They Will Know We Are Traddies by Our Love


Over the course of the seven years I’ve been writing on Catholic topics, I made no attempt to hide that I was flirting with, then later became, a “traditionalist” Catholic. The process was, for me, a surprising one, since despite my liturgically conservative tastes, my first few exposures to the Gregorian liturgy left me cold.

To be fair, I also didn’t like beer or coffee until I’d tried them countless times, and I used to think Livingston Cellars’ Red Rosé was good wine. As we mature, our tastes evolve, and we come to appreciate the complexity and subtlety of the finer things in life. From a personal standpoint, I’ve always been the sort who likes to share these epiphanies, introducing anyone I can to a favorite bottle of wine, a favorite cheese, the most impressive beer, or the best coffee I can find.

It’s the same with the liturgy. When I stumbled on this ancient and venerable form of Mass of the Roman Rite and saw it with new eyes, I shared it every chance I had. I argued for it, defended it, got angry at those who sought to demean or suppress it, and generally kept my verbal sword at the ready for any challenge to this newly discovered ecclesial treasure. I even blogged for a time (tongue-in-cheek) as “The Evil Traditionalist,” poking fun at those who painted the Traditional Latin Mass crowd with a broad, derogatory brush.

Over time, the arguments grew old. You can only spend so many hours in comment boxes, or start so many heated debates at family gatherings. The pope liberated the Traditional Latin Mass from the false shackles with which it had been kept from the faithful, and my life became simpler and less concerned with “traditional apologetics.” The heady days of doing battle for the Faith faded from memory, and I focused more on being a Catholic husband and father than developing my reputation as a liturgical pugilist. However, as I settled down and sheathed my blade, I became gradually and uncomfortably aware of something: A lot of traditionalists really are jerks.

In a way, I was lucky. As someone who came to tradition shortly before it was cool again, I was able to soften my stance before the bad habits became too deeply ingrained. But for those who had suffered being abused and marginalized for decades, the transition must be hard. Can you imagine having the Mass that you grew up with taken away and replaced with something alien and unfamiliar? How do you think it would feel to be treated as though you are schismatic for simply clinging to the Catholicism of your youth? Would you appreciate being called a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a Pharisee for holding to your traditions and devotional practices? And how would you like to be marginalized, forced to drive 50 miles just to get to a Mass held at 1:30 in the afternoon in a parish that doesn’t want you there, and where it’s impossible to build real community because it’s local to none of the attendees? It’s as if everything these people knew about Catholicism was suddenly gone and replaced by a cheap imitation, and when they expressed their dismay, they were met by smug replies that Vatican II “did away with all that.”

Many, shellshocked by such treatment, had become hardened veterans of GIRM warfare by the time Pope Benedict freed the old Mass. And so, young advocates of traditional liturgy like me found ourselves heading to worship God every Sunday in the company of individuals who, as often as not, seemed dour and judgmental. They spoke in effusive terms when they described their Mass, but appeared pained when they actually attended it. No smiles ever seemed to touch their lips, and they would glare at women (like my wife) who would at times forget their chapel veils, or wear makeup, or fail to provide some means of instant corporal punishment at the first sign of a squirming toddler.  In short, they had become terrified of novelty, and accustomed to betrayal, they had seemingly lost the capacity for joy.

That joylessness became the traditionalist brand, and they spread it everywhere they went. From the condemning, anonymous masses who pass judgment on all things Catholic on forums like Angelqueen to the rantings of The Remnant; from propositions that the solar system is Geocentric to the pamphleteering Fatima Crusaders to the seemingly endless discussions on whether it’s ever appropriate for women to wear pants, the attitude of many of the “trads” we encounter is often petty, conspiratorial, uncharitable, or out of touch with reality. Sometimes, it’s all of the above.

Years ago, when I first became enamored
of the traditional Catholic liturgy, a friend of mine who enjoyed going to the Extraordinary Form (but wasn’t committed to it) asked me a pointed question: “If traditional Catholics have this great treasure, as they say they do, shouldn’t it make them the happiest people you know? Shouldn’t their joy over so beautiful a liturgy be overflowing, and thereby draw others in to find out what they have that’s so great?”

That’s an important point. I do believe that those of us who have been drawn to the majesty and solemnity of the ancient liturgy have a pearl of great price that should make us excited to be Catholic, and to share the goodness we’ve found with others. We should be happy at Mass, friendly to our fellow parishioners, welcoming to those who are new, and understanding to those who don’t yet see why we make so much effort to be a part of something so outside the norm.

Condemnations, judgments, specious arguments, and morose dispositions do no favors for our cause, or its future. We’ve got something great going on, and it’s about time we acted like it.


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.

  • RTJ

    When the pope extended and broadened the permission to celebrate the extraordinary form of the mass, he indicated his desire that the two forms should be mutually enriching. Perhaps you have put your finger on one of the ways the extraordinary form can be enriched by the ordinary form.

  • Tom

    Just a list of the same old canards against traditional Catholics. Anti-traditional Catholicism is the last acceptable form of prejudice within the Catholic world, even after Summorum Pontificum.

    I don’t condone bad behavior. But I don’t think traditional Catholics are “joyless.” Their behavior is “solemn.” Everyone has become so used to the casual, anything goes behavior at typical Masses, that solemn behavior is interpreted as “joyless.”

  • Christophe

    Why do self-styled “traditionalist Catholics” who find themselves writing for establishment “conservative Catholic” publications always wind up having to prove their bona fides by attacking the traditionalists? Steve, was there an overt threat involved here? (e.g., “You’ve seemed rather sympathetic to the Traddies recently, that’s not permissible. Write something nasty about them now, or else we’ll make sure you’ll never write for an establishment publication again. Your only outlet will be those weirdos at the Remnant.”) Or was it, more likely, a little more subtle? (The publication schedule is cut back, no one calls you with the latest conservative Catholic gossip anymore, you don’t get a free berth on the upcoming Catholic Cruise, etc.).

    What a disappointment. And for an article purporting to be a call for charity, it oozes with sanctimony and hatred for a group of people as a class.

    A simple truth I’ve found in my two decades attending the Extraordinary Form — an attack on “Traditionalists” is really an attack on the Mass itself, especially when it comes from a fellow Catholic.

  • Becca Balmes

    @Tom & Christophe: Wow, guys! Way to prove the point.

    Steve, I appreciate this. I’m a convert (9 years) and I’ve been intrigued by some “traditional” customs and trappings, but turned way off by the attitudes and complexities encountered any time I try to research into them. The extraordinary form of the Mass, veiling, apparitions & associated practices, etc… none seem accessible or easy enough to convince my family to go out of the way to observe them, and the surly and judgmental attitudes of many “traddies” (along with the tendency to WAY over-complicate things with legalistic language!) does not help a bit. I’m not asking anyone to sing Kumbaya or anything, but being “happy at Mass, friendly to our fellow parishioners, welcoming to those who are new, and understanding to those who don’t yet see why we make so much effort” would be a great thing for curious, faithful “ordinary” Catholics like me.

  • Marthe L

    Steve, I enjoyed your article because it states some things that have bothered me. I am perfectly happy with the liturgy in my parish, and I have even been singing in the choir for a while. For me, the latin mass is part of my past, and I did like it, but I am quite comfortable with the new forms of worship. However, I have been rather troubled by the tone of some discussions on liturgy, particularly on this site. It seemed to me that they were, at times, overly emotional, of the kind of emotion that can lead to harsh words against those who do not share a particular opinion. And, since you are mentioning the discussion on whether women should wear pants, I can say that I could not believe that this was even an issue in our 21st century.

    I think that you have done well by bringing this problem into the open. I did not read your article as a condemnation, but as a statement that is unfortunately true with respect to the attitude of some, but of course not all, traditionalists who seem to have difficulty accepting that not everybody sees thing their way. I agree that, from reading a number of blogs and the comments that followed them “the attitude of many of the traditionalists … (seemed) either petty, conspiratorial, uncharitable, or out of touch with reality. Sometimes, it was all of the above.”

    The way I see it, there is room for a more balanced attitude. There is nothing wrong with choosing to be traditionalist or not, everyone is different and the desire to participate in a more solemn form of the Mass is a personal choice that can bring a lot of enrichment to those who make that choice. But also there is nothing with a preference for a newer form of worship, one that, to many, is closer to their life experiences and more in tune with the times. People are perfectly free to prefer more solemn, ancient church music and rituals, but some have been too eager to condemn everything else. After all, what really matters is that we come together as Catholics to worship the Lord and receive the Eucharist.

  • Daniel Molinaro II

    Steve, great article. This was dead-on. I once had a (schismatic) Traddy tell me that God doesn’t love those in mortal sin. As if God’s nature could change or something…I know many, many joyful Trads, but also many joyless ones (and that is NOT the same as solemn or recollected).

  • Tom

    How on earth was I offensive to you? Because I pointed out that “joyless” might not be the way “trads” were acting? Or, because it is the case the anti-traditional Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in Catholicism, which is, in fact, the case?

    Traditional Catholics are not legalistic, they simply follow the rubrics, which are mandated for the Novus Ordo also. And “legalistic” and “pharisaical” are two other canards also flung at traditional Catholics. But, oddly enough, the Holy Father has also asked that all Catholics follow the prescribed rubrics, which I guess makes him legalistic as well.

  • Sam Schmitt

    OK, another article about how unattractive and disagreeable trads can be, and how they are doing their cause no favors, complete with unattractive and disagreeable (if innocent) comments from traditionalists themselves.

    Many traditionalists I know are patient, joyful (though a bit battle-weary), simple, generous, and positive. Others (very much in the minority) are curmudgeonly, obsessive, unfriendly, and dismissive.

    The same goes for the people I know who go to the new mass. Ditto for the people I know from work, from school, my extended family, and random people I meet on the street. Hey, even I’m disagreeable at times!

    What’s never explained is the reasons *why* traditionalists might be the way they are – or at least what I keep reading they’re like. Without any further explanation, the distinct impression is given – though this is never stated – that their preference for the old mass is somehow responsible for their rather strange and off-putting attitudes.

    I would argue that this is an unfair assumption. There are those who prefer the trad. mass but have no interest in women covering their heads or in arguing with their friends. Others see the old mass as the centerpiece of a entire way of life which includes rejection of most things that have developed since Vatican II. Both people go to the traditional mass, but they can have very different attitudes regarding the Church, the Council, non-Catholics, and people who do not prefer the old mass. Most of the time “traditionalist” means the latter, but it sometimes includes the former group – hence the confusion.

    It would be too easy to relegate the sourpusses to the latter group – human nature is more complicated than that. I’m not denying that there are people out there who see the old mass more as a cudgel than the glorious reality it is, who are more interested in winning arguments than winning souls. But yet another rehearsal of the supposed sins of the traditionalists simply reenforces the old stereotypes, calcifies the die-hards (on both sides), and leaves me unsatisfied.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    What’s never explained is the reasons *why* traditionalists might be the way they are – or at least what I keep reading they’re like. Without any further explanation, the distinct impression is given – though this is never stated – that their preference for the old mass is somehow responsible for their rather strange and off-putting attitudes.

    Hi Sam,

    Unfortunately, the fault was mine. I accidentally edited/posted a draft of the column, instead of the final version. I’ve since replaced it with the revised column, which contains a discussion of the very points you mention.


  • Jason Negri

    It seems to me that when enough people of a particular identifiable group act in particular ways, pointing this phenomenon out is reasonable, and hardly evidence of “prejudice”, especially when it’s coming from someone who self-identifies with that group. When Thomas Sowell or Bill Cosby castigate black Americans for their boorish or thug behavior, it’s not prejudice – they acknowledge that the bad behavior is not ubiquitous within that group, but that it certainly is identifiable with it based on the evidence. It many be other things, but it’s not prejudice. So how is it “prejudice” for Steve to call ill-tempered Traddies to task for their bad behavior, which he’s experienced firsthand?

    “Traditional Catholics are not legalistic, they simply follow the rubrics”

    Well, that’s not the sort of person this article speaks of. When following the rubrics becomes the layman’s sole concern, when it trumps charity and shades into judgmentalism, when being “right” is more important than being holy, and when a good and holy priest who wants to re-institute the TLM in his parish has to beg the congregation beforehand to not criticize him because he’s going to make mistakes the first few times he does a ritual he’s never done before, it’s more than just “following the rubrics”, there are truly shades of legalism. And that sort of stuff, if my Bible is accurate, is what sparked Our Lord’s greatest ire and condemnation. Please don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

  • Sara

    Tom, I can’t speak for Becca, but I did agree with her post. I (and I suspect Becca) have no problem with the traditional Mass itself. There is nothing wrong with following the rubrics, and I wish that all churches did so. What makes the people who attend it Pharisaical and legalistic are the are the things outside the rubrics and form of the Mass that they will sometimes insist on, which can include but are certainly not limited to: women must have their head covered (some I have seen even go so far as to say with a veil–a hat isn’t good enough), women can never wear pants, no one should ever wear shoes that show their toes in church, no breastfeeding in church, men must wear a suit and tie to Mass (a good thing, but it shouldn’t be a requirement), saying that using NFP is always a mortal sin, condemning those who watch movies or TV, saying that the new catechism shouldn’t be read, etc.

    I know not all trads feel that way, but there are so many vocal ones that do, that it turns off the whole traditionalist movement for many people.

  • JZmirak

    Thanks for writing this, Steve. I write as someone who has attended the old Mass since the first permissions dribbled in from Rome in the late 80s, and advocated the restoration of the liturgy in public forums ever since…and who currently drives in a carpool taking Catholic college students to the Extraordinary Form every week it is offered in my area.

    Maybe I was lucky because I was in cosmopolitan New York City, but I’ve never met very many of the types of Trads described here. Our Latin Mass was more recognizable for the sheer number of charmingly oddball aesthetes… and the irritatingly high quotient of ultra-Trad, lace-loving, acolyte “screamers.” But they were easy to avoid.

    And that’s the great thing about people you meet only at Mass. They are EASY to avoid. In fact, I’d like to suggest to any reader who is attracted to the Church’s historic liturgy, but put off by some of its advocates–and I’m sure Steve is right, that outside the Holy City of NY, there are some very dour types clustered around the holy water font–a simple strategy:

    Go to Mass. Pray. Leave.

