Friday 24 September 2021


Yesterday I made the mistake of perusing Twitter and finding a gobsmackingly ignorant and mischievous attack on a good Catholic husband and father who has done more than anyone to shore up the traditional Catholic community in England than anyone else I know. The word--laughably--"extremist" was used, and my thoughts travelled to the very real, flesh-and-blood man, the soul of a living and cheerful conservationism. 

My thoughts also dwelt on the two lovely middle-aged ladies, both relatively recent newcomers to  Britain, who asked me after Mass a couple of weeks ago when After Mass Coffee and Tea would begin again, as it is getting cold, and it would be nice for everyone to be able to chat indoors. One also asked me what I thought about getting everyone to sign a letter to the Archbishop voicing our worry about Traditionis Custodes, and I said that although this might be a good idea in some places, it would not suit our own Scottish contexts. They seemed convinced by this nuanced thought. Not very extremist of them, I must say. 

And my thoughts moved further down the carpark I know so well to the green hill behind the church and hall. There a dozen, perhaps more than a dozen, small children enjoy running around. (The larger children seem to congregate on the green in front of the church, where there is a tree.) One of the most recent mothers to join our community has now told me twice that although she liked her parish church, there were no other small children there, and it was nice for her children to be with other children. Her parish--I know the church: BEAUTIFUL building--is mostly elderly people. A mother's wish for her children to meet other children at Mass did not seem very extremist to me.  

I note that she didn't mention that, as a Catholic mother of children, it is also nice to meet other Catholic mothers of children, and for her convert husband to meet other Catholic fathers of children. However, I imagine that this is true, and I don't believe that there is anything extreme in this either.

My thoughts are now ranging around pretty wildly over the entire morning congregation (there is now a late afternoon congregation, too), and one of the problems with being moved out of what might be (it's complicated) a "parish" church into another is wheelchair access. An important member of our congregation, measuring importance by prayerfulness and constancy, is a still-young man who has used a wheelchair for the past 13 years at very least. Then there is an elderly pillar of the parish who, while  walking back to her car after Mass one evening, was hit by a bus. She survived but is now also confined to a wheelchair.  I don't know the young man very well, but I can confirm that the elderly lady is extreme in nothing but patience and forbearance. 

Now thinking about the afternoon congregation, my thoughts alight on the altar servers, one of whom knows the responses very well, and one of whom doesn't. Neither is particularly extreme in any way, except that the second has a violent resistance to having his photo taken. They have many brothers and sisters, but their parents don't seem particularly extreme, except in their love for children and excellent bread-making skills. The father smokes cigarettes and has an educational background that would make the mischievous attacker to whom I alluded in Paragraph One shuffle his feet. 

What must always be remembered when talking about the Traditional Latin Mass communities, or the people who love the Traditional Latin Mass, is that we are not talking about some amorphous miasma or loathsome parade of ants, but about living, breathing, loving Catholics. We are motivated by our love for God and, very often, our spouses and children, whose spiritual good we long for. We love the saints (all of whom were also living, breathing, loving Catholics), and we love beauty, harmony, simplicity (which we do not confuse with IKEA), as they mediate to us the beauty, harmony, simplicity of God. 

Thus, when Pope Francis and those who do not brook resistance to Pope Francis's pronouncements, says unkind things about Tradition, the Traditional Latin Mass, and people who love the Traditional Latin Mass, real people--real parents, real children, real people in wheelchairs, for example, or other real people with heavy crosses--are hurt. Our feelings are hurt, and even our physical place in the Church is threatened. (Where do traditional contemplative monks and nuns go when their orders are suppressed? Where will the traditional Latin Mass community in Guadalajara worship next week? Where will my congregation be next Easter?) This morning I can resist wondering why, when something is new and ugly and popular it is "a sign of the times" and why, when something is old and beautiful and popular it is "a fad" that "will kill us all." 

The pontiff seems to believe that Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass--or the Traditional Latin Catholicism--want to restore the past. This is, of course, nonsense. We cannot restore the past; we can only go forward. But we want to go forward with the faith, the faith we were actually confirmed in, not one made up on the hoof. One would think the pontiff would be sympathetic to this, but there we are are, and there he is. 

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