Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lunch on the North Side

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 --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 common 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 across Traddom, the atmosphere often seems somewhat privatized and individualistic.  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."


  1. I've had more of the opposite - I've been in churches where there is a pretty decent community. Most of my experience has been with Fraternity of St. Peter parishes. We always seem to have the core families that know pretty much everything about each other, go to all the church events. And then you have the outliers that go to Mass and help out on an occasion or two. Either way, it's rare to have strangers or people on the fringe for long.

    Farm Lassie

  2. They do form communities - problem is there ends up being a lot friction between those communities.