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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Conversation about John Paul II....

I am a contributor at another site and I am in a discussion about the liturgical action there.  I thought I would share part of the conversation today.  In reviewing the thread, I think that it is appropos.

When I was a neophyte traddy, all my friends would say to me...oh, you're just trying to be too Catholic this...or oh, you're view of the Church is medieval, or oh, you don't have the proper "perspective." This nonsense went on for years and years and years. I know that my friend Jim doesn't come around here at all, but he witnessed all of the arguments and the fights that I had to endure during this time. Ironically, almost everything that I was "bitching and complaining" (my former director of liturgy's description of me) about has come to pass.

I was a firm believer at that time that the TLM and the NOM could exist together in a homogenous way, but as I look at things more and more, I don't necessarily believe that. I think that as time passes the NOM will pass into history as "the great experiment that failed." I'm not doubting the validity of the Mass, just the relevance with regard to history.

With regard to John Paul II, I think that I have to disagree. He was firmly ensconced in the post-Vatican Council II mentality with regard to liturgy. If he were not, he would not have had Bugnini's protege as his MC for 20 years. John Paul II ONLY allowed the wider application of the TLM as a concession to Archbishop Lefevbre. Nothing more, nothing less. Had Lefevbre not held so hard to Sacred Tradition, then the TLM would have simply faded away. As it is, that simply isn't the case. Because of Archbishop Lefevbre and the SSPX, John Paul II had to deal with Traditionalism in a way that he didn't want to. From a liturgical point of view, John Paul II was as liberal and progressive as Cardinal Mahoney. Go back and see if there is any major criticism of his Papal Masses from the left. There is none. Not like you're getting with Pope Benedict.

Pope John Paul II was no friend of Tradition. He was theologically conservative and even that is a bit of a stretch to assert, because of his philosophical leanings.

Fringe wackos....I think that the two ships are passing in the night....the NOM will become more and more marginalized and the TLM will continue to grab hold. If I am a fringe wacko, then I embrace being a fringe wacko. At least I can be certain that by being said wacko, I am getting a sound Mass.

I got the following response from my friend Sean:

That makes me sad and I want to give Pope John Paul II the benefit of the doubt (he's a blessed now for crying out loud), but it sounds like you know more about it than I do. I've never really sat down and researched his views on the liturgy. I saw his name in the back of Bugnini's book as a member of the congregation of rites under Bugnini's watch in the early '70s so I suppose it's safe to say he was initiated into that inner circle, and yes, his choice of MC is telling and disturbing. On the other hand I've heard bits and pieces over the years that are at least somewhat encouraging. Cardinal Ratzinger was his boy for example. Also, the pastor of the trad parish in Columbus has a plaque given to him by John Paul II as a kind of award for standing up for tradition. fwiw.

Then there were statements like the following, but I guess you'd read them as concessions that he only made because of people like Lefebvre. On the other hand he could have been worse and said screw you to trads.
To which I have responded:

It makes me sad too. Sean go back to and look up some of my old threads where I talk about traditionalism, assuming they haven't been deleted and you'll see what I am talking about. As far as John Paul II being a blessed, he wasn't beatified because of his undying love of the liturgy. He was beatified because he was Pope for so long. That's the bottom line on that. Harsh, yes. But he wasn't a great theologian, that has been proven. He was a good philosopher and a better politician. I think that he had to be, but that has no bearing on the discussion at hand. He also was no friend to the liturgy. What was his big contribution to the liturgy? Ecclesia Dei? That was a reaction which started a movement. It wasn't started on his own impotice.

It has been said that John Paul II was the first real Pope of Vatican Council II. What does that tell you? Why should we be talking like Vatican Council II is a defining scenario. It is 1/21 of the Ecumenical Councils in the history of the Catholic Church. Why does Vatican Council II have so much more influence, especially when it didn't define anything new? Yet, John Paul II is the first Pope of Vatican Council II? It almost does make it sound like there is a different Church when it is put that way doesn't it?

Ok. Like I said, he was theologically conservative. That puts him in line with Papa Ratzinger. As for the trad parish in Columbus, I would suspect that his name was put forth by Card. Mayer from Ecclesia Dei and John Paul II signed off on it. That is how things worked in his pontificate. He was very detached from the day to day operation. An example. My college choir (of which I was privleged enough to belong) is the only American Choir to sing at Midnight Mass at St. Peter's. We've done it twice. We were given plaques (well, they were pewter plates, kinda like Wimbeldon style) for the honor, in an audience with His Holiness. This wasn't thought up by John Paul II, as a personal gift....but he did what any leader does....see my point. I'm not downplaying either award, but rather putting it into perspective.

Not just concessions. They were steps in the right direction. But we need to understand what precipitated the steps. It wasn't out of any real devotion to Traditionalism and the TLM. It was done to stop a perceived (albeit incorrect) notion that a schism was taking place. He was being a pastor. He was putting the needs of the flock above his own. That is the real legacy of John Paul II. That he didn't push his own agenda when it wasn't advantageous to do so. He was a pastor. I think that if other pastors would see that model, then perhaps we would be in a better place today in the Church.

My point in all of this?  The Traditional movement is a movement which is a reaction to liberalism and Modernism.  Had these things not infiltrated the Church leadership, then we wouldn't be having this conversation.  The influence of man OVER the good of the Church has brought us to this point.  What we're fighting over isn't anything God has ordained, but rather we are fighting over an ideology which man has put forth.

And I don't think that is right.

All the traddys want is to have the Church be like she always has been.  The liberals want to reimage her in their own likeness.  That is not their place.  The Church doesn't have to change with the times or die.  The Church won't.  Christ assured us of that.  The Church is timeless and this knee jerk reaction about being "relevant" has caused more damage than can possibly be imagined.  The true mark of a traddy isn't that he is trying to turn back the clock, no....the true mark of a traddy is that he is trying to keep the Church on the same path that she has been on for 2011 years.  The traddy is trying to be a conservator.  And that is the true definition of being conservative. 

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