The atmosphere and demeanor were more consistent with a movie theatre, school function or sports event. We were not expecting to see veiled ladies in long skirts, a prominent crucifix above the altar, genuflections before the Tabernacle, and all the things that make the Catholic Church "Catholic". We were not so unfamiliar with the Modern Church that we were unprepared for what we were about to see and hear.
Yes, there would be altar girls, Eucharistic Ministers wearing everyday sportswear, and, of course, a cantor who would take charge in controlling the direction for this accepted "Catholic" liturgy. The presiding priest, who sat quietly and obediently for the first 30 minutes, ended his silence by reading the gospel followed by a very brief homily.
However, what we witnessed next took us completely by surprise.
The priest donned his guitar and began to sing in a robust voice an Easter "alleluia" hymn, which would have scored him sufficient points to assure his return to Star Search. Encouraged by the resounding applause of the congregants and obviously impressed with his own talent, he continued "singing" the mass, including the solemn words of consecration.
It was at this point that our presence gave new meaning to the phrase "square pegs in round holes". We continued to sit in the pew, numbed and bewildered, as everyone in the church rose from the pews to receive Holy Communion with the all the formality of an "all-you-can-eat" buffet.
The question comes to mind: If Pope Francis, or any of the post-conciliar popes, were sitting in the pew next to us, would they have jumped from their seats, screaming "'stop, stop, this is all wrong!" or would they have appreciated the joy of victory. It has been accomplished! The Modern Church has been firmly planted and deeply rooted. Vatican II was a huge success.
Was this what Pope John XXIII had in mind when he "opened the windows to the world"?
So why am I entitling this blog "An Unexpected Easter Gift from the Novus Ordo"? My husband and I walked out of this church stunned but with a new appreciation and gratitude for the blessing and privilege of having access to the Traditional Latin Mass—a blessing many do not share or even know exists. Should the blame of this Modernist debacle rest on the unsuspecting parishioners in the Novus Ordo? They have been slowly but skillfully taught to be comfortable in this thoroughly Protestantized “Catholic Christian” community, unburdened by Theology and Truth, and uninhibited by a list of unnecessary rules. This was the goal of expertly crafted re-orientation which resulted in the total acceptance of the "new normal". The Pope says it’s OK. Who are we to argue? Who are we to judge?
Witnessing the extent of the devastation in our precious Catholic vineyard left me with some nagging pangs of guilt. Are those of us who call ourselves "Traditional Catholics" a bit too comfortable in our complacency, reassuring ourselves that we belong to an elitist group which is better than that of our Novus Ordo counterparts? While our unenlightened neighbors may be blissfully ignorant, is there danger of us becoming blissfully enlightened? Are we becoming almost robotic in our gestures and habits, while allowing a true appreciation for what we are receiving as we assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to slip by the wayside? Is that where it begins and ends?
On the other hand, are we becoming content with peaceful coexistence? We’ve got our bread, so who cares about the unwashed masses gnawing away at the stones they’ve been given! Historically speaking, traditional Catholicism was all about Catholic restoration—that is, of the entire universal Church—and not just lobbying for our personal preferences like a gaggle of Latinist snobs. There’s a war going on in our Church. Hiding safely away in our chapels, have we forgotten how to fight?
Our Catholic forefathers knew well that they had to fight for the old Faith. They understood that there is nothing which cannot be accomplished in that campaign so long as the importance of three elements was never overlooked: Unity, Enthusiasm and a Willingness to Sacrifice! Have we lost sight of these?
Every privilege has an obligation. How are we fulfilling our obligation as Soldiers of Christ in our daily lives? Instead of joining the battle for Tradition, are we becoming obstructionists by not taking an active part in the growth of our churches and schools. Have we ceased reaching out to our benighted co-religionists on the other side of the aisle, and, with a sense of urgency, lovingly but firmly helping them to rediscover what has been stolen from them? Are we on the sidelines, complaining, spoiled by our good fortune, and finding petty fault when little things are not done exactly our way? I say stand for the Our Father! Oh, yeah? Well I say kneel! Let’s have a civil war in the parish over that!
Could we be any more counterproductive if we tried?
There is much work to be done within the Traditional movement because the modern Church will clearly not correct itself. We must thank God for our warriors—our dedicated priests and hardworking laity who have taken up the banner of true Catholic restoration. And we must charitably but immediately reenlist, with a firm conviction that if the Catholic Church is not restored soon the world will fall into complete chaos and the sort of Chirstophobia that is already transforming our streets into warzones, our classrooms into concentration camps and our families into isolated and broken islands of despair.
Perhaps, every Traditional Catholic should visit their local diocesan church and leave the pew with a greater understanding and enthusiasm for the special grace we have been given and a renewed determination to join the battle. This eye-opening wake-up call could be the unexpected gift from a feel-good "liturgy" which may not be feeding the flock, but will definitely provide food for thought.