The Hermeneutics of the Abyss: Some Thoughts on Traditionis Custodes.

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Joseph Ratzinger, in his marvelous book, “Introduction to Christianity,” speaks about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her temptations to atheism and despair.  And all of these temptations came despite the fact that her entire life was framed by, and formed within, the matrix of a nurturing Catholic culture and family.  Ratzinger states, in a quote worthy of full citation, the following:

“In other words, in what is apparently a flawlessly interlocking world someone here suddenly catches a glimpse of the abyss lurking – – even for her – – under the firm structure of the supporting conventions. In a situation like this, what is in question is not the sort of thing that one perhaps quarrels about otherwise – – the dogma of the Assumption, the proper use of confession – – all this becomes secondary.  What is at stake is the whole structure; it is a question of all or nothing. That is the only remaining alternative; nowhere does there seem anything to cling to in this sudden fall. Wherever one looks, only the bottomless abyss of nothingness can be seen.”

(Introduction to Christianity, Ignatius Press edition, 1990, p. 43)

In what follows I am going to offer my own take on the recent motu proprio with an eye toward this “abyss” that lurks below us and the “all or nothing” decision Ratzinger speaks of here.  My claim is that the controversy is not so much an argument over liturgy, which is merely a proximate provocation, but is rather a renewed eruption of the seemingly never-ending debate over the proper reception of Vatican II. And my further claim is that this debate must be resolved in a very particular direction – – the direction of ressourcement theology – – and any failure to see this truth will threaten our very ability to avoid the abyss that Ratzinger speaks of here.  In other words, the stakes are high in this debate and go far beyond arguments over liturgy, which are merely a symptom of a much deeper pathology.

Let me first begin with a brief analysis of what I think of the Motu Proprio, after which I will move on to my main point.  

For the record, I think this decision by the Pope is wrong and I think the reasons he gives, though partially true, do not sufficiently justify this action.  I do not attend a TLM Mass and attend instead an Ordinariate parish, but I greatly respect the spiritual fruits that have come from those parishes that celebrate the TLM. I find the motu proprio rather cold and harsh, and find it puzzling that a Pope who speaks so much of mercy and accompaniment when it comes to people in immoral sexual relationships – – going so far as to send a personal letter to Father James Martin thanking him and comparing his ministry to that of Jesus – – should suddenly now turn so harshly against a small number of Catholics of a traditionalist bent.  Where is the accompaniment? Where is the dialogue?  Where is the reaching out?  Where is the frank analysis of why so many Catholics of this type find the mainstream Church so dull and uninspiring that they feel compelled to worship in older forms? These too are his sheep but Pope Francis clearly wants no part in “smelling like them” and prefers instead the odiferous stench of ageing German refugees from the sixties.  Apparently, some sheep are more equal than others…

And while it is indeed true that some of the leading internet provocateurs in the traditionalist movement have engaged in a harsh and divisive rhetoric (many of whom I have criticized in this blog,) this is not what characterizes the majority of such folks.  But the Pope does not seem aware of this, mainly because he never really bothered to find out, which gives the appearance at least that his polling of the bishops was most likely just a smokescreen to cover for a decision that was made long ago and for reasons altogether different from the ones stated in the motu proprio, even if the stated reasons are at least partially true.  There is also the puzzling decision to reserve approval for new priests to celebrate the TLM to a Vatican office, all the while talking of a decentralized papacy and allowing the Germans to carry on with their “synodal path,’ with its Teutonic arrogance and open defiance of Church teaching.  The entire motu proprio therefore reeks of a clericalistic odor with no consideration given to the pastoral needs of the laity who find such great spiritual comfort in attending the old Mass. This was a heavy-handed “top-down” decision that will not create the unity the Pope says is his aim, but will instead return us to 1970 with its fractious struggles over the implementation of Vatican II.  For me personally, at age 62 and as one who lived through that silly season, this all seems like déjà vu all over again as we are transported via Mr. Peabody’s “way back” time machine to the felt-banner, macrame Catholicism of my youth and a jam session with the Saint Louis Jesuits.  No thank you. I gladly return the ticket.  

But by now all of this has quickly become boilerplate analysis and many fine theologians, such as Cardinal Mueller, have offered a sustained theological critique of the motu proprio that make any further criticisms from me unnecessary.  What I want to offer instead is an analysis of what is not in the motu proprio but should have been.  There is a lot left unsaid in this document that should have been said if, as the Pope claims, his aims here are pastoral.  

What is lacking is a piercing pastoral analysis of what has brought us to this point in the first place.  Why is it that so many Catholics of deep faith have grown weary of the “business as usual” Catholicism of our parishes and have felt the need to flee to an older iteration of the faith, in both liturgy and in theology, and who do so, not out of nostalgia for a past they never knew, but because they have found something there that rips open their souls with the passion of a lover?  We can prattle-on with spittle flecked outrage about the audacity of those who dare reject Vatican II or who dare criticize the Novus Ordo, but it will come to nothing unless we own up to the fact that the Church has failed to recognize that the anomic and nihilistic cosmos of post-modernity has laid waste to all of our standard structures of meaning, all of the traditions that embodied and made “real” that meaning, and all of the moral and spiritual weight of everything that came before five minutes ago.  The Church has failed to even notice and, therefore, to acknowledge, that modern Catholics in the West are drowning with a slow gurgling death in the chaotic waters of modernity’s hegemonic enchantments. That we live in a collective of concupiscence that enslaves us to the morbid regime of death and the allure of immortality through pleasure. The Church has failed to recognize that all “ultimates” have been killed as effective realities by the Mammon and Moloch of modernity and have been replaced with an endless panoply of penultimate counterfeits.  The Church has failed to recognize the “abyss” that Ratzinger outlines which has now opened up below us and into which we all feel inexorably drawn as we flail our arms about desperately trying to grasp hold of something (anything!) solid.  

