Bad Traditudes: Making My Point For Me

As the discussion continues to move along in the comments over on my piece about the need for traditional Catholics to show a bit more friendly charity (the horror!) examples have begun to spring up around the Internet showing exactly what I’m talking about. 

Predictably, one of the very forums I mentioned as an example of disgraceful trad behavior – Angelqueen – has provided all the evidence anyone needs that I’m not making up my examples out of whole cloth.

The comment thread at Fisheaters has drawn in individuals with more reasonable perspectives, but the caricature of the sneering, condescending, better-than-thou trad still shows itself in a number of the comments.

It’s things like this that make me feel compelled to write on the topic – not so much because I truly believe I will dissuade those individuals calling me every name in the book for even suggesting a more charitable course, but because I know there are a number of you out there whose only exposure to Catholic tradition has been precisely this kind of nonsense. Don’t believe it. It’s not all like that. While I couldn’t devote enough time to them in my piece due to space constraints, there are plenty of traditional Catholics whose love for their faith motivates them not only to observe reverent liturgy and devotions, but to evangelize, as Christ calls us to do. 

In these forums, there have been no few insults slung at Inside Catholic as well, a “neo-con” publication (apparently) that could, judging by these accusations, never present an authentic traditional viewpoint. In fact, I believe there may be a consensus building that because I dared criticize the thing I hold dear, I not only am an imposter, I’m some sort of puppet. Perhaps an operative of the Freemasons. Or Satan. Or something.

On that note, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the editors of Inside Catholic for bringing me on board nearly three years ago with a specific view to encourage me in sharing my traditional viewpoint. The fact that they have done so has allowed me to bring this discussion to Catholics who, possessed of good sense, probably avoid many of the dark alleys of the Internet where these topics are referenced. After all, adjectives like “traditional” aside, we’re all Catholics, and coming to a more full understanding of the liturgical traditions of our rite benefits us all. Whether or not you attend the Novus Ordo, after all, the traditional Mass is still your Mass – it’s an integral part of your rite, and has for centuries been the primary rite of the Catholic Church. 

And for what it’s worth, I apologize for asking people to be nicer. I know I can be really demanding sometimes, and I’m working on it.

By

Steve Skojec serves as the Director of Community Relations for a professional association. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned a BA in Communications and Theology. His passions include writing, photography, social media, and an avid appreciation of science fiction. Steve lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jamie and their five children.

  • Don

    Angelqueen — named for the Blessed Mother, for heaven’s sake — is a venemous snakepit of nasty comments where everyone loves to deride everything except their own self-perceived “pure” view of the world. Its forum certainly isn’t going to get anyone to love the traditional Mass. You touched a nerve there, and well done.

  • Marthe L

    I may be wrong, but my impression is that if what you are writing or saying does bring angry comments from some people, it says more about them than about you, and it also says that you have touched on something that need to be looked at. Hopefully, some of the people with angry comments, after they cool down, may be led by the Holy Spirit to think things through. On the other hand, if what you write or say is only met with indifference, that’s when you have to stop and think to see if you are missing something…

  • freddy

    Article: Mildly criticizing some behavior trends/beliefs often associated with tradtitional Catholicism. Suggests positive solution.

    Comment 1: Thanks writer for article, makes charitable point.

    Comment 2: Agrees with first commenter, but wonders whether article is helpful/timely.

    Comment 3: Accuses writer of secretly worshipping Satan in his basement. Uploads screed on “true” Catholicism vs. “Neo/nuvo pretend Catholicism.” Connects all to the evil of eye-makup/deodorant/the permanent wave/rock music.

    Comment 4: Makes charitable but overall negative comment regarding the writer’s grammar.

    Comment 5: Notes that the writer’s experience has not been commenter’s experience.

    Comment 6: Agrees with writer and uploads screed on how those bad rad trads are ruining the world. Questions sanity of anyone who prefers the EF Mass.

    Comment 7: Thanks writer for great article and invites readers to try new miracle product.

    Comment 8: Wonders whether regular Catholics also exhibit the behavior/beliefs exhibited by traditional Catholics.

    Comment 9: Questions sanity and state of soul of either Commenter #3 or #6.

    Comment 10: Leasves comment by mistake on wrong thread.

