics he has embraced the heresy of Modernism. As such, he wouldn’t know evil if he tripped over it.

    • contrarian

      As per my comments below, this is the sort of comment that we will see less and less, once we establish tipping points on the comment threads. Of course, we’ll need the help of this blog’s fine host for this to happen, for the post itself should be such that it won’t be fodder for such comments.

      • moseynon

        I don’t know about that, Contrarian. The opinion which Senrex voiced is not specifically about Mark, but about the Church in general. This blog simply provided Senrex the occasion to share his opinion with the rest of us.

        • contrarian

          Perhaps, Dale. Good point.

        • Stu

          Yeah, and we have people in my diocese who call us “schismatics” because we attend the FSSP parish. And they can be found posting on the National Catholic Reporter pages. Big whoop.

    • Stu

      So, is this your attempt to council a brother in the error of his ways? Really?

      When you were a child, did your parents (or grandparents in my case) ever tell you “go get a switch” when you misbehaved? So you have to go get a stick for them to swat you with. There you are, gaging the size and flexibility of the switch you are going to take and balance out the certain pain with the risk of taking a stick too puny for the task and making your parents even more angry.

      That’s kind of like us laying out our measure by which the Lord will judge us.

      Careful which switch you pick.

    • enness

      That’s a really low remark.

    • There is no logic or sense to the idea that giving in to one heresy closes you to the ability to detect evil in other areas. Are no pro-choicers against stealing? Even granting every point you’re making, your conclusion does not follow. In the US courts, that’s grounds for summary judgment against your side.

  • Ty

    I’m not a blogger and dont frequent blogs as much as i used too…but the online email and commentary artillary pressure from “the trad” community I guess must be palpable..so painful I guess that it is worthy of a shatner clip. However as a non blogger….what I do see is “reality” and if we are going to pick sides..and call names and decide who it is we all cant stand because we are at that point..i choose the “progressives” (they dont even get their own negative connotation nickname) you know the “progressives”..the ones which which have decimated the church since the sixties..how do I know this???…there are “Quantitative Material Statstical Realities” to back it up that are undeniable…and delusional catholic media types can whistle through the dark all they want by playing the “look over here!!! Game” as it continues to happen…..yeah …..sure the real problem are the “traddies”…they are the threat…you know the caveman reactionaries…it is they that deserve the brunt of the ire……yup.

    Look Over Here !…….Look Over Here! :bonk:


  • enness

    Mark, chin up. We are human, after all. I really turned into a fire-breathing creature on a good friend once, under stress and other reasons, and it’s still a painful memory although it was years ago now. My latest was somebody caught me in a (justifiably) bad mood on Facebook — which may actually be the root of all evil — and I was a stubborn arse for like two weeks before finally choking out the words “I apologize.”

    God never tires of lifting us back up out of the dirt when we’ve fallen off the horse.

    I know I bust your chops a lot. How do you like a change of scenery? 🙂 I could stand to be less caustic myself a lot of the time…

  • Ticaenexilio

    Mark, how can you so lightly insult fellow Catholics and firmly proclaim you hate them. Goodness are you not afraid. You have a huge reponsibility in how you affect others, are you leading others to holiness? Or to hatred? Do you love your neighbor, yes those you insult? Do you love your enemy? Do yo do good to those who persecute you. Goodness no! No! No! What will separate you from the love of Christ? Will keeping your blogs and the limelight? If keeping these blogs, if being a precense in the internet is hurting your spiritual life and you advancing in holiness, man drop evrything! Have you lost it ? Do you not see how you use your oportunity to touch others to spew venom and more venom? I am horrified at what comes out of your mouth, and the Lord says from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks, shame on you. No ! hating and spewing venom against other Catholics is never ok, under no circumstances. You apologize but just to get the chance to have one more rant. This is very serious. I can not believe you are still attached to your writing, time to let it go! You are so very offensive, such aterrible example, time to embrace silence man! Silence now! God has many people in His vineyard, time for you to think of your eternal life.

