Traditional Misconceptions

Fr Pat Brennan: 'Avoid' blogs by 'some' Catholics
I've been following a blog discussion taking place between Fr Ray Blake and Juventutem's Sean Wright concerning the rise of what Fr Blake described in his comment on the blog as "the Benedictine generation" - an apt phrase - since it is really the excitement generated by Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate and the release of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae that has unleashed upon the Church a new breed of traditionally minded Catholics who are willing to wear Catholicism on their hearts and sleeves while challenging heresy and tragic liberal wooliness in the Church.

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.

How teddyfying...
For me, the exciting thing about the traditional Catholic World is not that I am in any sense hanging around with 'Super Catholics' who are high performance religious people who do Catholicism in hyperdrive. The exciting thing is that they all seem to place their hope and trust firmly in Christ, His Blessed Mother, are supportive of and loyal to, the Pope, pray to the Saints, and believe everything that the Church teaches to be true and to have been revealed by God. They are recognisably Catholic. Most, if not all, are only too aware of their weaknesses and need for God's mercy. I don't find Catholics loyal to tradition to be conceited at all, but then that's just my 'opinion'. I guess it is only 'fact' when the slur is made by a blogging Catholic Priest. The one thing that I have noticed is that 'traddy' Catholics are usually hopping mad to get to Confession because they have a huge respect for the Blessed Sacrament and are as likely be seen impatiently waiting for the Sacrament of Reconciliation as they will be seen kneeling to receive Our Lord because they are aware of their need for Him.

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'.

Fr Brennan has 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.


shadowlands said…
"The Pope Benedict XVI teddy bear is cute, mind, if you like that kind of thing."

Your mate Paul's sidebar photo of himself in pouty mood and representing himself as an angel might be found quite cute by some (if they are into '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"."

They're extremely relevant if given as a response to Fr Ray's pop at Jackie Parkes, in the combox at his blog though, yes?

I don't intend to make a massive comment here Laurence, I know you have had a really good few days spiritually, so don't let old nick rob your joy.

However, I will certainly defend Fr Pat in a post later, as I do not think it's as simple as either traditional or liberal in the arenas. There are hardworking faithful orthodox Catholics around and Fr Pat is a shining example of this to me. He was defending the faithful with his comments.
Left-footer said…
So Fr Brennan says "There is an incredible amount of insecurity out there!"

Darn right there is, and I freely own up to it.

How can we feel secure when what be believed was essential to Salvation is 'nuanced' and whittled away to a point where we can be certain of the truth of nothing but vague hopefully comforting utterances by clerics?

Or when prominent Catholics attack with impunity fundamental Catholic morality?

I feel as insecure as a child in a unruly classroom, who wishes to learn, but cannot, thanks to a weak teacher ignorant of his subject and merely waiting for the lesson to end.

I want the Head to come and sack the lazy ignorant twerp.

I am indeed insecure, and very angry.

Fine post, and God bless!
Left-footer said…
Sorry to pop up again so soon, but I have now posted on this and linked to it.

Thank you once more and God bless.
Anonymous said…
I personally like Fr Pat's humble approach. I find his blog edifying, uplifting & helpful. I think that he is trying to explain what I tried myself yesterday to explain to Paul Priest is that we have different approaches & surely as Catholics who are universal the blogosphere can accomodate us all?
epsilon said…
Fr RB talks about the Benedictine generation in his very interesting analysis of who calls themselves catholic these days.
A lot to question on what Fr PB says/links to, especially the lyrics of his fav songs. However, indirectly, through a blogger who liked one of those songs there was another link to this letter from Sweden about the Madrid generation - the beauty of catholic blogging: ya never know what's going to turn up next!
That Swedish young person's account of Madrid was very impressive, however a Spanish Facebook friend's account was not so complementary to the pilgrims - I guess out of a crowd of 2 million+ you can go looking for a few bad apples and find them!
The Bones said…
Shadowlands - it isn't Paul Priest or myself who have been so quick to judge bloggers as Fr Brennan. Fr Pat is dishing out plenty of criticism to Catholic bloggers, but appears incapable of taking any himself.
Anonymous said…
Ros..I meant to say re Fr Ray..I thought his reply to Lucy was excellent...sorry off topic..

Re this topic...I think what many of us ordinary Catholic bloggers are trying to get across to Traditionalists is that our blogs are equal but different in that we don't choose to criticise Bishops or have a preference for one form of the Mass nor do we feel the need to talk of liturgical abuses etc..

We are simply Catholic.

Our Lord came for sinners not those who adhere to the magisterium..
Anonymous said…
Oh just to clarify..because some people get twitchy re the teaching authority of the Church..I absolutely & totally adhere to the magisterium..I just don't need to take an oath over it..

