Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Rads, Trads, & Cads

If you are from a really large (extended) family, as I am, there's an age where you realize that certain members of that family really don't get along with other members. Indeed, they are so fed up with the other members that if distance doesn't suffice, they make snide comments about being eager for the other to receive their eternal 'reward.' Even though an eternal haven of love and peace is the last place that the offended relative thinks will be the final destination.

In many ways, this situation is similar to that of the Catholic Church. Do you ever read some blogs where the contributions are largely made by those of the Catholic persuasion (is there any such thing as a Catholic blog? How do I know that these people are Catholic?) and where statements are made about the hopeful "dying-off" of the more radical elements of the Church and the "breed them out" desire of the more traditional-adhering members of the Church? Or how some are so "out of step" with the modern world, meant as a pejorative phrase? And the even better, "I love my fellow members in the Body of Christ, but..."

I especially 'love' (having the same meaning as 'reward' above) when some express a desire to choose the town and community where they live around a desire to be close to certain elements, like making sure to have a conservative bishop or a local Indult Mass, or a liberal bishop and a 'relevant' Mass, etc. It's so deliciously arrogant, just like this essay is. It suggests that one knows something above and beyond that of one's fellow Catholics, that material success is God-given and meant to be expended in carefully choosing where one's feet should touch, whose hands one should have to shake (or not), who one should talk to after Mass. "I only want to be around those who have read Newman, Chesterton, and von Balthasar, and can sing Gregorian chant!" "I only want to be around those who know such things are out-dated and represent oppression!" The over-education of the laity may be the worst development of the modern world. Forget the "new" evangelization of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council; no, we must (through de facto schism) cast those sinning members, nay, those who are different from us, out of the Church! Or at the very least make them feel really unwelcome, because we all know Christ only died for those who want ad orientem postures during Mass and frilly lace on the altars, or those who want altar girls and worship Him with guitars. Only those smart enough to know that such is the right way to worship should be allowed in the Lord's House, the ark of salvation. Let's all turn up our collective noses at the little people!

"But didn't worship develop over centuries, and who were they to change it forty years ago?" some astute reader with traditional inclinations wonders. They are probably the same people who have been screwing things up for centuries, whether through the teaching of heresy or denial of the sacraments based on race and ethnicity or abuse of power...etc. 'They' are 'us', and we're all guilty of failure to love, caritas. And the result is disorder - the abuses sometimes displayed in the Novus Ordo liturgy aren't the result of the evil actions of a small group of men - the Almighty is certainly great enough to preserve liturgy - no, they are your fault and my fault. Those "Clown Masses?" They are the result of what I have done and what I have failed to do. And what I have failed to do is not to banish the participants of the Clown Mass out of the Church, but to pray, to give myself over to God. I've chosen sin, too many times, over Him Who gives Life. And by doing so, I have allowed Him to be mocked.

The best (as in ironic) part in the divisions in the Church is certainly that both the rads and trads want schism. They are eager for it. They don't want to be around the other; they see the bleeding body of Christ on Calvary and run the other way - the trads trying to catch up with the Pharisees, the rads wanting to just be part of the larger mob. In mentality they are typically Protestants. My interpretation is correct, and this is what should be done about it, and I will not allow myself to be around those who disagree. Clearly from this essay this is my own mentality too, except for that very last crucial phrase.

Back in the New Orleans metro area, I used to attend evening Mass with my mom on the days between the Ascension and Pentecost. These Masses featured guest speakers and musicians, and would draw every Charismatic Catholic in the area out of the woodwork, with their speaking in tongues, intensely personal revelations on the Spirit at work in their lives, and the altar calls to come forward and be born again of the Spirit, for some of the participants 'knew' through the voice of God that a member of the congregation had recently experienced a death in the family, or bore lack of forgiveness towards an uncle, or other revelations. Those who participated in these Masses were the same as those who regularly attended daily Mass and also included those who sometimes got tired of the 'stuffiness' of a typical Sunday Mass. Good for them. How wonderful it was to be around such a group of people assured that God was acting personally in their lives. And it wasn't some quasi-Gnostic belief that only through special knowledge could one have this experience of God - no, He's waiting for you, He wants to send out His Spirit upon you. People could have had all sorts of other motivations in being there, other proclivities that rendered them 'susceptible' to the Charismatic movement, but the message as I heard it was right on. I didn't become a Charismatic Catholic (neither did my mom), but it was joyous to hear people be excited about the hand of the Lord at work in their lives, and I have yet to meet any lay Catholics willing to proclaim it as much as those Charismatics were. Yes, it's a movement inspired by a Protestant movement and it will probably die off, but in many ways it may have served a valuable purpose, even if only for a few souls. After all, God can use the seemingly ridiculous human ideas and inventions to get His message across too.

And that, finally, is the problem as I see it. For some people - the cads of the rads and trads - God seems to be very small. He is only present here, or there, or gives graces most abundantly here and not there, and He cannot preserve me from influences there, so I must be here instead. But in truth, it's only by the grace of God that I am kept, and only the grace of God that can keep me. So for those who want to start judging where your small God gives graces to your fellow Catholics - and isn't it always members of the laity who are quickest to judge? - go sit in the corner and pray that He gives grace to you.


Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Mea culpa.

AG said...

Tomorrow, just for you, I will post video of myself burning mantillas and chapel veils, as promised.

UltraCrepidarian said...

Preach it, I'm with ya.


AG said...

Welcome, Warren.

Please, feel free to come to my blog and agree with me anytime! :-)