THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: As an outsider to the Catholic Church, (I converted to Catholicism six years ago), I recognize that I’ll probably never acquire the sensitivities common among cradle Catholics. It’s not unlike me to trample through delicate issues like an elephant in a flower garden. For this, all I can do is ask forgiveness, because if after six years I still haven’t changed, I doubt there is much hope for me. What can I say. I’m an outsider - a mere convert - and I just don’t look at things the same way. To some that is a blessing, to others a curse, and for me it’s just who I am. There are some aspects of my personality I can no more change than the color of my skin. I’ve come to accept this flaw as a part of what makes me “me.”
Having not developed the same kind of sensitivities and taboos of cradle Catholics, I find myself looking at the whole liturgical issues from somewhat of outsider’s perspective; I sometimes find it difficult to comprehend the conflict that exists between different groups of Catholics. Quite frankly, sometimes it just blows my mind that anyone is arguing about these issues in the first place.
Concerning the rumored indult on the Tridentine mass (assuming such an indult really exists), I’ve already come to see various reactions to it, some of them in conflict, and I can’t help but wonder why. On the one hand there are the Traditionalists (which I am not a part of, I’ll explain more below), who insist that the Tridentine Latin mass is somehow more “true” and “pure” than the Novus Ordo vernacular mass. This to such an extreme as to suggest (or imply) that the Novus Ordo is somehow “less” than fully Catholic. I’ve talked with many traditionalists, some of whom are from the Society of St. Pius X, and as I listen to them speak I can’t help by think “Man, lighten up!” Occasionally, they make a really good point about something, but it isn’t long before it’s lost to a kind of extreme fundamentalist tirade I haven’t seen since my days as an Evangelical Protestant. On the other hand there are Contemporary Catholics who so despise the thought of anything traditional that they reject it wholeheartedly. And when I see these two extremes I can’t help but ask; “doesn’t one just beget the other?” Is the militant obstinacy of each side just causing the other to dig its heels in deeper?
Over the the last few days I’ve had some interesting experiences. I’ve seen traditionalists shrug off news of a universal indult, and attack the pope for ecumenism, or not getting rid of the Novus Ordo completely. Then I’ve seen contemporary Catholics become defensive, and even going so far as to suggest that Pope Benedict XVI would be violating Vatican II if he did sign such an indult. Come on! Give me a break! What’s the real problem here? Could it be that both parties are interpreting Vatican II to an extreme it was never meant to be taken? You know you can’t really learn anything unless you’re willing to accept the possibility that you could be wrong about something. To me the whole thing seems silly. Why should contemporary Catholics care if more conservative members attend a Tridentine mass regularly or irregularly? Why should traditionalist Catholics care if most Catholics are perfectly happy with the Novus Ordo? You have to admit this is ridiculous.
What’s happening here is obvious. The two sides have aggravated each other so much that neither side is listening to the other anymore. What a shame! Because there is a lot they could all learn from each other.
As for me, well, I'm an "inclusivist." Does that make sense? What do I mean by this? When I say "inclusivist," I mean to say that I love ALL of Catholicism -- both the old and the new, the traditional and the contemporary. I see each as complementing the other. Don't get me wrong. I can't stand liturgical abuse. But saying the mass in English, with some stringed instruments, is hardly what I would call "abuse." Just so long as the liturgy follows the norms of canon law.
For both the traditionalists and the contemporary Catholics I’ve got some shocking news that’s sure to ruin most of your day. It is simply this. Most Catholics don’t give a rip about either one of you. Really, they don’t. I’ve talked with dozens upon dozens of Catholics about this issue over the last couple years. What I’ve learned is this. You have a small group of people on both extremes of the liturgical spectrum. Both sides demonize the other. Both sides are virtually unwilling to talk to the other. Both sides make some good points to back their arguments. And both sides are completely oblivious to the fact that the majority of Catholics really don’t give a rip about this kind of stuff. All they really want is a stable church environment in which Catholics can find what they need without forcing their desires upon others who don’t want to hear it. Most Catholics really don’t care if the Tridentine mass returns or not. Most Catholics would just assume to let those who want traditional Catholicism have their way, and be able to freely celebrate the Catholic religion the way they want to do it. Most Catholics really don’t care why some traditionalists think the Novus Ordo is invalid. Most Catholics really don’t care if some contemporaries think the Tridentine is banned. They’re going to continue doing what they’re doing (attending mass and raising babies), regardless of what either side says about the liturgy or each other. What most Catholics want is a Church that functions, and one that appeals to Catholics of all types -- including contemporaries and traditionalists.
That’s why I define myself as an “inclusivist” in my approach to Catholicism. Hopefully, Pope Benedict will resolve all of this soon enough. We can only hope and pray.
It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired. I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue. I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe. I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great.....