  • Christophe

    Steve – you’re in very deep, it would be better to stop.

  • Owen Sweeney

    Don’t believe it. It’s not all like that. While I couldn’t devote enough time to them in my piece due to space constraints, there are plenty of traditional Catholics whose love for their faith motivates them not only to observe reverent liturgy and devotions, but to evangelize, as Christ calls us to do.

    Then why not highlight them instead of bothering with the looneys? You know I agree with you on this subject, Steve, but I was disappointed in the original piece and this one. It reminded me of Mark Shea’s (with whom I generally agree on things) seemingly uncontrollable urge to pick at this scab.

    Jeez! We know about the tradholes! Give it a rest.

  • Owen Sweeney

    The amount of ink, er, pixels, spent focusing on what you admit to be a small percentage of traditionalists makes their number appear larger than it really is. I fear you may be turning away the curious who may be inclined to check out an EF Mass. If all they read about are the nasty traditionalists, the curious may decide to not bother.

  • thereserita

    Well, Owen, the number of traddies who fit the bill is significant enough for Fr Groeschel to mention on his Sunday Live show. He spoke about the fact that it’s sinful to not address or acknowledge someone who has a right to your attention & mentioned that a group of Traddies treated him sinfully in this regard. So I don’t think this is “picking a scab” (eeewww!) but acknowledging a real situation. Of course there are a ton of Catholics who attend N.O. who fit in the same category. Personally, I like both. Its not an either/or situation for me but I have to say that it seems like it’d be good for the Total Traddies to get a bit of teaching on Reverence Doesn’t Equal Lack of Joy.

  • Jack Warren

    Steve, I think you might be reaching here…I believe I counted 19 people on Angelqueen(some with multiple posts)who commented on your piece. And much of the discussion was ridiculous banter about Leave it to Beaver and other nonsense. While some of the 19 were a little grouchy, my advice to you is to stop stressing about it and pick a different topic. This one is starting to get a little silly. And cheer up, you mustn’t be gloomy. ; )

  • Dust

    As I commented over in the thread on Mark Shea’s last piece here, I see the wisdom and Mercy of God in the Church’s teaching on Purgatory. As I heard Patrick Madrid say recently on the “Open Line” program, the Roman Catholic Church is a messy place these days. Anyone reading the threads to be found on Catholic websites cannot help but find that accurate. I offer no other opinion but common sense tells me not everyone can be right in telling others they are wrong.

  • Happy Traddie

    I’ve attached myself to the Traditional Liturgy for 2 years now and in my Colorado FSSP parish I have experienced NONE…absolutely NONE of the negatives you speak of. Parishioners are pretty universally charitable, friendly, beyond pleasant and very welcoming. It seems that there is a great love of the faith and of this beautiful liturgy here and a great desire to share it. Ever since becoming part of this, I look forward with joy and anticipation to Sunday’s High Mass. Even daily Mass is something I get up early for virtually every day. It has really helped deepen and enrich my faith in so many ways.

  • Bender

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

    Implicit in the very idea of tradism and things like “FSSP parishes” is separatism.

    Not content with simply being “Catholic” and simply attending a “Catholic” parish, and proclaiming that their liturgy is “beautiful,” as if exclusively so, thereby implying that the rest of the liturgy of the Church is not beautiful, such people set themselves against the unity of the One Church.

    THAT, in and of itself, is the negative. That, in and of itself, is contrary to charity, friendliness, pleasantries, and welcoming.

    Instead of being a “traddie” or “traditionalist,” try just being Catholic. Learn to love, and look forward with joyful anticipation to, the entire liturgy of the entire Church.

  • to Happy Traddie, from a visitor

    seems to be a pretty neat place. We’ve visited there twice while vacationing in Denver. The first time, there was actually a liturgical abuse (oh no!) but it was welcome by the parishioners (OMG!) since the pastor was telling them about the upcoming move to a new building from their v-e-r-y overcrowded one (I can still see the make shift postcard type Stations of the Cross on the walls, blowing around due to the fans blowing). That was some years ago.

    We got to visit the new, still crowded, digs, this past summer. If that’s where your from, good luck with the building additions!

  • Deal W. Hudson

    InsideCatholic is about as “Neo-Con” as Catholics United is pro-life. Weak minds always substitute labels for arguments, not there is anything wrong with using a label as long as it fits smilies/grin.gif

  • Owen Sweeney

    So I don’t think this is “picking a scab” (eeewww!) but acknowledging a real situation.

    Of course it’s real. I’m not disputing that. It’s the regular “those bad trads” articles and blog posts that are the picking of the scab.

    Of course there are a ton of Catholics who attend N.O. who fit in the same category.

    Exactly. But we never hear about them – or if we do, then certainly not with the regularity that we hear of the others.

    Implicit in the very idea of tradism and things like “FSSP parishes” is separatism.

    Do you realize that there are well over 20 separate approved rites in the Catholic Church? Over 30 if you include the historic rites of religious orders?

  • bill bannon

    excellent. You clarified the area for my emotions. In addition, I think many converts per year are fleeing Protestants who tire of gay inroads in their present church and on the other hand the extreme poor in the Third world convert also …but are others turned off.
    Are some of our caste fights when they appear in the press keeping very intelligent others in Japan, India etc…. out of the Church…since Christ did say men will know His followers by their love for each other….not their love of one language over another.

  • Michael

    As a reluctant traditionalist I have found myself harangued so many times in message threads that I don’t even read traditionalist related topics anymore. Since Summorum Pontificum there does not seem to be much reason to worry about those issues anymore anyway. It usually comes down to something like, “I don’t mean all traditionalists are that way. There are good ones too!”

    Really? Thanks. Good to know that tradism as a malady can be overcome by some peoplem, maybe even me. Have a nice day. smilies/sad.gif

  • Henry Edwards

    I just happened upon this discussion, Steve, but have not yet noticed a distinction made between internet trads and real live traditional Catholics. Obviously, the bitter ones you stereotype predominate in blogdom, and I’ve met a handful in real life.

    However, the actual TLM communities I’ve frequented are conspicuous for their friendliness and sense of joyful camaraderie, probably because our Sunday high Mass is the happiest hour of the week, however far some of us must drive for it. At coffee afterwards this past Sunday, I heard nary a one of the kind of remarks you mention.

    But, online Monday morning, it was back to business as usual. Nasty trads, indeed. But are these bitter types really typical of traditional Catholics as a whole? Not in my experience. For instance, most of the folks I attend the TLM with attend the Novus Ordo regularly also (if only on occasional weekdays), whereas few of the online trads sound like they would do so.

  • Mark P. Shea

    It’s weird. Every Traditionalist I know in real life is happy and full of joy. But the bulk of Traditionalists I meet in cyberspace are repellent. The basic problem with Web.Traditionalism is that for every Skojec, Zmirak, and Price, there appear to be legions of Angelqueen denizens and similar apostles of Bitterness. They are the greatest enemies of Benedict’s reforms that I have ever met. The bitterness, factionalism, Phariseeism, rage, bullying and self-pity, not to mention the complete contempt for what some of us still call fruits of the Spirit in our simple-minded, neo-Catholic protestantized biblicism, do more than an army of Kungs or McBriens could ever achieve in keeping ordinary people at bay from the thing Web.Trads allegedly are “defending”. May God raise up thousands more like you, Steve. And don’t mind the jerks over at Angelqueen. You are doing the Lord’s work, even if Web.Trads are too blinded by spite and self-pity to see it.

  • Ann

    You know what? The internet just brings out the jerk in people. Go read some Mommy message boards and you’ll see what I mean.

    I think it’s the combination of the anonymity and instant gratification of writing something and seeing it pop up on the screen.

    And sometimes people just vent on the internet. IRL, they might be perfectly pleasant and reasonable, kwim?

  • Christophe

    In his eagerness to tradbash, Mark Shea misses the obvious illogicality of his comment. He says that “Every Traditionalist” he knows “in real life” – EVERY one – is “happy and full of joy.” The only “apostles of Bitterness” are the Trads on the Web. But then he praises Steve Skojec’s article to the skies. The only problem is, Skojec spilled copious amounts of toner trashing Real Live Trads who are joyless and dour, filled with “condemnations, judgments, specious arguments, and morose dispositions.” The ones he meets at Holy Mass. No mention at all about Web.Trads. So, Mark, how can you laud Skojec when he contradicts you – he says the Bad Trads are the Real Live Trads, but you say the Bad Trads are Web.Trads? Which is it?

