Monday, March 16, 2015

A House Divided against Itself

Update. Video at end.

The old adage stands most of the time. A House divided against itself will fall. But there is one case in which it shall not.

The customers in the Tavern find many rooms, some 'general' (like the main bar, the Pin and Balloon, where all sorts of mild arguements erupt and favourite ideas get pricked by the point of a pin - a bowl of pins is on the bar, ready !), or to the taste of particular activities or groups.

But the main business is constant and the same. The pulling of pints of Grace for the customers. Most of them get to know that deep below, in the cellars, is a small and hidden room wherein the Holy Grail sits. I am charged (emeritus) with its safety. Most customers get to realise that they too have a cellar and a crypt deep within themselves. 

This Tavern is not divided in that fundemental sense.

Customers also know that I am an old man: a man of Tradition. I scrub the flagstones in the Crypt. On my knees.

So I was pleased today when a new customer dropped by. He was almost immediately tasked by others to explain a few things. And those things were quite close to me, too. 

You see, as some know I attend Mass on Sundays, in the 'old rite': the Latin Mass. When in the Crypt, even when mopping the floor, I play 'Gregorian' or slightly broader 'classical' hymns and music. I admit freely to Loving the Tridentine Mass.

In the Hilary Village below the Tavern there is a very small 'Latin Mass Community' which I count as 'safe' ground amid all the heathens.

You can see signs here:
Anyway, back to the customers, one of whom asked the newbie, who is, by the way, a Priest: Since His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has allowed the Latin mass to be celebrated by Priest without special per mission, many younger Priest and young Catholics have been celebrating the Latin mass more often. Do you think this is a comeback of the Latin mass? 

Do you the Novus Ordo may eventually be outnumbered by the Latin mass sometime in the future?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf (Fr. Z)  (his blog is now on the Wall at right) was pleased to get the question and took some pains to answer.

Good question.

It seems almost like a war of attrition, doesn’t it? Whose churches or Masses will empty faster?

I know, this seems like a pretty negative assessment, but I don’t see anything to be gained by false optimism.

In the short term, no, the Traditional Latin Mass or Extraordinary Form is not going to outstrip in numbers the use of the Novus Ordo.  There are many obstacles to the TLM, including the near complete ignorance of Latin among clergy of the Latin Church.   
The destruction of integrated Catholic education and formation at levels before major seminary saw to this, despite the fact of St. John XXIII’s Apostolic Constitution Veterum sapientia.  

Enemies within the Church knew that they had to destroy the foundations, so Latin had to go.
Now you see why I started this with reference to a House Divided and find his answers so helpful. 

Many countries are finding that the 'enemy within' tries hard to dismember the foundations of language for people although these days it is on an Industrial scale. Our Universities and Political parties, Media and even songs distort meaning and in some cases even reverse it. Nations cannot survive this. 

By the way, the Code of Canon Law in can. 249 requires… it doesn’t suggest… it requires that all seminarians be taught both Latin to the point that that they are very proficient (bene calleant).  They are also to be taught any other language useful for their ministry.  As far as the law is concerned for programs of formation, this is not an either/or question, this is a both/and issue.

The problem is, by the time men come to seminary, and men are often older today than once upon a time, it is a little late to bring them from zero to 60 in four years.  So, what do we do?  Add a couple more years of formation?  Have a couple propaedeutic years for Latin and Greek, other basics of a classical liberal education which they ought to have had and which a Catholic seminary formation presupposes?  What do we cut from the curriculum to make room?

I know of one school in Rome which has determined – with great courage – to reform their 1st Cycle to include a propaedeutic year including Latin and Greek.  This is absolutely necessary.   But the fact remains that men have to have a foundation in Latin before they get to major seminary.  This simply has to happen.

I digress.
Another obstacle to the TLM is the hatred that squishy-identity Catholics have for it, because of its emphases on sacrifice and it’s clarity about the Four Last Things.   
When you start experiencing Mass in the older form, you begin hearing “No!” to your baser passions and you begin to encounter something transcendent and, indeed, frightening. 
 It is a harder path.

In the longer term, will the TLM survive and the Novus Ordo die out?  I suspect it won’t look like that.  I suspect that something along the lines of what Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI thought would happen will take place.  That is, having jump started the more organic path of liturgical development, with the greater frequency of the older, traditional forms alongside the Novus Ordo, some tertium quid will eventually emerge, wherein the two forms have influenced each other in a process of “mutual enrichment”.  They will exert what I call a “gravitational pull” on each other and the Roman Rite will organically develop.

What is clear to me, however, is that we urgently, desperately need a renewal and revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship.  Without a solid liturgical base, no initiative of evangelization (or of “New Evangelization”) will bear lasting fruit.  Every aspect of the Church’s life flows from and back to our worship of God, which we owe by the virtue of Religion.

Therefore, we need more and more celebrations of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Just to help, here are the main differences, not just in 'Form' but in attitude. 
One of the reasons we need wider use of the Extraordinary Form is because of the knock on effect it produces through the priests who learn it.  When young priests learn the older, traditional form, it shapes their priestly identity in a way that the Novus Ordo simply cannot.  The deepening and strengthening of the identity of the priest at the altar will in turn produce effects among the people who are entrusted to the priests pastoral care.

Meanwhile, I suspect that we will see a more and more divided Church.

