Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Traditional Catholicism Offline

Yesterday I read recent tweets by a Catholic former apologist (or a former Catholic anti-apologist), and I was dismayed by a remark he made that suggested he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ only because the Church told him to. 

Now call me crazy with Protestant grandparents, but that is giving the current generation living way too much power. And it's unclear whether by "Church" the writer included his own parents or grandparents or whoever told him about the Lord Jesus Christ in the first place. 

Like most cradle Catholics, I imagine, I was evangelised by my Catholic parents. They to me from a  children's Bible and gave me pretty children's devotional material to read  look at during Mass. They always said Grace before supper (but only at supper and only at home), so from infancy I learned that A) there was a Lord who could hear us despite being invisible B) who might choose to bless us, what ever that meant C) and who had produced the food before us D) and owned all of Nature and E) Christ was another Lord, or this same Lord, whom we addressed in the Name that/this Lord. Somehow, this never confused me. 

My parents also taught us to pray before we went to sleep and took us to Mass, which was in the Ordinary Form and, in fact, at one of the most "progressive" parishes in the city. There was a folk choir and altar girls and when asked in Junior Kindergarten to draw God I drew the priest and my brother drew the cantor. Despite Mass being in the oh-so-holy vernacular, I was more interested in what I could see, and so I knew what was going on at the altar was The Most Important Thing Ever and that, therefore, it was a tad problematic when the priest said he was going to cut his homily short because of the upcoming football game.

(That said, this priest remained at his post when others fled and is still at his post today. The associate priest I admired for his obvious piety left to get married.)

Something else thing I could see, and from which I learned much, were woodcuts of the Way of the Cross. Presumably they were modern, but they definitely told the story, and they presented a wiry Craftsman who suffered really a lot, but in the end it meant something great. Any number of fat and venal Churchmen may tell us lies, but those woodcuts did not. I strongly suspect the maker was very, very aware that Jesus, too, worked with wood. 

Not only can children absorb faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before they set foot in any official catechism class or listen to a single apologist, they can learn traditional Catholicism in the middle of the most right-on guitar Mass in town. 

The reason why I am writing out these personal details (which long-time readers will have read before) is to root Traditional Catholicism in the lived experience of a child who grew up and was 37 before she was properly introduced to the Traditional Latin Mass. But I want to underscore that I am only one of tens of thousands of Catholics who go to the TLM on Sundays, and that many (if not most) of us don't speak English as our first language and most of us aren't blogger, journalists, or social media personalities. 

I mention this because there have also been recent tweets bashing this "Trad" personality and that "Trad" writer,  and to me it all looks like men snarling at other men over hurt feelings or worries over money. (There is a cruder expression which would disgrace my cloth, i.e. the Indestructible Maxi-skirt of Female Traddery, if I used it.) And what very much annoys me about all this is that the communications that appear on toxic Twitter are represented as the "Tradosphere," when the very real, very rich life of the worldwide TLM Catholic community happens offline. 

Of course, there are communications online. For example, I was asked by email to cater a TLM Catholic community event in another town, and after two face-to-face conversations with pertinent men, I sent another email explaining why I could not and what I could do instead. 

But this lacked all the high drama of Twitter: the misunderstanding, the blaming, the frustration, the disappointment, the score-setting, and the score-starting. And in reality the important person in this story is whoever does cater the TLM Catholic community event in the end, and I am 99% sure it will be someone of whom the general public has never heard, but is deeply loved by the people he or she most cares about.

To return to this whole idea of believing in Christ only because the Church tells us to, I want to mention a convert I know who turned to Christ because a lifetime of dabbling in the occult had left her terrified, terrorised, and in real, immediate need of a Saviour. She is, as a matter of fact, now safe in the bosom of the Church, Mater et Magistra, but for her--and I know because I asked about this when she first told me she was thinking of fleeing there--Jesus came first. 

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