    Leave right after the final prayers. Make your thanksgiving at a side shrine, and slip out the side door. Don’t stick around for the coffee hour and try to make friends. Who the heck wants to make friends at church anyway? Any event (Left, Right, Center, Christian or Pagan) that is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC is likely to attract a high quotient of anti-social oddballs, social parasites, and unemployable freaks who want to sleep on your couch for months. Remember Joyce on the Church: “Here comes everybody!”

    Well THERE I go–out the side door and into the parking lot.

  • Jess

    Steve brings up AngelQueen Forum. I read it regularly -fascinated. But every time I bring it up, I get the “Oh, that’s not representative of Trads!” – but it’s a very widely read site. On which anyone who accepts the Novus Ordo is described as a NeoCath, in which the validity of the Novus Ordo is not taken for granted, on which nastiness, in general, prevails.

    I don’t think hard core Catholic liberals are any different – The comboxes at dot Commonweal or Michael Sean Winters’ blog at NCR as just as nasty. They are bad witnesses for the “good fruit” of the Vatican II reforms. But I think more Trads – like Steve – should own up to the crabbed negativity of Trads – at least online – which turns off many people who are sick of priest’s extemporaneous patter, idiotic praise and worship songs – who might check out the EF, but are scared that they’ll go and simply be judged wanting.

    The only problem I have with Zmirak’s point – which is basically good – is that to maintain a Traditional Mass community doesn’t happen without funds and other kinds of support. If you are going to “benefit” from the Traditional Mass, you should contribute in some way to its ongoing support, not just use it for your personal benefit.

  • JZmirak

    Dear Jess,
    You’re right of course! Those of us who can should replace those $1 bills in the basket with $20s or $50s! We should be inviting new people whenever we can, spreading the word, learning the chant and singing along at Missa Cantatas, THANKING the pastors who sponsor the Mass, and being generally protective of “our” parishes. None of that entails subjecting ourselves to the tiny contingent of crackpots and scolds, of course.

  • Trad Mom

    Steve – when you go to a Trad Mass do you wear a t-shirt that says “I’m just here for the incense”?

    Traddies are like smokers, they’re okay to hate. If you happen to like the old Mass, but think its uncool, you have to write an article like this.

    As someone who was homeschooled AND with an outgoing personality, I knew that I could never explain how offensive it was to people who said, “you’re homeschooled? I can’t tell”.

    Any other stereotypes that we want to reinforce? How about a few more posts on this same vein like, “I’m charismatic, but I’m actually a trained liturgical dancer”.

  • JS

    How about: GO TO MASS: WORSHIP GOD. RECEIVE JESUS PRESENT IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. PRAY. LEAVE. Here’s a “rubric” that can help with that. Everytime you are momentarily distracted by ANYthing from doing those things, ask yourself WHY DID I COME HERE?” Your BEHAVIOR will reveal the answer. For some it is to chat off and on with others in the same pew, to daydream, to look at the people around, e.t.c., e.t.c.

    Maybe as a consequence of the desacralization of the liturgy, too many of us have forgotten what “WORSHIP” looks like. How awe, reverence, intense gratitude, in short: AWARENESS OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD effects human behavior. How it can make the “PEACE be with you” we offer to each other really mean THAT in its fullness and from the heart

  • SK

    One question that comes to mind here and which has come to my mind many times in the past is how to define “Traditionalist”? In forums like this it’s always taken for granted that everyone has a similar understanding of what it means, but as evidenced by these comments it’s clear that not everyone does. And I don’t think we can define it as simply one who attends Mass in the Extraordinary Form. How does a Traditionalist differ from a “regular Catholic”? Are Traditionalists a fringe group? I’d like to hear what people have to say on this.

  • Mark P. Shea

    May your tribe increase!

  • Steve Skojec

    Good Morning, All.

    Thank you, Brian, for addressing the editorial error. I hope that those of you who take issue with what I’ve written will re-read the corrected version to see my defense of your claims. It is also worth noting that while it was edited out due to length, I originally included a thank you to the friendly trads, which certainly exist, in some parishes more than others. I wrote:

    “There are those Catholics of the traditional persuasion who have shown me their joie de vivre through gestures as simple as a sincere and welcoming smile or true fellowship outside of Mass, and to them, I offer my sincere thanks. While I look forward to the day that I no longer have to append a label to the word

  • Jason Negri


    A good question. We can’t go too far if we don’t define our terms.

    I love tradition, but do not consider myself a traditionalist, and that’s probably because of the baggage associated with that moniker. When I hear “traditionalist”, I (rightly or wrongly) think of someone who is perhaps too devoted to tradition & ritual for its own sake, and while they may not adhere to it in order to feel smugly superior to everyone else, I think the feeling is addictive. In addition to what Steve wrote in his article and in his clarification above, these people tend to see everything as black and white with insufficient regard for the many grays and areas of discretion Mother Church herself allows.

    But I suppose that’s the case whenever you brand people with an “ist” label – the name itself suggests the vices that group tends towards, and not the virtues. I know people who love the TLM but are fun-loving and joyful, and invite people to experience the love they have for that liturgy and for the Church while they crack jokes about themselves and their own shortcomings in between imitations of Monty Python and 80’s movies. Are they “traditionalists”? Probably, but because of the baggage associated with the label, I don’t usually consider them such. Is there maybe a more neutral label we can use?

  • Steve Skojec

    John, you said:

    Leave right after the final prayers. Make your thanksgiving at a side shrine, and slip out the side door. Don’t stick around for the coffee hour and try to make friends. Who the heck wants to make friends at church anyway?

    While I have a strong anti-social streak, and have habitually (much to my wife’s annoyance) followed exactly this advice, there is a very real sense, I think, in which it’s beneficial for a parish to form a sense of community. Having known of places where that worked well, it was a great boon to the parishioners. It’s especially valuable to the stay-at-home moms, particularly those who homeschool.

    I know that in our own case, my wife often gets along far better with the non-trad moms in a given parish, but they do not understand our dedication to the old Mass, to ensuring our children get a super-sized side of exorcism with their baptism, and so on. She feels caught between worlds, worshipping one way and socializing another.

    Perhaps I’m just romanticizing, but it would feel tremendous to actually belong to a parish, not just attend one. If you’ve ever gone to Eastern Rite liturgies (Ruthenian Rite Byzantine comes to mind) they always seem to have the most fantastic coffee hours and parish picnics. The parishioners in those Byzantine parishes I’ve attended – one in West Virginia, one in Northern Virginia, one in Upstate New York, and one here in Phoenix – have all exhibited this fine quality. There’s a sort of exuberant esprit d’corps that I just don’t often see captured in Latin Rite communities. Perhaps it’s more cultural than ritual. All the same, I’d love to build something similar.

    Despite it’s quirky people, the closest I’ve come to this kind of thing is Old St. Mary’s in D.C. There are some really great people there, and with a few notable exceptions, they know how to balance their reverence with their relatability.

  • AV

    This type of writing reminds me of an anecdote from the life of Bertolt Brecht, when he moved back to then East Germany after the war instead of staying in the West and thus pursue his dramatic art in peace. When asked why he would subject himself to censors and the whole byzantine apparatus of the Stalinist propaganda machine, he told Western reporters:

    “Here, I might spend hours sitting with government bureacrats trying to explain the meaning of my work. In the West, I would just be ignored.”

    I don’t like “supertrad” people either, which is why I tend not to make many friends at church. But from how people talk about the “trad menace”, you would think that it was far larger than it really is. Do people here attend High Mass on Neptune? Is there some mysterious looking glass through which people walk every Sunday to encounter a legion of scowling, matilla-ed old ladies who shoot laser beams from their eyes at fidgety children?

    I don’t know, since I have only encountered such things in places where you really, really had to look for them. Perhaps those who encounter such behavior should be thankful, because in the vast sea of suburban McParish, you are, like Brecht, more or less ignored.

  • Steve T.

    That rocks out loud. I’m making one.

    Meanwhile, see you at Holy Innocents Thursday for the Solemn Pontifical Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.

    PS: Mark P. Shea: please re-read paragraph 5, about how hard it’s been to be inclined toward Tradition over the past decades. NOTE: You are my brother in Christ. Unequivocally. Your steadfast witness against torture not only changed my ignorant, ill-formed conscience, but equipped me to change the mind of another ignorant brother in Christ. I love you, man! but sometimes you’re too harsh on us Trads. That’s all I’m asking, bro.

  • Dave Pawlak

    …by the number of posters who take offense that he dares to point out that there are “sour faced saints” (to lift a phrase from St. Teresa of Avila) among Traditional Catholics.

  • dad29

    they had seemingly lost the capacity for joy

    Easily one of the best insights I’ve seen in quite a while.

  • Ken

    What amazes me are right-of-center Catholics who realize the novus ordo is banal, lacking and sometimes downright offensive, but they refuse to attend the traditional Latin Mass because they don’t like the people who do.

    Perhaps a piece on this crowd is in order. Charity is a two-way street.

  • Midwestern Trad

    I loved the article and its points, Steve, but could you please define “GIRM Warfare”? “GIRM” isn’t an acronym I’m familiar with.smilies/wink.gif

    Keep the faith, and keep your sense of humor!

  • Gabriel Austin

    I cannot say who is a “traddie” but can give a small account of my reaction to the changes in the liturgy [and hymns] enforced by the “non-traddies”. There is a smug holier-than-thou sense of the value of the changes. “The faithful in the pew do not know what is good for them”. They need to have changes imposed.

    Amusing in all this is the skirt-lifting horror at the changes back in the liturgy. The bishop of Erie PA, for example, seems quite certain that his sheep are not intelligent enough to understand “incarnate” and that “We believe…” is the usage of the Eastern Churches. His sheep may not understand “incarnate” but they do understand “cover-up” as with the misbehaving priests. The bishop and his colleagues should perhaps have paid more attention to the obvious.

    And it would taken but a phone call to learn that the Eastern Churches would no more use “We believe…” than they would use “We confess…”.

    I heard a parish priest comment on the nastiness of the liberals, if one dared disagree with them.

  • Rich Browner

    General Instruction of the Roman Missal

    I am not sure the article really serves charity. Perhaps, but I do wonder.

  • JZmirak

    To fellow Trads reading this article: Please try to distinguish constructive criticism when it is offered by one of “our own” from hate speech poured on us by enemies. If a writer who supports all our goals tells us that he is anguished by bad behavior (none of it germane to the liturgy) on the part of some fellow-Trads, it might be useful to LISTEN, do an EXAMINATION of CONSCIENCE, and consider whether one is part of the PROBLEM. That’s what I try to do when I hear sermons, and read columns dealing with the moral life. Note that Mr. Skojec is NOT trying to dissuade people from promoting, supporting, or attending the Traditional Mass. Instead, he wants to remove a barrier erected by the Devil to the broader acceptance of that liturgy: The bitterness and defensiveness acquired by some Trads BECAUSE of their PERSECUTION by liturgical revolutionaries. Like Asian “boat people” or Irish survivors of the Famine, some Trads have internalized pathologies that are BARRIERS to our goal–the universal restoration of worthy liturgy in the West. That’s the goal; it’s not about us, or vindicating ourselves, or proving that we aren’t to blame. It’s about restoring proper worship to Christ. If a little internal criticism is too much for us to handle, and learn from, we really will get nowhere.

    That said, Steve, (if I might be so bold) I would urge your wife to stick with the women she actually likes, rather than forcing herself to associate with likeminded women she dislikes. Forced friendships never end well.

  • Steve Skojec


    Thanks for your support in the comments. I have nothing to add to what you’ve said above.

    As for your suggestion, it’s well-taken. After spending time trying to fit in, she’s more or less come to the same conclusion. It really depends on the parish you’re a part of, because she’s had some good experiences with both groups, but trying to be something you’re not (and being judged in the process) has never worked well for anyone.

  • Cheekypinkgirl

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. This argument about “what is a TRAD?” really is starting to wear on me. (Brian, are you out there?) Worse, this idea that I keep encountering over and over that calling a trad by their rightful name (a trad) is offensive, is just total nonsense. Objecting to being called a trad is just another move by the sour-faced individuals Steve describes here to appear as and stay ensconced as martyrs.

    2. To the person who said the naysayers should just shut up and go to a Latin mass: NOT EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO THE LATIN MASS. And along the same lines, people who are “flirting” with Traditional Catholicism and have no access to a TLM often look where to get information about Traditional Catholicism?……….Yes, you guessed it! The internet! Where the nastiest and most judgemental traddies scream the loudest at places like Steve mentioned, along with the Fisheaters forum AND (sorry to say ) Father Z’s commboxes. (Note, I didn’t say Father Z, I said his commenters.) I’ve had many people tell me to shut out these “minority” trads and just read the classics on the subject and that will be education enough on the subject. Perhaps, but I think we all know that to pretend the internet doesn’t exist and to not explore organized traddie communitites and groups that inhabit virtural reality is asking people to live as if it’s 20 or more years ago. (Oh wait, that’s EXACTLY what they usually want people to do.)

  • thetimman

    I, too, came to the traditional Mass near the end of its de facto suppression– in 2005. It filled me, and fills me, with joy. I attend an Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King, and I find very little evidence of the stereotypical angry trad you describe. I do find joy and evangelization.

    I am more likely to suspect that my experience is closer to norm than what you describe.

    And I can attest from experience–having been one, and having endured many– that there is nothing joyful, persuasive or more annoying than the “smug conservative novus ordo” Catholic. Respectfully, why not write a column about that?

  • Steve Skojec


    You wrote:

    I, too, came to the traditional Mass near the end of its de facto suppression– in 2005. It filled me, and fills me, with joy. I attend an Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King, and I find very little evidence of the stereotypical angry trad you describe. I do find joy and evangelization.

    You’re a lucky guy. While I’ve certainly experienced this, I haven’t experienced it nearly enough to consider it normative, and I’ve attended a number of traditional parishes in different states over the years. It exists some places, and in others, it doesn’t. If you’ve got it, that’s exciting news.

    And I can attest from experience–having been one, and having endured many– that there is nothing joyful, persuasive or more annoying than the “smug conservative novus ordo” Catholic. Respectfully, why not write a column about that?