Far and wide we will see a deemphasis on doctrinal clarity that will, coupled with vague liturgical worship, produce weak and vague Catholic identity among a majority of those who self-identity as Catholic.  A sort of Immanentism Lite will continue to enervate Catholic identity.

On the other hand, there will be some Catholics who are fortunate enough to have solid priests and bishops who maintain sound and reverent sacred worship, who teach with clarity true Catholic doctrine without watering it down under the pressure of the world, the flesh and the devil.   
I fear, however, that they will be isolated in enclaves, oases, ghettos.  Through the Church’s history, in times of trouble, there has been a temptation to isolate, to preserve the core by separation.  This tendency, human as it is, in part brought about the rise of monasticism.   
In the modern world, however, in which is nearly impossible to isolate oneself on a mountain top, (Amfortas: Oh, I don't know. There is much to be said for a Hermit's life, especially when he has a pub ) I fear that strong identity Catholics may disengage from other Catholics and from action in the public square.  This is why I am always nagging traditional Catholics to be active in their parishes, to be the first to get involved with parish initiatives and, especially, corporal works of mercy.  Strong or hard-identity Catholics simply must be more engaged with their parishes and active in the public square.
We have to be willing to suffer and make sacrifices.  That’s the path of the traditional, faithful Catholic.   
All else is … something else, maybe even another religion.

We cannot abdicate “Catholic identity” to the squishy, to the “Olympian middle” that we see on the rise in the blogosphere these days.  In a way, I think that is more pernicious than the obvious radicals of the Fishwrap and America and The Pill, who are really feeling their oats these days.

Okay, I’ve ranted enough.
On that note, I saw today, thanks to an alert reader, this piece in USA Today:

Latin Mass resurgent 50 years after Vatican II

VATICAN CITY — Fifty years after the traditional Latin Mass was abandoned by the Roman Catholic Church, it is making a comeback.

The Second Vatican Council ruled a half-century ago this month that the Mass could be said in local languages while the priest faced the congregation. The longer Latin Mass involved elaborate choreography, and the priest’s back was toward the pews. [That old canard?  No, everyone was facing the same direction!]
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI formally allowed the majestic Latin Mass to be more accessible to congregations. Since then, participation has mushroomed.
“Interested Catholics now realize it’s not some peculiar thing tucked away in an embarrassed corner,” said Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society based in the United Kingdom. “Once they’re in the door, the Mass speaks for itself.”

Many enthusiasts of the Latin Mass are too young to recall when it was the standard for Catholic churches.

“There is a movement among young Catholics to know, discover and preserve their Catholic heritage, and the traditional Latin Mass fits in with that,” said Joseph Kramer, a Rome-based priest and longtime advocate of the Latin Mass. “I think they are drawn to the liturgical richness of the past.”

Though figures on attendance at Latin Masses are not available, there is evidence interest is growing. The International Una Voce Federation, lay groups associated with the Latin Mass, said member organizations are growing in all parts of the world.

“I think people are drawn to the Mass’ beauty and depth and its internal coherence,” said James Bogle, president of the federation.
Churchgoers who attend the Latin Mass say the seriousness of the service is appealing.
I have to say, I am fully with Fr. Z on this.

In Hobart our small community of 'old, traditional' Catholics has grown in number and you would be surprised at the youth of many. The Altar Servers are 'managed' well and we now have a Latin Mass every week, from a monthly position just a year or two ago. 

We have a splendid choir who accompany the litergy, never overpowering or 'taking over', but allowing and enhancing those  contemplative 'silences' between prayers and readings. And we have a dedicated Priest in Fr Suresh to lead us, along with our own trusty servant Fr Gerald Quinn. 

The Tavern is blessed by being near such people.

The Catholic Church is going through tough times. Calumny and direct attacks from outside are ongoing. 

Some criticisms are well deserved

Inside the Church some clergy have been awful. It does appear to be divided. There are many fine protestant people who look upon it and shake their heads and thank themselves, erroneously I have to add, that they 'follow' some other 'way', started by some self-professed pastoral people.

But let us be clear. The Catholic Church was established by God Himself in Jesus Christ and He make a very firm promise. Despite it being the Prime Target for Satan's ire, 

"The Gates of Hell shall not Prevail against it"

I will let an Archbishop end this with a short sermon.

Pax Dei


  1. I enjoyed this post, and although I am not Catholic I can relate to the fact that more modern less traditional services do not really convey any message or a connection to God. What the new services seem to do is get more young people through the doors. But is that good enough if they do not understand what the teachings are?

    When faced with too much modernity, (for those who already Know) God can more easily be found sitting or walking in a quiet and tranquil place :-)

    In my small town there are five Christian churches. The Catholic Church and the Parish Church (CofE) stand side by side, both have large congregations and are thriving. There is a second CofE Church which used to be ‘High Church’ but is now secondary to the Parish Church. In addition there is a Methodist Church (also thriving) and a United Reformed Church. They all quite happily work together and support each other.

    On the edge of this hub of Christianity a large ‘Central Place of Worship’ of an entirely different kind is being built… With the potential to expand the ghetto area of the two streets that connect with the proposed Centre of Worship…

    So the ‘Christian House’ should not be divided against itself!

    1. Indeed, almost every city in the Anglosphere has a clutch of arguing Churches, all busy saying almost the same things but divided by mortal egos, most of which passed to judgement a long time ago. Meanwhile the anti-Chist Islam gathers strength..


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..