    And, by the way, why do Shea and Skojec get away with violating The Rules of Inside Catholic, e.g., “No name calling or personal attacks; stick to the argument, not the individual. … Assume the goodwill of the other person, especially when you disagree.”

    Seems like a lot of name-calling to me.

  • Brian Kopp

    I have found that in person, trads are generally warm and kind and charitable. And a lotta fun to be around.

    Online is another story.

    I think the major problem with this piece is in judging “traddies” by the online behavior of a non-representative fraction of the whole.

    Those who read online trad forums, blogs, & websites are merely a subset of trads as a whole.

    Those who bother to comment on forums and blogs are a smaller subset of the first subset.

    Those who actually write and post articles and threads are a smaller subset still, and tend to be the “type A personalities” who are more likely to display the offensive behaviors this writer is bemoaning.

    One last point: this writer is…a writer. Many online Catholic writers tend to be Type A personalities. Type A personalities tend to be the least tolerant of other Type A personalities.

    So to say these observations are skewed, at least from a sociological perspective, would be appropriate, IMHO.

    When your exposure to trads is primarily online, not in the pew, it will give you a very skewed opinion of trads.

    Furthermore, new TLM communities that never existed prior to Summorum Pontificum have a wholly different feel to them than those of the SSPX or those that were around since 1984 or 1988.

    Skojec needs to back away from his computer and re-evaluate the trad movement in the real world, in person. Such an article, with no admixture of opinions gleaned only from online trad exposure, would have a far different content, I suspect.

    As such, these articles do a real disservice to the trad community, because it is not clear to the general reader that his conclusions are primarily based on internet behavior, not real world behavior.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Christophe:

    It’s not that complicated. Steve obviously has lots more contact with Trads than I do in real life. And a lot of them, apparently, are people nasty and bitter. That I know few Trads and have a happy experience of them (as Steve often does) is not a contradiction of the fact that Steve knows many more and that not a few of them more closely resemble the kind of Web.Trad that Angelqueen represents.

    Really, Christophe, if you don’t want to completely prove Steve’s point you should just, ‘ow you say?, stop digging.

  • Michael

    I think the major problem with this piece is in judging “traddies” by the online behavior of a non-representative fraction of the whole.

    In a lot of cases, those on-line traddies are coming from the SSPX are even farther out in sede-vacantist land. You don’t necessarily meet them in the local diocesan TLM oratory or parish so the on-line cross section is even larger than what a normal Catholic would run across. I am not meaning to disparage the SSPX by this comment because I can only sympathize with what they went through for all these years. I only mention it because to those who look upon traditionalism from the outside they have a hard time seeing distinctions. This is much like Mark Shea having difficulty distinguishing a neocon from a paleocon. He lives in Seattle where conservatives are so rare that they all appear the same to him. He cannot distinguish the differences.

  • meg

    Mark Shea, after blogging about “angry trads” for years and in an attempt to defend Steve Skojec, ends up admitting that he’s never actually met a real live “angry trad”. Is this thread really happening?

  • Michael

    You might want to pinch yourself, Meg, but I thought I saw it too.

  • Opal

    There are the Byzantines who reject Acquinas and anything Roman and really want to be Orthodox but for some reason don’t. And then there are the Byzantines who pretend like the others don’t exist. The problem is in every Church. We are all sinners…

    This argument reminds me of one on a Catholic homeschooling forum about those who vaccinate versus those who don’t. All the moms were prolife, Pro Catholic, Rosary praying, large family oriented homeschoolers, most were dress wearing only….yet the unpleasantness over whether or not to vaccinate was stultifying.

  • Mark P. Shea

    No. I’ve met live angry Trads. They used to physically threaten folks in my parish, as well as disrupt parish meetings with angry tirades, spread vicious lies about good and holy priests for whom I have nothing but admiration, and even insult the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by childishly wearing giant flightline noise reduction headphones during the celebration as their preferred form of protest. However, they have gone from my parish, presumably to blight the lives of other unfortunate well-meaning Traditionalists at our local EF. The traditionalists I know *now* are the ones who are not full of poisonous bile and who made a conscious choice to leave crazy bitter Tradism in the form of the SSPX chapel in which they were raised. They did so, by the way, despite having received *death threats* from that chapel when they left in order to pursue union with Holy Church. I admire their courage, charity and joy greatly.

