Friday, July 12, 2013


A taxonomy and brief history by Fr Christopher Smith, one of ours in the official church. He says we come in two versions, French and Roman. Interesting take on kinds of Thomism, which I admit I don’t know much about. From Modestinus, whose two cents are worth reading. Traditionalist Catholicism, being a reaction to liberal Catholicism, is itself a thoroughly modern enterprise. Sure we are. For example, because of the council fragmenting Catholics like Anglicans into incompatible and sometimes heretical churchmanships, the parish system’s broken; I jump several parishes to register in West Philly 20 minutes away. Let alone the SSPX and, due to circumstances, independent priests like the late Fr Gommar DePauw. R. Scott Appleby said the same in his mainlinish take on fundamentalism. There are natural trads and then there are those radicalized because they’re a reaction.

The real church, the pre-conciliar church, wasn’t monolithic, from medieval local versions of the Roman Rite (Sarum for example) to the different national characters (Irish vs. Italian for example, or why an American town has several Catholic parishes) to the personalities of different religious orders (Franciscan vs. Jesuit) and, part of that, even different schools of theological opinion (ultramontanism is only one of those).

There’s non-trad conservative E. Michael Jones’s observation about 20 years ago, which I’ve repeated, that there’s a difference between the European paleoconservative priests (monarchists and fascists, not a dirty word, just a description) who run the SSPX and the American patriots who are the first generation of American trads, people who remember and miss the church at its height in America, in the ’50s (a high for the rest of the country too), thriving in the American experiment of religious and economic liberty, Americanized but not sold out, yet. The sons and daughters of the immigrants. The America that had just fought the war together, the America of the Four Chaplains, ‘The House I Live In’, and the Rotary. By that point we all more or less got along. The America where Fulton Sheen was welcome to preach on early TVs. The true church, but fitting into the denominationalism with all those nice Protestants.

There are the very devotional, just like then but radicalized, Veronica Leuken’s and Fr Gruner’s audiences. Our analogue to the signs-and-wonders charismatics, now diminished, who seem to be the other Catholics in the official church who still go to Mass; Mother Angelica’s original base and big John Paul II fans (other conservative Catholics who hated our guts 30 years ago; the liberals just didn’t take us seriously).

Then there are the Mass-and-office, where I seem to have ended up, pre-conciliar’s version of high and dry churchmanship. I guess my American version’s like Fr Smith’s Roman School, and like Novus Ordo conservatives, fine with the council on paper, only insisting that the old Mass is better. (As Fr Smith points out, not as controversial as it was 10 years ago, thanks to Benedict the Great. When he reformed English Novus, we won.)

Sure, circumstances have radicalized almost all of us, but I dare say somebody 50 years ago would have understood me fine: Thomism’s great, but so’s American religious freedom, and why not do (part of) the Mass in English?

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment