From a reader…
My friend and I have been attending Mass in the EF for several years. We are the pioneer “young ” adults in our Latin Mass community. We were discussing the other day how both of us haven’t really been attending the TLM as much as we had because, though we both love the EF and the Church’s traditional devotions and traditional spirituality, and both want to grow in holiness, we don’t like “Traditional Catholicism” and the “Traditonalist Movement”.
For example, the incessant pope/priest/bishop bashing and whining and complaining, the conspiracy theories, the looking down on everyone who doesn’t attend the TLM, etc. There’s just too much negativity. It’s hard to be part of a community that’s just so bitter and unpleasant to be around.
At first it was mainly the older members and the biological solution would take of it, but even the young adults and families are getting this way.
I get it that there have been toes stepped on, feelings hurt, unpleasant baggage in the past, but it’s time to move on and get over it. Jesus didn’t come down from the cross, and neither should we. We need to become saints, and we can only do that by embracing the cross (I suppose this is one of my crosses to bear).
Is it possible to have the EF without Traditionalism and its baggage?
Good question. How can we have exactly what we want without any discomforts or challenges! After all, isn’t that what we were promised?
Seriously, if there is negativity, try to bring some positive topics in and raise the discourse. However, isn’t it also true that it helps to “vent” a little? I’ve tried with this blog for many years to provide a place to “vent”… a little… and then move to something more positive. How much “venting” should be allowed is hard to discern. “Venting” can rapidly multiply into something, frankly, sinful.
Another point is that quite a few people in the more tradition loving side of the nave have been pretty badly beaten up for years. They have suffered a lot. During the pontificate of Benedict XVI, and especially after Summorum Pontificum, they were unclenching and settling in to being just Catholic. Now, under this new pontificate they sense – at least this is my surmise – they sense that things might go back to the way they were before. They are genuinely anxious, and that leads to negativity.
On the one hand, we can’t ignore what is going on. There are undeniable causes for concern. Most of the issues that we might be anxious about are beyond out immediate influence. However, much can be accomplished by determined and sincere prayer, with fasting.
We are all in this together.
Don’t under estimate the influence that one person can have on a group. Being upright and cheerful, carefully shifting the conversation away from a topic when it has been exhausted or when it has taken a sour turn us a work of mercy. When the conversation takes a bad tone, perhaps you might say, “Right. This isn’t good. Let’s say a ‘Memorare’ for ___. ‘Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary…’.” and see if that doesn’t stop it in it’s tracks. As a matter of fact, if several topics have come up, whip out a small notebook and write them down. Then say, “Okay, Tom, you bought up X, Al brought up Y and you all complained about Fr. Z. I’m going back into church to say a Rosary for these things right now.”
When you pray sincerely for someone, even very difficult people, it becomes harder and harder to bash them. I suspect that people on the traditional side who constantly bash the Pope probably don’t pray for him with any regularity. I suspect that people on the liberal side who constantly bash, for example, Card. Burke (one of the kindest and best priests I’ve ever known), haven’t ever prayed for him.
Another thing that might be helpful could be to work collectively on concrete projects. One thing I have noticed over the years is that when certain people have finally gotten what they wanted (the TLM, for instance) they stop trying to do more. They get complacent and don’t push their envelopes out any more. For example, they’ll drive across several parishes to go to the church where the TLM is on Sunday and then never give the parish they are receiving services from another thought until the following Sunday. Producing concrete results in projects is a great lifter of spirits. You might consider – with the consultation of the priest, or course – some effort focused on corporal works of mercy (e.g., baby clothing drive for families that are struggling), or perhaps making improvements to the church or grounds (there’s always something that needs fixing or cleaning). It might be that within your community some family needs help with something and you, collectively, might be of service. Would forming a softball team help? How about a Holy Name Society? An HNS might remind it’s members to watch how they talk.
Think about it, all you who tend to be vociferously negative and bitter when you talk together after Mass. Think about a guy who has been trying to convince his wife to check out the TLM across town. They get the kids together and drive for a while. They have enough of a challenge with the different way that Mass is celebrated, but then afterward, in the church hall for coffee and donuts or outside on the sidewalk, they hear all the bitching and moaning about how awful the Pope is. Is that attractive? Will that win new members?
“But Father! But Father!”, some trad people might be sputtering, “other people might do these things but I would never do that! And… and you SHOULD hate Vatican II!”
If that’s the case, you are very wonderful, I’m sure. Please, in your examination of conscience, redoubling your efforts in matter of sins of omission.
Seriously, everyone, examine your consciences and …
GO TO CONFESSION!
There are any number of ways to navigate the negative. First and foremost, however, contemplate the good things that come your way each day and all the advantages.