22 February 2009

How To Be A Traditional Catholic

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Over at the Universe, Moretben defined the "traditional Catholic". Not the Traditionalist, or the Trad, or the neo-Trad, or the member of the People's Liberation Front of Judaea. But somebody who anybody over 50 will recognise, or at least dimly remember.

This could be an epitaph for my father or my mother, for many of my uncles and aunts, and for the parents of most of my friends. It won't be for my generation, or for my children's generation, but I begin to hope that the Benedictine revolution might make it an unselfconscious reality in my grandchildren's.

A traditional Catholic would typically:

- be faithful to prayer.
- fast quite a bit.
- remember the poor.
- be un-selfconsciously immersed in the invisible world
- be deeply formed by the ancient liturgy - its feasts, fasts, seasons, familiar rites and ceremonies, though to a lesser extent, perhaps, its texts.
- go to Holy Communion quite infrequently by modern standards, and never without confession, preparatory fasting and prayer.
- maintain a rather arid understanding of sacramental and liturgical theology.
- have a serious attitude to theology, while remaining content nevertheless with the Penny Catechism.
- have a great devotion to the saints - especially the very ancient (even semi-legendary) ones.
- be spontaneously "orthodox"
- have a profound reverence for Rome and the Pope, taking for granted the teaching of his Church, but having little interest in Vatican politics or personalities.
- think the expression "loyal to the Magisterium" a very odd, if not actually alien and ideologial way of describing or thinking about his faith.
- far rather tell his beads than read an encyclical.
- understand instinctively that everything tending to disrupt the peace of the Church - violent controversies, revolutionary discontinuities, incongruous innovations - is from the Devil.
- know that in the presence of his fathers, it would be him that looked the bloody eejit.
- Have an acute sense of original sin and a corresponding scepticism, if not outright pessimism, about all human affairs.
- be profoundly distrustful therefore - if not contemptuous - of ideologies of every stripe, knowing that in every age and under every kind of regime, the saints have been few, and usually persecuted; be politically pragmatic, placing little trust in princes, but dutifully praying for them nevertheless and trying hard to be a good neighbour.
- be unafraid of natural or historical science.
- be devoted to the episcopate and the clergy generally, while maintianing a realistic view of human frailty, and the just limits of clerical competence.

- be faithful to prayer.
- fast quite a bit.
- remember the poor.

8 comments:

Anthony Bidgood said...

Dear ttony,

The Britain of the 1950's and 1960's still possessed a certain, albeit gravely weakened Christian sensiblilty, which your post illustrates.
In January I was back home in Cornwall, which allowed me to buy the 'Sunday Independent', a west country paper not the London-centric mouthpiece for al-Jazeera.
It publishes photographs from the 'past'. One showed a group of women with the caption: 'Members of the St Mark Mother's Union from Bristol prepare for an outing to visit churches in Somerset'. I doubt today that this would occur.

In Christo,
Anthony B

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JARay said...

I'm glad that Moretben remembers the Church of his fathers.
I remember that Church very well.
I remember outdoor processions in May and on the Feast of Corpus Christi.
Outdoor meant OUTDOOR on the roads with the police moving the traffic over.
I remember walking from Leeds Cathedral to the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, a distance of about four or so miles. It was a Catholic mens' procession and it took about an hour and a half to walk it. The procession itself would have been about four miles long anyway. When we got there we had Benediction outdoors.

JARay

Mike Cliffson Pamelez said...

Tried twice as anon, taken me hours to remember who I am

Mike Cliffson Pamelez said...

2 recap:
Sic transit..., but what abt God's glory?
Quite a trip down memory lane.
However..
1.Months only to go till 60, so I can't talk of the 40s.
Quibble: in slough, penines, east midlands 50s and 60s , there were everysunday communicants who EQUALLY did not dream of receiving communion without Fasts AND confession, usually, on saturday -the queue could be hours long, my mother was not alone in leaving a communicant child to save a place whilst getting the shopping. The number of full pews waiting made the wait estimable(taking into account any given person could represent several). many more chaps than now worked Saturdays am and pm.
minor quibble2
Have to remeber, this "typical" picture is a stem for many variations, otherwise your image is like some period movies where every car, interior, garb music etc is EXACTLY say 1925.
Every parish had at least someone, and seldom likely somones, who said the liturgy of the hours, and others each with a fund of arcane catholic knowledge on ,say,the old sarum rite.
Mr bidgood says " weakening" . What word descibes what's happened since? Perhaps, with wealth, we Catholics were starting to get bourgois in the richer parishes by the mid to late sixties.Yet 50% in prison were catholic, ( I well remember the pp at an inner city shcool softpedalling 2shalt not steal": half the class had dadin, or inand out,of jug.) later immigrants have taken over our role. Pace St teresa, over more woe from answered prayers than unanswered, long did I then for catholicism to be repsectable, it became"mainstream"· at least, full carparks and a mausoluem wasteland.
The flight of catholic, mostly Irish born , nurses, would have crippled hospitals, which has of course actually happened, thanks to infanticide.
so muchmore....

Moretben said...

Gosh - thank you, Ttony. This dovetails with a discussion going on elsewhere, with a mutual friend; apropos of which I'm pleased to see you included the chinks in the armour too - the "little wicked wicket gate" through which all Hell entered in: a certain lack of connection with the liturgical texts, and the "rather arid understanding of sacramental and liturgical theology". If the Benedictine Reform succeeds (in the long term - like some of his greatest predecessors he'll die "in exile", which should serve as a great encouragement to you), both of these inadequacies will begin to be rectified.

John - I'm grateful as ever for your solicitude but it's misplaced. What I described was the last echo of the "Faith of My Fathers", before it was kicked insensible by your hierarchy, acting on the authority of "Peter". We used often to discuss "living Tradition", but I never knew the meaning of it until the past year. I am secure today in the Faith of My Fathers, the Faith of THE Fathers, the Faith of the Fishermen.

Mike Cliffson Pamelez said...

Scuse me Ttony, Wishing to include more , who knows what good it may do, there are fewer of us around every day in this vale of tears, after all.

Being in this world , but not of it, as natural. AND A LONG ETC

There is obviously something humanly pivotal abt this period- how Divine Providence weaves it all in I know not- else tableted words would not use it to recriminate Fr tIM :
oF COURSE, any given scandal is possible SOMEWHERE for SOME space of time. Yet,56-70 my altarboy and memberof the choir years, even something as banal say as unfolding a newspaper at mass, be it in latin, the vernacular, or old slavonic, just jars completely with my experience.
From the choirloft, DURING VERNACULAR SERMONS, one could indeed spot eyes turning to the UNFOLDED (catholic) front page near many, and I remember considerable leeway (by the standrds of the time)being given to noncatholic spouses, husbands, anyway, at least coming to church
with their family.
At the very least you said a rosary, then there were missals, lives of the saints, but the HUSH during the canon, not to mention the consecration!
In general, I know where I went wrong , and my sins, but I'm not so sure I know the "wicket gate." In particular, something didn't prepare the faithful against contraception and abortion, and it wasn't just "the Changes", coterminous at most. (I don't mean via sinning as such, I mean consciousness of sin.)Not so much knowing for certain what any catholic would or wouldn't do, but rather, being quite certain that even if they did, or didn't, they'd be sorry, that their perspective,not their lapses,but their inbuilt ingrained cultural perpective, was eternal.

Anonymous said...

Have I missed something? Ttony's long list, and all the comments, without one mention of Jesus or his message as contained in Holy Scripture?