Of Toxic Traddies and Sinking Ships…
The repercussions of Traditionis Custodes continue to resonate throughout the Catholic world.
Thankfully, not all of the bishops have responded with swift draconian enthusiasm to this new diktat. Many prelates are taking a cautious wait & see approach, while others have openly assured worried Catholics in their dioceses that nothing will change. One bishop in particular has gone so far as telling his priests in effect “if you want to start saying the TLM, drop me an email and I’ll run it up the chain of command.” More shepherds like him, please!
Here at this tiny internet backwater called Catholic Cyber-Militia, activity has picked up. One video published on my YouTube channel has exploded (and by “exploded” I mean that it’s received over 1500 views in the last 48 hours. Most Catholic YouTubers can get that many views in the first five minutes after posting, but for our rinky-dink outfit, 1.5k views in a year would be above-average!). In the finest click bait tradition, the video was titled “Why I No Longer Attend My Latin Mass Parish Weekly.” Instead of revealing something profound and shocking, the punch line is that so many new people are attending our FSSP parish each week that I decided to give up my seat for others, opting instead to attend a wonderful TLM offered by a diocesan parish church. And, being a former Navy man, I had to obtusely couch the whole thing in terms of a famous incident in WW2 where a chaplain on a sinking cruiser gave his lifejacket to a sailor, telling him “Take it lad. You need it more than I do.” There’s a link to said video below.
Given the events of the last week, I suppose the search engines were working overtime to scrape up anything relating to the Traditional Latin Mass, so this video from Jan 2020 must have bubbled to the top of some peoples’ searches. We’ve been getting an uptick of views along with some very interesting comments.
One of the comments was a thoughtful post written by a viewer who pointed out some very real problem areas when it comes not to the TLM per se, but rather those who attend it. Among his comments, “The TLM appears to be on a theological, liturgical and, all too often, political war footing. They not only prefer not to participate in the NO, but condemn it, sometimes in the harshest terms.”
He has a point, and it’s a point worth considering. The YouTube comments section isn’t the best place to compose a lengthy essay, but because I’m inherently lazy, I decided to cut & paste my reply and include it here:
We’ve all experienced the “Toxic Traddie,” whether on line or in person. Being overly-pugilistic is not helpful to our cause. I’m no psychobabbler, but I think that some of the over-aggressiveness comes from having had to assume a defensive posture for so many decades. They were actively trying to suppress the TLM in the ’70’s and early 80’s, and the efforts of local bishops to force everyone adhering to the Mass of the Ages underground were, in retrospect, perceived as the first wave of prosecution. We’ve been treated as 2nd class citizens for so very long.
Much of our criticisms of the new Mass is the seemingly never-ending stream of “innovations” that we see getting applied at the parish & diocesan levels. It seems more like experimentation than innovation, and in the first few years of Novus Ordo mass attendance following my conversion from Evangelical Protestantism, it seemed as if most of the experiments were failing. In no particular order, the felt banners, cheezy hootenanny music, liturgical dancing, balloons, slide shows, the increasingly Protestant-looking interior architecture…all of this led me to wonder why we were trying so hard–and failing–to be like a polyglot mixture of a dozen non-Catholic churches.
Those criticisms can be viewed as simply a matter of preference, and I get that. What seems stunningly sublime to Joe can seem in hideously bad taste to Jill. But when I considered how our Lord was treated in the many NO masses I attended, that got me concerned. The casual approach to meeting God Himself in the Eucharist was widespread. Being told not to kneel, having kneelers removed to enforce the no-kneeling policy, the hit-or-miss approach to confession, the insistence that the priest was no different than us; he just happened to be up on the podium. All of the lay people traipsing up and down to perform this or that little function were just essential as Father’s activities. I got the sense that the priest as “Alter Christus” was being deliberately abandoned. If the “presider” is nothing more than a layman who happens to know more about theology than I do, then why did I quit being a Baptist? Brother Quincy at my old Baptist church could run rings around the typical NO homily, the music was far more uplifting and theologically cogent, and the congregation wasn’t simply “phoning in;” they were hanging on every word being preached from the pulpit.
As I discovered more about the twenty centuries of Catholic theology and tradition to which I was now heir, the cognitive dissonance between what I was reading and what I was seeing every Sunday was more than troubling.
I became a CCD teacher and was told that I was emphasizing the “old stuff” too much. I joined the Parish Council in an attempt to influence the liturgical experimentation in our particular church, hoping to nudge it back a little towards a traditional stance. I was verbally encouraged by the deacon to look for another parish.
Then I discovered the Latin Mass. To those familiar with that Mass, no explanation regarding the incredible contrasts is required. To those who have no idea how it is different or why so many of us see it as the future of the Church, well I ask you to go and see for yourself!
Although Rome has not yet made the Traditional Latin Mass outright illegal (at least, not as of late July 2021), they have taken dramatic steps to check its spread and begin rolling it back into a shrinking number of “Trad ghettoes.” Go and see for yourself. See how mean and toxic the Traddies are. See how the clueless they appear because everything’s being said in some dead language. See how divisive they are because the theology they adhere to can–at times–seem almost unrecognizable when compared to what you might experience in your home NO parish.
Do I think the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid? No, I do not. Do I believe that Christ is truly present on the altar at the moment of consecration? Yes, I do. Do I think that Christ’s Real Presence is maintained in the tabernacle? Absolutely! It’s just that in many NO churches, the tabernacle has been removed from its due place of honor behind the high altar. (“Jesus? Sure! Down the hall to the left, right past the rest rooms.”)
Christ is truly present in the Novus Ordo, but His Presence is often obscured to some degree by many of the trappings, procedures, and rubrics which emphasize horizontality (people-centered) rather than verticality (lifting our eyes toward Heaven).
Are there pockets in Traddiedom which believe that Vatican II was so completely off the rails that the NO is invalid? Yes. We have a spectrum of people in just the same way that Noviedom does. I must remind myself not to judge what I know to be a faithful, orthodox Novus Ordo parish, painting it with the same brush as the crazy Novus Ordo parish down the street, resplendent with balloons, giant puppets, a praise band jazz combo, liturgical dancing girls and heterodox preaching. I’ve experienced all those things first-hand (well, not those giant puppets), and even as I was cringing in my pew I should have reminded myself that this wasn’t the entire post-V2 Church. I tried to remind myself of that, but perhaps too often I failed to take my own advice.
For anyone out there who has been flame-sprayed by a Toxic Traddie on line, I apologize…particularly if I was the guy holding the flame thrower. In the spirit of Christian Brotherhood, I would ask my mainstream Novus Ordo friends to reconsider the small but growing community of Traditional Catholics and ask yourselves two questions:
What is it that you actually know about us?
Does it seem fair or just that we are being targeted for extinction by our own hierarchy?
Now, back to the tangential issue of “click bait.” This article’s very title is a tad bit guilty of this. Are “toxic traddies” making things worse or better? It’s a problem, and I urge my fellow Trads to dial down the rhetoric a bit. Let’s continue to make our case forcefully, but with more charity.
Is there a “sinking ship” in all this? Yes, I think there’s a ship that is taking on water and needs to right itself before capsizing, but it might not be the ship you think…
See below for more on the hotbutton “Toxic Traddie” issue..