    Really, you don’t want to have me go into my numerous experiences in the past with the ugly ugly face so many Traditionalists present. I encountered it first, live and close up, in my parish. The fact that I *currently* know only sane and decent Traditionalists is testimony to the fact that I avoid in real life what I find it much harder to avoid on the Web. But, oy!, the stories I could tell about the Real Life Trads who labored so very hard to persuade me never to come close to the Traditionalist Movement so much as to touch it with a barge pole. It is in spite of them (and of the huge percentage of bullying, self-pity filled, bitter and angry Web.Trads) that I retain any capacity for not fleeing in fear for my soul at the spectacle of so much of Traditionalism. Talk all you want about the glory of the liturgy, but until I meet a lot more people like my friends or Steve and lot fewer people like the ones who predominate on line (and who dominated the Trad community in my parish till they left in a factional huff), Trads will remain the great enemies of the Benedictine reforms they claim to love.

  • Ken

    When someone pokes a hardcore believer in the eye, there is going to be a mess. Poke a pro-lifer about accepting rape and incest exceptions. Poke a pro-family believer about civil unions or another exception. After all, at least it’s not 100% abortion or gay marriage, right?

    This whole saga could have been written by an anti-trad like Mark Shea. He has made a little online career of poking traditional Latin Mass Catholics in the eye and then laughing when they (we) react.

  • Mark P. Shea

    An anti-Traditionalist would oppose the Benedictine Reforms, which I enthusiastically support. What I oppose is not Traditionalism, but those nasty Traditionalists who do all in their power to undermine those reforms because their self involvement is more important to them than the Tradition. Give me more Skojecs, Prices and Zmiraks. I have no objection whatever to such Traditionalists. But they are often bayonetted (as Steve was on Angelqueen) by their own troops. Alas.

  • meg

    He threw Angel Queen under the bus. Did you even read the original piece? He says it himself.

    “Predictably, one of the very forums I mentioned as an example of disgraceful trad behavior – Angelqueen – …”

  • Mark P. Shea

    Pointing out the fact Angelqueen is rife with appalling behavior done in the name of Truly True Pure Catholic Faith is called “telling the truth” not “throwing them under the bus”. That they chose to bear him out is their problem, not Steve’s.

  • John McFadden

    I’m not much of a traditionalist, but I’m curious about learning more about the Extraordinary Mass. I’ve gotten to know some darn great people who are traditionally minded. I must say, the attitudes of Mark Shea and Steve Skojec strike me as rather arrogant and condescending…perhaps you both would benefit some from keeping your own selves in check when it comes to courteous behavior. Leave the work of advancing the traditional cause to folks more qualified…

  • meg

    Nope. You said he was “bayonetted by his own troops”. But he made every effort to distance himself: “From the condemning, anonymous masses who pass judgment on all things Catholic on forums like Angelqueen to the rantings of The Remnant…”. This was supposed to be a piece to promote unity. So why even mention a website that you feel in no way supports that goal? And why provide the masses of IC readers with a handy link? It’s simply counterproductive.

  • meg

    If I may recommend a website, I think Fisheaters is a great place to start. Lots of good info., whether you’re new to Catholicism, returning, or Protestant(I’ve heard some say to avoid the blog there; I’ve never read it but just a heads up).

    Angelqueen is a blog and not for the faint of heart; it appeals to a certain audience. If you must go there, take it with a grain of salt.

    Good luck and God bless.

  • Mercury

    Fisheaters has its problems too. Catolicculture.org ranks it “red”:

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/reviews/view.cfm?recnum=1915

    The forums can be as bad as Angelqueen, and the site pretty much up and rejects all of Vatican II and mocks the newrite of the Mass and the papacy of John Paul II (it also includes no papal encyclicals after 1963 in its library). I think it’s perfectly possible to be traditional without such offenses. And traditionalists are not allowed to believe that the Magisterial teaching authority ceased to exist in the 1960s.