The abyss of the “unreality of God” has seized our culture and also our Church causing millions of Catholics to walk away from its insouciant drivel and its pretentious posturing as just so many empty lies designed to shore-up the last pathetic vestiges of its Constantinian trappings which have all been (surely now clearly!) exposed.  We wait in vain for a clarion call from the Church for a revolution of the soul, for a great night of collective repentance, for a great divestment of privilege, for a radical living of the Sermon on the Mount, or for the lifeboats to be dispatched forthwith to collect those adrift and drowning in the abyss.  There is none of that.  Instead, we get a motu proprio that simply scolds those who have apparently grabbed for the wrong lifeboat and which says “silence!” to the cri de couer coming from its desperate sheep.

Ratzinger’s “abyss” (as I am calling it) is the deep existential reality of our time and the strength of its rip tide requires an equally strong response from the Church.  A parish priest who is a dear and close friend of mine said to me once: “the crisis we face is the crisis of a laity and of a Church that does not even seem to know which questions to ask and, therefore, which answers to offer.”  Ours is a Church that has failed to ask the right questions and has therefore failed to flip the script of our culture’s lies and deceptions.  We asked for bread.  We got stones.  And thus did some in the sheepfold seek bread elsewhere in the alternative Catholic communities made possible by Summorum Pontificum.  And if some have fled to such havens with a goodly amount of undifferentiated bitterness it should be understood not as the bitterness of hatred, but rather as the bitterness of the desperate.  

What all of this points to is that the debates and controversies that we see now all around us are not going to go away until we start taking seriously the deep spiritual crisis that is at the core of every single one of them.  And we are not going to get anywhere so long as we persist in seeking bureaucratic or “structural” solutions to what are at root deeply spiritual problems.  You can legislate away the widespread use of the Tridentine liturgy, but you cannot legislate away the conditions of possibility that led to its rise in the first place.  You cannot legislate away the boring and banal mediocrity of so many suburban Catholic parishes.  I am a cradle Catholic, a former seminarian and a trained theologian.  And I attend an Ordinariate parish rather than my territorial parish.  And no motu proprio can legislate away the reasons why I do.  The Church can remove the Ordinariates tomorrow and ban every Latin Mass and every altar rail and every veil and every extruded tongue at communion time, and mandate that all Catholics must worship with the “Gather” hymnal in heart shaped churches, with bare concrete walls, holding sweaty hands, while watching maladroit octogenarians do liturgical dance in the sanctuary with streamers, sparklers, and sock puppets, and it will do nothing to ameliorate the spiritual dread that gnaws at us all.  All that such legislating will ever do is to deepen the abyss below us as it hollows out the heavens above us.

There is only one path forward and it is my constant refrain:  Vatican II’s universal call to holiness and the christocentric theological anthropology that animates it.  And before you all roll your eyes be aware of what it is I mean by this.  The Council was a great debate but that debate ended in 1965.  And we cannot go on and on acting as if the debate is still open and ongoing.  The Church cannot be in constant debate mode.  Things were settled at the Council and there was a clearly victorious party: the ressourcement school of thought.  And this fact is not changed by the later victory of the progressive party in the media and in the Catholic academy. The pontificates of John Paul and Benedict ratified the victory of the ressourcement school on a magisterial level. 

Unfortunately, the truly radical Catholicism of the ressourcement school, and of Vatican II itself, was domesticated and a bit muted, as the theological lunacy of the proponents of “rupture” gained strength, requiring from the Church a doubling down on the hermeneutic of continuity to such an extent that one began to wonder if there was anything pastorally new and unique in the Council at all, beyond a different form of liturgy.  Therefore, in my view, despite the “victory” of the ressourcement school at Vatican II, the true depths of that victory have yet to be plumbed.  Furthermore, unless we do rediscover those depths as the key to a renewal in the Church we will continue to spin our wheels in the mud with endless debates over penultimate issues like whether or not Taylor Marshall really does speak for all traditionalists, and if the motu proprio is really directed at folks like Marshall/Vigano, and if all of this shows an anti-American agenda in Pope Francis, and if we can now find a canonical way around this “heretical” Pope and his Freemason lollipop guild and get on with the Liturgy of 1962… oops … 1955 … oops … 1905.    

Therefore, the “depths” of which I speak in ressourcement theology are those elements still there to be mined concerning truly ultimate things and are, therefore, a true theological counter-ballast to the “abyss” of modernity and are not merely some clever new formulation of theological speculation.  That counter-ballast is there in the ressourcement awareness of the unique crisis posed by modernity’s agonistic betrayal of the spiritual domain, and of the need to confront that crisis with the full resources of the Church’s intellectual and spiritual treasury that go far beyond the static, stale, and shopworn categories of neo-scholasticism on the one hand, and of the fire sale “everything must go!” Catholicism of the culturally appeasing progressives.  The progressives at least also recognized the abyss below.  But they wanted to embrace it as an “always already reconciled and engraced abyss.”  Only the ressourcement thinkers, and their modern heirs in such movements as the Communio and Radical Orthodoxy schools, truly understand the depth of the crisis at hand.  And what these schools have in common is the realization that “business as usual” Christianity is dead and that only a radical transformation of the Church into a cruciform, Christological icon of the descent into Hell will do.  We must, in solidarity with those threatened by the abyss, vicariously suffer its darkness and thereby develop forms of sacramental worship, deeply rooted in the Tradition (because no ersatz liturgy can ever shine with the light of Christ’s victory over the abyss) that vibrate on the frequency of conquered darkness.  

Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict sensed this need.  Which is why he spoke of a “hermeneutic of reform” rather than just continuity.  Because “reform” always implies that there is going to be some rupture with the recent past, in order to retrieve the lost nuggets of a deeper continuity.  I think, in other words, that what Benedict is proposing is a “hermeneutic of the abyss” for understanding the true legacy of the Council.  

A hermeneutic of the abyss is a true pastoral bombshell. “Dynamite” as Peter Maurin called it.  Perhaps we can get a motu proprio on that.

Dorothy Day, pray for us.

77 comments

  1. Just one point: have you considered that it just may be that certain underlying premises of the modern Roman Catholic Church are simply not true, and that this disconnect was therefore an inevitable manifestation of a deeper contradiction? Atheism and the RCC aren’t the only options for someone looking for truth.

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    1. If we’re going to descend into the abyss of Holy Saturday, we need access to the full scope of Adrienne’s Nachlasswerke… especially volumes 4 and 5 “Cross and Hell”. The mood and flavor of our current Catholic moment smell and feel very much like her descriptions of her journeys on Holy Saturday where every exit is blocked and no hint of hope anywhere. We can see only His footsteps in the landscape of hell (“He has been here!”) and the stinking river always on the verge of overflowing and engulfing everything. But the light breaks through on Easter morning regardless…

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      1. My only comment – don’t be surprised if the light looks rather different from what you’re expecting.

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  2. You often speak about “ressourcement thinkers,” but I find that I have no idea what you are talking about.

    I am originally a child of the pre-Council Church (born 1945), raised by Franciscans in a perish school. For a time I was a Secular Order Discalced Carmelite. My academic training was legal, not theological. As a retired attorney I find myself now in a lovely very rural area with very very little by way of institutional resources. I am not particularly a fan of the Tridentine Mass, perhaps because I remember it very well, and its flaws, as addressed by the Council, were and are obvious to me.

    Can you recommend books for me to read about or by these ressourcement thinkers?

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      1. Since liturgy is the topic of the day, I would recommend Dom Alcuin Reed’s Organic Development of the Liturgy which has an amazingly profound forward written by Ratzinger right before becoming BXVI. Lost in the liturgy wars is how much good material there was in the 20th century’s liturgical movement – especially its earlier stages. If it puzzles you how a person like Ratzinger could be a proponent of the movement and how a movement that was started by Pope Pius X (yes, the namesake of the SSPX) resulted in the mess we have today, this is the book for you.

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    1. For moral theology, which was not taken up by the Council, I would recommend Servais Pinkaers Sources of Christian Ethics. He brings Thomism back to the time before it fell into the hands of the Neo-Scholastics, and his work figured greatly into Veritatis splendor.

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  3. When Pope Francis invokes Vatican 2, what exactly is he invoking? If one is talking about documents then the vast majority of “trads” are pro-Vatican 2, i.e. would have no objection to D.V. or S.C., or whatever. Only a handful would have issues with a mere handful of lines.
    Also I am starting to think the documents never mattered. The ressourcement party might have won all the debates and got to write all the documents but they didn’t grab the power, or they didn’t understand what the real divisions and motivations were.

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    1. Question for Larry based off this. If the resourcement thinkers won in drafting the documents, what party was the original schemas supporting? Neo-Scholasticism?

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      1. Yes, they were all boilerplate neo-scholastic schemas. John XXIII was so confident in them that he thought the Council would only last 3 months! But the Council fathers rejected the schemata as too shallow

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  4. The problem that Pope Francis is aiming at is definitely a real one. Very many TLM-goes and priests absolutely believe that the NO is somehow inherently defective, clown masses and felt banners aside, which is a heretical and schismatic point of view. If traditionalist communities are the only vital and growing parts of the Church, that may make them even more dangerous and their suppression more urgent. The only way forward is reverent observance and development of the NO. There is a lot of passion and erudition in the TLM community that should be contributing to this.

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    1. You may have had a point 20 years ago but today the new influx of TLMers are way more balanced and mainstream. I don’t attend a TLM but admire many who do. If you want to go after heretics and others then get ready the list is very long and TLMers at least some of them are near the very bottom. Of course the NO can be done well. That’s part of the hurt and injustice of this edict: selective hard line and at the same time endless patience with the liberal clowns on the left. Cheers

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    2. I have read repeatedly on far-right traditional sites that the NO is invalid, that the Eucharist is absent from such services, that one cannot satisfy one’s Sunday obligation by attending an NO Mass. Such stuff is not just “an heretical point of view,” this is outright schism. And so far as I can tell this kind of thing is getting worse.

      Perhaps after years of seeing this, of waiting patiently (or, not patiently) for things to settle down, only to see these statements getting more common and more extreme, the Pope judged that the time had come for more decisive action. What is important is Christ. Matters of language and liturgy should be strictly secondary.

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      1. No, “this kind of thing” isn’t getting worse. It’s much better than it once was. Yes, if you want to find online lunacy you can, and you can let yourself imagine that such online lunacy is representative, but it isn’t. The proof is in visiting Latin Mass parishes, where people are, well, normal.

