Obedience and being a “restorationist”

At Crisis there is a must read piece by Anthony Esolen.

Here’s how it starts…

Hello. My name is Tony. I am a restorationist.

I wasn’t always this way. I grew up in the 1960s and the 1970s, and we all took for granted everything the priests and bishops said we had to do according to the directions of the Second Vatican Council. None of us had read the documents, but we figured that our leaders had, and we obeyed. They counted on it.

When our pastor removed the marble communion rail with its mosaic inlays of Eucharistic symbols (a basket of five loaves, two fish, a bunch of grapes, the Lamb of God), we figured he knew what he was doing, and we submitted. When he whitewashed the church walls, eliminating stenciled patterns of the fleur-de-lis, so that what had been warm and shady was now bare, with no color connection between the stained-glass windows, the mural paintings of figures from the Old Testament, and the painted ceiling above, we figured he knew what he was doing, and we obeyed. When he covered the hexagonal floor tiles, white and dark green in cruciform patterns, with a bright-red carpet, we wiped our feet and obeyed.


A lot of people are going to resonate with this.

Esolen describes – through self-examination – the effects of creeping incrementalism and then… waking up.  Not woking up.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. WVC says:

    It’s worth noting, too, that while Esolen admires the TLM, he attends the Novus Ordo.

    This is not “traditionalists” vs. Pope Francis. It’s ALL Catholics of Good Faith vs. those who are trying to destroy the Church. No more infighting. Everyone, fight back the best way you can, according to your knowledge, position, and ability. Stop wasting your time trying to explain why the way other folks are fighting isn’t the way you would like them to fight. Stay focused on the enemy and do whatever it is YOU can do.

  2. aam says:

    Me. I graduated from a Jesuit high school in the 1970s not knowing the Pope was the Successor of Peter. Honest. But I did know that “I’m OK – You’re OK”, as it said so on the bumper sticker of the VW Beetle driven by a Jesuit priest who allegedly smoked pot with the students.

  3. Edward says:

    My name is Ed. I too am a restorationist.

    Both my wife and I received a Catholic education kindergarden though college. After marriage over 50 years ago, I was frequently transfered around the country. My wifes’ faith was stronger than mine for a number of years. I was disappointed in college as the priests were enjoying a bit too much of a secular lifestyle.
    As we moved from Parish to Parish, we experienced many abuses and the obvious lack of catechesis that was becoming the norm. We sought out traditional parishes but were soon moving. We retired early and found a new Parish in the rural midwest. It was a breath of fresh air. The church building was spectacular and had just recently been built. The priest, although young by our age, was an old(traditional) soul. The choir and organist use gregorian chant. There is an active Knights of Columbus Council.. The church has twice weekly Adoration and Benediction and the church is QUIET. It actually brought tears to my eyes the first time we visited as everyone was reverent. We were home!

    We wish everyone could feel as we do when we attend and actually participate at mass.

  4. This piece definitely resonated with me. It took me a very long time, almost 25 years, to move from revert (thanks to Catholic radio programs) to the place where I am now as a traditional Catholic. I journeyed all through conservative Catholicism, searched for reverent NO Masses (mostly in vain) and was a dyed-in-the-wool reform-of-the-reformer. I do want to say that it is good to remember that today’s “conservative NO Catholics” are on a journey too and they are definitely headed our way. I’ve seen them disparaged on social media, but I think we need to pray and help them along.

  5. HyacinthClare says:

    Everything that man writes is a “must-read.” What a gift for transmitting so much information and visual impact and emotion in English prose. Wish he could find a Latin mass.

  6. redneckpride4ever says:

    In other words he remembers when the Protestants who snuck into the priesthood finally became gutsy enough to begin this 50+ year campaign of hatred and division against orthodox Catholicism (known colloquially as Traditional Catholicism).

  7. Kate says:

    My own wake-up call… World Youth Day, Denver, 1993. The papal Mass was said in sundry languages, I would guess 20 or more. We all, united, from all countries and walks of life, donned our headphones and tuned in to our appropriate language. All I could think was, “This is stupid. We have a common language. Why don’t we use it?”