I was explaining to PP..that I like to include people who are at present unable/incapable/unwilling to follow the Church's teaching on faith & morals..& hope by example to inspire them to do so..
The Bones said…
"Our Lord came for sinners not those who adhere to the magisterium..."

Unless as Catholics we are loyal to the Magisterium of the Church we will not know of our sins, surely? We should not be ignorant of the truth about ourselves and of Faith.
Anonymous said…
and people wonder why Ive had enough!!
Anonymous said…
I don't think I said we shouldn't follow the magisterium..what I'm saying & tried to say to PP is not everyone is as fortunate as us "super-Catholics" who have been able by God's grace to adhere to the magisterium..

Regarding looking at Fr Pat's face..I think it is perfectly possible to idolise priests ad orientem...

& just to clarify again my family & I happily attend any Mass..EF or OF..

It's just worrying that some people claim to follow the magisterium & don't accept the teaching authority of the Catholic Church with regard to the validity of the OF..I find that very worrying..

Also re adhering to the Magisterium some people may think they do but actually they only think they do...& I'm wondering if you should have an examination for people know like a checklist to see if we pass..

Left-footer said…
Jackie Parkes - "I was explaining to PP..that I like to include people who are at present unable/incapable/unwilling to follow the Church's teaching on faith & morals..& hope by example to inspire them to do so.."

I don't for a moment think that my puny and insignificant little life will inspire anyone into obedience. I rather favour St. Nicholas's answer to Arius - a well-aimed blow (metaphorical of course!).
Anonymous said…
Who's slagging who off? What prompted Fr Brenan's post? You mention our exchange with Fr Blake, it wasn't to do with that was it? Surely no one could take that as slagging off, it was a friendly exchange of views between friends?

Fr Brennan talks about dubious humour however... guilty as charged!
shadowlands said…

I love Father Pat like a brother or son.
I can not be neutral over him.
I have no desire to alter this protective stance I feel towards him. I believe it was given to me, by Our Lady.
If I hear people say things about him or his priesthood, I feel like calling God's judjment down on them. I don't do that obviously, I'm not empowered to, but something insode me starts boiling in defence of him. It might help you to know I get the same heat when people say anything about Father John Abberton as well.

I also pray for certain other priests, one of whom you are very close to, as he lives in Brighton!
You want Catholic fundamentalists? You got one!
Rusticus said…

I rather think Fr Brennan has over-reacted to your post, which seems to me to be fair and well-balanced; it was certainly not some kind of personal attack.

I suspect Fr Brennan is not quite so thick-skinned as he would like to think.
Christine said…
It looks like the priest has taken down his post.

Jackie wrote: "It's just worrying that some people claim to follow the magisterium & don't accept the teaching authority of the Catholic Church with regard to the validity of the OF."

That's a red herring. Plenty of traditionalists accept the validity of the OF Mass (as they should); that doesn't mean the OF Mass is immune from criticism. Not every liturgical change is a good one, one that inspires greater holiness or reverence.

If you study what actually took place during the Consilium under Abp. Bugnini, the architect of the Novus Ordo, with the input of Protestant periti, you will be surprised. It should concern anyone to realize that the liturgical changes to the Catholic Mass almost exactly mirror those of Cranmer almost 500 years ago, whose sole desire was that of the continental reformers: to eradicate any notion of sacrifice in the Mass, and to replace belief in the Real Presence with belief in the merely symbolic.
mary333 said…
It's unfortunate that Fr. Brennan took down his post before many of us had the chance to read it. Why unfortunate? Despite the manner in which he worded his comment, there is an element of truth to it that has not gone unnoticed by quite a large number of the Catholic blogging community and many of us agree with him. Yes, there are some blogs which should be avoided. Many of us who love our Church do not like the Catholic infighting going on. In fact, I question your motives for writing this post. What is your point here? You accuse Fr. Brennan of lacking charity yet you fail to see this very same lack in your own post. At least Fr. Brennan's comment was straightforward and honest whereas yours is mocking in its tone and attacks a good priest to boot. The difference is that you couch your terms in a subtle way that makes them "look" more pleasing to the eye but in truth are far more deadly than the clearly spoken words of Fr. Brennan. Personally, I prefer when a blogger is direct and to the point. I'd also like to suggest the possibility that Fr. Brennan may not have pointed fingers at particular bloggers because there is no need to do so. Most of us already know which blogs he speaks of and have already deleted them from our sidebars. Perhaps the problem lies in what people find "edifying". I rather like reading posts on The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Eucharist, and the Mass readings. Personally, I find them very "edifying".