|Fr Pat Brennan: 'Avoid' blogs by 'some' Catholics|
I think that the discussion raises some very interesting questions and ends up challenging some prejudices that presumably many in the Church have against those, especially in the blogging community, who hold fast to the Magisterium of the Church, hold onto tradition, love the beauty of the traditional Rite and who are willing to stand up and be counted as Catholic while not dishing out condoms, advocating contraception, promoting or defending horrific liturgical abuse or abortion or setting up gay meeting venues in Catholic Churches.
Fr Blake asks whether those loyal to Tradition in the blogging community are redefining in any sense what it means to be a Catholic. I personally do not think they/we are. I do believe that Catholicism is, perhaps rapidly and frighteningly for some, being reclaimed from the new definitions which flourished in the wake of the Second Vatican Council - when Catholicism began to be viewed as everything and yet nothing. I see Juventutem and the Latin Mass Society as exemplars of Catholicism that is profoundly satisfying because it is challenging - rather than profoundly self-satisfying and unchallenging. This is because both Juventutem and the LMS tend towards, if not necessarily the ascetic, then at least towards the bold proclamation of the Catholic Faith rooted in love for Christ in the Sacraments, especially Confession and Blessed Sacrament, Our Blessed Lady and loyalty to the Holy Father, rather than a new brand of Catholicism which really seems to be all about wavering in the changing winds of modern times and thought and embracing nearly any opinion as worthy of being called 'Catholic' even if it turns out to be objectively Buddhist.
Yesterday, a blogging Catholic Priest called Fr Patrick Brennan of Humble Piety, in commenting on one of his own posts said of 'some' Catholic bloggers...
'Some "Catholic" blogs present a very narrow interpretation of the Catholic faith, with a hint of elitism, a pinch of snobbery, a modicum of intolerance for other views, sprinkled with a air of smug superiority, some try questionable humour to mask their lack of charity. All in all quite disappointing! But I have come to learn to take them for what they are opinions... not fact! Some are so far up their own backsides they are quite funny without intending it! My advice is to avoid those blogs that do not help the spiritual life to flourish.(or read them for what they are opinions not fact) It is rather tedius all this which side are you on business are you liberal or Trad! As if that is what Christ came for! There is an incredible amount of insecurity out there!'
Paul Priest took the Priest in question to task on just whom, he wonders, Fr Brennan is referring in his mini diatribe. Having spent quite a long time with members of Juventutem and the LMS rather recently (though I know we are still unsure of which blogs the blogging Priest is talking) I must say that I did not and do not consider any to be particularly proud, conceited, wrapped up in themselves, superior, smug, vicious or any of those things - I can only say that because I know them.
Personally, I can be one, some, if not all of those things at times, but I really do think that the greater conceit lies within those who embrace dissent within the Church as valid 'opinion', when the Holy Father himself has said that one of the things that strikes at the heart of the modern Church and weakens Her message is an inability or unwillingness by important figures in the Church to 'recognise dissent for what it is and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate'.
This unwillingness to call out heresy, error and falsehood is particularly weakening for the Church when especially Clergy and senior Hierarchy fail in their duty to do so. It just so happens to be one of the driving forces behind men like Michael Voris and notable Catholic bloggers. Liberals therefore must take their share of the blame for the creation of this monster. Not only that, but a Church in which senior figures and leaders appointed by Christ to be teachers for Him are unable to differentiate between 'opinion' and outright dissent leaves the Church's evangelical mission stunted and debilitated. The problem is that while some opinions are personal opinions that Catholic bloggers offer, many, perhaps most, are expressions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and are in tune, so to speak, with the thought, writings and expressed desires of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. Many of these opinions are only reiterating, or re-presenting that which the Church has already defined to be true and unalterable. These are not opinions - these are truths of the Faith, so it is disturbing that a Catholic Priest should be so offended by so many 'traditional' Catholic blogs.
In some respects traditional Catholics can be like John and James, 'sons of Thunder' - but this is because many are impatient and zealous and really believe in Salvation and the necessity for the Church for Salvation. Many, like myself, have discovered the beauty and reverence of the ancient rite and believe that wider exposure to it will increase the Faith and Love of the Church. Theirs is distinctively the message of the Church whereas others are, if not blithely oblivious to the true mission of the Church, woefully inept at communicating it. It is that message which will win souls to the Church and no other message will satisfy human hearts.
I doubt very much that my blog is particularly edifying for readers striving towards the spiritual life. At the end of the day, I'm not a Benedictine monk. I know of certain blogs which I do find edifying. At the end of the day I'm just a rather sinful Catholic writing about matters pertaining to the Faith but I have looked at Fr Patrick Brennan's blog and I don't find his blog particularly edifying either. The Pope Benedict XVI teddy bear is cute, mind, if you like that kind of thing. His comments yesterday seem a little rash and a little contradictory in terms of his blog description, which reads, "Don't ride roughshod over the piety of the Faithful".
The piety for many of the Faithful is still devotional and traditional, indeed of a kind which 'has been held sacred for generations' and is still held by many to be sacred today, so let's hope that Fr Brennan is charitable and humble enough to heed some of his own good advice. I expect that, deep down, the greatest fear of some Priests and Bishops is that in turning back towards the Lord and celebrating Mass towards the East and distributing Holy Communion on the tongue, kneeling, it would be like a total admission of past failure, an admission of their own neglect of their custodianship of the Holy Eucharist and a public admission that their ministry for the last 20,30,40 years was far from perfect and that what they have been teaching has been, if not wrong, then incomplete or impaired truth. They were only following orders after all. I hope and pray that all Priests and Bishops will be open to the renewal of the liturgy undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI, but, so far, apart from a minority of brave Priests the response has been...'all in all quite disappointing'.
updated his blog and depicted me as some kind of a sinister judge. Well, Father, I'm not the one telling readers to 'avoid' any blogs. His response is interesting, especially his own sarcastic judgement upon "brave" Priests who have "turned their backs on the people for Mass". He says of his own preference to celebrate facing the people, which is perfectly licit, "I know the people are grateful for this."
Of course, because the celebration of the Mass is all about the Priest and the people, isn't it? Surely, in every Priest's ministry, there must come a time when knowing that the people are "grateful" and considering what makes the Lord Jesus "grateful" conflict with each other. If Mass is really all about the people and the priest congratulating each other and affirming each other, then at what point is the Mass about the Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ? This is what is really at the heart of the liturgical rewewal. Pope Benedict XVI's writings address this explicitly. As I say, Fr Brennan's response is well worth reading. Let us now draw a line under it and 'bear' with one another charitably.