The anti-traditional tendency

The anti-traditional tendency

I want to be clear that in my previous blog entry when I spoke of the a need not to become mired in the past but to embrace a growing, but rooted vision of the Church and tradition, I don’t think I meant what Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, did in his ordination homily a couple of weeks ago.

There are some in the Church today who do not look forward in hope with the eyes of faith but tend to be preoccupied with looking back in some kind of nostalgia for a Church they never experienced prior to the Second Vatican Council. I encourage you to study the history of the Church as a living and developing tradition and not to look back as Lot’s wife did or you might end up being a pillar of salt rather then the “salt of the earth.”

He then derided the triumphalist, juridical, and clericalist strains of those who are in danger of becoming “pillars of salt.” He says that rather than “aggressive condemnation and excommunication,” we can’t “impose the Gospel on the world.” He’s opposed to the juridicist who focuses on “creating unnecessary hoops for people to jump through,” especially with regard to liturgical practice, but then what constitutes “unnecessary” here? Aren’t some hoops necessary or do we allow a liturgical free-for-all?

The bishop also says the new clericalism creates an “authoritarianism” that “gives little merit to collaboration with the laity.” But is this really a problem? What I see most often is an anti-clericalism that turns most priests into “sacrament machines”. In fact, the clericalism you’re most likely to see these days is the kind when a “progressivist” priest pulls out the authority card to put down those who yearn for a more conservative or traditional piety.

There are two lamentable tendencies in the Church that are like mirror images of one another: the tendency I mentioned before for some people to get stuck in the past as if 1955 was the high point of Church culture and no legitimate development could occur past that point and the similar tendency to regard anything that happened prior to 1962 as ancient history unworthy of progressive, modern folk who are too smart to require the coddling that the old ways provided their parents and grandparents.

Both paths should be avoided. Sadly many travel one or the other, including some bishops, priests, and laity.


  • Dom, here’s the way I look at it. The longer bishops stick their heads in the sand or ignore calls for authentic liturgical reform, the more they choose to do nothing about rampant liturgical abuse, the more young Catholics families will be driven away from their diocesam parishes and toward churches that are aligned with the TLM. Hopefully, it will be an indult church.

  • Trust me—some of that Clericalism is still very alive and well.

    But in general terms, your post is dead-on.  Oremus…

  • “He says that rather than “aggressive condemnation and excommunication,” we can’t “impose the Gospel on the world.”

    I think I’m developing an allergy to words like these. We can’t impose the Gospel on the world, but we sure can stand up for the Truth of the Gospel, and that Gospel imposes on Christian parents the obligation to teach our children and on shepherds the obligation to teach the flocks the fullness of Truth.
    My impatient nature is tempted to the breaking point when I realize how many babies will have died, how many families will have been destroyed, and how many souls may be lost before certain leaders pull their heads out of the sand and the majority of Catholics WAKE UP!If God had not shown me incredible patience during the years it took me to open even one eye, I’d get arrested for whacking the next TOLERANT Catholic over the head with my grandmother’s frying pan!
    (ooh—wasn’t there a scene in the Psycho sequel…never mind, I am completely unarmed, even by a lead pan, and intend to remain so!)

  • Here’s a telling story that illustrates what’s going on.  I’m a young priest, a member of the JPII generation of priests.  Lately, I’ve been wearing a cassock every now and then.  My pastor, who is a proud liberal, angrily criticized me the other day.  He said, “The cassock reminds me of the ‘old church.’  And we need to move this parish into the ‘new church,’ so I don’t want you wearing that.”

    Then he went on to say that the Divine Mercy devotion and Eucharistic Adoration are things of the old church (like the cassock) and we need to move away from that old church. 

    I could not believe how angry this guy was… over my clothing.  But it’s a sign of the awful formation that members of his generation received.  That whole generation said they were all about “toleration” and “diversity,” but I find them to be intolerant of any diversity.

    Now the million dollar question: Guess which diocese I’m from…

  • The Divine Mercy chaplet is of the “old” church…how rich!

    Rather, an “old” church approach would be to say that the new devotion should only be encouraged when an attempt to revive devotion to the Sacred Heart has been tried fully and failed.

  • Curate,
    To see a cassock, a nun’s habit, or even a priest’s collar in public today is an awesome and beautiful sign of hope. HOPEfully, our young Catholics will tell our “new” Church how happy they are to see, outside of the church, these signs that God is with us and will BE, always. Thank you for WANTING to wear the cassock.

  • What about the ‘clericalization’ of the laity and the ‘laicization’ of the clergy done by the so-called ‘progressives’ these past forty years?

    Recall, too, what Our Divine Lord said about salt that goes flat, it is not good for anything but to be walked on under foot.  FLAT SALT is what dissident theologians, heterodox theology and banal-pedestrian liturgies produce.  TASTELESS batch of errors and irreverence.  The patrimony of Holy Mother Church is not something we ‘look back’ at, rather, it is the precious heritage we hand on and bequeath to the next generation and for the survival of our religion.