Thursday, September 12, 2013

"No parishioners without a parish"

A common theme in the mainstream Catholic blogosphere is how terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad Traditionalists can be on the internet, or even in person. Generally it comes down to "A Trad once hurt my feelings so now I'm going to hurt theirs right back." When writers get into a high dudgeon about how mean and nasty Trads are, I usually respond with a simple "I have never experienced that of which you speak." All of the Traditionalists I've met in real life and on the internet have been courteous and eager to explain the many treasures of our Catholic patrimony which have been unnecessarily lost over the years. The first Traditional Latin Mass I ever attended was a weekday Mass at night in a bad neighborhood. A complete stranger came to me and my then girlfriend and asked us if it was our first time there. We said yes, and he gave us each a copy of the little red PCED booklets explaining the Mass and our responses. Perhaps it's a natural consequence of my mild and loveable personality,  but I've never, ever had a bad experience with a Traditionalist or a Traditionalist community. Even if I did have one, I think it would be silly for me to condemn everything  about them and refuse to ever consider the merits of their beliefs and practices (which are mostly the same beliefs and practices of our great-grandparents.) I largely read myself into the Catholic faith because the behavior of all the Catholics I actually knew was... less than edifying.

I will agree that Trads have an unfortunate tendency to keep to themselves. This is undoubtedly a leftover from the days when they were more viciously persecuted by Church authorities, but that was then and this is now. There was a time when we had to take extraordinary measures to ensure the preservation of Tradition. But we shouldn't settle for preservation; our goal should be to see Tradition restored. I was surprised at the number of my fellow young adults in Veritas who admitted that they do not have a regular parish. For some of them this is due to the nature of their jobs, but many of them are simply not registered anywhere. Given the mobility of most young people these days, the territorial organization of parishes might seem quaint or outdated. And there might be a good reason for you to attend a parish other than your geographical one; for example, in my geographical home parish it's been made very clear to me by various parties that "my kind" of Catholicism is not welcome there and good riddance to it, and that there would only be a celebration of the EF inside the church over their dead bodies. But you should be involved somewhere.

The form that involvement takes will depend on your individual talents. But it's important that we avoid a "lone wolf" mentality. The New Evangelization is as much an internal venture as external. Catholics who take the faith seriously enough to fulfill their Sunday obligation every week are usually eager to learn more about the faith. Trads should keep in mind that if they make use of the old disciplines and prayers, it's because God has decided we need the extra help. And if we're deriving good fruits from these practices, charity dictates that we should be happy to share them with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Trust me, I'm all too aware that parishes are still a mixed bag, especially in California. But for the sake of your spiritual life and for the restoration of the faith, you need to eventually pick one and stick with it.

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