Continuing the series of posts CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – really? and why?. I originally commented briefly on the reasons why Mass attendance in the UK seems to have plateaued. I pointed to our historical response to threat, and how there seems to be a mass instinctual response which is hindering growth.
In the next post, CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – Elitism, I commented on some of the different manifestations of Elitism within Traditional Circles. Young Fogies, Supremacists, Misers and Old Money Catholics.
This article focuses on, what I believe is, the third cause of the stagnation that seems to be occurring;
Over focus on the Mass
I have often witnessed, it’s all about the Mass. Mass. Mass. Mass.
People, Priests, groups and organisations attached to the Traditional Rite can often suffer from this over-focus.
What is this over-focus? Partly, I think may be the vestiges of the pre-Vatican II clericalism. That negative clericalism, a mindset that put the Priest as a career. His job; to offer Mass. This clericalism was also a mindset in the laity, saying his job is to say Mass. The focus was the action of the Mass.
Partly, I think it may be connected to my first point, an instinctual reaction. The Mass is the Public Worship of the Church. It is the single most visible action that she conducts. The attack on the Traditional Mass after the Second Vatican Council provoked a reaction. The reaction was an over-focus on protecting the Mass.
What are the consequences of these actions? Well, the loss of the things that surrounded the Mass. Devotionals, the other Sacraments, Spiritual Direction, the list goes on and on.
The problem is, that the Mass by itself, is not enough. And here I come to a theory of mine. I repeat, a theory. I theorise that the implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in Diocesan Churches (in England and Wales) has had an inoculating effect.
Wikipedia to the rescue: Inoculation “Inoculation was a historical method for the prevention of smallpox by deliberate introduction into the skin of material from smallpox pustules. This generally produced a less severe infection than naturally-acquired smallpox, but still induced immunity to it.”
The smallpox we are talking about is Catholic Tradition. Not just the Mass, the whole thing. The way of life.
Translated: The implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in Diocesan Churches (in England and Wales) worked for the prevention of the spread of the Traditional Catholic way of life, by the deliberate introduction into Novus Ordo parishes, selected material from Catholic Tradition (i.e. The Mass). This generally produced a less severe infection, than exclusivity to the Traditional Catholic way of life, but still induced immunity to it.”
Of course, His Holiness Benedict XVI never intended Summorum Pontificum to be used as a tool in this way. But Satan whispers in the ears of those that don’t want to hear Truth. I think that the selective manner of implementation in English and Welsh Dioceses, has been shrewdly and maliciously turned into a tool for immunisation to the “disease” of Tradition.
Just offering the Mass is not enough. It’s all or nothing. You can’t do all of Novus Ordo and all of Vetus Ordo. It’s one or the other. As the Lord says:
No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other.
Of course, back in the day, they understood that. Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Mediator Dei pointed out:
It should be clear to all, then, that God cannot be honoured worthily unless the mind and heart turn to Him in quest of the perfect life, and that the worship rendered to God by the Church in union with her divine Head is the most efficacious means of achieving sanctity.
The Pope says it’s the full thing. Conversion of mind and heart, and the worship rendered to God by the Church in union with her divine Head. Notice, he doesn’t say “the worship rendered to God by the Church in the Mass…”. It’s the full thing. Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction. Along with, Divine Office, preaching, catechesis, education, devotions, Rosary, Prayer, parish life, family life, priest life, religious life, spiritual direction, and on. EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING according to Tradition.
That and only that is as the Pope says “is the most efficacious means of achieving sanctity“.
The Mass by itself, is an island. It is stark, naked and cold. And if it is parachuted into a Diocesan parish alongside Novus Ordo Mass, with all the sacraments and parish life according to the “spirit of Vatican II” it’s no wonder that people will wonder “Sure, the Traditional Mass is beautiful, but I feel so alone”.
So what is the solution? The solution to the instinctual response, the solution to elitism, the solution to over-focus?
These I will answer in the next post.
P.s. If you can think of other reasons that put you or other people off the Traditional Mass, list them in the Comments box below!