Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Question We Dare Not Ask

Why do so many "Spirit of Vatican II" Catholics HATE the Traditional Latin Mass?

If you ask them, they will answer:

•  "It is divisive."

• "It excludes the laity from full and active participation."

•  "It's too difficult for people to understand."

•  "It's a step backward."

•  "It's pre-conciliar."

None of these answers can stand up to rebuttal, but this post will focus on the first answer.

The Traditional Latin Mass is only as divisive as the pastor wants it to be.

When a pastor denies a request for a Traditional Latin Mass, or worse, marginalizes the people who ask for it, he begins the process of dividing his parish.  There are parishes all over America where Traditional Latin Masses are included in the schedule--in some cases weekly, in some cases less often.  No doubt, there are people in many of these parishes who object to a Traditional Latin Mass, but so far, there are no reports of the faithful picketing the rectory or starting their own offshoot parish to separate from their mother parish that included a bit of tradition.

Catholics are a pretty tolerant lot.  40 years of imposed novelties have made us that way.  When a Catholic asks his pastor for a Traditional Latin Mass and is denied, the pastor has begun the dividing process by potentially driving another family out of the parish.  Catholics who want the Traditional Latin Mass will drive further if one is available.  Some will spend more than two hours driving each way for this Mass.  Anyone with that much devotion has a lot to offer his parish, the very parish that told him that he (or his desired form of worship) is not welcome.  Besides being tolerant, Catholics are also generous.  When a pastor drives a traditional parishioner away, he is driving money away from his parish.

If Catholic pastors are worried about divisions in their parish, would it not follow that they would do all in their power to heal those divisions?  What could possibly heal divisions in a parish more than including everyone?  By making room for Catholics who love Tradition, the pastor "widens the tent" and shows his tolerance and generosity.

A few other points worth noting:

1.  Pope Benedict has made the inclusion of Traditional Catholics and the liberation of the Traditional Mass one of the key works of his pontificate.  Don't our pastors want to show that they are in union with the pope?

2.  At least one bishop has already been forced into retirement for his stubborn hostility to the Traditional Latin Mass.  Such entrenched hostility is unnecessary and counterproductive.  Showing a generous tolerance for Traditionalists is a win/win situation for everyone in the Church.

3.  Today's younger seminarians want to offer the Tradtional Latin Mass.  Unfortunately, many of these fine young men find their enthusiasm for Tradition will get them drummed right out of the seminary.  Pastors who want to reach out to the younger people in their parish might be surprised to find out the interest young Catholics have in Tradition.  Instead of making it forbidden, permitting a health exploration of Tradition can turn an otherwise average parish into a launching pad for priestly and religious vocations.

4.  Open contempt for the Traditional Latin Mass is self-defeating.  To despise the Mass that has been the focal point of our Church for the last 1600 years makes no sense at all.  It is tantamount to insisting that the Church has spent 1600 years in the dark and the modern age has "liberated" us.  An objective examination of what has happened to us in the last 40 years proves that the exact opposite is true.

5.  No documents of Vatican II mandate the end of the Traditional Latin Mass.  No conciliar documents condemn it.  As Pope Benedict has said, it was never abrogated.

The Traditional Latin Mass is not any more divisive than the 1970 Mass of Paul VI.  Divisiveness begins at the top.  To all of our beloved pastors:  Open your hearts, open your minds and think with the mind of the Church.

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