        I attend an FSSP parish. It’s probably the fastest-growing parish in the San Diego Diocese, in percentage terms. Six or seven years ago I did come across a few parishioners who wallowed in the nonsense you decry, but , like Mistah Kurtz, they dead.

        Few of today’s parishioners are old enough to have known the Latin Mass as it existed before the introduction of the vernacular Mass. Not counting children–who are delightfully numerous in this parish!–I’d estimate the mean age to be 40 to 45. Despite the pandemic, the parish has grown so much that its six Sunday Masses are packed, and all but the earliest Mass see people having to sit in the overflow areas in the courtyard and in the classroom, watching on TV screens.

        Thirty years ago, the chief facial expression in a group of Latin Mass goers would have been a frown; they groused about everything. It wasn’t not so much that they were wrong but that they were repetitive and dull. Today the chief expression is a smile.

        A few nights ago I had dinner with a prominent Traditionalist writer who was passing through town. You would recognize his name. Years ago he and I clashed with regularity. He hasn’t changed his preference for the old Mass or his dissatisfaction with Pope Francis, but he recognizes that he backed some wrong horses and regrets having done so. He is wary of the oddballs on the periphery, and he distances himself from them. He acknowledges that there are fewer of them than there used to be.

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      2. Think for a moment about what you have just written. You often find schismatic sentiments expressed in ‘far-right traditional sites.’ Fair enough. Now consider this: the supremely overwhelming majority of priests that celebrate the TLM and whose tasks are referred to in the pope’s letter are diocesan TLM priests, priests of the FSSP, priests of the ICKSP, and a smattering of smaller organizations mostly in France. None of these priests hold the views that you see in ‘far-right traditionalist sites’. The majority of the people that express the view you mention are in the SSPX and in sedevacantist groups, none of which are affected in any way by the pope’s document, because they are not in communion with the pope. Now, I totally understand if you cannot distinguish between these groups, but traditionalists can and do, and the pope should be able to. It’s a part of his job. So in effect, the pope is punishing traditionalists who never express the views you mention, because other traditionalists (not referred to or in any way involved in the pope’s document) express those views. In addition, the pope is not legislating against schismatic acts, or calumny, or detraction, but against the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. Is it the fault of the Mass that sanctified millions of souls for centuries? Really? Can we really see a sincere attempt to solve this problem in the reduction of holy masses? How is this ever a solution? The irony is that traditionalists who have never expressed the kinds of views you mention above, now have zero reason to listen to Pope Francis, because the brutal, misguided, self-contradictory, downright nasty manner of his intervention has reduced his credibility to the level of rubble. The document, in addition to being plain nasty as I said, is badly written and contains other egregious flaws, including dishonesty, that are so shocking as to distract one’s attention from the rigid, clericalist legalist restrictions. Even Catholics with ‘no dog in this fight’ should be a little shocked that a current pope could contradict one predecessor (Benedict), misquote another predecessor (John Paul II), and misuse the words and actions of yet a third predecessor (Pius V). There are injuries here that are really inflicted on the Church herself, and not only on traditionalists. I do not blame you for what I see as facile painting of thousands of good priests and families with massively broad strokes. It is not your job to be on top of this. But your comment is emblematic of a lack of knowledge and familiarity with these people, who this pope has made no effort to ‘welcome’, to ‘feel close’ with, to ‘accept’ as ‘the other.’ Always concerned with the fate of refugees, he appears willing to create thousands of spiritual ones. The famous ‘who am I to judge?’ is only for some sheep. God bless you and yours and keep you safe in these times.

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      3. “None of these priests hold the views that you see in ‘far-right traditionalist sites’.”

        Are you in command of your facts here or are you presuming to know?, do ‘None’ of them hold or sympathise with these views?

        “The majority of the people that express the view you mention are in the SSPX and in sedevacantist groups”

        That’s clearly true but a quick scan through the content of many prominent self-proclaimed Catholic bloggers, vloggers and social media celebrities show that there is at the least a great deal of sympathy for these ‘views’ in seemingly mainstream (online) circles.

        “Now, I totally understand if you cannot distinguish between these groups, but traditionalists can and do, and the pope should be able to. It’s a part of his job.”

        Wasn’t this the point of the questionnaire, he’s not omniscient right so he consulted his bishops, maybe they lied?

        “(not referred to or in any way involved in the pope’s document)”

        He clearly called out the sort of Trads he has in mind but yes its very hard for those who, like you, don’t share these extreme views.

        “Can we really see a sincere attempt to solve this problem in the reduction of holy masses? How is this ever a solution?”

        Will it result in the overall reduction of masses? Is the equation: Number of masses = Number of souls saved? Or, number of souls saved (VO) > Number of souls saves (NO)?

        “now have zero reason to listen to Pope Francis”

        ‘Zero reason?’ Maybe read Ed Fesers recent blog post about respecting the office not the person.

        “The document, in addition to being plain nasty….”

        This is clearly emotionally motivated ad hominem nonsense.

        “I do not blame you for what I see as facile painting of thousands of good priests and families with massively broad strokes.“

        It sounds like telly tubby land in the EF masses where there are only a few obvious nutters (none of whom are clerics) and everyone knows who they are and the Pope has declared war with the full knowledge he’s carpet bombing innocent civilians. Maybe he was given bad intel? I think the global picture will look a lot different from your local one however clear it might seem to you.

        “God bless you and yours and keep you safe in these times.”