    Not that I’ve never touched on that before, but it’s not my job to keep their house in order – it’s theirs. I’d love to see a conservative, Novus Ordo-attending Catholic write a piece about laying off the trads. I’m more concerned with my own people. Bad experiences aside, I’m sticking with them, and I’d love to see some positive changes. It’s as simple as that.

  • BC

    I’m torn. On the one hand, it seems like every year Masses I attend get worse and worse. On the other, it seems like many TLM proponents have isolated themselves into their own world. I wish they would help change the hellish parishes the masses occupy before withdrawing to their own worlds.

  • BC

    Oh I thought title meant job title …….

  • William

    Steve, it would be helpful if you made a distinction between trads loyal to the Pope and those who, though loath to admit it, are in schism from the Roman Catholic Church and the Successor of Peter. You are unkind to tar all of us with the same brush. For instance, tell us the difference between various groups such as the St. Pius X Society and the St. Peter Fraternity. Traditional Catholics like those associated with the St. Peter Fraternity are in strict conformity to the dictates and desires of the Holy Father and do not, in my humble view, fit your unflattering descriptions in any way. I must conceded, however, that those who remain in defiance of Rome and reject the generous overtures made to them by Pope Benedict XVI need to seriously examine their off-putting behavior and the damage it has caused.

  • Ann

    I don’t understand any of this. You like the TLM. I hope you can find one. You like your NO mass, like myself. Great. What is all of this infighting?

    I like the advice above: Go to Mass. Pray and receive the Eucharist. Leave.

    What is all of this nonsense about making friends and not liking some of the moms, and liking the other moms, and coffee hours and all this? What is this coffee hour you speak of?

    We’re Catholics people, that’s what so great about being Catholic. We don’t go for the “fellowship.” We don’t go for the charismatic minister. We don’t go for the rock music. We go for the Eucharist.

    It’s so simple. Why make it so complicated?

  • Dave Pawlak

    …but I know a good number of trads who attend the Indult Mass and have that gloomy, Pharasaical, neo-Jansenist mindset. One of them is my cousin. Fortunately, I also know traditional Catholics who are balanced and happy. One of them is the increasingly famous architect and delightful gentleman named Matt Alderman.

  • Suzanne

    I am traditionalist, and I need to work on my joylessness. It’s a part of my melancholic nature, which I believe many of my co-traditionalists share — it’s the virtues of this very same disposition which leads us into the TLM.

    But I have to confess to you that I get very turned off and annoyed every time I read one of these “you people need ta…” posts. These are riddled with the same spirit of judgment you decry. Talk about the virtues of charity and hope and joy. Say “here’s where I struggled, and this is what I realized and it helped me.” Mention specific events where you ran into this one person who said…. and why you were shocked and thought they were flat wrong.

    But the article like the one above (and there seem to be so many of them like this out there among NOs and Trad bloggers — And, I must say I found it ironic that you linked to Fisher’s article on pants since it was a most uncharitable “you people” rant and not penned by a Trad) is going to get pats on the back from people similarly irritated with “those people.” The people you think need the lesson can’t hear you when you write at them like this and tell them how it really is.

  • Jared B.

    The impression I’ve gotten is that the instant someone criticizes anything at all about traditionalists, they’re automatically an ‘outsider’. Someone who’s only been going to a TLM for the last 6 months can flame someone who’s been a “traddie” for many years and call them a “neo-cath” or whatever. Unlike conservative or progressive Catholic circles, there’s no definite way to build up street cred among traditionalists. What exactly would it take to get some internal criticism heeded? If Christopher Ferrara or Dr. John Rao chimed in and said basically what Steve Skojec said here, would traditional Catholics finally listen, or throw them under the bus? smilies/shocked.gif

  • Roman Catholic

    I do have to say that while there is a place for this kind of discussion and differences of opinion, too often these discussions end up with Catholics fighting against Catholics. Traditionalist, Progressive, Regular, De-Caf, whatever…we’re all Catholics and we’re all in this together. The Church isn’t so narrow that there can’t be differences among Her members. Why not keep that in mind?

  • Margaret

    I began attending a TLM run by the priestly fraternity of St Peter when I moved to a new city 5 years ago. I didn’t know a single soul there. I was not very familiar with the TLM but knew it was something I wanted to learn more about. I felt welcome from the very first week. I didn’t wear a head covering and at times wore pants.
    Since then, I met my husband, introduced him to the TLM and we have continued to be an active part of the parish and parish life ever since. My husband felt welcome from the very first week he attended as well. We were married there and our two children have been baptized there.
    I may be oblivious but I’ve never witnessed this attitude or negativity people speak of.

  • Bender

    We’re all in this together

    The problem is that not everyone is content to be “just plain Catholic.” Rather, they self-define and self-label themselves as traditionalist or conservative or progressive or liberal, etc.

    Also, instead of One Holy Mass, in a poor grasp of theology, not to mention tradition, they insist on thinking that there are different Masses, as evidenced by their terminology — the “old Mass,” the “new Mass” (which is older than most Catholics have been alive), the “traditional Mass,” and the pejorative “NO Mass.”

    Yes, Roman Catholic, we are supposed to be ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It would be nice if more people wanted and actually embraced that unity.

  • Mark Windsor

    Not long ago, I had an encounter with a Trad that left me stone cold. I had made a critical comment, and that was, in his mind, a massive first strike against Traditional Catholicism. I didn’t attack Trads in any way, but he perceived it as such and counter-attacked against an attack that wasn’t there.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I want no part of adjective-driven Catholicism. The Progressives hate me because I’m too traditional. The Trads hate me because I’m not traditional enough. People get to the point where the adjectives take on a greater importance than the noun itself. As for me, I just want to be Catholic.

  • Susan Murray

    Mr. Skojec,
    As I read your piece, it struck me that your words do the traditional cause much harm, and surely, that cannot be your intent. While, on one hand, you declare your recent love of and loyalty to the traditional Mass, on the other hand, the message you convey is that the people who cling to it (other than yourself) are self-righteous nutcases who suck the joy out of anyone whose misfortune it is to come into contact with a traditional group. Consider the following likely scenarios resulting from your piece: The folks reading your perspective, who may already be prejudiced toward traditionalism will likely feel vindicated in their opinion. (Quite probable.) And those reading it who know little to nothing of the traditional Mass, but who may be curious and open to testing the waters, will find very little in your piece to compel them to do so. Either way, the consequences (not the intent)of your piece are unfortunate and counter-productive (albeit from the perspective of the defenders of tradition). While there may be some negative, angry personalities in the traditional movement, you paint with a very broad brush in your exaggerated depiction of traditionally minded folks. There are plenty of holy, pleasant, joyful traditionalists who are not dour, nasty or even anti-makeup (not sure cosmetics have a place in this discussion, but you did roll it in. And while we

  • Katey

    I go for Christ and to worship Him properly. Don’t care 2 licks about what anyone there thinks about anything except the priest. If someone smiles at me, great, small talk over coffee and donuts? Even better. If you’re a nut, I’ll smile and nod, God love ya.

    Didn’t get many smiles or much conversation at the new Mass parish either, but at least now I don’t have to see people popping Jesus in their mouth on the way back to their pew.

  • sibyl

    Only comment here is that this is a good reminder to me. As a mother of a larger family (God’s grace has given us 6)I am a constant advertisement for the Church’s teaching on marriage and family. Oh, if only I were a better one.

    My growing suspicion is that no one is ever converted by argument, and that’s too bad since argument is about the only thing I’m good at. However, it seems more and more clear that people are drawn to truth by love. My loving, gentle, approachable behavior (when there is any of it) will do more to convince people of my principles than any pamphlet, article, website or seminar ever could.

    So it’s a good thing for me to remember. Steve’s article really makes that plain. It reminds me of a priest who would always say, “No one likes a sad saint.”

  • Steve Skojec

    Good evening, all.

    So I came back to have a look at the comments, and I keep hearing the same criticisms over and over. I’m painting with too broad of a brush. I’m the one being uncharitable. I’m doing more harm than good. I’m just one of the trad bashers. Etc., etc., etc.

    I’m almost positive that the people making these comments are not reading the same article that I am. And since I wrote it, I read it a whole bunch of times, and have a pretty good idea of what it’s saying.

    This is a call to charity by example, plain and simple. The point is, something as good as tradition should be reflected in our demeanor and behavior. Strangely, I made the same argument (and was just as strongly attacked) back in college, when I said that if we believed that Christ was present in the Eucharist, we should act like it – by demonstrating reverence and propriety in our liturgies, our architecture and our music.

    I still believe both things, but in each case, I’ve been lauded by one side and denounced by the other. Evidently, I’m a double agent.

    The fact is, I don’t hold myself above the standard. As I stated in the piece, I was angry at first, and I was always looking for a fight. I was just fortunate that I didn’t go through what all the battle-tested trads went through, or my “bad habits” (I actually used the term, meaning, once again, that my broad brush got paint on me, too) would have likely become ingrained as well.

    I also didn’t say that all trads are bad trads. Though my comment didn’t make it into the article (The editors indulge my long-winded way of make points, but they still cut me short when I hit 1500 words in an 800-word space) I thanked the trads who have been welcoming, kind, friendly and helpful. I can see their faces in my head as I type, just as I can see the scowls of the others. And using phrases like “many” or “as often as not” indicates that while the bad attitude happens much of the time, it doesn’t happen all of the time.

    In my experience, though, it happens more than it should. And I’m saying that as one formerly grumpy, contentious trad myself, I think we should all think about the image we project to others and the way it affects them. Virtue has a way of attracting, whereas vice tends to repel. My observations are anecdotal, but that’s precisely my point: does the casual observer think you’re happy to have found tradition? Do you make him want to find out more?

    If the answer is “yes,” then excellent work. If you’ve found a trad parish where the people are great and the priest is too, that’s great news! They certainly exist. Just like the not-so-great ones do. Unfortunately for all of us Latin-lovers, the cranks have given us all a bad reputation, and it’s up to us to counteract it. It’s PR 101.

    The fact remains that there is an inherent bitterness in the traditional movement, and it’s rooted, as I stated from the outset, in real grievances. But we need to let it go. It suits us not in the slightest. It does nothing to advance our cause or win friends or advocates. Charity, charity, charity – it’s as much a reminder for me as it is for anyone reading this.

    So, if my suggestion that we need to lighten up, put on a friendly smile, and extend a warm and non-judgmental hand to others irritates you, well, I hardly see how that disproves my point.

  • Christophe

    Steve – your problem is your underlying premise, which you state plainly: “there is an inherent bitterness in the traditional movement.” I reject that, and so do most other traditionalists. If you have an inherent bitterness, that’s your problem. Don’t project it onto us.

  • Cheekypinkgirl

    People who are card-carrying members of the “Bitter Club” rarely see that they are bitter.

  • Patrigin

    I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about here… This seems to me like a good, old-fashioned challenge… Maybe we are so taken aback by the article because we are no longer challenged in this way. The challenge is a solid one; to become more charitable. It’s the kind of challenge Christ often proposed and one that should be considered seriously. There is always room for more charity, no matter what your liturgical pursuasion may be. It is the greatest of all gifts, more pleasing than any sacrifice.

  • TheOldCrusader

    there does not appear to be an inherent bitterness. That’s my anecdotal experience.

    Now, I’ve only been back in the church for about a year (after decades away), so perhaps my experience is atypical. Perhaps by being away from the front I was able to avoid the battle scars. But people seem quite friendly.

    Contrary wise, our priest mentioned a few weeks back that he had received a missive from a diocesean official telling him bluntly that our tiny parish misleads the people and that the official would do every thing in his power to put it out of existence. Now that’s sour – and petty – and vicious – and intemperate. Especially in light of Summorum Pontificum.

    It seems the low level persecution of the traditional rite is not entirely a thing of the past.

  • John Heun


  • Trad Mom

    We must really have nothing else to do if we have time to complain about each other. I don’t think you have to be a traddie to be a “sour faced saint”. What that quote, “you point out the splinter when you have a plank in your own eye.”

    Steve – did you really think that this post would do anything more than lead to pointing fingers at who is the worst sinner?

    And I don’t really remember anything in the bible about having to be pleasant. Christ said to love one another, but he didn’t say “be joyful, be cheerful, be nice, make lots of friends”. How about if we lose the 1960’s theology and pick up St. Thomas again.

  • meg

    Sorry Steve, I usually read your stuff with pleasure but this one pained me and I have to agree with Christophe and Susan Murray here. I believe you had the best of intentions, and of course we can’t know what IC edited out of your piece, but as published it opened us up to silly comments like the last one from Cheekypinkgirl.

    I re-read the piece. Here are some problem phrases (along with Christophe’s observation):

    “…in the company of individuals who, as often as not, seemed dour and judgmental….”

    “They spoke in effusive terms when they described their Mass, but appeared pained when they actually attended it. No smiles ever seemed to touch their lips…”

    “That joylessness became the traditionalist brand, and they spread it everywhere they went.”

    “…the attitude of many of the “trads” we encounter is often petty, conspiratorial, uncharitable, or out of touch with reality.”

    Maybe you were just trying to make a point, but “many”, “often”, “as often as not” “everywhere”, will leave the uninitiated thinking it’s the majority and may discourage attendence. Some seem to be misreading a “pained” or unsmiling expression during Mass as dourness. Many people I know, including my own mother, look somewhat “pained” during Mass, and never smile, because they are fully aware that they are there to witness a re-enactment of Calvary; keep in mind this level of holiness is usually borne of suffering.

    Also – Suzanne mentioned temperament. We would all do well to read up on this topic (Fisheaters has some good stuff). You will find the Latin Mass filled with cholerics and melancholics (that would be me). If there is a sanguine in the bunch, no doubt they’re married to a choleric or melancholic. These temperaments are given to us by God and all four have an upside and a downside. Lots of the criticism I read is simply a matter of temperament.

  • Brian Mershon

    Yes. Michael Davies. Commended to the mercy of God by the Pope. His writings complimented by the Pope. Who did he write for?

