Thursday 29 August 2019

What Trads are Like

I have a bad cold, so here I am at home instead of going from one gym class to the next. As I don't feel like moving from this chair, I have perused Twitter, and I see that Dawn Eden made a Twitter attack on Catholics who go to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (aka Trads). Dr Shaw of the Latin Mass Society has responded.

I'm saddened by Dawn's attack on Trads in part because I met Dawn years ago at the Edith Stein Project at Notre Dame, and I was impressed by her energy and friendliness. I was glad to hear that she had thrown herself into theological studies and was impressed when she got her doctorate. As she became an authority on St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body, I was surprised that she has remained intensely loyal to Pope Francis. Naturally, it is normal for Catholics to be pugnacious in the defence of our pope, but normal does not describe this papacy.    

Anyway, Dawn has retweeted a Patheos blogger's belief that anti-Semitism has found a "cozy home" among Trads, and Dr Shaw has pointed out that this is libel. And I too think it is libel.

I have heard more anti-Semitic remarks from Catholics who go to the Ordinary Form (5) than I have from Catholics who prefer the Extraordinary Form (2), and they have been so few and far between that I remember them all. Anti-Jewish remarks are (or were) such a taboo where I come from that every one burns itself on my brain.

People who go to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are not really a sub-culture, you know. We are just Catholics who go to the Extraordinary From of the Mass. There are sub-cultures among us, of course. There are, for example, young men whose guide to life is Brideshead Revisited. Then there are young homeschooling families. There are the wheelchair-bound and their families. There are also elderly ladies whose lives are given over to good works.

In Britain there are librarians and solicitors and carpenters and the occasional aristocrat. There are people who go to the EF every day, and there are those who go only on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. There are people who are very interested in every detail of a Missa Cantata, and there are those who prefer a nice quiet Low Mass. There are people who go to FSSP Masses exclusively, and people who go to SSPX Masses exclusively, and people who will daringly go to both.

One suggestion about people who go to the EF that I am willing to entertain is that there is a noticeable number of ideological non-conformists among them. First of all, there are fewer of us, so non-conformists are more noticeable. Second, going to the EF at all is a non-conformist activity. If you are the kind of person who worries about what people think of you, you're not going to go to the Extraordinary Form--unless, of course, your friends and family all do.

Anti-Semitism does not strike me as a pressing issue among Catholics who go to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. What is a pressing issue is Catholics who go to the Novus Ordo being nasty about and to Catholics who go to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Since I've already mentioned it on Twitter, I will repeat that a local EF-goer was recently refused a cup of water by a local NO-goer who was standing at the sink of the parish hall.

"You can have a cup of water after your Mass," she apparently said.

Dear heavens. I have heard some stories about local anti-EF feeling, but really takes the cake.

It may be true that individual people who prefer the Extraordinary Form make personal remarks about people because they prefer the Ordinary Form, but I haven't heard any. (EF people occasionally do complain about the OF itself, e.g. "a fabrication, a banal product of the moment".)

But I have heard people who prefer the Ordinary Form make snide remarks about people who attend the Extraordinary Form on more than one occasion--including in church, after the OF Mass, blissfully unconcerned about making detractions before the Blessed Sacrament.

My theory is that Catholic tribalism doesn't know what to do with itself now that age-old resentment of Protestants is totally unacceptable and banned, and so those Catholics who feel it most keenly vent it on Catholics who won't just get with the liturgical program.  However, that strikes me as spiritually destructive, and I think I will post that deep thought to Twitter.


  1. Yep, pretty much. I've gone to both forms of the Mass for several years now, sometimes to the EF more exclusively. "Catholic tribalism" indeed doesn't know what to do with itself, but the reality is, there isn't much place for it in the world. The Church is needed, Catholics are needed, but the tribalism isn't that satisfying anyway.