        And You and Yours

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      4. To be fair, such views are common to groups that are not in communion with the Church to begin with. I’ve attended an FSSP parish for years and I have yet to meet a priest or lay person who thinks this way. We can’t put all trads into the same basket. The FSSP thinks differently than some other groups.. but the motu proprio is aimed at exactly these faithful groups in communion with Rome that dont question the validity of the Novus Ordo. Maybe the really extreme traditionalists you mention, have given us all a bad name. But there is really quite a variety based on where you go and if the church is in union with Rome or not.

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      5. Did Cardinal Mueller call the document nasty, badly written and dishonest? He disliked it but he acted the Christian in his manner of disagreeing as he did in strongly affirming the Popes stance on VII deniers. So no comparison.

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    3. Which priests and lay people do you mean though? FSSP? ICKSP? SSPX? Others? SSPX and other groups not in regular standing would see things differently than FSSP. For instance, some trads online say that if you can’t get to a TLM on Sunday, you shouldn’t go anywhere. My FSSP priest said this is wrong and we should still go to Mass. So you can see there is a difference based on which group you’re part of. The ones that are in full union with Rome dont think that the Novus Ordo is invalid. However it is totally a valid point that the Novus Ordo in many parishes lacks reverence in terms of how its done. Many TLM attending Catholics find a safe refuge in their parishes and if they close down, they might be left with very liberal parishes instead. I can say from experience that after going to the TLM for a while, and then attending a suburban contemporary parish, there is a huge difference and it does affect one spiritually. Not all Novus Ordo parishes are like this, but many are.

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    4. “Very many TLM-goes and priests” based on what — Twitter? I will grant that this is an impression people have, but it seems to me that would be like saying “very many OF-goers and priests” support LGBT Masses. Those things exist and are strongly defended in some areas, but they are hardly supported by anything like the majority of Catholics. If anything,t hey have MORE support from the heirarchy up to and possibly including the pope, and they cannot be in any way reconciled to the Church’s 2000 years of teachings. Moreover, I find this statement to be dumbfounding: “If traditionalist communities are the only vital and growing parts of the Church, that may make them even more dangerous and their suppression more urgent.” Assuming (which I don’t) that these communities are the only vital and growing parts of the Church, how stupid would we have to be to insult, hurt, and suppress them?

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  5. On a spur of the moment decision, I chose to read for the first time Lumen Fidei. It has a flavor similar to Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity which would make sense due to the situation in which it was written. It would appear to fit very well with your reflection at the beginning of this article. The abyss is there and faith has to be part of the answer. Not a dry understanding of faith which definition is easily memorized but hard to live by. Rather, it’s the encounter with Christ that each of us are so desperately is trying to live in accordance with.

    Dr. Chapp, thank you for once again framing the situation in the Church as one requiring a Christocentric answer. As you mentioned in a previous blog when you quoted Bernanos, the faithful of the Church are bored. Not a boredom that is due to a lack of activity, but it is a boredom that is caused by a lack of Christ being the center of our lives. We will keep fighting over the correct interpretation of Vatican II and all the liturgical business that comes with it until we wake up and allow ourselves to encounter Christ as center importance of all that we do.

    Thanks for helping give us the wake up call.

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  6. Have we ever thought that perhaps the failures of the liturgical reform and the subsequent reform of the reform and then the blossoming of TLM after SP incidentally did exactly what the ressorcement crew actually wanted. I mean TLM’s generally are not all old people who lived in the 50s and 60s but a lot of young and middle age people two with young families. By reclaiming traditional practices and eschewing banal de facto atheism that Larry has talked about the TLM is perhaps the communities most prominently embracing the universal call to holiness. If I perceive correctly, the ressourcement was about reclaiming the more full tradition of the Church and waking up a static Church that had laity seeking to do the minimum for salvation. Obviously it’s possible we still have some trads who are a little too obsessed with 18th century manuals and misperceive the post-Trent Church as the entirety of tradition while ignoring the richness that Trent inherited. But there’s also probably a lot of people rediscovering the Patristics and the original Summa in the trad movement. The TLM communities are a place where we have limited but concrete data that suggests they are trying to live by the moral code of the Church at a time when most of society has given up, aka the abyss. I’m sure there are some counter examples but it subjectively seems in my biased knowledge that some great revitalizations of monastic life have centered or discovered the TLM and Divine Office. Contrary to anti-trad polemics, the most practical advice on how to live and love God has often come from the homilies of FSSP priests. The TLM goers, while some can be derived from a love of rubrics and rules, are almost certainly the most enthusiastic fasters and have encouraged the most penance (my local FSSP parish has a flyer of the old fast before each Lent which the priest goes through and encourages people to do.) where the old liturgy may used to mean something staid and rubric oriented so many are now discovering the richness of symbolism and the ways the liturgy draws us in to the mysteries. If I may be permitted to speculate, maybe the abuse of the liturgy accidentally functioned to wake people up to the richness and greater participation in the liturgy. For all the effort to create more active participation, are there actually many parishes where the people are as engaged with the liturgy as the TLM masses? I’m not advocating for the reset button, rather that we consider how to reform the TLM and the NO to authentically include more active participation (most of which is interior) and reclaim parts of our tradition that may have been muffled or forgotten during the preceding era in Church history. The obvious answer is to look eastward, where there are living rites from which we can learn and borrow rather than simply be consigned to an academic study of history. All I’m really saying is don’t forget that the universal call to holiness that was called for may actually be under our noses to some degree.

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  7. Thanks for this Larry. It is so true.

