Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reflections on Controversy

I run two blogs. But it is a general policy of mine not to read too many other blogs and especially to avoid commenting much in the comboxes. They become a near occasion of sin for me, burning precious time and too frequently fomenting thoughts and attitudes that are much better left alone. (It is an absolute rule of mine never to post anonymously on a blog--that affords way too much temptation to say things that I would never ultimately want to be connected to.)

I broke that general rule the other day and was reminded again why I really must just Stay Away. The topic was liturgy, specifically the contrasts between the Gregorian rite and the Pauline rite. The fact remains that in the abstract such discussions are still valid. In principle, none of the traditionalist position has changed with respect to the nature of the liturgical reforms since Vatican II. And these discussions can still take place with some profit (I think Fr. Zuhlsdorf pulls that off pretty well.) But for that profitable exchange to take place there needs to be mutual respect between the parties involved, as well as a genuine desire on the part of both genuinely to learn and benefit from the discussion. At least in my two recent discussions, all of those features were lacking. The whole time the voice of conscience was telling me, "You really shouldn't be discussing this." I definitely should have bailed sooner than I did. Mea culpa.

I think my opponent made one good point, namely, that this is simply not the time for serious knock-down, drag-out debates about the liturgy, especially on the Internet. Our Holy Father has issued Summorum Pontificum and in its wake has come a veritable torrent of good news. Just last week the Transalpine Redemporists were reconciled with the Holy See. And there are serious movements toward a like reconciliation of the Society of Pius X. The Holy Father's courage is bearing fruit. He certainly doesn't need a knucklehead like me out there in cyberspace creating resistance to the traditional direction he's moving the Church.

A week ago my wife and I were interviewed by a reporter for a mainstream Catholic publication for an article on the motu proprio (I'll let you know if it gets published.) He asked what our reaction to Summorum Pontificum has been. Certainly our initial reaction was one of jubilation. We had prayed every day in our family Rosary for almost seven years that the traditional Roman rite would be normalized. But we were afraid each time we heard rumors of some impending action by the Pope that we would get a sort of "universal indult", yet another demand to get "permission" for that which had never been forbidden. In short, we were afraid that simple justice would be once more held in abeyance.

But in fact, we got the whole enchilada, with extra guacamole on the side and fried ice cream for dessert. It was more than we had hoped for, it was the complete vindication of the core of the traditionalist position on the traditional Latin Mass. Justice was served.

So in the face of that vindication I ask myself, why am I still out there swinging? For the most part the answer is plain old human weakness. My family was in the ecclesiastical refugee camp for seven years (and that's nothing compared to what some folks have weathered.) We've only been out for one. It just takes a while to adjust.

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