Trads Squabble Over Numbers
England’s Dr. Shaw appears incensed here over America’s Monsignor Pope’s article there. For the life of me, I don’t understand why Dr. Shaw sounds so thunderous. Clearly Monsignor is just feeling a bit down.
I think the old belief that if all Catholics saw how beautiful the Traditional Rite was, they would flock in their thousands, was utterly naive.
First of all, most Catholics don’t go to Mass at all. If they go, they go for C&E and are out the door before the last notes of the final hymn have faded away. Duty done (or so they think)–toodle-oo!
Second, those who do go to Mass are stuck in their ways and really do enjoy the rhythm of the three hymn sandwich. They enjoy seeing the same faces in the parking lot and in the hall afterwards for coffee (if applicable). A number of White Anglo-Saxon Catholics in my native Toronto are post-1969 converts from Protestantism, and so the Novus Ordo may remind them comfortably of the male-led Protestant services of their youth. If they’re like my mother, they enjoy belting out the hymns, many of which they belted back in their Protestant days.
A MIGH-TEE FOR-OR-TRESS I-IS OUR GOD
DA DA DA DA DA diddee DA-AH DA DA !!!!
After twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years in ye olde parish church, these Catholics are not budging. It would take a catastrophe of pastor-going-to-jail-for-you-know-what proportions to inspire them to leave, and sadly when Catholics are utterly fed up, they don’t usually make the switch to the TLM: they stop going to Mass at all. For fifty years, they’ve been told the SSPX are a dangerous pack of weirdos, and so anyone who also loves the Mass of Ages must also be a weirdo. Never mind that the priests who told them that were later discovered to be (A) homosexual (B) robbing the till (C) living in a mobile home with a skinny divorcée or (D) now celebrating the Mass of Ages themselves.
However, there are thousands of people who get curious about religion, so there are all kinds of ways to promote the TLM, if you feel called. I do it myself in my own little way by subverting the Angry Trad stereotype. But, of course, there is:
1. The Appeal to the Real. “If you want to know what Catholicism REALLY is,” you can say to the curious out religion-shopping, “you should come to the Traditional Latin Mass because it does not water down the Catholicism unlike the priest at Saint Moping who gets his sermons out of Chicken Soup for the Soul, ” etc., etc.
Be careful how you phrase this argument, however, or you may come across as someone not imbued with the love of Christ. Perhaps it might be best to say that traditional Catholics have a very strong devotion to Christ Present on the Altar, and our liturgy reflects this. Our Mass is more about God than about community; the community part happens afterwards
when we all get smashed on G &Ts.
2. The Appeal to the Snobbery. “If you like Evelyn Waugh, you’ll LOVE the TLM,” you could say, although I’d rather you didn’t. There’s quite enough lower-middle-class-boys-feeling-bad-about-it hanging out at the TLM just to feel posh. What they think of the honest skilled tradesmen and horny-handed sons of toil also at the TLM is a question I don’t want answered. What the honest skilled tradesmen and horny-handed sons of toil think of all the red corduroy trousers I shudder to think. On the other hand, they are probably too holy to notice the trousers at all.
3. The Appeal to the Senses. Suddenly I remember an Anglican suitor who was tempted to cross the Tiber as as to win my then-fair hand. I warned him that he ought to come to my (ugly, modernist) parish church and hear the (ghastly) cantor first.
People who really care about music and art will prefer the TLM to the NO unless they have jobs providing the music and art at the NO. BTW, I’d love to see some statistics on what percentage of church musicians go to the NO when they are not actually performing at it.
4. The Appeal to the Feminine. It may be tricky to win women away from all their fun activities at Saint Moping. Let’s face it. Women run the NO, and men are happy to let them do it. The NO can be pretty boring, so NO-goers jazz it up for themselves by volunteering to DO stuff. I’ve sat in the important chair for lay-led worship, and let me tell you, the hour just whizzes by when you’re the lady in charge. What can be done to overcome the temptations of busy-ness and lady priesting?
It may sound trivial, but I think ye olde lace mantilla is a step forward, especially now that we’re being bombarded with propaganda for the hijab. I cannot get my mind around the role of the hair-hating hijab in modern life, but westerners associate lace veils with brides and widows, who are (or once were) semi-sacred. Imagine you could assert your feminine genius just by putting on a lace veil and looking restful. And imagine that just by doing this, you could inspire the men to do all the work they currently aren’t doing, like going to the seminary and becoming priests.
Men (thinking): Goodness gracious, Mrs. McLean looks so beautiful and restful in her black lace mantilla that I am hopelessly in love with her. What can I do? I know: I shall sublimate this forbidden passion in my studies for the priesthood. Off to Wiegratzbad I go.
By the way, the TLM is the one place I can think of where young women can silently and modestly indicate that they are Single, and the married (or convent-bound) can subtly indicate that they aren’t available. One of the quieter dynamics of the TLM is the bachelors checking out the white mantillas. Oh, the sweet!
5. The Appeal to the Masculine: As girls becoming altar servers lead to an exodus of the boys, keep your ears sharp for stories of disappointed mothers at St Moping. No doubt the NO was less dull when they could watch their little sons going to and fro. “Maybe he would feel more comfortable at Sacred Trad,” you could say. “Only boys serve there.”
The same goes for mothers at the end of their rope with teenage sons who refuse to go to Mass at all. “Maybe he would feel more comfortable at Sacred Trad,” you could say again. “Men outnumber women 2:1 there. And they don’t feel pressured to sing.”
6. The Appeal to the Non-Singers: Protestants and ex-Protestants love to sing, which is no doubt why we have so much congregational singing in the Novus Ordo. But many people simply to not like to sing, or would rather listen to good singing than to their own sad speaking-voice efforts.
(It is not true, by the way, that everyone can sing. It has to be taught. I realized this when I listened to the contrast between Scottish children of yore singing the old school song and their replacements singing the new school song, which includes the phrase “Assallaam-u-aleikum.” The Scottish children of yore sang like soprano angels. The Scottish children of today sang with their speaking voices–as they no doubt do at the Novus Ordo, when they are at the Novus Ordo, which is but rarely, not only because only 16% of Scots are Catholics but because only 25% of Scottish Catholics go to church.)
Non-singers–which certainly must include most Cradle-Catholic men–are relieved of pressure to sing at the TLM, especially when there are paid professionals to do it for them.