Making New Acquaintances

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I don't get out much.

Not even in the blog world.

Frankly, there are just too many blogs of interest and I often can't keep up with the very limited, but very worthy list of blogs in my side column.

So as a result, I am often last to the party, but I often arrive.

I just found a blog by a priest that really struck me. Bonfire of the Vanities has been around for a while, but as I am not particularly drawn to priestly or religious blogs (by sheer virtue of them being priestly or religious) and because I had not encountered Fr. Fox elsewhere, I missed this wonderful blog.

And what is most wonderful is the providence that brought me there during a very difficult time I am having over a number of issues, personal and faith-related.

What should I find there when I arrive, but this very consoling, very pastoral post:

So: there's a lot of ferment in matters of liturgy -- and yet, a great number of God's people are tired of it all. They've seen a lot of tinkering and monkeying around with liturgy, a lot of changes mandated from the bishops or Rome, and they would like to pray.

Well, there are a number of keyboard combatants out there who say that if a priest doesn't immediately start offering Mass, all in Latin, ad orientem, without extraordinary ministers, with only male servers, etc., etc., he "lacks courage" and seeks a "lowest common denominator" liturgy.

I will leave it to your imagination as to why they have so much time to lecture pastors via the Internet, as well as why their own pastors don't listen to them.

I have said before, I am not a traditionalist. It would be pretension on my part to claim to be so. I came into the Church during the reign of JPII. I came in with a lot of struggle and a lot of turmoil and it has taken me a long time to shed many of my protestant trapppings. And honestly, they aren't all gone yet. Nor do I think they will ever be. And that's all right because it is part of who I am. But I am not a traditionalist.

And I am turned off by the anger and bitterness of many traditionalists. (Not that I don't understand it, I do. And I even sympathize. But the rigidity that it often instills isn't particular attractive nor conducive to showing the wonders of the Catholic Faith. On the other hand, if in one fell swoop all that you loved and all the supported you and held you up through years of faith life were swept away and simultaneously the secular revolution entered a phase that brought faith-life to a stand-still. . . well, you get the point. It isn't that traditionalists are wrong or don't have good reason for how they feel, it's just that for some the bitterness of that feeling leaks into the conversations and interactions they have in general. For a long time I thought I was opposed to the Latin Mass and the return thereto; it took me a while to figure out that what I was opposed to was the personal offensiveness of a small number of people who ardently desired that return.)

And I have to admit to be numbed, aggravated, and confused by much of the trumpeting and crowing and partial announcements and indecisions--"We'll have a full indult." "No the French Bishops delayed it." "This is the right translation." "No, that is the literal translation, this is the actual meaning."

It tends to put my faith-life and my worship completely out of focus. I am so focused on the accidents that I miss entirely that God is present. I am so flustered and bothered by the noise in my head that I can't see God or engage in prayer in any fruitful way.

And so I happen upon this voice of calm and reason, this voice that says to me, at least in this passage and for this time, "There are many valid ways of being Catholic. Don't let precision destroy intimacy. God is present."

Thank you, Father Fox, even if it wasn't what you intended to say, God gave me a great consolation through your words.

(And if I have inadvertently offended any who call themselves traditionalists, please forgive me, I certainly was not trying to tar all with the same brush, and my anecdotal experiences may not be typical of an ordinary interaction.)

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As you know I am a traditionalist, but not in the angry, combative form that you understandably are opposed to. I used to be, though, a very angry and combative traditionalist. I now look back and cringe at some of the things I said and did back at that point in my life. Literally, my toes curl up in my shoes. God has brought me along though thankfully. I still would LOVE to see the Latin Mass, Ad Orientem, male servers, no extraordinary ministers, and all of that restored in a much more general way. I just came to realize that this is Jesus' Church, not mine. Yes, mine, in the sense that I belong to her, but He is the boss, not me. And coming to this realization has brought much peace into my life. I don't have to worry about saving the Church. You know I actually was going to save the Church at one point all by myself. I just had to tell everyone how they were screwing up, and surely they would see the error of their ways. Ha ha!!! What a joke I was.

Anyway, I just thought I would share. By the way, why don't you like blogs that are put up by priests or religious?

God bless,

Dear Tom,

Yes. And your attitude and approach and that of several notable bloggers, (I'm thinking of Mr. Culbreath in particular) were instrumental in transforming my overall experience of Traditionalist Catholics. I owe all of those people a great debt of gratitude.

As to Religious blogs. I'm sorry if my hasty writing gave the impression I do not care for them, that is not the intent. Rather, I do not find them immediately compelling by the very fact that they are written by a Priest or Religious. If you go down my side column you'll find a great many blogs by Priests and Religious. The sole point was that a priest or religious does not immediately mean that the blog will hold my interest or attention. A great many do, but as with lay people, a great many either do not. Sorry for the confusion.



And I am turned off by the anger and bitterness of many traditionalists.

Aw, but that is what makes them so charming. If it weren't for the bitterness and anger, they would be no fun at all.

Yeah, that lack of bitterness and anger is a problem with Culbreath, but he is so personable that he is tolerable anyway. I imagine that I will be seeing him in a few weeks, as midnight mass is one of the times that I reliably run into him and his family every year (I normally go to a Latin Novus Ordo, but the Tridentine Midnight Mass is one of the most beautiful expressions of the liturgy ever, and the FSSP priests at St. Stephen's in Sacramento are fantastic. It makes it worth staying up until 3am, knowing that I will be up at 6:30 to start cooking the Christmas dinner).

Traditionalist. Orthodox. Call to Action. Heavens what a noise and wind of words. I follow Christ in the Church he founded. Kempis warns us against being more concerned about abstruse matters about which we shall not be questioned on the last day. Our business is to learn the word of God and live it. Our lush Magisterium, our catechism, and attentiveness to the thought of the pontifex maximus create piety. And I follow with pious (I hope) intensity the beautiful witness of the Carmelites, Franciscans, Jesuits and Dominicans.

Oh, yes. I love your site.

Daniel Bonner

I have a friend (a convert) who loves the Latin Mass but can't stand most of the people who regularly attend it. :-)

I personally think some people get way too bent out of shape over things which are more a matter of taste than of faith. I was finally driven to post on the subject of Catholic Snobs a few months ago ...

My two cents, for what they're worth.




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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 28, 2006 9:26 AM.

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