  • Mercury

    Haha, it joined new and rite to make ‘newrite’. In Mr. Skojec’s article’s combox I assumed someone was doing that to be derogatory. I guess this site does it automatically. Weird.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Leave the work of advancing the traditional cause to folks more qualified…

    I do. Namely, I leave it to Benedict and the sane and decent Traditionalists like Skojec, Zmirak and Price. I merely add, as a free citizen of the Body of Christ, that if people like Angelqueen denizens or the numerous thugs, who call themselves “Traditionalist” but behave like self-pitying bullies and factionalists, consider themselves qualified to “advance the Traditional cause” they should rethink what they are doing because they are making more and more enemies of Traditionalism every time they open their obnoxious and abusive mouths.

    Meg:

    Nope. You said he was “bayonetted by his own troops”.

    Yes. That’s right. Because unlike you, I consider any member of the Catholic communion to be “his own troops” whereas you have just made it clear that you consider only members of your tiny exclusivist sect of Traditionalists to be his members of the Church Militant and you consider Steve to be outside that august circle of the Elect. That’s but one of the reasons that so much of the the Web.Traditionalist subculture is so repellent: its profound factionalist contempt and disregard for the overwhelming majority of the faithful of the Holy Catholic Church.

  • meg

    So you’re saying all Catholics bayonetted Steve…? Nevermind.

    Nice try, by the way – totally off the mark about me, but seriously, I’m flattered. Actually, I’m tickled pink – I’ve just received one of Mark Shea’s famous tongue lashings!

    I’m sure it’s occurred to you by this point that your presence on this thread is of dubious value to Steve in light of his stated goal of increasing the charity of trads, because – A) you’re not a trad and B) you’re…ah…how can I say this…oh yeah, you’re Mark Shea. Smart, witty, devout, brash Mark Shea who has a terrible time controlling his sharp tongue. I can only imagine what gets edited out before you post…

    You and Steve have both failed to see what’s at the heart of this “situation” shall we call it? Let’s frame it like Steve himself framed it, as marketing/PR 101: Do you advertise the negative side of the product you’re promoting? Of course not. Does Acme foods tell people to buy their healthy TV dinners AND that many of them contain heinous amounts of salt? Of course not. That would be silly. So why are we going back over a topic that drew no fewer than 396 posts on your piece about it? (see, I did my homework)

    Bottom line: by overstating the problem of kookie trads, he insulted the NICE trads! And they got mad at him. And then failed to “hear” his real message, which I believe to be that we (nice trads) should counteract the nasty stuff with an increase in charity. And that’s a fantastic idea. Steve Skojec is a great contributor on IC. When the dust settles this topic deserves a revisit.

  • Mercury

    Meg,

    I do not for the life of me understand why traditionalists always think Mark Shea is singling them out. I often disagree with Mr. Shea on certain points, and yes, his writings can be quite acidic against those he disagrees with. But I am not a trade. Mark Shea spends much more time bashing Republicans, Democrats, progressives, fundamentalists, and especially supporters of the Bush War on Terror than he ever does on trads. And his vitriol is quite potent.

    What I do notice is that those other groups may argue, but they seem to take criticism without an attitude of “Mark, you shouldn’t criticize us because we are the suffering True Church.” Look at Mark Shea’s blog, and look at his articles here. The numbers prove it. And look at the kind of responders he gets to his various criticisms, and to the nature of the defenses to his attacks.

    But many who think Mark Shea is a dedicated “Tradhammer” are simply self-absorbed on that point, are suffering from a fortress mindset, and are full of trigger-happy self-pity. That doesn’t mean you, Meg, but there are several people who think that way.

    It would be like gypsies complaining that the KKK only hates them and only picks on them (not to compare Mark Shea to the KKK, of course smilies/smiley.gif )

  • meg

    You got that right – Mark Shea is an equal-opportunity “hammer”. He is a force if nature – as I said above – smart, witty, devout, brash, and a royal pain at times. smilies/smiley.gif

    I am sure he will be thrilled that you are defending him.

  • Michael

    Christofe wrote “Steve – you’re in very deep, it would be better to stop.”

    Sheesh, what is this the MAFIA?

    Give me a break.

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