    Hmmm… Not that nasty Remnant? smilies/grin.gif

  • Cheekypinkgirl

    Trad Mom,

    NO, the Baltimore Catechism never taught kids to be pleasant or anything……….those words and pictures about putting on a happy face when working or doing something unpleasant? What about St. Therese and her example of happiness in the face of unpleasantries?

    Can you hear yourself? Defending being bitter and unpleasant? Hello self-caricature!

  • Patrigin

    @Trad Mom

    You stated the following:

    And I don’t really remember anything in the bible about having to be pleasant. Christ said to love one another, but he didn’t say “be joyful, be cheerful, be nice, make lots of friends”. How about if we lose the 1960’s theology and pick up St. Thomas again.

    Here is a passage which speaks of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23)

    It is a good introduction to these other passages in which God desires us to be


    I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)

    The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. (John 3:29)

    My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you

  • Greg Hessel


    I found the same problem with The Wanderer that I did with The Remnant…overwhelmingly negative and critical of everyone and everything.

  • Tomas TX

    After reading the article, which was great, and then moving on to the comments, I think some Interweb pranksters are coming here and pretending to be Traditionalists, to make them look bad. If I was tempted to doubt the reality of the dour, judgmental and negativie Traddies in the article, I could just look down at the combox and see them for myself. Talk about making your opponent’s argument for him!

  • freddy

    Thank you, Steve.

    I have the great privilege of belonging to an FSSP parish. The folks I’ve met here are so grateful to the diocese for its generosity and so excited to build a real parish. I wish you could have seen our group at the Life Chain last Sunday: young, old, families large and small, many of whom had “stuck around” after Mass for brunch before heading off to witness at the Life Chain. For us, the Mass has opened a treasure of grace that has inspired us to grow into a real community.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are still some folks who are bewildered and suspicious: the type who refuse to register for the parish because they don’t want the diocese to have their names on the secret list for the next Inquisition, or something. But you know what? They’re pretty easy to deal with. A bright smile, a little sympathy, a promise of prayers, and an offer of another cup of coffee and a doughnut (with sprinkles!) goes a long way!

    Finally, the crankiest person I’ve ever run into at Mass was at the N.O. We were heading to a bench and an usher tapped me on the shoulder and proceeded to direct us to the cry-room: an 8×10 box reserved for “families with small children.” He seemed visibly upset when we refused to go there, even though the children were making no noise, and in fact were quite good the whole time.

  • EF Fan


    Thank you for your courage to write the article. The ‘every other Trad but me’ tone of many comments does everything to prove your premise.

    Our family had a similar journey. We dabbled in the EF for a few years; going only on occasion when it didn’t interfere with other plans. Sad, I know. Within the last few years, however, we’ve been exclusively EF and would not have it any other way.

    I see the problem as this. There is a sense amongst the Traditionalists that they “own” the Extraordinary Form. Therefore, it is insufficient for one to simply attend that Mass. There is an expectation – sometimes vocal, sometimes silent – that one must also conform to a certain way of life. I’ve been on the receiving end of “your kids have an Xbox?!”, “you watch the Simpsons?!”, “Oh my, those shoes are fancy for Mass, aren’t they?”, etc. We are not a family of saints, but owning an Xbox and wearing open-toed shoes to Mass does not make us inherently evil.

    We’ve also attended several hospitality hours and weeknight gatherings with other EF parishoners. Perhaps it is just my parish, but all conversation inevitably turns into a gigantic bitch-fest about liberals, homosexual priests, and how the Church is never doing enough to promote the EF. I’ve stopped going to these events. Why? Because they began to make me BITTER!

    Yours Sincerely In Christ,

    EF Fan

  • Dave Pawlak

    Trad Mom (and others of like mind here):

    You want to go mano a mano with a saint who knew how to enjoy life (dancing with castanets during recreation, enjoying roast partridge)? And would you deny St. Philip Neri his joke book, St. Francis Xavier his card games, and St. John Kemble his last mug of ale and pipe? Or is the spirit of Cornelius Jansen still causing trouble among you?

    A truly traditional Catholicism includes joy and celebration as well as sorrow. Yes, the sacrifice of Calvary is made present at each Mass – an awesome thing. But also present is the Resurrection and Glorification of Christ, for it is His living Body we receive. The Spritus Mundi (Spirit of Vatican II) folks want us to be Shiny Happy People (an “Easter People”) without Calvary. That’s no excuse to go to the other extreme. I would refer you to Dr. Zmirak’s excellent works on how to party properly as a Catholic. They might do you good.

  • Steve Skojec

    Christophe, you wrote:

    Steve – your problem is your underlying premise, which you state plainly: “there is an inherent bitterness in the traditional movement.” I reject that, and so do most other traditionalists. If you have an inherent bitterness, that’s your problem. Don’t project it onto us.

    Christophe, I’ve been immersed in this movement for nearly seven years. I haven’t just gone to parishes, I’ve written extensively about it, stayed in contact with some of it’s most passionate advocates, and seen its effects on people who would otherwise be very sympathetic toward it. The bitterness is real, and it creates the strongest impression formed by traditionalists on the outside world. Of course it doesn’t apply to everyone, but like it or not, it’s what people think of us. We have a major reputation management issue on our hands.

    I wish there had been more thought leaders like Michael Davies, whom I have always looked to as a model. But what we got, it seemed, were mostly Chris Ferraras. Polemicists. People who were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

    As others have mentioned, the comments in this thread prove my point. This is constructive criticism coming from someone who loves and is involved in the movement, and has been on the receiving end of no small share of attacks from opponents of tradition. And yet, the best we can muster is to bristle and preen and say that it must be some other guy, because it’s certainly not us.

    If you’re a trad and you’ve never been angry at the way you’ve been treated, never gritted your teeth at the injustice you faced or talked disparagingly about those “Neo-Caths” during any point in your walk toward tradition, you’re better than I. Better than most people I’ve known who were drawn in too. I want to ask you to keep on keepin’ on, because it’s people like you that this movement needs. Ambassadors of good will to the rest of the Church, many of whom can’t figure out what we’re about or why they should be a part of it.

    Let’s face it – tradition isn’t the easiest thing to transition into if you grow up in the Novus Ordo. It’s alien, hard to follow, and can be pretty unappealing. If we add another barrier to entry by casting aspersions, either explicit or implied, why is anyone going to want to look any deeper than their already challenging first impression?

    Those of you who are involved with FSSP or ICK parishes have a leg up. You’ve got access to a lot of great priests, and great priests can set the tone. Younger generations of trads are coming to Masses without a lot of the same baggage, and they’re changing the face of tradition. And over time, I think we can become known as less contentious, more welcoming, and ultimately a mainstream force in the modern Church.

    But if you don’t think the traditional movement has, through the bad example of a sufficient quantity of its members, earned its bad reputation, you’re living in a fantasy world. It’s up to those of us who care enough to fix this image to do so. Maybe there really are more of us. Let’s prove it.

  • Mark V E Y

    What has happened to striving to be a saint? Should not this be the goal of every Caholic Christian? Why do we always seems to want to divide ourselves? Can’t we just agree on the essentials of the faith and get along? The variety of the disciplines and traditions within the Holy Mother Church should not be cast upon each other as if brawlers in a boxing match. The different traditions bring forth windows to the same redeeming sacrifice that we should all be thankful for, along with the saints and angels in heaven. These traditions should enrich one another and also serve as evidence that our Church truly is “Catholic.” These should never lead to uncharity and senseless judgementalism.

  • David L Alexander

    Steve’s article is an example of anecdotal experience. It is no more than that. It does not pretend to be the experience of everyone who ever attended a Traditional Latin Mass. It is simply HIS experience with attending it, what drew him to it, and what he had to overcome through the attitudes he encountered on the part of others. Unless anyone who takes offense is prepared to prove that he merely imagined what happened to him, they must be consigned to take him at his word.

    By the way, he’s not alone.

    My return to the “Old Mass” (and I’m old enough to remember serving for what was then just “The Mass”) was over a period of years. It was also despite the attitudes of those whom I encountered. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the whole bunch, if they’re loud enough (or SOUR enough, if you will).

    In the late 1950s, permission was granted to allow the faithful to respond to the priest from their pews in certain areas. This was the outgrowth of both the “Dialogue Mass” phenomenon that was used at the Low Mass, and the desire of at least three Popes named Pius who wanted the chanted Ordinary (the Kyrie, Gloria, et cetera) returned to the people. All this was already the norm for the High Mass when I was a boy. The people who sat around me when I first returned (most of whom could not have been BORN in 1962) did not know this, and were quick to admonish me. To this day, I have had to come down pretty hard in e-mail discussion fora, in which fellow listmembers elaborate on the mistakes they see priest make, to the point where ill motives are assigned.

    Read the comboxes of blogs like Rorate Caeli, and you will know the extent of the rancor. It is not enough to praise God for the recovery of our Catholic heritage. No, we must cast off the slightly-damaged 1962 version of the Missal, and return to the untainted body of work as used before the 1950s. Such is not limited to academic speculation. Oh, no, there has long been a conspiracy at work. And those who were nary a twinkle in their mother’s eye at the time, can attest to this as though they were standing right there.

    What’s that, you say? You want my bonafides? HAH! Got it covered.

    Thankfully, I found a parish that was relatively free of such discontent. I have been the senior Master of Ceremonies for this parish for three years now. I must have trained two or three dozen young men in both the Low and High Mass. I have assisted several priests — if only in very small ways — with learning the Mass. It is no mark of my own glory, but that of God alone, who placed me in a particular set of circumstances, which I could not have previously foreseen. I work with the finest priests of my diocese, and have seen two or three of our young men go on to continue their discernment, or study for the priesthood.

    None of the aforementioned opportunities would have been available to me, were I limited to the whiners among Catholic Traditionalists. No, not all are as I have described. I daresay most of them are not. And yet, those few who are, are loud enough, and persistent enough, to reflect poorly on the rest of us. Yes, “traddies” have been treated badly by the intelligensia of the Church infrastructure. But in case they haven’t ears to hear, the battle is won, and the enemy is scattering.

    Thus wrote the psalmist: “I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of the LORD, than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

  • Pre-VII Catholic

    It was mentioned earlier that not all of us are able to attend an EF so we try to read about traditional Catholicism online. Since we can’t see anyone’s face online, the angry, bitter ones use harsh words. People asking honest questions may be called heretics. People who say that they aren’t able to attend the EF are called “NOtards” and told we’re going to hell, the “NO” is the Devil’s work, etc. We’re told to stay home on Sundays and pray, and not to receive any sacraments in the OF because they’d illicit. We’re also told to get new jobs and move to be near an EF, as if that were a viable option for most people in this economy.

    So why go to trad forums? To talk with the nice people and to learn things from those who have something worth saying. A couple of friends and I have concluded that the three or four (one may be a sock puppet) meanest people in the forums are not really trads but agents provocateurs. We don’t know who they’re working for but it’s not Jesus and His Church.

    Trads with positive attitudes would be a great addition to all trad forums. I hate to imagine what people who don’t even know any Catholics must think when they encounter some of these “trads” online.

  • ED

    We drive an hour for the ‘Old Mass’ in part because of the beauty and sense of sacred but also because the priests are courageous and orthodox. Nevertheless, charity is oft lacking in the congregation. I know many of the traddies would rather skip daily Holy Mass rather than go to a Norvus Ordo. This I don’t get and I wonder if they realize that Christ and His 12 never celebrated the Latin Mass. My wife and I laughingly refer to the traddies as dreadfully serious.

  • Suzanne

    Steve – You keep repeating that you are “one of us” and that this is friendly fraternal correction from one “inside the ranks.” But when you say things like this in your article:

    No smiles ever seemed to touch their lips, and they would glare at women (like my wife) who would at times forget their chapel veils, or wear makeup, or fail to provide some means of instant corporal punishment at the first sign of a squirming toddler. In short, they had become terrified of novelty, and accustomed to betrayal, they had seemingly lost the capacity for joy.

    That joylessness became the traditionalist brand, and they spread it everywhere they went. From the condemning, anonymous masses who pass judgment on all things Catholic on forums like Angelqueen to the rantings of The Remnant; from propositions that the solar system is Geocentric to the pamphleteering Fatima Crusaders to the seemingly endless discussions on whether it’s ever appropriate for women to wear pants, the attitude of many of the “trads” we encounter is often petty, conspiratorial, uncharitable, or out of touch with reality. Sometimes, it

  • Janet Rocha

    I used to attend Mass in the fifties and thank God I have found a traditional Mass to attend after years in the the NO wilderness. What is shocking to me though is the dowdiness of the clothes that people wear to Mass.I know we have to be modest in our dress but when I was a child you wore your “Sunday Best” to Church. Parishoners in my working class Irish Catholic neighborhood wouldn’t have dreamt of going to Mass looking as though they had thrown on clothes bought from a charity shop. That seems to be a Protestant notion not a Catholic one.
    One thing that has upset me though,is that when I want to share my joy at discovering the traditional Mass with other Catholics,they look at me as though I have gone mad. One actually shuddered and exclaimed “Mass in Latin? Eek!” And she is a Catholic that goes to Mass every Sunday. To think that our Mass which was the norm for hundreds of years has now been marginalised to such an extent within the Catholic Church itself, may explain the “dourness” or perhaps sadness of the Catholics that have kept the flame and the faith with no encouragement from the Church for so long.

  • Hilary

    As someone who actually writes occasionally for the Remnant, I can say that I mostly concur with Steve (with whom I used to blog as part of the League of Evil Traditionalists). Trads are often a pain. There is a lot of truth to the adage: “The Mass we love for the people we hate”.

  • Steve Skojec


    You can call what I’ve said “self-righteous finger pointing” or you can call it “honest observation.” These are the characteristics and examples I’ve seen that make my point. They are the things that cause me to draw the conclusions I do. I used myself as an example in the first part of the article, and I used others as an example once I realized I was being an idiot and started seeing the behaviors more clearly.

    If you can’t see that what I am seeing, generalized though it is, is the truth in enough cases that it matters…well, then I can’t say anything that will help you.

    You’ll never see me setting myself up as an example. I am one seriously flawed individual. But I want to be better, and I want others to want the same thing. Getting past the denial is the first stage of recovery.

