OUR DETRACTORS NEED BEWARE BLASPHEMING THE HOLY GHOST
It’s my favorite anniversary: twenty years ago this summer I assisted at my first Latin Mass. This joyful occasion coincides with the one year anniversary of Traditionis Custodes, the thought of which lowers my mood instantly.
In the wake of this motu proprio which rigidly restricts the usus antiquior, people who have a vocal dislike of Traditional Catholics have been emboldened. It’s like they feel they have papal backing to backbite. In the past two decades, I’ve repeatedly heard two slurs levelled against those who attend the usus antiquior and I’d like to respond to these unfair comments directly and share some suggestions. I’ve heard more loudly than ever before the claim that Traditional Catholics lack charity and that they are tools of the devil. It’s false kindness to the point of dishonesty to call their words “criticism”, but I’d like to reply because I’m genuinely concerned about the people who are potentially calumniating Trads. They attack our reputations, but they attack their own souls simultaneously.
Personally, I’ve known several parents who were young people when the Novus Ordo Mass was promulgated, and they hotly resent it when their children become Traditional Catholics. One father who is well into his seventies told me he “will go down with the ship” and that those who led his children towards a Mass that is being curtailed by the Vatican are “tools of the devil in how they divide Catholic families into going to two separate Masses.” When I asked him if he preferred that his adult children only ever attended Mass when he demanded their attendance (as was the case before they experienced the Latin Mass), he was silent for a minute and then reiterated that Trads do the work of the devil. This man’s peers echoed another regrettably common opinion that Trads act like the devil in that they act as “the accuser” because of our way of articulating the problems eating at the heart of Mother Church.
Our detractors like to protest that we lack charity because we bemoan liturgical abuses. The topic, however, that most aggravates them is the lack of young people at the Novus Ordo, when the pews at Latin Mass are filled with young professionals and young families who have young babies climbing on every arm.
That word “young” upsets those who are against us, and they protest that they are charitable because they keep a “polite” silence about the absence of the young at the Mass offered in the vernacular. They take pride in their special degree of charity and they get a buzz from feeling special as the ones who’ve slapped down those nasty trads for voicing uncomfortable truths. They virtue-signal that it’s not diplomatic or kind to tell older folk of the high attendance of young people at the Traditional Latin Mass. They can criticize us and remain convinced of their charity, we may criticize and then be castigated as uncharitable.
They compromise themselves in their efforts to be charitable because they censor others so they may filter negativity even if it is truthful, and thus when they reject the truth and punish those who wish to discuss the obvious, they make a hostile environment for truly charitable speech. They are narcissistic in their avoidance of criticism of the current state of the Church which they have often had a hand in creating. Like the erstwhile father whose children rejected the Novus Ordo Mass and who cast himself in role as the captain of the ship, he could not abide to hear talk of the mishandling of the Sacred Species when he himself had as a layman been “a Eucharistic minister” and he saw his own children reject this “involvement of the laity” which led to their diminished respect and belief in the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord - until such time as they discovered the Latin Mass and were confirmed in their desire to worship the Eucharist.
But narcissism masquerading as charity is mild compared to the hot assertion that Traditional Catholics essentially do the devil’s bidding. I’ve known this to be a stealthily controlling tactic which actually sways a certain number of scrupulous people through fear – there are some pious souls who believe it when they hear that Traditional Catholics are so divisive that they are diabolical. God forgive those who know better and yet reiterate this careless insult because they potentially endanger themselves so gravely that anyone who has a voice must in all charity ask them if by claiming the devil is speaking through us, are they not blaspheming the Holy Ghost?! The Latin Mass is attracting the youth, has many young vocations and it inspires devotion and commitment to the sacraments, a desire to be holy and a fear of sin. This is not the work of the devil but has all the hallmarks of the Holy Ghost.
I remember myself as a young teenager at my first Latin Mass, feeling this desire to die for the Mass, like the priests in old Ireland whose throats were slit when they were discovered to be offering Holy Mass in isolated hillsides and deep in the rich green bosom of the Irish countryside. Anyone who claims that this inspiration from the Holy Ghost to love the Mass of Ages and to bring other souls to worship God at this Mass is actually the work of Satan is in danger of confusing the work of the Holy Ghost with that of Satan and this is potentially a dire blasphemy. To be fair, they may not mean to blaspheme, but they may be insinuating a blasphemy and need to be told the danger. So, on a most urgent basis, I invite you to ask your opponents to discern if they are in fact committing a most grave blasphemy.
If they persist in saying the devil is working through Trads, then you may have recourse to telling them that you will pray the prayers to the Holy Face in reparation for what you suspect is their blasphemy. Oh, and tell them you’ll have a Latin Mass offered for their intentions. This, more than anything, is the best way to make them think twice about ever suggesting that the devil is behind the promotion of the Latin Mass.
I wrote this column for The Latin Mass Society Magazine of England and Wales. The images that accompany this piece are in the public domain, the painting of The Catholic Mass was executed by Fyodor Bronnikov.