    Allow me to again post one of my favorite bugbears: as a religious ed teacher I am appalled by the way we teach the faith to our children. Every textbook chapter is a variation on “here is a list of what we believe, and BTW you can work in a soup kitchen”. No passion at all. One chapter had a brief anodyne mention of Jean Donovan. I turned half the lesson into a hagiography of her, I described what was happening in El Salvador at the time and I read part of that famous (or should be famous) letter she sent to a friend before she was killed, about how she could not abandon the children there. The kids loved it.

    The people who write these texts are doing their best to ignore the abyss.

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    1. Wow! Do I ever understand that! I spend six years teaching in my wife’s Latin parish until the theological conflict between my Orthodox theology and the Latin church made my hypocrisy untenable. Fortunately, the sixth grade I was teaching didn’t go into any of the conflicting doctrines between the East and West, and I was able to concentrate on presenting the faith as a covenant love affair along the same lines which converted Scott Hahn. I presented the covenant to them as both a challenge to live and a love affair between God and man.

      I think most of the kids loved it. I still have some of the notes they wrote me at the end of their school year. They are precious to me and I hope I in some way challenged them to love Christ. Banality never challenges anyone.

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      1. The moral life, rubrics, theology, doctrine all point to one thing. They are not an end in themselves, though you wouldn’t know it reading too many catechism texts. I would even dare say listening to too many TLM priests. Rather, it is ALL about the covenantal love affair with God. The Mass, NO or EF, is not just a sacrifice (is not just the Consecration) it is also, more importantly, the wedding feast and bridal chamber. A passionate love affair with God is called holiness. It is what the saints had. That is what made them different, not that they lived really moral lives.

        Yes. Love is a challenge, is thrilling and is the anti-abyss. Intimate love with God makes us look into the abyss of our own sinfullness. The only antidote to that is God’s merciful love.

        This may be not be universal, but I can’t help but see a few TLM go-ers as gripping to the EF and its trappings as the only option. If their view of Latin, the TLM and veils as the saving grace of the Church isn’t true then none of it is.

        I think you hit it, Larry, that neither the TLM nor the NO is the answer, but a true reform of the TLM/NO. The Ordinariate and the East offer much to ponder.

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    2. ‘Every textbook chapter is a variation on “here is a list of what we believe, and BTW you can work in a soup kitchen”.’ BANG, spot on!

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  8. Enjoy the Ordinariate while you still can, Doctor. I am not confidant about its future. Doom and gloom, perhaps, but I just attended Mass in a church social hall this weekend, and couldn’t adequately explain to my six-year-old daughter why we couldn’t sit inside the church building itself, which is rather plain IMO but she thinks is quite pretty (and which we had been attending the previous six months). What could I say except, “The Pope doesn’t like how we pray the Mass, and doesn’t want us to pray it in a church”? I’m not much of a philosophy student, but if I recall correctly, the whole idea behind phenomenology was to take into account the subjective experience of the individual. If I am correct (and you will no doubt correct me if I’m wrong), then I never understood the RadTrad resistance to addressing modern man using this school of thought. Modernity takes the subjective experience of the individual very seriously, and if we don’t, we can’t show them that we might just have the answer to the questions they’re asking. Long story short, our Holy Father (and through him my local bishop) have said very clearly that my search for answers, my wrestling with Ratzinger’s abyss, is illegitimate, and if I don’t do it their way then I can go the Hell (or Econe) for all they care. I need prayers, professor. Byzantium is calling, and the call if alluring.

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    1. Don’t become too enamored with Byzantium unless it is the Orthodox faith. I speak as an Eastern Catholic who has gone through the fires of liturgical and personal betrayal at the hands of the Eastern Catholic Church. The Ruthenian bishops somehow had no fear to change the Creed itself, along with the prayer book (a horror we refer to as “The Teal Terror.”) I know of at least a dozen good friends who were driven to Orthodoxy from the ECC because of such theological and liturgical shenanigans. The Byzantine Catholic Church in America is bleeding members, down over 50% in the last 50 years. They have no idea who they are theologically, they do not evangelize, and as the old babas die off, the parishes shrink and are closed by bishops.

      While Orthodoxy is not perfect, you must at least admit that they have somewhat tenaciously refused changes in Liturgy and theology. In other words, what the apostles taught to the early fathers has been guarded. If you are going to look to the East, I would recommend at least giving them a fair hearing.

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  9. The abyss is foundational to my conversion to Catholicism. Even before becoming familiar with Ratzinger I knew that I was at the bottom of the abyss, even using that term. I looked to the Church for safehaven, and it seemed that the abyss had gotten to it as well, deconstructing it’s art, liturgy, and lived faith. I have often struggled with whether I have any supernatural faith in the Church as a result of this, feeling threatened by that looming abyss. Pope Francis usually pushes me closer to the edge.

    All this to say that whatever our differences, you’re speaking my language here. This article was a blessing to my eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Larry – as an author and writer, I stand in profound admiration of the wordsmith that you are.

        I find myself in a similar situation as an Eastern Catholic, and the only thing that has kept me from “doxing” (converting to some ethnic brand of Orthodox) is a direct answer to prayer in this regard. I have been given orders by the Master that I am to stay where I am at this time. Confusing to me, but I try to make it a habit not to argue with God. Bad form, and it usually ends up badly for the one who indulges himself in argumentation with the Lord and His purposes

        I feel for you guys in the Latin church. I really do. It’s like watching a slow motion train wreck. I just have to wonder how many folks who are in liturgical, theological, and moral despair would jump ship to Orthodoxy if it weren’t for a fear of being eternally condemned? Judging from her comments, I think my wife is one. She was educated by ruler-wielding Dominican no nonsense nuns.