  • Tess

    Very interesting Steve,
    I have experienced the same at traditional churches,
    however there are 2 sides to it,
    both sides should be listened to.
    We should listen to newcomers at tradition & try our best to change & be kind, instead of puting them down all the time & being defensive.
    Our Lord is our model always, & He was “always kind & humble of heart.”
    Not always easy to live up to.
    However i think people are not so much joyless,but rather are in a state of shock at the church & the world.
    Also trads are seen as outcasts & not being in conformity with Rome, yet we still are under the Pope.
    Have a look at refugees & see how sad they can be, or a child who has lost their father.
    Something that is very hard to get over.
    So if we can go to mass to be with Our Lord & not worry about the community, it is best. It is something that just seems to go with tradition.
    I prefer to go to mass & not expect anything from the people in any way.

  • Cranky Trad

    Mr. Skojec, how you an “insider” with bona fides to criticize if you reject the Message of Fatima and traditional Catholic modesty?

  • Suzanne

    Steve — I said in my post that I DO see what you are seeing. And, I AM a guilty party. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that, either. But if you sincerely want to reach hearts and change them, the approach you used above does. not. work. Now, if you just wanted to vent, that’s a different matter completely.

  • Eric Jones

    Count me among those who disagree with this article.

    When I converted, I expected that most Traditionalists would be saints, out of necessity if nothing else. Many are, maybe even most, and I am sure it is much easier to save one’s soul as a Traditional Catholic than under any other “banner” -but we’re all human, and we all have original sin, so the proportion of sinners is high as well. It’s easy to give into our human nature, to be a bit dour and treat the faith more like a duty than a joy: think of soldiers on the retreat slogging through knee-deep mud on a rainy afternoon. They might know intellectually that their retreat is tactical and the general will launch a massive counter-attack which will erase the present reversals and win the war, but that doesn’t make the actual retreat and the hardships it entails any easier. Living the faith is not easy, and it’s not all a happy-clappy affair with gorgeous sunshine, a beautiful church and a stellar choir that never hits a wrong note, a priest vocalizing in flawless latin, and preaching sermons that make you ‘feel so good,’ without ever offending anyone. That kind of Catholicism, in the 1950s, is what got us into this mess.

    If I wanted “Going My Way” -style worship, I’d go down to the nearest Protestant conventicle, where everyone smiles at you, shoves coffee and doughnuts down your throat, acts so darn happy to see you every Sunday, and becomes fast friends with you so that you’ll continue attending their sect. Catholics have it a lot harder than these people do -that’s just the plain truth of it. When you have a dozen children, you can’t always afford to bring a few plates of goodies for the after-Mass jollies. This is especially true when everyone *else* has a household the size of a small army, too. Many actions which the world might deem “austerities” are simply “necessities” for Trads: no mind-numbing TV, a conscious resistance to faddish and immoral pop culture, a deliberate counter-culturalism in asserting some wholesome culture to replace it, dressing modestly and decorously, which entails going out of one’s way in our times, when casual and sloppy is “in,” and so forth. For a devout Catholic, every day is a battle to conform oneself to Christ, and not to the Revolution. Is it any wonder, therefore, that not all trads are always smiling and happy? Yet, at the end of the day, they usually *are* happy, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Life is a valley of tears -it’s not all supposed to be given over to mirth, levity, and jesting. I personally do wish Catholics were a bit friendlier, because I’m not a great extrovert and so it’s hard for me to get to know people in a new chapel, but really, that’s only secondary -they’re there to worship God, first and foremost. They do it properly and well, and with every appearance of devotion. The Protestants and those who don’t take religion seriously may master the handshakes and chitchat, but they fail in the “worshipping God” department. As Latin-Rite Catholics, we have a religious obligation to attend the TLM exclusively, and any social considerations are completely secondary, deficiencies therein being quite understandable, given the circumstances.

    And for the record, I was also one of those dozen or so who used to blog in connection with the “Evil Traditionalists.”

  • J. Christopher Pryor

    The radical Trads have replaced the faith with their politics on women, distributism and Holocaust denial. Traditionalism/Perennialism replaces Christian Charity with human pride, just as modernism does.

  • Aaron B.

    We don’t seem to have many of these “joyless trads” at my Latin Mass (FSSP) church either. But I realize they exist, and Steve explained why they exist. There are very good reasons: they’ve been ridiculed, ignored, criticized, and robbed for decades. In many dioceses, even after Summorum Pontificum, they’re still being treated as schismatics and troublemakers. The surprising thing isn’t that they’re bitter; it’s that they stuck around at all.

    Is it a shame, especially if their joylessness scares people away? Yes. Is it perfectly understandable? Yes. Are they going to change, and suddenly feel like their faith isn’t being threatened anymore? Probably not. I suppose it’s up to younger and newer trads to be the welcoming ones who show curious newcomers that the stereotypes they’ve heard don’t apply to the majority.

    However, I also think sometimes people see the joylessness they expect to see. I’ve seen comments other places from people who said they attended a TLM and were put off because no one (the ushers taking up the collection, for instance) smiled during Mass. Why on earth would anyone be smiling during the re-presentation of the Sacrifice at Calvary? Outside or in the hall before or after Mass, sure, but during? People who have been attending too-casual new Masses need to realize that just because we’re not grinning through the traditional Mass, that doesn’t mean we’re joyless or unfriendly. It just means we understand it’s a serious occasion. Come to the hall after Mass and you’ll see plenty of smiles and laughing.

  • David L Alexander

    “Mr. Skojec, how you (sic) an ‘insider’ with bona fides to criticize (sic) if you reject the Message of Fatima and traditional Catholic modesty?”

    As to Fatima, the writer took to task a specific Fatima apostolate, one that has not been without controversy. As to “traditional Catholic modesty,” if this is what you’re talking about …

    “No smiles ever seemed to touch their lips, and they would glare at women (like my wife) who would at times forget their chapel veils, or wear makeup …”

    Wow, he doesn’t like it when people glare at his wife. And she’s wearing makeup, much as women of social standing have done for centuries. (That’s right, boys and girls, makeup is older than flapper girls of the Roaring ’20s!) This is where he attacks modesty? Give me a break!

    Personally, I recommend attending Mass at a place where they don’t check your bonafides before they let you in. But I guess some guys can’t be too careful.

  • Lisa

    Read the “stoning” for yourselves…

  • Cranky Trad

    Mr. Alexander,

    Catholics have traditionally considered the wearing of pants by women to be immodest. This is still the view of most so-called “traddies.”

    Mr. Skopjec’s hit piece refers disparagingly to “Fatima Crusaders […] seemingly endless discussions on whether it’s ever appropriate for women to wear pants.”

    Our Lady of Fatima warned that many souls were falling into Hell as a result of immodest fashions. Mr. Skopjec indicates disagreement with traditional views on modesty. He, therefore, should not pretend to be a “traddie” with bona fides to criticize as an insider.

    Certainly, no such bona fides are needed to assist at the Mass Immemorial. I would encourage you to do so and to wear the appropriate “wedding garment.”

  • Magistra Bona

    Thanks for the article, Steve. Thanks also to several trad couples and individuals who encouraged and supported me in my first few years as a Catholic convert. At that time, we all were blessed with the ministry of a faithful priest who offered the only approved TLM we had: the Dialogue Mass. From 1994 to 2005, we were served by non-trad diocesan priests–still offering the Dialogue Mass. In late 2005, our bishop offered us a priest from the Inst. of Christ the King to do the TLM. Immediately, we experienced the ‘high’ of having the fullness of the Holy Mass according to the 1962 Missal; and also the ‘low’ of divisiveness and hate which characterized some of our trads who came with the arrival of that priest. It has been division and conflict ever since. Some trads are content to receive the blessing of the 1962 Mass without wanting to share it with or spread it to others. Some are trying to ‘come in from the cold’ of schism and excommunication. But some of them don’t really like the Church over which Pope Benedict XVI rules. They don’t like him. Their leaders give lip service, but they are waiting for a separate prelature so that their people do not have to mix with, tolerate, or value the other 1.6 billion Catholics on the planet. Their attitudes will die with them. The Holy Mass, in either the Extraordinary or the Ordinary form, belongs to the whole Church. It is our treasure, and it was there before FSSP or the Institute were erected because it was never abbrogated. And, thanks be to God, it will be there long after the bickering and finger-pointing is over (my own included). The Holy Mass is pure, undefiled, and rises high above any controversy surrounding It. It is Christ with us, truly present, and beloved. Go to Mass. Stick around when it’s over. Irritate people with your mere ‘insufficiently traditional’ presence. People who adore and cluster around the Blessed Sacrament, regardless of what is or is not on their heads, really upset the Devil. Be a nuisance, and praise the Lord!

  • Brian Kopp

    I wrote about the “victimhood” aspects of trad behavior a while back. It seems appropriate to bring it up in the context of this article:

    Malfeasance, abuse, victimhood – and the rocky relations between Rome and the SSPX

  • T.

    I just wanted to say, Mr. Skojec, that your article makes me think better of Traddies, and more inclined to look into the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. One of the reasons I am wary about it is that many of the Traddies I’ve met ARE self-righteous, but the thoughts you, as a representative Traddie, expressed in this article go a long way towards changing that reputation. Thanks!

  • H Karlson

    And they begin with a fascination with the East, and the Divine Liturgy. “It’s beautiful!” Then, slowly, they try to change the Liturgy. It’s not right — what, no filioque?! Heretics!

    The sad fact is many people who are discouraged in the world look for some sort of scapegoat for their disappointment and anger. Many Catholics have used the Liturgy for it. And this type will often go to “traditional” forms of the liturgy (Latin or Eastern), and slowly their discontent comes out again. This is the type which is all out attacking everything which is different, and the kind many of us have encountered.

    Many others, to be sure, are not like this. But we have to understand the most vocal people, the ones people associate with traditionalists, are the ones who are using the liturgy to excuse themselves from their own spiritual advancement. The lack of charity comes from their own inner spiritual demons. And it is this, I believe, Steve rightfully is pointing out as a problem, but it really has nothing to do with traditionalism or Catholicism as much as the inner demons using a good to further pervert the soul. It is also for this reason that I do not believe if liturgies the world over became as beautiful and glorious as possible, the spiritual crisis we see around us will be solved. The crisis is much deeper than liturgy, and the liturgy is being used to cover up that problem.

  • Christophe

    Inside Catholic does these hit pieces on “radical traddies” every couple of months. So I guess around December, it will be someone else’s turn (Mark Shea?). The dialogue will go something like this:

    Inside Catholic blogger: “Traddies are a bunch of bitter, uncharitable, knuckle-draggers.”

    Traddie respondent: “You are an idiot.”

    Inside Catholic blogger: “See, I told you traddies are a bunch of bitter, uncharitable knuckle-draggers.”

    Besides the obvious animus, I think Inside Catholic does this just to drive up web traffic. Surely nothing else is read as much.

  • Cranky Trad


    You expose the hypocrisy of anti-trad critics. Accusations of bitterness are formulated such that any attempt at rebuttal is brushed aside as further evidence of bitterness. Important issues are sidelined by ad hominem attack.

    The restoration of traditional Catholicism threatens the Novus Ordo experiment, so one can certainly understand the apprehension. However, in fairness, I would request that critics present arguments in a spirit of open debate that does attempt to preemptively delegitimize any trad response.

  • Dale Price

    Whenever I’ve worshipped at the Extraordinary Form, I and my family have been treated pretty well, even with the excitable rug rats enjoying new dilithium crystals. But, yeah, joy seems to be a *bit* absent–I find it hard to believe that St. Teresa of Avila would approve.

    Though it’s not as absent as it is in the internet trad community. There are good folk in the Tradinet, but the vicious quotient is much worse. Not quite concentric circles in a Venn diagram, but plenty high enough to register on a Geiger counter.

  • Aaron B.

    It’s funny that he mentioned women wearing makeup, because I’ve heard that one both ways. Some say trads get mad at them for wearing makeup, while others claim trads say women should always be made up to look their feminine best. Maybe we need a newsletter or something so we can get our angry trad demands on the same page.

    It occurs to me that it’s pretty common for the most unpleasant members of a group to ‘represent’ that group in the minds of outsiders. So anti-war people get represented by an idiot like Michael Moore, people concerned about the environment get represented by anti-human radicals like PETA, and so on. Especially when there’s already the stereotype that serious Catholics are sex-obsessed party poopers (look what they’re doing to Christine O’Donnell for mentioning Church teaching on the solitary sin years ago), it’s only going to take one meeting with an angry trad — or one that’s just having a bad day — to convince them, “Yep, figures that’s how they’d be.” In the meantime, they might meet plenty of pleasant trads, but because they don’t reinforce the stereotype, they’re passed off as not really representative.

  • Aaron B.

    Also, for what it’s worth, there are just as many my-way-or-the-highway types at the new Mass; they just don’t have much to be angry about because they’re currently getting their way. But go into their parishes and tell them they have to start using some Latin again (like Vatican II says) or stop using so many EMHCs, and watch the claws come out.

  • Mark Duch

    I don’t attend a TLM (I’ve been to one, a low mass), but you might call me a sympathizer. With that said, I’ve got to ask whether this article is serious. Would you go up to a holocaust survivor and ask them to perk up? Would you ask the husband of a 9/11 victim to get over it already since it’s been 9 years, after all?

    Mr. Skojec, perhaps you ought to be telling yourself to show love to the traditionalists. They are the ones who have been through a “holocaust” and have seen their towers fall. You are admittedly a late-comer. What have you been through that justifies telling the Vatican II survivors to essentially “get over it?”

  • Mark Duch

    ^^ Internet combat doesn’t count.

  • meg

    I think I just reached overload on this “joyfulness” thing. We “trads” get judged on lots and lots (and lots) of things – but the level joy we express? Seriously?! Now I have to worry about the quality of my smile, if enough teeth are showing, if my eyes are twinkling, if I’m luminous enough to convince my fellow Mass-goers that I have the appropriate level of joy? And that if I fail to express my joy to some unstated standard, I may be personally responsible for discouraging someone from attending the Latin Mass? Can we get some perspective here?

  • Dale Price

    Traditionalists have certainly been subjected to injustices and taken more than their share of lumps and insults, especially at the hands of clerics and diocesan bureaucracies.

