Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Do Traditionalist Catholics form "Communities?"

My stomach growled as I darted across the impoverished "North Side" of Tulsa via the interstate.  The double arches caught my eye.  Ten minutes later I was sitting in the corner of McDonald's with my #1 meal--the Big Mac.  After a man asked for directions to the zoo, and the best I could offer were some sketchy directions, he mosied on over to what he called the "Old Timer group" for better help, which caught my attention.

For the next thirty minutes, while I polished off my hamburger and fries, and periodically checked my phone for the latest posts in Suscipe Domine traditional Catholic forum--www.suscipedomine.com --I observed this group of a dozen or so older Black men mixed with a few middle aged and young adults.  And I was struck by their group dynamic, something we rarely encounter in "Midtown" or other parts of T-town we frequent.  It was an impromptu gathering of seemingly random Black folk from the north side grabbing a dollar burger or a coffee.  Something you might encounter in a Black barber shop.



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Which got me thinking about typical white society (or the lack thereof), including in your traditional Catholic parishes and chapels, or in the online Trad forums.


Every other newcomer to this group seemed to be unknown, but gravitated together apparently by virtue of being Black and from the Northside.  A bit of a nod was all that was needed to indicate they belonged and could slide their tray of food next to everyone else's.


One man looked about 50.  He was decked out in all black, and a gold chain with a cross.  I couldn't make out what he was saying except in every other statement he used the said "God" or "Jesus."  Others responded shaking their head humming "Uuugh huh.  Uuugh huh."  Like the black soldiers in the movie Glory with Denzel Washington, humming in agreement to the Black spirituals song the night before battle.  Before long the man got a call on his cell, and told the group it was his church staff reminding him of a meeting. He must've been a minister.





As he left, an older man maybe 60 walked in.  He was wearing the stereotypical decked out suit outfit of a 1970s "pimp."  He was fittingly proud of his threads and multiple, jeweled rings on his hands.  He joined the group too without hardly a word.


There was a quiet, seemless quality about the group, a close solidarity based on shared skin color and local ethnicity.  At any moment, most were silent, phlegmatically smiling and listening to one person at a time.  It was communal, respectful, and charitable.


Being a white, European-American traditionalist Catholic, first generation son of a German immigrant and an Irish Catholic American, I almost wanted to envy the spirit of this group.

When we eat at your average urban eatery, the atmosphere is something opposite--individualistic, cool, and lonely.

But is it much different in your average traditional Catholic enclave?  For as much incense and Latin and doctrine that we have, do we really enjoy this kind of communal spirit? For as saccharine as it can be, your urban, post-modern Faith Community Catholic parish, imo, has a One Up on us trads when it comes to fellowship and unity.  I know we sometimes have our coffee and doughnuts and pig roasts, but even in the best of my trad experiences, the atmosphere usually seems somewhat individualistic, cool, and and even a bit lonely at times.  Am I alone in this experience?





If random people can gravitate together in McDonalds, based on the simple metaphysical principle of "Like attracts Like," and the common bond is the simplicity of skin color, then youd think having a shared love of the Tridentine Latin Mass and the richness of our Catholic Faith, would even more strongly unite us.


Which brings me to a more specific local subject for my fellow Okie Trads.  Several years ago the Tulsa Fraternity parish split.  One group bought their own church.  The other placed themselves under the traditional-bent of one diocesan priest who had learned the Latin Mass.   Sadly, this good priest is now recently gone to other assignments, and the future of the traditional Catholic community of Tulsa, Oklahoma seems to be shifting.


Will the diocesan Latin Mass group continue? Or will the two groups once united under the Fraternity one day reunite at the new Fraternity church? Will the Society of St. Pius X community of Tulsa survive?


Time will tell.  But my prayer is we come together in some way. Recognize what unites us.  Grow as a traditional Catholic community.


And as I will hypothesize in my next segment, perhaps if/when/as the Society becomes regularized, that it's Tulsa Masses will become filled to capacity, that the sons of Archbishop Lefebvre (Society + Fraternity folk + all Trads) will come together across our little sector of the Heartland.