    • wineinthewater

      Make sure you read the whole thing. Mark was very frank about his fault, calling his hate what it is: a sin. There is a exposed truthfulness to the whole thing.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Dear Mark, I think that there is a time and place for firm and angry, pointing out some of the errors of the radical traditionalists. Frankly, I had never come across such dissent from Church teaching until I began reading “so-called” Catholic blogs from the US. I owe you a special debt of gratitude for pointing out some of the errors that extreme traditionalism – e.g. hanging on one’s own interpretation of tradition and constantly criticizing the bishops because they may not have the same priorities as some trads. I accept you as you are, Irish temper and all, and I find that your comments are, to me at least, very helpful in separating the wheat from the chaff. I appreciate your solidi common sense, and your strong emphasis on the Magisterium. Please, please don’t let all those criticisms get to you. I am sure that there were some Pharisees who commented that Jesus had not been very charitable when he upturned the tables of the money changers and chased the merchants out of the temple. You have your own style, sometimes abrasive, maybe, but it is pointing out to the truth. I find your posts very informative, and helpful. And it is understandable that sometimes the attitude of some people gets to you. I do not think that it is possible to always wear kid gloves when admonishing sinners. Of course, we are all sinners, but those who spread extreme views that come close to errors or fallacies sometimes need to hear strong words, from other sinners, maybe, but some of those sinners might just have a more balanced view.. Using strong words is not necessarily being a “jerk”.

    • Guest

      Something strange just happened…excuse me.

  • RelapsedCatholic

    From the simple fact you have so many people latching on to the thing they were most offended by and assuming you wrote it about THEM in particular I think you have done a fine job here. You have offended old ladies of both genders. I have always found your writings to be too conservative for my liking, but fair and consistent. The same people that cheer you when you attack heterodox Catholics such as myself are now reeling in abject outrage. Well done.

  • linda daily

    Hi Mark, I wonder if you realize that your description above is the way many, many mature, seasoned, long-serving Catholics have been made to feel by you and other self-assured Patheos bloggers?

    • chezami

      Your comment makes no sense. How do Patheos bloggers compel Reactionaries to write at a length all over St. Blogs about Holocaust Denial, women in pants, the horrors of Pope Francis, Putin as the new Constantine, the inferiority of the OF, the contemptibility of most of the Church’s members and all of the rest of the things Reactionaries say and do? Blaming somebody else for the sin of Reactionaries and feeling self-pity is a classic Reactionary strategy. It’s not the fault of Patheos that Reactionaries do this.

      • linda daily

        I’m not blaming Patheos bloggers for what those you call Reactionaries say. I’m wondering if you and others bloggers understand that, to many faithful life-long Catholics, you appear to be reactionary as well. What you call reactionary, I might call fundamentalist. (By the way, I’ve never read any of the blogs you mention. After a while, it becomes clear what is not inspired by Christ. Best to stay away.)

        • chezami

          You are still too vague to be intelligible. There are a lot of Patheos bloggers writing a lot of stuff. I gave concrete examples of the many repellent actions and words of Reactionaries. Simply replying, “NO YOU!” doesn’t give me much to go on.

          • linda daily

            I don’t think you want to understand. You and other Catholic bloggers on Patheos often pass judgments on who you believe are or are not real Catholics in your opinion. Plainly said, you do to others Catholics what you accuse Reactionaries of doing to you. I realize that zeal is a common phase in spiritual growth. Their zeal is particularly misplaced and damaging to the Body of Christ. I join you in prayer that they grow past it. But you must have some insight into the fact that you do the same thing to other Catholics.

            • chezami

              And again I ask, “Documentation please”. I in fact scrupulously *avoid* passing such judgments: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2011/there-aint-no-pure-church. Ideas and action I will judge, but I will not cast anybody out of the Church. That’s the job of a bishop.

              • linda daily

                Hi Mark, This will be my last comment. Thanks for the link to the Crisis article – you write with flourish! I agree with your sentiments and embrace of a bigger, messier Church. Since I’m not good at proof texting, even less at blog texting, I’ll leave it there. I’d never win a debate with you, if I ever cared to debate our faith, which I don’t. I guess my discomfort with this site and others at Patheos has more to do tone and attitude. You get the facts straight, no question. But I can’t say that I’d recommend this site to someone exploring the Catholic faith. I will keep you and your readers in prayer and ask the same.

                • Obpoet

                  If you feel moved to pray, then by all means pray, but do it in secret. Matthew 6:6

  • chad

    Hi Mark, I envision a regular collaboration between you and Fr. Z. Mainly because I appreciate both your blogs, and find that you both offer orthodox insight from different perspectives. In fact, your two blogs are the only two I regularly visit outside of the New Advent aggregator. Perhaps it would be beneficial to you to establish visible writing relations with a priest of the traditional stripe. Other than that, I like what you do. Keep up the good work. You can viciously slice and dice with your pen like few others, but sometimes it reminds me of Will Ferrrell and his voice immodulation character, so use your viscous pen a tad more sparingly. All blessings to you!

