Tag Archives: FSSP

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?

The video that tied sinking ships and the TLM together in a rather round-about fashion…

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..

Now is NOT the Time for Nastiness

Thunderstorm with lightning striking in and around Vatican.

If you are of a traditional mindset, you are likely to find yourself dismayed and angered by this latest news from Rome. Our Holy Father’s latest motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, which has placed new restrictions on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, is most certainly a source of consternation and dismay, and, yes…anger.

It should certainly not be a surprise, however. We knew it was coming. All of the sniper fire coming from the Holy See regarding “rigid” Traditional Catholics pretty much telegraphed their hostility towards us.

Nobody is quite sure to react. I’m writing this Friday evening, 16 July, and we’re still waiting for all the dust and debris to settle. The FSSP is taking a cautious wait & see approach in their Statement Regarding Traditionis Custodes.

Caution on our part is called for as well.

Now is not the time for nastiness. If we take to social media ranting and railing against the injustice of it all, and begin trading insult-for-insult with others Catholic netizens who think this latest news is just marvelous, well we simply play into the hands of the Modernists, don’t we? “See? SEE? We told you those toxic Traddies were a hateful bunch. Just look atall the venom they’re spewing on social media!”

We have many Catholic brethren who are fence-sitters when it comes to this controversy. They haven’t been paying attention. They’re content and comfortable with their Novus Ordo parish; they might be aware that some of their friends “prefer” the Latin Mass (in much the same way that somebody might “prefer” a Whopper to a Big Mac), but they really don’t have a clue as to what’s at stake. They will have progressive/Modernist friends (maybe even their pastor) who will tell them that Trads are a schismatic cult. They’re modern day Pharisees, only nastier. If we react with outrage, jabbing our fingers wildly this way and that as we point out the heretics among us, what kind of an impression do you think that will make on your non-Trad friends?

That doesn’t mean we have to sidestep the issue. Certainly not! What I would suggest to you, however, is that we take a calm and rational approach when we explain the situation to our friends. It won’t be easy to do in the 90 seconds you might have at the office water cooler, but if you stop and think it over, I bet that you can come up with a succinct and reasonable explanation regarding the situation at hand. They’re called “elevator speeches,” because you have them more or less preplanned and rehearsed in your mind, allowing you to make your points in the time it takes the elevator car to go from the lobby to the second floor.

Keep your cool. Keep your rationality. Keep your sense of humor. Keep your faith.

#MassOfTheAges

The SSPX Slugfest

Right around Easter Sunday 2020, Catholic social media erupted into chatter (often quite contentious) over the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).  A well-known Catholic online personality, Dr. Taylor Marshall, reported that he had attended Easter Sunday Mass with his family at a SSPX chapel near his home.  This brought an immediate reaction from Michael Voris at Church Militant, Timothy Gordon, and other prominent Catholic online commentators.  For a week we saw a raging battle swinging to and fro over the legitimacy of SSPX.  Then, Church Militant released a mini-documentary reporting on alleged serious cases of sexual abuse from SSPX priests and subsequent attempts at coverup on the part of the parent organization.  Whether or not these allegations have substance is not yet clear at the time this article’s posting, but the firefights now raging in response to the Church Militant’s SSPX video are intense and brutal.

Hank Igitur (an obscure yet non-prominent Catholic online commentator in his own right) offers the following observations:

Readers wishing to better understand both sides of this heartbreaking story are encouraged to visit the following sites:

Church Militant‘s short documentary describing the abuse allegations.

SSPX.org statement on the Church Militant article here.

Regardless of the outcome, or where the truth lies between the Church Militant and SSPX positions regarding these allegations, one thing seems pretty certain:  the devil is laughing at us.

Why I’m no longer attending my Latin Mass Parish weekly

“Take it, lad. You need it more than I do.” – Chaplain George Rentz, giving his life jacket to a seaman following the sinking of USS Houston during the Battle of Sunda Strait, 1942.

Commander George Rentz was a Chaplain aboard USS Houston, a cruiser sunk during a fierce naval battle with superior Japanese forces in the dark days of 1942. Clinging desperately to a hopelessly overloaded piece of wreckage with several other sailors, he relinquished his spot of safety.  Giving his lifejacket to a young seaman with those words, he pushed away, treading water for a while before his strength gave out and he sank below the waves, joining 800 other men from Houston who perished that day. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his action, the only chaplain so honored during the Second World War.

George_S._Rentz-colorrentz

Commander George Rentz was a Navy Chaplain who laid down his life for a fellow Sailor following the sinking of their cruiser in 1942.

Please God that he has received a far greater reward.

Rentz’s words became one of a handful of famous naval sayings which (along with better known phrases like “Don’t give up the ship” or “I have not yet begun to fight”) my Naval Academy classmates and I were ordered to commit to memory over 45 years ago.

It’s funny how those words stick with you. Thinking about it now, those three phrases (which I shouted with gusto as a sweating frightened Midshipman 4th Class whenever prompted by an upperclassman) can apply to us Catholics of a traditional/orthodox bent during these troubling and apocalyptic times for our Church. And surely 2020 will be a year as dark for our beloved Catholic Church as was 1942 for the U.S. Navy, the year Rentz laid down his life.