"Uuugh huh!  Clap. Clapetee clap.  Uuugh huh!  Clap. Clapetee clap."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Criticizing the Hierarchy--part II

Is it possible to not criticize the hierarchy today if you want to be an orthodox, practicing, traditional Catholic?  That's the million dollar question we'll be chatting tonight about in this latest installment of The Okie Traditionalist!

In 1950 virtually every Catholic just had to listen to their parish priest to know what to believe, how to believe, and what to do as Catholics. There were no camps of traditionalists, conservatives, and progressives in the mainstream. There was no need to follow the latest news coming out of Rome, or to analyze when the pope or an Ecumenical Council is infallible.  You were on solid ground going down the block to your territorial parish.  Is that the case today?  How do you even ask that question and make an evaluation when our forefathers weren't faced with the paradox of the Catholic Church being in a state of crisis, or even that hypothetical.  We are faced with a problem.  If Catholics have generally always been able to uncritically follow the hierarchy, how can we now criticize this same divinely instituted hierarchy as a habit generally applied to virtually all the bishops?




But when what you witness on the altar appears to contradict what you learned in the catechism, how do you carry about the business of dealing with that paradox?  On one hand Catholics always have been submissive to our pastors without reservation.  Not absolutely, but generally.

But then Father is celebrating Mass like a Protestant service.  The whole spirit of the Sunday liturgy is non-sacred. Rubrics are constantly broken.  Objectively irreverence is at virtually every Novus Ordo Mass (I can defend that observation).



                        Paradox

Yet today's orthodox and traditional Catholics are forced by circumstances to evaluate these abuses, and almost always these abuses are actively tolerated if not promoted by the pastor.  The observations are accurate if the fundamental truths of Catholicism are really true.

When I became a trad, part of my reference point were the main negative experiences I had had with Catholic modernism, and invariably with a priest whose behavior wounded me.  Not so much in a personal way as in how being subject to their scandalous behavior was like being gaslighted. I think back to my liberal university parish, to toxic experiences I had at certain church events.  And it always came back to the issue of these abuses coming from the priest or bishop themselves.  

Is it even psychologically or logically possible to completely set aside problems with the hierarchy itself, but at the same time zero in on those sacrileges approved by them?  To set aside part of the cause to just look at the effect?




But then doesnt it get old and also toxic to keep beating our drums to the same war song lamenting the errors of the conciliar hierarchy? When you're gathered with fellow trads around an All Saints Day bonfire, and you talk about how you discovered the Latin Mass, is it even possible to leave out our criticisms of the mainstream priests and bishops.  Of the spiritual torture we suffered.  I mean even if you gritted your teeth, shook your head, and said "No I won't say anything bad about the pastors of the Church," the reality is at least part of the reason you attend the ancient and venerable Roman rite is because of the common abuses you experienced in your territorial parish, from the hands of your parish priest annointed to administer the sacred mysteries. 

One paradox with openly and habitually criticizing the hierchical Church is traditionally Catholics have never done that on the level traditionalists and conservatives today.  The truth is that part of our pious priorities is lamenting clerical abuses, scandals, and heresies.  Go to any coffee and doughnuts after Sunday Latin Mass, these conversations are part and parcel of being traditional Catholics--both by the laity and the traditional clergy, who will grab a doughnut and quietly nod their head confirming their criticisms.

The problem is how it affects each of our spiritual lives.  Where do we draw the line?  How much time do we devote to studying the errors of Vatican II or the new Mass, vs trying to attend daily Latin Mass or study our catechism.  When our soul is on the line.

On the other hand, there's the paradox of how to respond to common abuses and a humanistic liturgy conducted by your territorial parish priest.  Do you plug your ears and close your eyes and wish it's just a bad dream?  Do you continue as our forefathers did and obey and follow your pastor? When the government of the Catholic Church is not of this world, but divine, and divinely instituted by Christ, as a supreme religious authority to which we are intimately bound and subject.