        Ahhhhhh……nothing like a good dose of eternal condemnation to keep the masses in their pews.

        Again, I apologize if this post is a tad chippy, but I find, much to my despair, that I am developing a less than charitable attitude towards the organization in general, and it tends to bleed through in my writing.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. “Only the ressourcement thinkers, and their modern heirs in such movements as the Communio and Radical Orthodoxy schools, truly understand the depth of the crisis at hand.”

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. For those unfamiliar with them, search out the Communio site online and buy and read back issues (founded by Ratzinger and others after V2); for RO, check out the center for philosophy and theology at Nottingham, noting especially the articles and book reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would you group Communion and Liberation with Communio and Radical Orthodoxy? I only ask because my experience of CL has been very Christocentric in their approach to sharing the faith.

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    2. Would you group Communion and Liberation in this group? I ask because, in my experience, CL is very Christocentric in their approach to sharing and describing the faith as encounter with Christ. I know Julian Carron has states numerous times his unabashed support for the Francis pontificate but I am less interested in the leader as I am the charism as a whole.

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  11. A very thought provoking article. You mentioned TLM as a lifeboat and refuge for serious Catholics fleeing from the Abyss. Although I am not a TLM devotee myself, I respect those I know who are. I would like to mention another “lifeboat” and that is the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. Some may consider these two (TLM and Charismatic) as opposite ends of the spectrum, but in reality they share a common source: the desire to worship God in a deep and intense way. To get as close to heaven as is possible in this life. TLM achieves this through deeply meaningful ritual expressions, while Charismatics achieve this through shared personal expressions of worship. Both are Christ centered. This is the key.

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  12. Thank you for this article. I am not a theologian and don’t understand all the schools of thought in Vatican II, but I just wanted to say that I completely relate to your description of why we attend the TLM, and why the reason matters. As a convert, I discovered the TLM one day and realized that this is the Catholicism I had been seeking. It gave me something that the contemporary suburban parish I attended, did not give. That Latin Mass was so powerful it moved me in the deepest part of my soul. I knew then I need to attend the TLM. So it was really heartbreaking to read the news the other day. When I read your article, I realized that you had explained what we are all feeling.. that is exactly it. We just found a refuge in the TLM from the darkness that is all around us.

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  13. Like drycamp, I am a “cradle Catholic” but about a decade younger (I’m 65) and so am old enough to remember when the “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass was simply Mass. In around 1968, I first learned to serve Mass in that form and served one Mass before our family moved to a different state which had already switched to the NO, which is how I served from then on.

    My wife and I are members of a parish in which the NO is done in what we feel is a very reverent manner, including use of Latin for some of the prayers, regular inclusion of the Confiteor, frequent use of Gregorian chant by our Priests and Choir (in addition to hymns which pre-date the 1970’s and are actually great music) and use of incense and the bells. Regular Confession is offered and encouraged. I am a Cooperator with Opus Dei and the members of The Work who got me involved are also members of the parish. Frankly, I have no particular desire to attend an EF Mass (despite having an FSSP parish nearby) for many of the same reasons drycamp mentions; I like that Mass is in the vernacular and have found the broader array of readings, including those from the Old Testament, very enriching.

    The interest in the EF by younger people is an interesting phenomenon, although not however, completely surprising as much that goes on in parishes is not that compelling, spiritually (your term was “banal mediocrity”). Your point that the interest in this older form suggests that something much deeper is missing seems spot on to me. In his motu proprio, Pope Francis alludes to nostalgia by members of the faithful looking for something better from the past. Frankly, its hard to see where this impression comes from, because few faithful Catholics who I know and who, like me, are old enough to remember “when it was simply Mass” are all that nostalgic for the EF.

    Thank you and others for providing some suggested reading about ressourcement and and Radical Orthodoxy. I will also be moving “Introduction to Christianity” to the top of my reading list, and re-reading “The end of the Modern World” as I clearly missed much of what Guardini was saying with the book.

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  14. Every criticism thrown at Catholics who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass actually applies much more to the Catholics who attend the typical Novus Ordo liturgy, at least if all polls and studies can be believed. One researcher after another has stated that only 30% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe in the Real Presence. Thus, the typical TLM Catholic has a much greater belief in the validity of the Novus Ordo than the people who prefer that liturgy! It is the same for the teachings contained in Vatican II, and in documents such as Humane Vitae. When half of all self-described practicing Catholics believe in “abortion rights” and “gay marriage,” and fully 90% use artificial contraception, just who has “hijacked” what in the Church?

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    1. I have only seen the 30% figure regarding the real presence in one poll. A 2019 Pew Research Centre survey reported that about 30% both knew the teaching and believed it, while 22% both knew the Church’s teaching and rejected it. A massive 44% thought the Church teaches that it is a symbol, and 3% didn’t know what the Church teaches. The 44% hadn’t rejected the Church’s teaching; they believed they were following it.

      Sadly for them there is no miracle in the eucharist, and Jesus must seem less present than he actually is.

      I think if the practising Catholics who believe in abortion rights and use artificial contraception could present their thoughts, many of them would have heard these views justified by a Catholic school teacher or priest or someone else they regarded as trustworthy and authoritative. That is, like the 44%, they would believe they were acting consistently with Church teaching!

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      1. I am not aware of any such survey of belief in the Real Presence taken before the Council. I was a child in the 1950’s, and most of my contact with Catholics was with my school friends, and of course the nuns, who had a huge influence on all of us. (Unless you were a boy your contact with priests was minimal in those days.) From what bouncing around I did among the families of my friends I am not sure, however, that a fervent belief in the Real Presence was more common back then than it is now..