    But comparing them to Holocaust survivors and family members of those butchered on 9/11? Really?

    The cult of victimhood and me-too grievance-mongering has become universal, if these are the “analogies” that leap to mind.

  • Mercury

    I just want to speak up and say that I am one of those people who would really love to experience the ancient liturgy, but many of the attitudes I have experienced and read about online make me very afraid to approach the Tridentine Mass.

    I suffer from scruples, and from OCD (not discalced Carmelites smilies/smiley.gif ). The fervent beliefs in the extreme fewness of the saved, the emphasis on God’s wrath, the extreme ideas of modesty (which are not ‘traditional’ at all in a Catholic sense), the judgment, the venom, the bigotry against Jews and Protestants (and “Novus Ordos”), and the constant accusations of heresy I’ve seen online make me very afraid of approaching a TLM here in New Olreans where I live.

    I just think that meeting these kinds of people in real life would play directly into my suffering with despair, lack of trust in God, and scrupulosity.

    I’ve had to stop reading over at the CA forums because of all this. I am in constant fear of God, so afraid to trust him. I’ve had trads tell me that God punishes unmarried men who do not want to be priests. I’ve heard how we’re all going to hell.

    Thank you Steve, John Zmirak, and other people who show that such an attitude must not coincide with traditional liturgy and devotion.

  • Mercury

    Oh, and lest we forget the fanatical prophesying and extrapolation based on private revelations …

  • Glenn M. Ricketts

    I’ve raised this point in previous posts when the liturgy and “traditionalists” were under scrutiny, but I think it fits in here as well. I’m one who is aesthetically very much in tune with the TLM, but I actually attend one perhaps once in 3-4 years, on average, because of logisitics, a feeling of obligation to serve in a parish and hostility at the diocesan level to those requesting the old rite. Even the mention of Summorum Pontificum can make some people, especially clergy who otherwise smile all the time, remarkably angry. I’d argue, though, as Aaron did just above, that there are many liturgical refugees at the parish level who have sought a more “traditional” style of worship – as centerist “conservatives” keep assuring them current norms allow – who regularly get the door slammed in their faces. Has anyone here tried, as I’ve often done myself, to request that the NO be celebrated in Latin with chant, polyphony, etc.? In my experience, the hostile clerical/liturgist response is indistinguishable from the same in regard to the old rite of Mass. Or how about the Gregorian chants you can find – based on Paul VI’s little booklet Jubilate Deo from 1974 -in most mainstream Catholic hymnals? Yes, it’s there, but have you ever tried to persuade pastors or the average music director to actually incorporate them into the liturgy? Things can get very unpleasant very quickly when you do. Not always, but certainly most of the time, in my experience. I used to make the mistake – not thinking that it would be a mistake, of course – of citing to pastors and liturgists the fact that John Paul II, very early in his reign, had acknowledged the “rightful aspiriations” of those who missed the celebration of Mass in Latin, and indicated that it was perfectly normal and legitimate under the NO. Well there we are, I thought. So much for those several priests who had told me that it was now absolutely forbidden to celebrate Mass in Latin under any circumstances. Yes, then I actually tried to follow up and collided with the actual situtation on the ground, whether at university Catholic centers or in any number of parishes. As I noted in a previous post, I actually once got into VERY big trouble for teaching my second grade CCD class the Divine Praises in English: ours was a “Vatican II” parish, and we didn’t do “that kind of stuff.” So while I can agree with Steve Skojec, Mark Shea and others who write regulalry about the bitterness and lack of charity among some traditionalists, I’d suggest to them that those unfortunate defects are very easy to find in the average “nicer” suburban parish. And while I hope I haven’t been as crabby and miserable as the people they mention, let me tell you that this kind of thing does get you down.

    Things are slowly improving, especially under the leadership of Benedict XVI, but there is still a pretty good-sized mess to clean up. Messers. Skojec and Shea, to my mind, downplay the liturgical travails at the parish level. We can certainly lament the type of “traditionalist” provincialism and hypercritical hostility which they describe, but I think both of them also forget how very bad things have been, and still are.

  • Cranky Trad


    If you heard online that God punishes unmarried men who do not want to be priests, then you are probably the victim of a hoax carried out by a cruel impostor.

  • Dan

    Demons, spiritual dangers, psychopathology, charachter flaws and the settled patterns of the early schismatic parishes all probably have a part to play in the morose Latin Mass communities. I have seen enough of it in the EF masses I have been attending since the mid 80s when I was in my early 20s. It is definitely getting better, however, and Steve’s article can help. Living in a City, my parish has had these issues from time to time but is mostly described as welcoming. I don’t agree that this is Protestant or a sign of lack of recognition of the Eucharist. My first overwhelmingly positive experience of the latin mass was St. Nicholas Du Chardenet in Paris in 1987. The congregation was a nice mix of the dowdy, the chic, the family with the large brood of children, the intellectuals, the monarchists, the subsidiarists, etc. This Lefebrist parish seemed open to the world, welcoming to visitors, and serious about its Faith. I have no doubt that this is where the EF communities are heading, even if a few of the scolds are driven to distraction.

  • Cranky Trad

    Mr. Price,

    You are telling Catholics that have watched their institutions wreck-o-vated by heartless officials for more that two generation that they should just get over it?

    Many parents and grandparents who trusted the liberal reformers now grieve at the loss of their offspring to the Faith. Lest you forget, immortal souls a stake.

  • Mark Duch

    I am not comparing the plight of traditionalists to that of holocaust survivors, but wondering if Mr. Skojec would treat the latter as he treats the former. It is not a scandal to treat the victimized as victims. By your standard, we should show no preference to the fatherless or the widow, lest we play into their desire to “play victim.” That is not Christ’s standard. We should be standing up for traditionalists, precisely because they have had things taken from them. It doesn’t have to spark the same moral outrage as the holocaust or 9/11, but some of these folks have had the means to practice their spirituality taken from them. The violence, while it has not caused death, has been nonetheless spiritual and symbolically physical. So, yes, my comments are serious, even if you do not understand or sympathize with them.

  • JZmirak

    Dear Mercury,
    I really appreciated what you wrote:

    suffer from scruples, and from OCD (not discalced Carmelites smilies/smiley.gif ). The fervent beliefs in the extreme fewness of the saved, the emphasis on God’s wrath, the extreme ideas of modesty (which are not ‘traditional’ at all in a Catholic sense), the judgment, the venom, the bigotry against Jews and Protestants (and “Novus Ordos”), and the constant accusations of heresy I’ve seen online make me very afraid of approaching a TLM here in New Olreans where I live.

    I struggle with the same difficulties, though my readers will think I’ve beaten them long ago! I can highly recommend the Latin Mass at St. Patrick’s in the CBD in New Orleans. By some weird quirk, it kept the Latin Mass going all through the 70s and 80s, before papal permission but without any diocesan sanctions. Perhaps as a result, or perhaps just because it’s New Orleans, the congregation is a cheerful, diverse, welcoming bunch. So please make a point of going there!

    And all the other readers who profess themselves “scared off” from the Church’s historic liturgy: Thicken your shell, get a missal, and try it. Don’t GO to the coffee hours, don’t mix with people you dislike. Eat, Pray, Leave.

    God bless!

  • Mark Duch

    Before you attempt to be clever, Mr. Price, with a “Oh yes you did compare them” accusation, I would suggest that you re-read my first comment. While I did analogize the plight of traditionalists to that of holocaust survivors, I made no attempt to compare the weight, gravity or seriousness of their plights. The ultimate comparison in my statements would be the treatment of Mr. Skojec of a victim, regardless of his/her plight.

    It is a common rhetorical or analytical device to make statements such as “This is our Alamo,” implying that the “line must be drawn here,” without implying that whatever you’re fighting about is important as the Texas War of Independence.

  • Dale Price

    You are telling Catholics that have watched their institutions wreck-o-vated by heartless officials for more that two generation that they should just get over it?

    How did you derive that from *anything* I said? Seriously?

    The lead sentence could be read otherwise, for starters:

    “Traditionalists have certainly been subjected to injustices and taken more than their share of lumps and insults, especially at the hands of clerics and diocesan bureaucracies.”

  • Dave Pawlak

    May I point out an article by Fr. Anthony Cekada?

  • Bender

    When one is pushy to the point of being obsessive, is it any wonder that he receives a less than enthusiastic response?

  • Dale Price

    While I did analogize the plight of traditionalists to that of holocaust survivors, I made no attempt to compare the weight, gravity or seriousness of their plights.

    Then it’s a horrible analogy. Truly awful. Full stop. No, seriously. Just about any other analogy involving trauma would be better than a comparison to calculated mass murder. Even the comparison to being widowed or orphaned is a clunker.

    I don’t know–battered wife, victim of emotional abuse or neglect, post-traumatic stress disorder–whatever. Any of those is better–and holds a glimmer of genuine truth. Not to mention avoids the danger of trivializing events of calculated mass murder or death of family. No, I can’t really sympathize with that. That you were displeased by being called on it is not my fault.

    The thing is, I want the EF to spread and I *do* sympathize with traditionalists who had their patrimony torn away by a generation of heedless and often cruel revolutionaries who did their damnedest to say “goodbye to all that.” But, sadly, some traditionalists overplay a good hand and squander that sympathy with a curious mixture of bullying and self-pity. That there is a growing love of Tradition is proof of the providence of God and His inexhaustible grace, and too often happens in spite of the worst efforts of Tradition’s standard-bearers.

    Oh, and for traditionalists inclined to fling darts: to save time and pixels, please note the conditionality of the condemnation. No, I don’t remotely think *all* traditionalists have this mindset. Thanks be to God, I know many who do not wear this mentality.

  • Mercury

    Thanks, Mr. Zmirak. I think my grandparents were married at St. Patrick’s, though I’ve never been there. I’ll check it out.

    And thank you and Steve Skojec and many others who write for this blog that the love of traditional liturgy, devotion, and spirituality must not coincide with being a jerk.

    Seriously, I’ve seen Fulton Sheen and Fr. John Hardon decried as “Modernists” by some

  • meg

    Would you tell a war veteran, whose war you didn’t fight in, to “get over it”? Of course not – and it was a war (still is in some ways). Lives may not have been lost but many, many souls were. Mark Duch makes a good point. We that are fairly new to the Latin Mass should not be telling those who were in the trenches when they should move on. It’s not appropriate and actually kind of uncharitable.

  • Dale Price

    Would you tell a war veteran, whose war you didn’t fight in, to “get over it”? Of course not – and it was a war (still is in some ways). Lives may not have been lost but many, many souls were. Mark Duch makes a good point. We that are fairly new to the Latin Mass should not be telling those who were in the trenches when they should move on. It’s not appropriate and actually kind of uncharitable.

    Where did I say this, meg? Where? Quotes, please.

  • meg

    Sorry – wasn’t clear. I was offering an analogy to support Mark Duch’s point, not accusing you of anything. I think his point is a good one and illustrates one of the flaws of this piece.

    Steve Skojec is a great writer and friend of tradition but he made some missteps here. First by using the language of our strongest critics to describe “problem” trads; secondly, and ironically, by opening us up to more of the same harsh accusations, judgementalism and taunting that he says lots of trads give non-trads. Thirdly, as per Mark Duch, he says “we” – meaning trads in general – need to move on now, presumably including those who were in the trenches back in the day. This wasn’t an “insider to insider” piece – it was an insider to the whole wide Catholic world piece. I’ve already said, but it’s worth saying again, I believe he had the best of intentions. But this thread went down the same road all the others of this type do.

    In the realm of church-going Catholics, traditionalists are out-numbered by, what, 10,000 to one? Rough estimate. A very small percentage of that small number are problematic – a tiny number of people in the grand scheme. But one of the problems these types of articles create is that people will now go into the Latin Mass *looking* for scowls and unsmiling faces (which you will find anywhere you’re looking for them). They are also lead to really nasaty websites that are not representative of the average, in my experience, lovely, devout person who attends the Latin Mass.

  • Christine

    Hi Steve,

    I think you did a great job with the article and i think that many here might be a little more charitable in their comments about you if they had read your previous articles and their subsequent commentaries.

    I have always been open to the Latin Rite, and I believe most faithful Catholics are open to this Mass as well. I believe that most faithful Catholics are also open to The Anglican Rite and the Eastern Rite. All of these beautiful masses are expressions of Worship that our Lord finds so pleasing.

    I used to feel anger at the occassional nutcase that darkens the comboxes of websites where the faithful congregate to cast doubt in the minds of your average Catholic trying to make their way to heaven (myself included) on the beauty of the Latin Rite by their anger and (sorry folks) what seems to be their Pharisaic pride in their refusal to acknowledge the validity of other Rites considered valid Masses to Holy Mother Church (especially the ubiquitous NO). I now feel pity for them, because they fight with very people who are both their allies in this present darkness and their brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Most of the people who read IC are not your typical Moonbats who are Hell-bent on destroying the Church, but rather they are wonderful people who love Christ and His beautiful Bride, the Church. Why do we argue about the Truth? I guess that is the question you are asking in this article and I, for one, am glad that you have “seen your splinter” whilst others don’t examine the plank in plain view.

    I have been reviewing my splinters and planks and have come to realize that my soul’s garden needs weeding. Why then do I get so surprised when I find weeds in others’ gardens? Why am I surprised by the reactions I get when I acknowledge both the existance of the weeds in my own garden AND the weeds in others’?

    You have struck a deep chord here, Mr. Skojec, and I am proud of your courage. Fight the good fight. I will pray for you smilies/wink.gif

  • Catholic

    One thing I’m noticing here time and again is that people are basing their arguments on two things: emotions and experience. Both are relative and get discussions like this no where. This whole LOOOONG thread has descended into petty and bitter quibbling because of it. Other discussion threads on this site have seen much more level-headed, intelligent discussion that actually proves edifying. It seems that discussions that center around liturgy make it impossible for people to be level-headed. That’s my two cents.