It's like an enormous ecclesiastical "Catch 22."

There's an easy, pragmatic solution to this problem that over the years I've seen take different directions within those enclaves of traditionalism I've encountered.  It starts with the obvious conclusion: "I must keep my Faith and use common sense to evaluate what my five senses are telling me.  The errors and problems are at least partly caused by the pastors, so if I am going to evaluate the errors critically, invariably I must evaluate the pastors in charge."  But after that point, trads of all stripes take it to different limits.  Before you know it, you're burnt out on traditionalist polemics, the petty factionalism between trads (and conservatives) especially evident on the internet, the blogosphere, and in the Catholic forums. Before you know it criticizing Pope Francis and the Local Bishop becomes a hobby, almost a form of piety.  I myself have crossed that line in moments of my traditionalist experience.  But when you neglect saying your daily rosary because of obsessions with Pope Francis online, then hasn't criticism of the hierarchy become the devil's playground?

Despite having clarity about what's going on in the Church, and the necessity of reconnecting with Church tradition, after all these years I am still clear as mud what to think of the conciliar hierarchy, and how I should be thinking of it.
How much and how far should I go in criticizing them.

Lets face it.  Most of us trads are not smiling and singing praises about our present Holy Father.  Yet at the same time, if Pope Francis came to your town, to visit your parish, despite all your criticisms, Id wager a month's salary most of you would be happy and honored by his presence.  Eager to genuflect and kiss his ring.  Because he is the Vicar of Christ.  Mysteriously, he is the voice of Christ according to what the Church teaches about his office.

Tell me whatya think in the Comment Box below.  

Its August, so unless you live in Alaska or Greenland, keep cool.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Criticizing the Hierarchy. Including Tulsa Diocese

St. Catherine of Sienna did it.  But Catholic in Brooklyn says we shant. Voris and the Remnant have built a business around it.  And I myself blogged about this once upon a time.  The inverted hiearchy post a year ago.  

With a hierarchy turned upside down, where the pope answers to bishops conferences, bishops to presbyteral councils, parish priests to members of the parish Faith community, and last but not least, actually now in a supreme place of authority, it is children, toddlers, and babies ruling their parents and thus in an inverted pseudo-collegial hierarchy, babies, nay Embryos take the place of Supreme Pontiff.

Is it any wonder then the Church is in crisis?  And it is logically impossible to recognize and actively respond in conscience to said crisis without criticizing the conciliar bishops or pope.

But lets be honest.  The traditional Catholic today commonly lives on three activities that fuel their zeal (a good thing):  the Tridentine Mass, studying high scholastic thought, and focusing the problem on bishops and priests.

I for one am burnt out on the last part.  The trad newbie naturally follows this line of traditionalism.  How can't he?  To cure a disease we need to know the root causes, but also the main vectors by which the virus entered the host.

But sooner or later the evidence is overwhelming and superfluous.  I've read about one too many doings and sayings from the present pontiff.  Its old.  Unless it's new to you or you dont have much firewood to stoke the fire of your inner zeal.

Bishop Konderla of my Local Church shut down two traditional religious communities.  I posted about it last Fall.  This March I apologized for going somewhat too far.  Truth be told it bothered not just my conscience but my psyche.  It was not promoting my much needed inner peace.  Is what it is.

Criticizing the hierarchy is a very delicate matter.  Its not just about distinguishing criticism of word and deed from criticizing the bishop or priest in question.  It requires a reverent reserve and careful choice of words which is very hard to do when you witness sacrilege and heresy coming from those representing Christ.

Its very late here in Oklahoma.  What I'm getting around to saying is, as I start making blog posts more frequent, my clerical criticisms will decidedly shrink, and at least when I ponder the happenings of my own Okie Local Church, my lens will be widening to focus on what I can see that is good, true, and beautiful, yet ever through the eyes of a traditional Catholic, ie committed to Catholic Tradition and defeating Catholic modernism.

Keep cool.  😎