    All of the ceremonies of those few days was a wake-up call for me to become a Catholic truly united to the Church in doctrine and liturgy.

  8. David says:

    Father, it looks like the link to the great Anthony Esolen piece “I am a Restorationist” is missing. Here it is: https://www.crisismagazine.com/2022/i-am-a-restorationist

    I hope you have great days in Rome still ahead.

    Best, David

  9. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    I wonder if, as restorationists, our motto should be “Build Back Better.”

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    He typically writes an interesting essay, this is another one. I think most TLM Catholics could write a similar essay on why TLM and not Novus Ordo.
    So many reasons.

  11. JMody says:

    Pray that the Lord turn this wine back into water … what a profound, poetic, and shocking, almost horrific, image.
    I know what he means – the last thing we want is to see the Lord undo His miracles. Should I start to think of the Church, the Faith, and centuries of traditional forms, praxis, and customs, as “too beautiful”, needing to be weakened, diluted, confused, or thrown out?
    Pray we come to our collective senses soon.

  12. ex seaxe says:

    Well I resonate with everything in that piece – until the end. I have never seen anything to suggest that Pope Francis wishes to “teach me to love the ugly or muscle-headed or incoherent, nor can he teach me to despise the beautiful and rational, and mysteries beyond reason.” Being 20 years older than Esolen I saw why liturgical praxis needed overhaul, but living in the UK, and Westminster in particular, good liturgy was never unavailable, and trash was never prevalent.
    [I do accept that the Pope’s utterances can seem incoherent, but that is after translation, and often selective quoting, even misrepresentation, by hostile witnesses]

  13. JonPatrick says:

    I am a restorationist and I know we have an uphill struggle. Just yesterday my wife was telling me of an encounter with another lady from our church. They were talking about our current priest leaving and she commented “it’s OK to talk about confession once in a while but he brings it up in EVERY sermon!”. She also commented about the Traditional Latin Mass he holds every Saturday, that “the Vatican has said you aren’t supposed to do the Latin Mass anymore, it’s illegal”. Unfortunately these attitudes are so prevalent.

    All I know is that the Church will not survive unless it goes back to Tradition, and God has promised the Church will survive, so I know we will win out in the end, not necessarily here or in my lifetime, but eventually.

  14. adriennep says:

    Yes, Not necessarily in my lifetime indeed . . . As a convert at age 52, these days I feel like that tourist slogan: “I crossed the Tiber, and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt.”

  15. TonyO says:

    I have never seen anything to suggest that Pope Francis wishes to “teach me to love the ugly or muscle-headed or incoherent, nor can he teach me to despise the beautiful and rational, and mysteries beyond reason.”

    @ex seaxe, while Francis did it slowly and with some degree of subtlety or hesitancy early in his reign, he is doing it now with verve and gusto and out in the open. For “teaching me to love the…incoherent”, the infamous chapter 8 of AL will serve. Yes, it could, theoretically be read in a manner that is compatible with orthodox Catholicism, if you warp it a bit. But by his own words he indicates that’s not what he meant – he “officially” approved the Argentine bishops’ implementation, which is encapsulated incoherence. As for the loving the ugly and despising the beautiful: his manifest, public, outspoken, and vociferous disgust of the TLM, along with his attempt at suppressing it, is clear enough. He wants us ONLY to love the Novus Ordo, and (by his behavior) to love ALL of the variously ugly manifestations of the spirit of the NO, including Pachemama and other atrocities – for he never makes any effort at all to restrain said atrocities. I usually assist at NO masses, but only at reverent ones clean of any overt outrage on Catholic sensibilities. But far too many parishes around me – and all over the world – have nonsense either sometimes or always, and no bishop or pope bothers to suppress THAT.

  16. hilltop says:

    Ex seaxe: I’d ask you to consider the Pachamama, where Pope Francis worked very hard and most conspicuously to teach the Church to love something VERY ugly, and then was angered, ANGERED (!) when a whole bunch of Catholics said “No thank you, that’s not Catholic, nor is it Mary.”
    Also, Francis’ incoherence isn’t a description of his communication (or it’s translations). It’s a description of his thinking. It does not cohere.
    But who am I to judge?

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