Friday, September 01, 2017

"The kids are old rite" - Heh, back to the future!

Matthew Schmitz, "The kids are old rite" (Catholic Herald, August 31, 2017). Excerpts:
Francis’ remarks are yet another sign of his anxiety over the traditional direction in which young Catholics are carrying the Church. We have seen this before, in the stories he tells about young priests who shout at strangers and play dress-up, unlike the wise, old, compassionate (and liberal) monsignori. Francis has played variations of John Lennon’s Imagine: “We are grandparents called to dream and give our dream to today’s youth: they need it.” Maybe so, but the youth do not seem to want it.

... Anyone who doubts the reality of the conflict should visit a monastery or convent, where young monastics will almost invariably be more traditional than their elders. In France, in 20 years’ time a majority of priests will celebrate exclusively the traditional Latin mass. Wherever one looks, the kids are old rite....

In a 2010 address, Archbishop Augustine DiNoia described the experiences of these young traditionalists. “My sense is that these twenty- and thirty-somethings have been radicalised by their experience … in a way that we were not.” After “God-knows-what kinds of personal and social experiences”, they have come to know “moral chaos, personally and socially, and they want no part of it”. A sense of narrow escape guides their vocations. “It is as if they had gone to the edge of an abyss and pulled back.”

DiNoia’s generation sought to unite the Church and the world, but the young priests believe the two are finally opposed. “It may be hard for us to comprehend, but these young people do not share the cultural optimism that many of us learned to take for granted in the post-conciliar period.”

... Many young Catholics feel that they have been denied an inheritance that was rightly theirs. They have had to reassemble piecemeal something that should have been handed to them intact. An English academic recently told me of his attempt to obtain a copy of the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, a reference book that went from impeccable authority to liber prohibitus at the time of the Council. He contacted a Belgian who helped declining religious houses dispose of their libraries. This Belgian found a Franciscan community that was willing to sell its set – but at the last moment took a different course. The monks decided to burn the books, “to prevent them getting into the hands of traditionalists”.

Who are these terrifying young traditionalists? Step into a quiet chapel in New York and you will find an answer. There, early each Saturday morning, young worshippers gather in secret. They are divided by sex: women on the left, men on the right. Dressed in denim and Birkenstocks, with the occasional nose piercing, they could be a group of loiterers on any downtown sidewalk. But they have come here with a purpose. As a bell rings, they rise in unison. A hooded priest approaches the altar and begins to say Mass in Latin. During Communion, they kneel on the bare floor where an altar rail should be.

In a city where discretion is mocked and vice goes on parade, the atmosphere of reverence is startling. These Masses began a year ago, when a young priest finally gave in to the young worshippers’ demands. They wanted the traditional Mass; he feared offending older colleagues who loathe it. This secret conventicle was the compromise. Advertised by word of mouth among students and young professionals, it has slowly grown.

After the Last Gospel, the worshippers break their fast nearby with coffee. I ask one how she started coming here. “I’ve been going to Mass for 24 years,” she says. “I still go to both forms, but when I encountered the Latin Mass it felt more reverent. I was taken out of this world.” Her manner is disarming, her dress contemporary and unassuming. As the conversation drifts into a discussion of why Pius IX was right in the Mortara case, I reflect that she is the kind of person image-conscious Catholics would like to hold up as the Church’s future – were she not so drawn to its past.
[Hat tip to JM]

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