  • Mark Duch

    Then it’s a horrible analogy… I don’t know–battered wife, victim of emotional abuse or neglect, post-traumatic stress disorder–whatever. Any of those is better…

    No, it isn’t, not for the point I’m trying make. What I’m saying is that what happened to the TLM, was a massive, wide-scale, all-encompassing event(s) that ripped spirituality away from a very large group of people at one time. It was orchestrated by one group of people against another group of people. And Mr. Skojec is asking the victims to chipper up. I take issue with that.

    No, the analogy is just fine. It’s just either you can’t understand the difference between an analogy and a comparison, or you don’t want to. Meg, above, seems to understand it just fine.

    Best of luck. –Mark

  • Mark Duch

    One thing I’m noticing here time and again is that people are basing their arguments on two things: emotions and experience. Both are relative and get discussions like this no where.

    I completely disagree. First, emotions and experience are very important aspects of the liturgy, and they are very important aspects of who we are as human beings. So to say that they have no place in discussion or argument between human beings about the liturgy strains credulity. Second, Mr. Skojec’s article made the subject of this dicussion is about Tradionalist’s display of emotions and Mr. Skojec’s experience of that. So to say that they have no place in this thread is antithetical to the very subject matter at hand.

    Best, –Mark

  • Dale Price


    While I did analogize the plight of traditionalists to that of holocaust survivors, I made no attempt to compare the weight, gravity or seriousness of their plights.


    What I’m saying is that what happened to the TLM, was a massive, wide-scale, all-encompassing event(s) that ripped spirituality away from a very large group of people at one time. It was orchestrated by one group of people against another group of people. And Mr. Skojec is asking the victims to chipper up. I take issue with that.

    No, the analogy is just fine.

    “We’re just like Holocaust survivors and 9/11 families. Not as grave or serious, of course, except that it really, really is.”

    Please stop. Please. Dear Lord–it’s a horrible analogy. All over. You’re demanding an exalted victimhood status–martyrdom, really. The English Martyrs under Elizabeth, the Japanese Martyrs under the shoguns, Catholics martyred by the Communists–if they weren’t enjoying the Beatific Vision, they’d be cringing in embarrassment.

    By the way, as my wife pointed out–traditionalists have won. With Summorum Pontificum, Tradition been vindicated on every level. And a sincere thanks for keeping up the fight from the rest of us.

    Tradition is triumphant. Isn’t it? Yes, the usual suspects are trying to throw roadblocks up, but it’s a rearguard action. Stop comparing yourselves to people whose remains were ejected through smokestacks or whose throats were slit by fanatical Muslims. Yes, you were wronged, but not like *that* or those who were deprived of the sacraments in toto.

    Fine–you don’t have to be “chipper.”

    Just avoid the cringeworthy comparisons.

  • Sarah

    As someone who attends the english Mass most often (our family will occasionally attend the Latin), but whose parish has both forms, I found this article very interesting.

    Our parish in Indiana has both the English and Latin Masses each weekend. We have two priests, one who says both masses, one who says only the English (and is the vicar general for the archdiocese). We love the English Mass at our parish. The Gloria, Sanctus, Angus Dei, are all in Latin. There are only altar boys, and incense is always used. The congregation receives Eucharist kneeling at the communion rail (which was recently restored!)

    The TLM at our parish is wonderful too. Our priest is from the Confraternity of St. Peter. I have a somewhat different perspective, I think. Two of the families we spend the most time with attend the TLM, and they are very loving, fun, and charitable people. They are also under 35, and newer to the TLM (perhaps that is part of it? I don’t know.)

    Recently our parish had a big picnic for all the parishoners, and it was so wonderful to see people who attend the different Masses enjoying food and conversation together. Of course, there are so many large families in our parish (both English and TLM Mass families) that all of the kids loved playing together. I know there are TLM folks out there who may fit the description of the author, but it’s also so hopeful to know that there are really so many TLM folks who are not that way, especially among other Catholics who prefer a more traditional NO Mass, and are striving to live the faith.

  • Aaron B.

    It’s a bit soon to say we’ve ‘won.’ Many people are still driving hours to reach a weekly TLM on Sunday afternoon or a weekday. A parish in San Jose just lost its very popular TLM because the bishop and parish council decided they needed that time slot for a Portuguese Mass. Now 200 people will have to go down the road a ways to a 25-seat ICK chapel that’s already bursting at the seams with four Masses on Sunday.…be214e4113 (By the way, if you read that article, see if you can tell who sounds ‘angry,’ shouting down the priest at meetings.)

    When the diocesan seminaries all teach Latin again and train priests in the TLM so we actually have enough priests to offer the TLM to everyone who wants it, then we’ll have won. I do expect that to happen, since I think it’s necessary for the Church to survive as promised, but we’re not there yet.

  • Mark Duch

    “We’re just like Holocaust survivors and 9/11 families. Not as grave or serious, of course, except that it really, really is.”

    I’ve gone to some length to demonstrate to you that the above is not what I’m saying. I’m sorry that you feel the need to project that position upon me, but I will now look the other way. Like I said, best of luck to you.

  • Shin
  • Erin Manning

    Aaron B., you seem to be saying that the EF Mass is necessary to the survival of the Church. Do you think the Church consists, in the Roman Rite, only of those who attend the EF Mass, and that the Novus Ordo has to be abrogated for the Church to “survive as promised,” as you put it?

  • meg

    No rancor here, just curious.

    You reject the analogy but I don’t believe you’ve weighed in on the basic question: Do you think it’s appropriate for the author of this piece to tell trads, including those who fought in the trenches back in the day, to “let it go”?

  • meg

    Mark Shea, weighing in on Steve Skojec’s piece on the IC blog:

    “Every Traditionalist I know in real life is happy and full of joy”.

  • Aaron B.

    Erin, no and yes. As far as I know, the newrite is valid and people attending it are part of the Church. But I also think it is lacking greatly in how it teaches the faith (and the Mass is always the main source of that teaching for most Catholics), so I don’t think it could sustain the Church forever. So much damage has been done in just 50 years — not only by the liturgical revolution, but that’s in the forefront. I know how poorly I and my Catholic family and friends were catechized by the newrite, and if that continued for a few more generations, we simply wouldn’t be Catholic anymore. We wouldn’t even know what the word means.

    When clergymen like Cramner and Luther made their ‘reforms,’ they didn’t go next door and start new churches right away. They stayed in the Catholic churches and changed things, removing the statues and crucifixes, introducing the vernacular, replacing the altars with tables, taking out the sacrificial words in the Mass, and so on. At what point did the people in the pews cease being practicing Catholics? I don’t know the answer, and opinions differ on it, but at some point countries like Germany and England switched from being full of Catholics to being full of Protestants, mostly without the laity making a conscious choice.

    So yes, I think the Novus Ordo will eventually be abrogated, because it doesn’t transmit the fullness of the faith well at all, and if it remained the only rite for long enough, there wouldn’t be Catholics anymore. (You can learn the faith and be a good Catholic while attending the new right, of course, but it’s much more of a do-it-yourself-in-your-free-time project.) So I think the traditional Mass will become the normative Mass again — or the newrite will be reformed until it’s basically the same thing — but probably not until after the generational resistance to it has passed on.

  • Aaron B.

    I have no idea why this changed “new{space}rite” to “newrite” in my comment. Just wanted to mention that; that’s not some sort of slang slur for the Novus Ordo.

  • Opal


    I attended Latin Mass as a child in 1980’s in Cincinnati, Oh. I can not remember if it was NO Latin or Tridentine. The Mass was lovely, the Church was beautiful, the priests were excellent in character and wisdom. The regulars were hideous, mean, judgemental and just nasty. I can remember trying to pray as a 10 year old, and having the nastiest, mother come over and yell at my parents after Mass. She did not like that my parents clapped for the Opera singers, who chanted the Mass. She expressly told her children not to associate with us as my parents were not good influences. Apparently, the fact that my mother did historical tours in the Church (at the request of the priest. This was an old church) did not sit well with the “Traddies”. It was sacrilege or something. My mother and I always wore long dresses to Church, we always acted appropriately. I never, ever forgot how I felt as a child, I felt like I was pollution and I didn’t understand why. My parents insisted that I learn Latin, so that I could participate in the Mass. They seemed to do everything right. Oh, I forgot. They only child had one because of infertility. They didn’t advertise the infertility issue, so of course-they were obviously in mortal sin and didn’t deserve to be there….And yes, I was told that by a child of said nasty Traddie…

    When I left home for college, I had such an intense hatred for what I saw at that Parish. On the one hand, there were people obviously trying to ingratiate themselves into either the Traddy crowd or complain their way into the Non-Traddy crowd. Is is any wonder that I thought Catholics were the biggest group of Non-Jesus like hypocrits? I left the Church till years later.

    Now, I have a growing family of larger than average size. We are technically Byzantine and I love their Mass (although they have their own set of problems). We, in general, only wear long skirts, long hair, and long chapel veils. I am even discerning whether or not God is calling us to head coverings all the time. We do attend Latin Mass occasionally. We are learning real Latin via the online Classical Liberal Arts Academy. But I still have a deep seated emotional reaction to Tradionalist Churches. I have to get over it. I know that it not an act of Charity to even speculate on whether a particular parish or traditional Catholic is or is not judgemental. But in the same token, it is also necessary for traditionalists to notice that you are held to the highest standards. To those whom much is given, much is demanded.

    Last week, I went to pick up my daugthers at choir. A) I was wearing pants for the first time in months. B) I was in a bad mood and the choir director kept the kids for almost an hour extra, while I had 3 more little ones screaming in the car. I was not nice, when I yanked the girls out of choir. Trust me. I know that I undid in 20 minutes, 6 years of pleasant, kind, charitable behaviour. And since we are the skirt wearing, veil wearing large homeschooling family; everyone in the lobby noticed. My impatience and irritation was duly noted and certainly will not be forgotten because of who we attempt to be. I am sure that someone, somewhere is blogging about that nasty traditionalist, dress wearing, veil wearing, homeschooling mom and her bad temper. I deserve whatever is being said. I am a sinner. As the Byzantines confess before recieving Jesus, “Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned without number.”

    I believe that there is no one in any Catholic church anywhere who does not deserve whatever unkind thing is being said about them as an individual or a group. Offer it up in atonement for your sins and go about your day. While those who are not Traddies need to stop the knee jerk judgements, I think many Traditionalists need to stop and review their own behavior. I certainly had to stop and evaluate my behaviour this week and humbly realize that I did wrong. It was good for me. It hit me hard that you can’t dress the part, and play the part but not act the part all the time…

  • Mercury

    Aaron, please don’t use derogatory phrases like “newrite”. You may not like the “Novus Ordo” (itself used as a derogatory term), but there is no reason to use terms that disrespect it, and by proxy, those who attend it.

    I understand your concerns, but catachesis is a breakdown in the schools and in families, and this was never intended by anyone. New Agey, feel-good crap has been introduced everywhere, but it’s simply wrong to say ‘newrite catachesis’.

    I’d say that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is solid, but the problem is that most educators have been ignoring it. Previous generations of Catholics were catechized by their families and in schools. They might have had their sense of devotion shaped by the Mass (which the Tridentine rite certainly promotes much more effectively), but let’s remember that for much of history, especially since Trent, people went to Mass and listened to prayers in a language they had no knowledge of. Vernacular translations of the prayers in the missals, and even missals for the lay people, were relatively recent innovations.

    My point is that the traditional form of the rite certainly was more conducive to piety, but to say that’s where most people “learned” their faith may be a bit off the mark. My grandparents loved the older form, but they were delighted when they could hear the Mass said in English. We not only need to win back the liturgy, but also the schools and families.

    Here’s a question: What would have been wrong with just keeping the Tridentine liturgy and translating it to vernacular languages, like how it was with the Byzantine rite, the Melkite rite, the Maronite Rite, … or the original Roman rite?

  • Mercury

    And Opal, that was a beautiful post. How true your last paragraph is … how quickly we all jump to our own defense!

    I will confess that I immediately judged the “headcoverings all the time” line, and I am sorry. I associate things like that with the people you described in the first paragraph, and I don’t think you meant it that way at all.

    But that’s the problem – if you keep hearing what Mr. Shea calls the “Taliban” types trying to dictate what women must wear under pain of sin, then someone like you who is honestly exploring the question gets labeled in the wrong way. My immediate reaction was “oh no, I hope this woman’s not saying women who don’t cover their hair are sinning and displeasing God!” But that is not at all what you were saying.

    And I think it can be the same with liturgy. I’ll read someone singing the praises of the Tridentine rite and I almost immediately expect them to bash the Novus Ordo, Vatican II, Pope John Paul II (the venom for the late Holy Father among some is sickening), and them condemn everyone but themselves to hell.

    I know I’m speaking from my own sinfully conditioned and judgmental mind. But charitable behavior among people holding differing but legitimate opinions is so necessary, so Biblical, that no one should even have to mention it. And nothing does more harm to one’s own position than to lord it over others, and to be spiteful and full of venom.

  • JP

    I am one who has done a lot of liturgical work in an exclusively NO parish. I do not even have the option of attending an EF Mass.

    As one who has attempted to, at the very least, bring our celebration of the NO Mass to accord with the rubrics, I have been smacked around a bit. I know I am not alone.

    As I studied liturgy, I discovered the ‘agenda’ which up to that point I had only been vaguely aware of. I got the condescending looks when I argued about proper matter for Communion. I got them again when I said that Vatican II did NOT really change anything with regards to Church teaching, but that many practices were incorrect.

    At the parish level I got it from ‘my’ choir when I tried to teach them a hymn in Latin other than Adeste Fideles. Anything earlier than 1975 was suspect.

    And where were the priests? Trying to be ‘pastoral’ and keeping the flock dumb and happy.

    I could go on. I can see why some trads could be bitter. I know I’ve struck a few people in my parish as bitter. And I’ve only ever attended ONE EF Mass.

    We DO need to get over this. We must delight in the Lord. It is from Him we will find perfect joy. But some days it just doesn’t seem do-able.

  • meg

    In case Aaron B. is no longer reading this thread, I thought I should mention that after his last post, he posted again immediately, saying that he used the phrase “newrite” but when it was published for some reason it brought the words together into the word newrite. Now for some reason the correction is gone but the problem isn’t corrected.