  • Allan Daniel

    Mark, how do you spell screed? I do thank you for admitting that you are a little hate-filled man. Little hate-filled men are well advised to be silent while they are going through an irrational bout of hatred.

    • chad


      • Dave G.

        There’s irony in your response to Allan. I didn’t care for it either. But calling him a jerk is, well, part of the bigger problem being discussed here. A glaring problem that is quite remarkable, given how sensitive everyone is when they see it in others.

        • chad

          I hear you. Perhaps it was obvious he was a jerk and really didn’t require me to help define the issue, and thus my speaking out was not born of charity.

  • wineinthewater


    I appreciate the frank honesty here. I would make one suggestion here, that you might consider your writings on scandal in this context. You have said that you don’t get worked up about liturgy, just give you your blocking. But the reality is that there is a reason that there are so many people amenable to the rad trad position. Things aren’t rosy out there. It may not be a wasteland, but violations of the GIRM – even if only minor violations – are the norm, not the exception. Parishes aren’t following the blocking. Vatican II’s teaching about the liturgy is widely ignored. And the spirit of liturgical law is violated as much as the letter. There’s nothing wrong with the OF and the EF isn’t inherently better, but we can’t ignore the reality that at many parishes it’s easier to find a liturgical abuse than it is to find the tabernacle.

    Again, it may not be the wasteland that the reactionaries see through their dung-colored glasses, but it is not healthy. The liturgical life of the American Church is not thriving. So, when you say that you don’t get worked up much about liturgy, you are saying that you don’t really care much about a very real problem in the Church. And many of the “rad trads” see your indifference to that problem much as some of the early Christians would see indifference to eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.

    Liturgy may not be your thing. No one can care about everything. But I think you need to extend some understanding and concern for the sensibilities of others when it comes to liturgy. There are problems out there, and in some places those problems are dire, and I think you should consider whether your apparent lack of concern for those problems – again, even if those problems aren’t as big as they are often made out to be – is a scandal to others. You don’t have to be a liturgy Nazi, but it might be wiser to truly stay quiet if liturgy isn’t your own charism.

    • chezami

      Actually, I do stay pretty quiet about liturgy. This post, for instance, was not at all about liturgy. It was about Reactionary abusiveness toward innocent people.

      • wineinthewater

        You do stay pretty quite. But when you do speak up, the tone is often dismissive, as if there aren’t actually problems out there. That’s my point.

        • chezami

          Not dismissive. Uninterested.

  • Beefy Levinson


    I’ve always appreciated your honesty even when we disagree. No one begrudges you your right to be angry at bad behavior. I certainly don’t for I would be condemning myself as well. I’ve read you for years and your writings, particularly against torture, were of great help to me when I was going through RCIA eight years ago.

    So, in the spirit of fraternal correction, I believe your biggest problem is your tendency to explode with rage at third parties. For example:

    Mark: Xers are behaving badly.

    Commenter: I don’t disagree in this specific case, but Xers have a point on Y and Z.

    Mark: WHAT?! You’re a filthy Xer, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?! I banish thee to the outer darkness!

    I think you recognize that you do this and are working to correct it. I’ll pray for you. Please pray for me. We’re in this together.

    • chezami

      Thanks. I appreciate your prayers and concern. May God bless you as you pursue holiness, through Christ our Lord.

  • BHG

    Perhaps writing on certain subjects (and using certain words–troglodyte leaps to mind) constitutes a near occasion of sin for you and should be avoided? That still leaves you plenty of latitude to write –and when you are writing positively–as you do on the Blessed Mother–your writing sings! So–sing, don’t rage…..

  • freddy

    God bless you and yours. Prayers always!
    Like others here, I’m a member of an FSSP parish. If in my joy and enthusiasm for my parish, I’ve caused you any pain, I do sincerely beg your pardon. May God have mercy on us all!

    • chezami

      God love you, Freddy. You are one of the lights. There are are lot of others like you. That’s why I regretted letting my anger get the better of me. Traditionalism needs more of you, not more of me.being ticked.

  • Auntie Seraphic

    Aw. A virtual and respectful hug. I go to a TLM myself, and I don’t understand why Catholics feel a need to beat up on other Catholics, online or elsewhere.

    • chezami

      Thanks, dear. You’re a sweetheart.

  • Newp Ort

    Am I a traditionalist if I long for the good old days when Kirstie Alley was hot, and a Vulcan?