I’ve had some emails over the last months and weeks from deeply wounded, anxious souls who fear that, in regard to traditional sacred liturgical worship (TSLW), we have gone back to the 70’s and 80’s, all the gains from Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum wiped out by two strokes of a pen.
I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is, as The Fat Man’s Laws of the House of God affirms: VIII. They can always hurt you more.
The “House of God”, in the homonymous novel, is a hospital, in which it is always possible to make patients feel even more pain. So, too, in the Church. Bet on the fact that the powers that be, in their fear of TSLW, are even now thinking up ways to hurt people more. It is just a matter of time.
That’s the bad news. However, as I have seen online recently as well as in a brand new book by Kennedy Hall from good old faithful TAN, Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity, effeminacy is undermining and sapping the vigor from the Church and larger society. It is a tool and temptation from Hell and it must be resisted. Hall writes:
Effeminacy does not mean “femininity,” as femininity is a perfection, like masculinity. Effeminacy is a different word entirely, and in its etymology, we find a definition for things like “softness” in its Latin usage. The Greek word for effeminacy in the New Testament is malakia (μαλακία), which means “softness.”
St. Thomas defines effeminacy as a reluctance to suffer due to an attachment to pleasure. He explains that effeminacy is a vice opposed to perseverance. In essence, effeminacy is a vice that is opposed to the cross, which is an unfortunate characteristic that might explain the multitude of soft men who reject life’s redemptive sufferings in pursuit of temporal pleasure.
Effeminacy is not the jesuitical limp-handed lisping of a confused boy-man with a streak of sullen teen-age girl purple across his half-shaven skull full of mush. Women can be effeminate, too. We want women to be feminine, not effeminate. We want men to be neither, but rather, both virile and masculine. Get the distinction?
There is another kind of effeminacy, by the way. It’s the sort whereby, in defiance of their wiring, they relate to others more as women might than men, thus leading to one of the wisest premonitory insights I ever received from a bishop about clergy: “There are old women of both sexes.” Another analogy about how some of clergy with power work is: high-school mean-girls in the bathroom.
In any event, they can always hurt you more. Get ready for another blow upon the bruise.
But that’s okay. We have to have the fight. When St. Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153) at Vézelay preached to men to raise troops for Second Crusades, he said
“How can you not know that we live in a period of chastisement and ruin? The enemy of mankind has caused the breath of corruption to fly over all regions; we behold nothing but unpunished wickedness. Neither the laws of men nor the laws of religion have sufficient power to check the depravity of customs and the triumph of the wicked. The demon of heresy has taken possession of the chair of truth, and God has sent forth His malediction upon His sanctuary.
“Oh, ye who listen to me, hasten then to appease the anger of Heaven. But no longer implore His goodness by vain complaints; clothe not yourselves in sackcloth, but cover yourselves with your impenetrable bucklers. The din of arms, the dangers, the labors, the fatigues of war are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the infidels, and let the deliverance of holy places be the reward of your repentance.
“If it were announced to you that the enemy had invaded your cities, your castles, your lands; had ravished your wives and your daughters and profaned your temples – who among you would not fly to arms? Well, then, all these calamities, and calamities still greater, have fallen upon your brethren, upon the family of Jesus Christ, which is yours. Why do you hesitate to repair so many evils; to revenge so many outrages? Will you allow the infidels to contemplate in peace the ravages they have committed on Christian people?
“All you who hear me, make haste to calm the wrath of Heaven! Leave off imploring His goodness with futile lamentations or mortifying yourself with disciplines, but rather take up your invincible shields. The clamor of arms, the dangers, difficulties and fatigues of war, these are the penances that God imposes on you.”
Tell that that doesn’t describe what is being done to the Church and wider society. We could use a little more of this spirit rather than the Starbuck cinnamon-chai mocha latté infused spirit of Vatican II.
So, the bad news is out of the way. They are going to hurt us more.
The good news is, 2022 is NOT 1982 or 1992.
Catholic media and information sources are no longer dominated by diocesan newspapers (insert eye-roll), the vile Fishwrap, the feckless bishops’ news platform. Just as Rush changed talk radio and provided an alternative to the mainstream media, and Fox News did on visual media, the internet has changed the whole vista before us.
In 1992, for example, working from an office in Rome, I wound up being the “wizop” of the Catholic Forum in ancient Compuserve: people from around the world were in immediate contact, with message boards having friendlier user interfaces and even by live chat. It was a whole new ballgame, and very quickly the sides were delineated. The point is, however, that the silent majority – still silent in many respects – had access to more and better information. Scales stared falling from people’s eyes. One of the things that Compuserve spawned was an occasional post from me about how the English translations of prayers on Sunday didn’t match the Latin, I was asked the question “What Does The Prayer Really Say”? In turn, that was picked up by Catholic legacy print media, The Wanderer – STILL AROUND! SUBSCRIBE AND KEEP IT GOING! – and a weekly column lasted over a decade. Those columns were used in meetings of the Vox Clara Committee after Liturgiam authenticam changed the rules for translations, resulting in better English versions of the Novus Ordo prayers.
I remember furious hate-mail from people who saw my commentaries: “HOW DARE YOU question the translations! They were done by EXPERTS!” and “YOU RUINED IT! I can’t stand hearing those prayers anymore! Why couldn’t you just LET IT BE?!?” That sort of thing.
De-scaling is painful. As Augustine wrote, based on the medical practices of the time, about Christ the Physician of the soul, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.
A chance to cut is a chance to cure, as a surgeon friend of mine once told me. They can always hurt you more. But WHY? To cure or to hurt for the sake of hurting?
Someone referred to the Church as a “field hospital”. Fine. Not original in the least.
Think about that image.
Field hospitals are places of wondrous horror. Triage separates the wounded into categories and one of those is “no chance”. While it is heart-rending for those to do triage later, it is icy at the time. Screaming, ugly sights, terrible smells, fear.
Field hospitals are temporary: they exist to send patients elsewhere. Some people don’t make it.
The Church is like a field hospital. Some people will be damned. Correcting and patching up the wounded – Original Sin is a wound, actual sin is a stiches-tearing blow upon the wound – hurts a lot. It is not pretty. Mind you, it’s beautiful in one sense, but it isn’t pretty.
There is nothing pretty about a really good, really needed, difficult confession. There is nothing more beautiful.
Getting back to the point, these are NOT the 80’s or 90’s for people who desire traditional sacred liturgical worship (TSLW). We have the insights from those times, from those who fought through them once before. We have vastly more people involved. We have years of new experience. We have scores of young priests who want to day the TLM and, one day, some of them will be bishops. Do the math. We have a huge advantage of tools, like vestments, books, videos even at the touch of a screen to show us how to do pretty much anything.
Do you have any idea how hard it was to get a 1962 Missale Romanum back in the day?
No, these are not the 80’s or 90’s.
Could we have in 1992 imagined an online petition, already signed by over 50,000 people calling for the resignation of Cardinal Cupich of Chicago? In 2022 we don’t have to imagine it. There is one. HERE. They are aiming for 75K signatures.
We might then have dreamed but we couldn’t imagine. Now we can make happen all that we dream and imagine.
The enemy knows these are not the 90’s. Therefore, they will hurt us more.
Good luck with that. Their cruelty has forged their downfall.