    Also, I may be mistaken, but I believe the term Novus Ordo was from the original documents of Vatican II. I don’t believe it’s derogatory, unless you’re sensing a certain tone behind it by some posters. I use old Mass/new Mass myself and hope for the best.

  • meg

    It did it to me, too! It brought together the words “new” and “rite” when they were typed with a space. Above should read: …he used the phrase “new-rite” (without the hyphen) but they were published forming one word. Hope that’s clear.

  • Aaron B.

    Thanks, Meg. I don’t know why either, but I wrote “new” “rite” several times and it changed it to “newrite” on me, and I just knew someone was going to think that was a slur. It was nothing of the sort. Don’t know what happened to my correction, either.

  • Mercury

    Sorry then, Aaron. I know “Novus Ordo” is not just a derogatory term, but that’s how it’s often used. I really like how some people call non-traditionalists “Novus Ordos” as a personal insult. It’s used along with other such charitable terms as “Conciliarists” and “NeoCaths” with the meaning “not a real Catholic like me.”

    For people with a devotion to Latin liturgy, they should at least know that the plural is “Novi Ordines”

  • meg

    It’s silly and non-sensical to call someone a Novus Ordo. There are many extremists of *all* kinds on the internet (not just traditionalists). Even Catholic mothers offend each other right and left on blogs.

    I have a short answer to your question about using the Tridentine Liturgy in the vernacular (Aaron probably knows more than I). My understanding is that when the Novus Ordo is done the way it was intended to be done, it is quite close to the Tridentine Mass, including using lots of Latin. The problem is finding one done properly; it is quite impossible.

    Because Latin is a “dead” language the old Mass has been safe from tinkering. I’ve heard the English translations were poorly done; I feel poorly translated prayers lead to poor understanding by the faithful (and by priests, quite frankly), hence all the variation.

    The truth is, Latin is not a barrier at all once you get used to it. It is really quite beautiful and calming to listen to. Once you know how to get around in the missal you’re home free. I like my old broken-in missal, the feel of the pages and the leather cover, the unravelling ribbons to mark the pages. My mothers is stuffed with holy cards and handwritten notes; it’s like a spiritual dayplanner. I like feeling the 2000 years of the Church in the liturgy, it’s exceptionally comforting, and it deepens and enriches the Mass immensely for me.

    If they told me tomorrow that we could have the exact same Mass except in English, I’d say “no thanks”!

  • Mercury

    Oh I rather find Latin beautiful, but my point is that the idea of vernacular language itself being a barrier to proper transmission of Faith is silly. All Eastern rites have always been in the vernacular, for example. And the Roman rite was originally done in Latin because it’s what people spoke. No one thought of Latin as a sacred language at Augustine and Ambrose’s time, for example, it was just language. And I know many a good and pious person who grew up with the Tridentine rite but was glad to have it in English (though not so happy with certain other changes). My grandma used to watch the Latin (Novus Ordo I think) on EWTN and talk about how beautiful it was, but how she just didn’t understand the words.

    I’m a linguist by training, and I especially love complex ancient languages. Latin may indeed be helpful to my piety, and I can follow it easily. I’d love to see more of it brought back into the liturgy, but I think the focus should really be on cleaning up the Novus Ordo. That would involve actually following the rubrics, actually following Sacrosanctum Consilium, correcting the bad translations, etc.

    On another note, I think a big problem in the last few decades has not been the actual texts of the prayers, but the fact that people were not taught authentic Faith from the pulpit and in the confessional. I labor under no illusions that things were perfect in the past (I’ve heard of some crackpot sermons scaring the pants off people with private revelations), but it would be nice if priests talked about some of the more “forgotten” areas of faith in their homilies now and then.

  • Mercury

    “Latin may indeed be helpful to my piety”

    I meant to finish this sentence and say that it may be very unhelpful to foist Latin on everyone at this point. That would not really any more prudential than the decision to change it in the first place.

  • Admin

    Thanks, Meg. I don’t know why either, but I wrote “new” “rite” several times and it changed it to “newrite” on me, and I just knew someone was going to think that was a slur. It was nothing of the sort. Don’t know what happened to my correction, either.

    Hi Aaron,

    My turn to apologize. I saw your original correction, so I went in and changed the “newrites” to “new_rite,” then unpublished your note. But it appears that the comment software didn’t take my corrections either.

    Very sorry about that. I’ll add it to our fix list.

  • meg

    “Oh I rather find Latin beautiful, but my point is that the idea of vernacular language itself being a barrier to proper transmission of Faith is silly.”

    I wouldn’t use the word silly, because it has been a barrier, Mercury. Since it’s in the vernacular, priests can and do ad lib, all the time. So you have a bad translation (the new, better one has received *tons* of criticism and resistance) and then priests on the altar putting their own spin on things. This has lead to abuses. Is Latin absolutely essential? Maybe not. But it has done a marvelous job of keeping the Mass pure and protected. As I said before, since it’s a “dead” language, no one can tinker with it, and priests aren’t tempted to ad lib.

    “On another note, I think a big problem in the last few decades has not been the actual texts of the prayers, but the fact that people were not taught authentic Faith from the pulpit and in the confessional.”

    I totally agree – huge problem. Wish I had more time, I have lots to say here!

  • Mercury

    Like I said, not a problem with the vernacular language itself. I know that the translations need work and that the priests can mess with it. But to be fair, in the past, priests flubbed the Latin all the time and no one noticed. I’ve heard from many people that pre-Vat II, many priests mumbled through the whole thing very quickly. But since very few laypeople even knew Latin, it always “sounded holy” even though the priest could have been messing up.

  • meg

    Hmmm…mumbled? There’s a priest in our parish who says the low Mass so softly he can’t be heard. No one cares. We know the Mass and the rubrics, we are buried in our missals, thinking our own thoughts – contemplating the readings, making our own offerings, contemplating sins and sufferings…it’s lovely, really, but hard to understand from the outside, I guess. I don’t think that’s a valid complaint, but one that gains credibility only when compared to the Novus Ordo, which is more of a performance-style Mass (I don’t mean that in a disparaging way) with the priest facing the people and the people responding to him directly.

    As for “messing up”, that’s not what I meant by ad libbing, perhaps I used the wrong phrase. I mean when priests intentionally change the wording of prayers to fit their own ideas or personalities. The Latin Mass is so formal this would be very difficult to do; they know Latin but not in a “casual” way; as you know, it’s also a very precise language. Pre-Vatican II stories like yours abound because there were some problems, which helped lay the groundwork for the changes.

    If you prefer the Novus Ordo but wish it were more reverent, you would be doing a great service by trying to help implement some improvements. Many feel the way you do, and as you are a linguist, you would bring that to the table with you. I think those who labor to make changes in the Novus Ordo so it’s is more reverent are valient.

  • meg

    I should have said the priest is inaudible during parts of the Mass.

  • Mercury

    Changing the wording deliberately is not acceptable under any circumstances. Thank you for your kind words. I don’t know if I “prefer” the Novus Ordo … I never have attended the Tridentine rite, though I plan on it soon. I do think the Holy Father’s intentions are to reform the newer rite, or at least to make it what it was intended to be.

  • Maeve

    There’s that great book, “Why Catholics Can’t Sing” that traces at least one source of the question of why American Catholics don’t sing at Mass to the persecution of the Irish and the consequent influence in American by Irish clergy.

    I hear an echo here, perhaps along some of the lines pointed out by John Zmirak. To the Pioneer Trids, I say — thank you, a million thank yous — for what you did to keep the Mass alive. I am truly grateful.

    Now let’s get the joy back.

    To the Trad Mom, the source of whose edginess I cannot presume to know, I have to say that the t-shirt (though I’d never wear a t-shirt) I would like to wear when I (regularly) attend the Tridentine Mass would read, “I am not the enemy. Really.”

    Isn’t there some lyric by The Cranberries about still fighting the past wars? I wish it were not so, but I have repeatedly encountered what Steve describes and seen many of the same people working out some sort of accumulated anger in a host of other unrelated forums. As to temperaments, we’re all responsible for working with the one we’ve got. Could I cite as many or more parallels of ex-hippie radicals freaking out in the grocery line or DMV, citing all sorts of righteous principles? Sure. It’s just that when it comes to something as beautiful as the Mass, the shadows show deep.

  • Hidden One

    As to the first half of the comments, all I have time to read:

  • Sara

    Steve, I joined a FSSP church two years ago and agree with your article. There are some people who appear really stuck up and mean spirited toward Novus Ordo Catholics. They don’t seem to believe that a person who attends a post Vatican II parish can have an orthodox, devout prayer/faith life. I think that there are many Novus Ordo attendees who do have such a faith life. However, I think “mean” traditionalists are few and far between at my parish and most women (who I primarily encounter) are very happy and capable and pleasant and devout and any other number of positive attributes. I attend the parish because of the community there. It is smaller so you get to know a lot of people vs going to a church with 5000 families. I really enjoy having some late 30s to late 40 year old women as mentors, esp since my mother has passed on. They teach me a lot of practical and spiritual things. I like that everyone (because it is a narrow self-selected subset of Catholicism rather than the broad masses) seems to be pro-life and to practice the church teaching on contraception. I like the large families and all the children, esp since I do not have any of my own. We have doubled in membership since December, God be praised. Life is good.

  • Jane

    You wrote:
    “Can you imagine having the Mass that you grew up with taken away and replaced with something alien and unfamiliar? How do you think it would feel to be treated as though you are schismatic for simply clinging to the Catholicism of your youth? Would you appreciate being called a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a Pharisee for holding to your traditions and devotional practices? And how would you like to be marginalized, forced to drive 50 miles just to get to a Mass held at 1:30 in the afternoon in a parish that doesn

  • Pauli

    I could go on for pages with two types of anecdotes. The first type would be the great experiences I’ve had with the traditional Liturgy. The second type would be the horrible things I’ve heard from the lips of traditionalist Catholics. A lot of them come off like the most stereotypical Calvinists who believe in transubstantiation and say the Rosary.

  • Matt

    I’ve recently taken up reading about the Spanish Crusades. I am not expert, but when I think about your words about traditionalists, it seems that they could also apply to the pious, self-giving Catholics who gave their lives for Christ so that Spain would be Catholic and free. Perhaps they have something in common?

  • WSquared

    Thank you, Mr. Skojec, for writing this. I tend to lean traditional, myself, and I do love the EF. I wrestled a lot, internally, with the fact that I’d gotten used to attending the EF on a regular basis for many months, but when I married and had to move, I could only attend it once a month. Plus, I was just coming back into the Church at the time of my engagement: so much about the faith seemed on my plate at once, and I often felt I needed to play “catch up,” wherein I was definitely hiding behind the faith– including the EF– given that I was grappling with very visceral feelings regarding being ill catechized and how too much ground had been ceded for the sake of progressivism and the “Spirit” of Vatican II (er, progress and Spirit that does not move toward Christ, alas, is meaningless): I felt like I’d been “had,” and robbed, and I was certainly angry. And then, just when I felt as though I was finding my legs at the parish celebrating the EF, where the priest warmly welcomed me, I felt as though that had somehow been taken away from me, too, when I moved.

    But what the EF had taught me to do, especially given that I attended it on Sundays and the OF Sunday Vigil (so therefore EF and OF back to back), was to pray the Mass. Despite how little I knew, I knew enough to know that Summorum Pontificum didn’t pit EF against OF, and that one could appreciate and love them both. So I actually take my EF-honed sensibilities with me to the OF, which allows me to keep what is essential about the Mass in front of me, even if and when I do understand why the banality that tends to be par for the course at a lot of celebrations of the OF is problematic, both in terms of focus and theology. I have, after all, been to a Latin OF, and the OF with no music at all is more than fine with me. I essentially plug the EF into the OF and watch the Mass basically unpack itself. There, one learns to boil both Masses down to structure and essentials in terms of form and its nature as prayer, whereby one thinks about the OF also in terms of form and what, therefore, gets plugged into it like a liturgical jukebox, alas, and not about mere externals (i.e. Latin or not).

    Not being able to go to the EF every Sunday like I used to also helped me to step back with more detachment, so that I could root out some bad habits through prayer and Confession, to make sure that I was making it about God, and not me and my preferences, which is still a learning process. So in a very real sense, only being able to go once a month is a good thing vis-a-vis my relationship with God and others. But going once a month does enrich the way I pray the OF, and the way I read about and study the faith as well as pray. It’s taught me to not only be grateful for both the EF and the OF, but grateful for the Mass, period. It’s taught me more than I’ve ever known about Who Jesus Truly Is, and how big God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and therefore why Catholicism truly has a potent contribution to make. Catholicism is just bigger, period, because of Christ, and we are party to and instruments of that bigness if we remain in Him.

    So it’s more than a little tragic– one might even venture to say that it’s scandalous– that some people in areas where the Church is heavily persecuted have no Mass at all, and others risk Eucharistic Adoration at the price of imprisonment and losing their lives, and here, where we actually do have Mass, all we can do is bicker about the EF and the OF in ways that are not helpful (there are, however, some debates and discussions worth having– i.e. that re Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II did not somehow “ban Latin,” and that ad orientem does actually make sense, and can be implemented in the OF, too, wherein this is about the Truth and enabling people to see it, and not about what’s more “reverent” in a more aesthetic or tasteful sense: reverence has to have its ultimate ends, after all: Jesus). Satan may hate Latin, but he also loves it when Catholics fight among themselves, wherein our smarmy attitudes hide the true richness of the faith from ourselves and others to whom we’re supposed to bear witness. The thing is, the hermeneutics of rupture can and does cut both ways: both in a romanticized tradition for the sake of tradition and an equally romanticized progress for the sake of progress, both of which forget or forsake their ultimate orientation.

    Loving the EF should help us bear effective witness by strengthening us, not give us an excuse to form some self-righteous Catholic bubble of our own making, whereby the EF is our “thing” and our “possession” that the barbarians outside the gate had better not touch. It is a good thing to love tradition, because Catholic tradition lays out more clearly who we are by virtue of Who Christ is. But our marching orders, as per Vatican II, are still Lumen Gentium. As a very wise priest once told me regarding my love for the EF, loving the EF and Catholic tradition is a gift; these are all gifts. And part of loving a gift is sharing it. Many a saint, after all, has warned us that without love, faith dies.

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