New Sherwood

Chico TLM notes

The traditional Latin Mass returned to St. John the Baptist in Chico yesterday. The 2:30 pm time slot is less than ideal, but it is necessary for the priests from St. Stephen’s who have duties in the morning at their home parish. It is reported that we had 47 people in the pews – a slight improvement from the usual numbers in Durham, even with one or two families missing. I’m in the process of putting together a very small hymnal with an FAQ in the front for newcomers. At this point we do not have sufficient talent for a choir, but we hope to find someone locally who can help start one.

After the Mass we lingered for a bit chatting with friends in front of the church. A man with a skateboard crossed the street and headed our direction. He recognized me from an article in the newspaper (not the one linked in this space previously) and had something he wanted to tell me. He said that my comments in the article were” divisive”, “offensive”, and “inappropriate”, especially with respect to women at the altar. The article in question was problematic for several reasons: 1) I said some things that were in fact too controversial for public consumption; 2) I was misquoted; and 3) the newspaper, a left-leaning alternative weekly, predictably omitted some very important context. Not wanting to get into a heated public argument on the sidewalk, I did not handle this incident well. Not at all. But it has provided much food for reflection.

“Divisive”. That’s the ultimate sin, apparently. When a liberal thinks you are wrong, he will instead accuse you of being divisive. That’s because liberals would rather not say that anyone is objectively wrong about anything. To admit there is such a thing a “right” and “wrong” would be a metaphysical concession that leads to their undoing. They would then have to get into the reasons why a thing is right or wrong, which would require adopting universal and absolute principles of some kind, which would undermine the only principle they really believe in, the principle of Relativism.

There is no denying that my remarks were divisive. There’s no denying, in fact, that the Latin Mass is also divisive. But every truth claim, every opinion, and every point-of-view creates a division between those who share it and those who don’t. Are we then to avoid discussing anything with the potential to divide? Hardly. Sometimes division is necessary. And granted, sometimes it isn’t, and some things do fall in the “agree to disagree” category. The issue here was not that I said something “divisive”, but that I said something that, in the mind of my accuser, was either incorrect or not important enough to justify adherence to a different liturgy.

Why can’t people just say what they mean?

If I wanted to, I could have explained that the Novus Ordo is what is truly divisive, segregating people by language, separating Catholics from the traditions of their ancestors, and representing (as usually celebrated) a stark rupture with 2000 years of Catholic worship. But that particular argument is not politically very wise.

We’d better get used to this. I suspect that for every parishoner who has the gumption to do what Skateboard Man did, there are a few hundred more who share his views. We need to have our answers ready. The Latin Mass is going to divide before it unites. Therefore we need to be ready to show unity with the parish on every level possible, without diluting or compromising our heritage.

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September 4, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

8 Comments »

  1. These skateboard-type people are really spoiled brats. Before Vatican II, their behavior would not have been tolerated. They need to start learning that the Pope and his wishes have to be respected, plain and simple.

    Thank you for having the courgage you have displayed in setting up the TLM in such a apparently-hostile community.

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    Comment by BobP | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hello Bob. I know what you mean, but I don’t want to characterize this fellow as a spoiled brat. He did seem a little too old for skateboarding, but that’s just me. As for setting up the TLM here, that was Bishop Weigand’s doing. I’m just grateful to be a part of it. Thanks for the comment.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. Hi Jeff, was he referring to the comments iin the Chico ER story? I will have to reread but I don’t recall anything divisive. If not, do you have the article in question? You are becoming the local authority on these matters! :)

    Ryan

    PS My father very much enjoyed the Mass. He said if it were in Redding he would attend it instead of the Novus Ordo. I’ve asked them to accompany me at lest once a month.

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    Comment by Ryan | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  4. Hello Ryan! No, he was referring to an earlier story in the News and Review. It was considerably more provocative since it covered the topic of feminism. If you promise not to share, I may dig up the article for you. :-)

    I really enjoyed meeting your parents. I can see from whence your sanity and intelligence came.

    By the way … click on Domine Non Sum Dignus in the sidebar if you have a moment. Now there’s a fine Catholic gentleman for you, with a fine Catholic family … the one I mentioned on the phone yesterday. Potential in-laws? Just a thought!

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | September 4, 2007 | Reply

  5. “…the Novus Ordo is what is truly divisive, segregating people by language…

    I had an experience here in South Korea illustrating that recently. A South African fellow contacted me convinced that the Church in Korea was in heresy because the Mass sounded strange to him. I tried to convince him that no, those were not Buddhistic prayers he heard, that that was just the way the Korean language sounded. In the end he ended up taking his family to a Presbyterian church.

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    Comment by The Western Confucian | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. All you need for division in a parish is some people with orthodox beliefs. For so many years people have not been taught the Faith and thus don’t recognize it when they see it. So when someone comes along and expresses the Truth as Truth, people accuse them of being divisive.

    Sometimes it might lurk under the surface for a time but it will out. Can see why TLM would highlight the division.

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    Comment by Jim Curley | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  7. Just googled that News and Review story out of curiosity. I don’t know if the reporter really had any hostility to you or the missal of John XXIII, but was just really, really clueless about religion, Catholicism and different aspects of Catholic liturgy. There were too many clunky phrases that even a good Catholic liberal wouldn’t toss in there.

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    Comment by scriblerus | September 5, 2007 | Reply

  8. Scriblerus, I don’t think she had any hostility at all. She was quite nice, in fact. I asked her to edit one of my remarks and she willingly did so. But she was very young, definitely clueless, and perhaps not well-trained as a journalist. Some of what is attributed to me sounds like Protestant lingo.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | September 5, 2007 | Reply


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