Tradition Is for the Young

Pope Francis has opined directly on those who prefer the traditional Mass.  The Pope’s comments are bolded and underlined.  My thoughts follow unbolded.

“Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves.  But it is an exception. That is why one speaks of an ‘extraordinary’ rite. The ordinary in the Church is not this. It is necessary to approach with magnanimity those attached to a certain form of prayer. But the ordinary is not this.”

Leave for later the mistaken idea that Pope Benedict’s motu proprio was directed only toward those who “felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves” (distancing themselves from what?).  First, the Tridentine Mass or Usus Antiquior is not “an exception.”  As Pope Benedict explained about the Tridentine and the Novus Ordo, “they are two usages of the one Roman rite,” and the usage of the Roman Missal of 1962 was “never abrogated.”

But that aside, Pope Francis’s point about speaking of “an extraordinary rite” is precisely why I never refer to the Tridentine Mass as “the Extraordinary Form.”  Doing so entrenches the confusion of the descriptive with the normative.  Just because the Tridentine Mass is not currently the ordinary practice of most Catholics, does not mean it ought not be the ordinary practice of most Catholics.  Yet, classifying it as “Extraordinary” reemphasizes that it is something outside the bounds of normal practice.  Moreover, it creates, in my mind, an unfortunate association with Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  I am interested to hear what Pope Francis would say about these – are they too “an exception”? Would he say that the ordinary course of Mass should not include them?

“Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium must go on as they are.”

In charity and with hope, I ask: how well are you promoting Sacrosancum Concilium, Pope Francis?  Are you ensuring that the following prescriptions of Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium “go on as they are”?:

– “[S]teps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”
– “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”
– “It is desirable also to found higher institutes of sacred music whenever this can be done.”
– “Composers and singers, especially boys, must also be given a genuine liturgical training.”
– “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”
– “In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem.”

 “I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless. I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else… [sic] The rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.”

There are many things that could be said about this.  But a simple contrast suffices for now.  First, it is not young people who love the traditional liturgy who are “rigid.”  They have grown up with the Novus Ordo, and often attend the modern Mass when they cannot find the more reverent alternative.  Their parents and grandparents and friends and Catholic school teachers attend the Novus Ordo.  They are the ones tolerating the frequent degradation of the liturgy.  Understanding this first point, we can more fully understand the second which is that it is the liturgical modernists, like Pope Francis, who are ensconced in an attitude of rigidity.  When was the last time Francis attended a Tridentine Mass, or celebrated one for that matter?  When was the last time he immersed himself in the community of people who attend such Masses?  Has he kept an open mind to these experiences?  And if not, what are his insecurities?  Deep down does he know and understand the damage that liturgical innovation and abuse has brought to the Church?

“There is a Traditionalism that is a rigid fundamentalism: it is not good. Faithfulness instead implies a growth. Tradition, in the transmission from one age to the next of the deposit of the faith, grows and consolidates with the passage of time…”

The truth is Tradition is for the young.  One of the best things about our everyday cultural and religious traditions is passing them on to our children and seeing our children pass them on to theirs.  Among other things it shows that our children value the same things we do.  Tradition is for the young to realize that they don’t know everything, that they can learn from the past, and that continuity with the past often is more fulfilling than conformity to the present.  Young people embracing tradition is the exact opposite of rigidity; it is openness.  Openness to the faith of their fathers.  Openness to ideas that are not only considered out of place in the modern world, but that are also viewed with hostility.  To remain blinkered by the times and culture in which we happen to be born is the true rigidity.  We must remember that though we live in the world, we are not called to think as the world does.

Faithfulness does imply a growth.  But a growth in our understanding of Faith by means of Tradition.  It implies loving adherence to the truth.  Tradition requires that we be openminded about the values and ideas of those who came before us.   In G.K. Chesterton’s famous paean to Tradition in Orthodoxy, he characterizes it thus, “Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

Gregory DiPippo emphasizes with one church’s example: tradition is for the young!  Michael Brendan Dougherty unites last week’s topic with this week’s.  This is where we are now: the Ordinariate’s Masses evoke more of traditional Catholicism, than the standard Novus Ordo Masses do.  This is wonderful for those who get to experience the Ordinariate.  But it is also a shame, a shame that there are so many Catholics who cannot, even if they wished, experience a Tridentine Mass or a traditional Novus Ordo Mass.

Catholic Culture

Andrew Peach on how Catholic schools lose their identity: “A Catholic college does not present the Catholic intellectual tradition and foster student faith and virtue to pay its bills; it pays its bills to present the Catholic intellectual tradition and foster student faith and virtue. This is what distinguishes it from an airline or a theatre, which also must fill seats to survive.

[T]he result is always the same: A nominally Catholic college with virtually no (or a few token) Catholic faculty teaching virtually no Catholic philosophy or theology, championing the “pastoral” (read “unprincipled”) care of the students, while offering plenty of opportunities for “social justice” and “celebrations of diversity.” The Catholic history of the school, or perhaps its Catholic “spirit,” will be championed in the school’s marketing materials, but that history and spirit will play little to no role in the daily lives of the students. The school will, in all essentials, be indistinguishable from a secular college with a healthy Newman Center or St. Thomas More Society. Indeed, in some ways it will be worse. Catholics at Harvard know they are on enemy soil; scandal, properly understood, is logically impossible there.”

80 years since G. K. Chesterton’s death: “The very sound of his name is like a trumpet call.”

Photo essay: Peter Kwasniewski bids farewell to Norcia’s co-cathedral, destroyed in the recent earthquake.

Helpful Reminders

Joseph Pearce reflects beautifully on balancing technology with the realities of life, about “disconnecting, so that we can connect.”

Faith of our Fathers: David Warren’s brief, poignant remembrance of our honored dead on Veterans Day.