    People can be rude. My feelings weren't hurt by the old people who griped after a funeral EF Mass for a friend, because they were grieving a friend they hadn't realized was quite so avidly for the EF as he turned out to be. My feelings also weren't hurt when a schoolteacher complained after the once-a-year EF Mass for the school, because I was happy to have been in the schola and to have let the kids have something I hadn't -- the chance to witness this form and decide for themselves what they thought. I did think she might have had the tact to wait until she was in the teachers' lounge, rather than deriding the Mass in front of the schola members.

    Anti-semitism I haven't heard. Meanwhile, Orthodox Jews in NYC are being beaten in the streets, which I should think would be a bigger concern for a reporter than spreading rumors about what the conversations are REALLY like after EF Mass.

    1. I think the whole point was to extrapolate from a book from Taylor Marshall to tar and feather every last Catholic who remains loyal to orthodox Church doctrine and the theology of John Paul II. In the end, it's about finding a stick to beat non-conformists with, and the word "anti-Semite" must feel like a good cudgel.

    2. I mean, I clicked through to some of her articles, and there were a LOT of extremely, blatantly antisemitic comments, some of them from people identifying themselves as traditional Catholics. And her article had many links to other examples.
      I think you are probably quite right that the average attendee of the EF is not antisemite, and that it is probably unfair to characterize *lived* "traditional Catholicism" as a home of antisemitism. But in the deep dark corners of the internet? There sure seems to be a lot of overlap between the self-identified "traddies" and the "women shouldn't wear pants" groups and the anti-semite groups and the "white nationalist" groups. Obviously self-identifying as a "traddie" doesn't necessarily mean you hold any of those other perspectives, but it seems to be frequent enough that it's worth calling out.

    3. Jessica, I've noticed it too -- the overlap issue you've mentioned. It seems to me that traditional Catholic circles attract people who hold extreme views on issues that have nothing to do with Catholicism. I have experienced this personally -- not anti antisemitism, but attitudes to women that are more pagan than Christian. For example, very recently a traddy acquaintance of mine posted something on Facebook about how God does not call to marriage people who are unable to have children, and that people who marry later in life are disobeying God's will.

      I am -- no joke -- literally in therapy due in part to my interactions with people like that.

    4. AND there used to be this Facebook group that they kept adding me to, and it was full of antisemitic trads. As in, really shocking and cruel stuff. I left. It was massively damaging to my faith. The group has since been zucked.

    5. I don't know... It's not like any traditionalist, whatever weird beliefs he may hold, is ever going to pay attention to anything Dawn Eden, Rebecca Bratten Weiss or any other Patheos blogger. "Calling out" the entire community of people worldwide who go to the Traditional Latin Mass for the anti-Semitism of a handful of guys who claim they're trad Catholics is not going to end anti-Semitism. It's just going to give ordinary Novus Ordo Catholics who dislike people being different from them an excuse to be nasty to trads.

  2. I feel totally unwelcome at EF masses because I am 29 and unmarried, and plenty of male trads see fit to make public disparaging comments about single women. So I no longer bother with trad scene, although I do like the EF mass. I'll just never expose myself to that cruelty again.

    1. Dear Julia, that's awful, and those male trads need a kick in the pants. I do not know what religion they think they are practising. You should tell the fiercest priest and ask him to give a bloodcurdling homily against men who mock single women.

    2. Funnily enough, these guys are also all single.

      I have told priests about it, and they say they'll do something, and perhaps they do in private. A homily would be great.

      In the end, these particular men are immature, insensitive, and clueless. I have learned not to expect above-adolescent levels of emotional intelligence from them, and they're around 30 years old.

    3. I remember being at a wedding. One of the single men got very drunk and the bar and shouted things like "I'll never put MY head in a noose!" I think he cried afterwards--I may have made that bit up. At any rate he was married within two years. It occurs to me that the single men of your parish are just mad because they are utterly clueless about women and think in real life women just throw themselves at men, like in films about rock stars.

    4. Well, utterly clueless is about right. They go on about femininity but are then shocked when women (in our femininity) are insulted by their insults.