Hopefully, nobody reading this will be scratching their heads wondering why I lament the state of things in our Church. If you don’t know the situation, you simply haven’t been paying attention. For the rest of us, perhaps those three phrases will seem like good advice.

“Don’t give up the ship!” – I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m abandoning the Barque of Peter, no matter how hot the battle.

Don't Give Up The Ship

The original battle flag flown during the Battle of Lake Erie now hangs proudly in the rotunda at the U.S. Naval Academy. Those fighting words from the War of 1812 ring true for us Catholics today!

“I’ve not yet begun to fight!” – The enemy is demanding our surrender. Far from complying, we’re about to renew the battle with fierce determination.

“Take it, lad. You need it more than I do.” – Well, maybe this one isn’t as clear. Let me explain.

My response to the desperate battle facing us is nowhere near as noble or heroic as what that chaplain (only a month away from full retirement) did amidst one of the fiercest naval battles of World War II. It’s really pretty trivial and cheezy in comparison.

Instead of giving up my lifejacket, I’m giving up my seat at my FSSP parish.

Huh?

My FSSP parish is small. When FSSP was granted permission to have a parish in my city, the small run-down church had been closed and abandoned, stark evidence of Catholicism’s post-Vatican II continual collapse. After three years of effort (including some pretty serious engineering), the building had been restored to its former beauty. The high altar was in place, and all vestiges of the Novus Ordo experiment were gone.

And our little parish began steadily growing. It wasn’t just cranky old timers incapable of “getting with the times,” as the Traditional Mass’ detractors like to paint us. Nope. More and more young families came through our doors. In ten years our little outfit produced five vocations.

The growth was steady but manageable. Then came the Summer of Shame.

When it became evident how rampant the scandals, how deep the rot, how Modernist the hierarchy, and how big the mess confronting our Catholic faith, attendance at my little parish exploded. We ushers saw more and more new faces every week. There were more and more new families showing up. They were curious first-timers, and they had questions which we tried to answer, always encouraging them to come back.

Overflow TLM

Taking it to the streets: Undaunted, Catholics unable to find a seat at the Latin High Mass carry on.

And, boy, did they come back! Our job as ushers, of course, included finding seats for our parishioners and visitors. These days we look less like ushers and more like those famous Japanese train conductors who have to pack passengers like sardines! Our three FSSP priests laid on additional Sunday Masses to alleviate the strain, but the crowds kept growing. We’re now at the point where if you don’t show up for Mass at least a half hour early, you’re not going to get a seat…at least not in a pew inside the church.

During good weather (which is abundant in our state), we leave the double doors open and set up two rows of folding chairs under a portable canopy. People sit outside, peering in and listening to the homily broadcast on exterior speakers. During the parts of the Mass where you’re supposed to kneel, they kneel uncomplainingly on the concrete sidewalk. We’ve taken two of our classrooms and made them overflow rooms where the Mass is relayed via WiFi onto large screen displays.

Station workers push a passenger into a crowded subway train at the Ikebukuro station on the Marunouchi line during rush hour in Tokyo

These Japanese train conductors have the makings of excellent ushers at my parish’s wonderfully overcrowded Latin Mass!

A first-time visitor to our parish shouldn’t be forced to watch from such disadvantaged locations, so it isn’t uncommon for parish “regulars” to give up their pew for a visitor.

Such is the state of our little Latin Mass parish.

The good news is that we’re not the only place in our city where the Mass is offered in the Extraordinary Form. Two much larger parishes have brave priests who offer the Latin Mass at least once a week, offering their parishioners the opportunity to attend the Extraordinary Form in addition to their regular Novus Ordo Masses. I say these priests are brave for two reasons: first of all, they haven’t had the extensive training which Latin-only outfits like FSSP, ICKSP, and SSPX seminarians go through. The Latin Mass is beautiful, but certainly difficult for a man not trained from the ground up in saying it. Secondly, our city is home to one of the more liberal bishops in America. So far, he has been tolerant of these pre-1969 Masses being said by his diocesan priests. That, of course, could change at any moment.

I’ve attended these Latin Masses, and they are growing as well. They’re both said in very large churches, so there’s still plenty of room. I’d put the attendees at a Novus Ordo parish Latin Mass at about (this is a very unscientific wag) 40% Traddie and 60% Novie. Many, many families are being exposed to the old rite. It’s good to have a significant number of Traddies in the pews there. We act as guides of a sort, I guess. If you’re a Novie Newbie and are struggling to keep up, it’s helpful to keep an eye on the people wearing mantillas and sporting those massive black missals. When they kneel, you kneel. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!

I’ve also struck up a friendship with the pastor of one of these Novus Ordo parishes. He’s a wonderful guy, orthodox in his theology and eager to bring authentic Church teachings to his people. I love encouraging and supporting him. Due to logistical imperatives (dealing with chronically ill family members), my wife and I have been attending separate Masses on Sunday in order to always have somebody at home. She’s been going to this Latin Mass at the big Novus Ordo church for a couple of years now.

Now, I’m doing likewise.

I’m still a member of my FSSP parish, and continue to support them financially. I still plan to get there at least once a month. But I think it’s time to give up my pew there to make room for that next confused and battered Catholic who stumbles through the door in search of the genuine Faith which seems to be evaporating before our eyes in far too many places.

To that Novie looking for a pew where they can experience the full beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, I gladly say, “Take it, lad (or lass). You need it more than I do.”