Dear Friend in Christ,
Thank you for letting me know. It is with sadness that I read your email about how you left the Catholic Church because of the lack of any warmth, welcome or charity that you perceived in the laity at that Traditional Latin Mass. I am very sorry to hear that you experienced what you did, and if I may, I would like to share with you some of my own thoughts. I am not trying to change your mind, but perhaps I may be able to answer “why?”.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council there was a strong sense of Ultramontanism in Catholic clergy and laity. Ultramontanism is summed up by “if the Pope says it, then do it”. There was no sense of questioning something. So when the changes started occurring (not only to the liturgical life of the Church) in the early 1960s, clergy and laity to the vast majority just went along with it. Ultramontanism gave carte blanche to reformers. Now there were some people who were not so Ultramontanist, some of these people persevered for the Traditional way of doing things.
What you have to understand is that these people, who said to themselves “this doesn’t feel right”, found themselves completely isolated from the vast majority who simply said “the Council said so, so do it”. Their Parish life was destroyed. What these people went through was terrible suffering. This remnant had to fend for themselves in a very hostile environment, scratching a secret Mass here or there. As Michael Davies very correctly pointed out, the situation was very similar to what happened at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in England.
The mentality of the remnant was very much “circle the wagons”. Now, the Church has admitted that the Mass was never abrogated and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has opened the Mass to all and sundry. But it takes time, it takes time to heal the hurts that these people have been through, some of the hurts are disgraceful, but the worst part was they were done by other Catholics. It takes time to change mentalities, to trust again. The Church is our Mother, but these people perceived that they had been struck by their very own Mother, and only now were being slowly re-accepted. But it takes time to trust. There is a lot of wariness towards the current Magesterium, and despite the brave words of many priests, Bishops and Cardinals, the wariness remains, because actions speak louder than words.
This remnant, were and often still, are a shunned people, and they, to a large extent, have lost the sense of Parish and are more used to being liturgical nomads and having to fend for themselves, not because they have abandoned their former Parishes, but rather because the Parishes they knew and loved have been taken away from them.
Sadly I don’t have the time or resources available to teach attendees of Traditional Latin Masses, the maxims of Christ-like love for ones neighbour, though I try my best to live them myself. I have come to learn that those associated with the Traditional Rite, just like those associated with any rite, or religion, are a mixed bunch, saints and sinners. C’est la vie. I am sorry that you came across brothers and sisters who were suffering so, that they had forgotten simple Christian Charity to ones neighbour.
I hope that you will come to have compassion on those who you perceived as cold and unwelcoming, that you will pray for them and forgive them. That perhaps you will one day come to love them and help them to rediscover the sense of Parish and welcome. Remember for the Traditional remnant, the persecution continues, all you have to do is look at the Mass listings for Christmas in England and Wales, in three Dioceses there are no Masses on Christmas day.
May God bless you and keep you, always.