Happily, I had not sullied my eyes with a glimpse of the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) for some time. Then I received a message from a priest friend asking if I had seen the opinion piece there about the Traditional Latin Mass and the people who attend it.
So, with a heavy sigh, I went to the Fishwrap – eye wash at hand.
There you will find a jeremiad not so much against the TLM, as it turns out, but against the people who prefer the TLM and frequent it.
The great advantages to this opinion piece, written by a woman who seems to have a lot of issues, is that it is so long that very few people will bother reading it. Another advantage is that she doesn’t bury the lead: she’s really angry.
To be fair, I check on her a little bit with some searches and found much to commend! She is clearly smart and, for the most part, has some good positions on a number of important issues. I was happy to see her positive comments about women taking an NRA course to become familiar with handguns. HERE She also likes baseball, which is never bad. She needs some course corrections in matters Catholic, however.
Throughout, the writer applies a combination psychic powers of mind reading with gnostic certainty about the thoughts and the hearts of those she met. That’s the most off-putting part of her sad piece, it seems to me: her swift willingness to judge others by their appearance, her snap judgments of people after momentary encounters.
For the umpteenth time in reading one of these manic anti-Tradition screeds, I am forced to ask myself about where on earth was this chapel or church or parish she attended. It doesn’t sound like any place that I have experienced. It could be – and this is merely a guess – that she stumbled into some extremist renegade place and thinks now that it is representative of all places where the Traditional Mass is offered. Maybe there is such a wretched place. Maybe there isn’t.
It could be that most of the problems at that chapel she brought in with herself.
There are a lot of nutty things in the piece, her fixation on veils chief among them. Sadly, she seems to share with many people who prefer the chapel veil a common problem, which is a lack of biblical grounding for the use of the veil by women. There is, indeed, a biblical foundation for the chapel veil. It is not an easy aspect of Pauline teaching, however, and it needs careful explication. She, however, raves about oppression of women, blah blah blah. That’s not what the veil is really about. Depending on the community, there could be some unhealthy notions about and the use of the chapel veil, but the writer in this case is nearly unhinged.
She also picks on how some women dressed. It is interesting that some of the harshest comments I have heard from women – some very smart women, too – concerns their perception that TLM communities in some measure require women to dress like “Catholic Amish”. I see that tendency here and there and I ponder it occasionally. Modesty doesn’t require dressing like the Amish. Poverty might. Personal preference might genuinely lead there. But there is nothing inherent in desiring traditional liturgical worship that requires women to dress as if they are going straight back to the milking-stool or the sewing bee. Anyway, this was part of the writer’s tirade and it has come up before in my conversations with very smart women. For some, this is a neuralgic spot, and it needs some reflection.
With that in mind, if you do head over to Fishwrap – with eye wash close at hand – to read any or all (good luck with that) of her piece, you might use it as a negatively charged point in your own examination of conscience. It won’t hurt people who frequent Traditional Latin Mass chapels and churches to examine their own attitudes and actions. Correction is needed if they are in any way guilty of over-emphasizing some aspect of their practices. They must constantly strive to excel in being charitably solicitous toward new-comers. Charity is, of course, the sacrificial love that considers first the true good of another, rather than imposition of one’s own preferences under the guise of concern.
In any event, the woman writer at Fishwrap had a spittle-flecked nutty in public. I don’t want to fall into the trap that she fell into in her snap judgments of others, but she seems to be in need of prayers.