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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Most Radical of Traditionalists

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11258170 937104536352953 1192605343233174181 nRad Trads?

If you spend even a few moments online among Catholics, you will come across the pejorative “Rad Trad” or radical traditionalist. This is an exclusive club I somehow got inducted into and yet I don’t remember filling out the application. And man, the dues… the dues are steep.

As most of us know, “Rad Trad” is meant as an insult, a way of separating Catholics and, let’s be honest, smearing a group of good Catholics who attempt to practice their faith in a way similar to how Catholics have always practiced it. They label them as judgmental, holier-than-thou, Pelagian, Promethean, haters of mercy and all the proof required is some comment by some guy in some com box somewhere that was over-the-top and rude. So, you are just like that guy. Just ‘cause.


But I have seen something else, something else entirely. In my relatively short time in the traditionalist camp, I have seen the face of the most truly radical traditionalism, and it is something to behold.

I have seen faithful Catholics persevering through this crisis without running away and screaming. In the midst of this maelstrom, they remain kind, loving, and patient. They pray their rosary every day for the Pope and for the hierarchy of the Church, even as they recognize the depth of the crisis caused by these men.

They see regular reports of prelates and Popes insulting their religiosity, insulting their family size, and sometimes insulting their very faith. But they turn the other cheek as Christ did.

These Catholics have resisted not only the uncatholic aggiornamento gutting the Church today, but they have also resisted the faithless and easy ways to avoid it. They reject the easy neo-modernism even as they reject sedevacantism in all its forms.   Even as they see the disastrous prudential decisions of the modern papacies culminating in the current pontificate, even as they see the ordinary magisterium being twisted to harm the faith by no less than the Pope himself, they do not reject the papacy and its rights.

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Somehow, some way, they do not reject the ordinary magisterium, even if that means a daily struggle to understand what has become of it.   They take no easy way out, each day praying for guidance for how a faithful Catholic can have genuine Obsequium Religiosum, that duty of submission of will and intellect, in a Church gone mad. Each day discerning, meekly but with valor, that which can be followed and that which cannot.  

And they do it every day. And they mostly do it alone. That may be the most amazing part of this genuinely radical Catholicism. They know they are alone and that nobody is coming to rescue them. But they still do it.

They had put great faith and hope in Pope Benedict, only to have their faith dashed. This was made worse by the Pope Emeritus’ abandonment of his flock because he could not bear the thought of another long trip. They hear these things even as they pack up their children in the van each Sunday and drive, sometimes for hours, just so their children can have what centuries of Catholics took for granted: the faith and liturgy, unadulterated. But they still do it. Alone and unloved in their own Church, they still do it.

They see the few prelates willing to say even the meekest words in favor of tradition, publicly rebuked and embarrassed by the current Pope.   And worse, they see others whom they had thought to be strong go silent rather than face the same.

I have met some remarkable and capable people; hardworking, educated, and skillful people who could use those talents to have pools and BMWs, forgo fortune and respect in order to daily preach unpopular truths, even to the mockery of their co-religionists.

I have seen them all persevere even though it all seems hopeless, even in the knowledge that on its current trajectory, the gates of hell would prevail against the Church, if such a thing was possible. But even in the face of this onslaught, they believe wholeheartedly that Christ will fulfill His promise.

I sometimes think this may be the point of it all. That the faithful remnant must come to the conclusion that we will not be rescued from this crisis by ordinary means. That no “Benedict Solution”, no biological solution is going to save us. That the bishops will never stand up en masse and say “Enough!!” That we will never be rescued from this crisis by our own strength and resolve. That God may only deign to rescue us when we finally acknowledge we cannot rescue ourselves.  

And in the face of all of this, amidst all these trials, amidst all this loneliness, these most radical of traditionalists, these Catholics, preserve in faith and love.

These faithful Catholics, persevering through all these trials, are the most radical of traditionalists. I am honored to know them. ■  


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Last modified on Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Patrick Archbold

Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report and a Catholic writer on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company. Patrick, his wife Terri, and their five children reside in Long Island, N.Y.