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  15. Thanks for the post, as always insightful. You know, what hurts the most to me (happily having a solid parish priest and not overly interested in the Latin Mass, in some sense I don’t have a dog in this fight) is the slap in the face this represents to our dear Joseph Ratzinger. I’ve said elsewhere that I wouldn’t for a moment argue against Francis’ ownership of the papacy, but I don’t like him. He sows confusion and now shows himself as a bully. He speaks ever-so-softly, but carries a very big stick. A my-way-or-the-highway tin star martinette. I don’t see any kindness here. The dulce pitie de dieu that was at the heart of Bernanos and so many others.

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    1. “A my-way-or-the-highway tin star martinette” — great description. He’s not a good pope. I don’t know whether he’s a good man or not, but he’s not good at the job of poping, shall we say. If he’s building bridges, they aren’t the sort I’d hazard trying to drive over. It’s oddly difficult for many Americans to say, or even think, that we can have a perfectly legitimate but bad pope. But we have in the past, many times, and we do now.

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  16. A very helpful and balanced essay. I add only a word of caution regarding the radical orthodoxy movement. They cannot be considered a continuation of the ressourcement thinkers unless resourcement thinkers wish to be known primarily as incredibly poor scholars and sloppy thinkers. Radical orthodoxy is responsible for the most henious distortions in the history of distortions of the thought of Duns Scotus. There is a recent book on the topic by brother Horan. RO does not have an especially accurate interpretation of Aquinas, either.

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  17. Thanks for this Larry. One thing stood out for me. You stated:

    “There is only one path forward and it is my constant refrain: Vatican II’s universal call to holiness and the christocentric theological anthropology that animates it. ”

    Yesterday I read this from Gaudium et Spes para 12

    “… all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.”

    That does not seem a particularly Christocentric anthropology. I know its only a single quote but thought it may be of interest.

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    1. The title of this blog is gaudiumetspes22. That section of the document says we can only understand man in the light of Christ. The statement about man being the crown of creation is a statement about man as the imago dei and of man as transformed into Christic icons who are the liturgical mouthpiece for all of created nature

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      1. Excellent article, I really enjoyed reading it and found it helpful and inspiring. For what it is worth, I think it highly unlikely that a church involved with corrupt deals in property markets and dodgy films will ever be in a position to offer a clarion call to the faithful. If God forbid, the covid vaccines are as dangerous as some believe, (morally dodgy goes without saying) the fallout for them church will in my opinion make the abuse scandals pale into insignificance.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s a great essay.

    I think you’ve hit the money in seeing the great problem in being the Church’s inability to deal with the crisis of Modernity.

    I think that the initial reassourcement theologians tried to grapple with this problem and were moderately successful with seeing flaws with the traditionalist model of Christianity but did not consider the problems that could arise from the “liberal” variant. Guys like De Lubac did not expect the consequences of V2, which were really more an “abuse” of the council rather than a proper continuation of it.

    I think that the real “go to” guy is Charles Peguy, the father of the term “reassourcement”. He sits rather oddly in the modern Catholic schema because he does not fit neatly into any of the modern divisions of Catholicism. Too trad for the liberals, to liberal for the Trads.
    I suggest that a study and deep reflection on his life would be quite profitable.

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  19. Very interesting article, thank you!
    The numerous quotations of Ratzinger in his prophetic article from the late 1950’s ( I have tead5rhe article in German and Spanish as well) hit me just as hard as it did when reading it the first time several years ag;o.
    Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict always makes my heart burn; because ones senses very strongly that his whole heart is present in whatever he writes or says. One knows beyond any doubt that here we have a Cardinal = Pope whose whole life has been totally centred and deeply rooted in Christ. That his main concern never was his own ” career” or a loveless rigid enforcement of his own political preferences. He put himself aaside completely
    I would like comment on rheckineshere about the Churc6and it’s relation to Franco. While it us true that he caused much cruel to Spanish society, I miss in this context the inevitable historical truth ( well documented) that the Church was the victim of the most cruel persecution since the 3rd century. And not by Franco. But by the Stalinist Marxists! About 55.000 priests Bishops and laity were literally butchered and tortured to death. In just 1- 2 weeks in Madrid approximately 41 percent of the clergy was murdered. About 300 churches were burnt in a couple of weeks. By the Communists!
    The situation was so dire that finally the Church had to ask for protection from Franco.

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  20. Excellent commentary and very funny declartion in advance refusing the order to gather with Gather in a heart shaped nave! However, there is still the fact that the Church was flourishing up until the Council in many ways- the post war
    return to God, the project of Europe inspired by devout Catholics like Adenauer, the creativity of converts like Waugh and Greene, the statics outside of Europe of conversions and vocations. Also, over and over again, when one is looking at the how parish life was, it was not banal or rote. During the pandemic, the Jersey City Latin Mass community took shelter in St. Thomas the Apostle in the Greenville section, a decidedly ungentrified part of town. The organ was inoperable and in researching the instrument I learned that it had been installed in the late 19th century as the Irish displaced the Dutch, the Dedication Mass used Bach’s B Minor Mass with soloists from the Metropolitan Opera. That Mass would have taken like six hours between the length of the music and the intricacy of the liturgy for the dedication of a church! Also, what broad minded ecumenism to use the composition of a Lutheran! Time and time again when one looks closely at the past, one is blown away by the depth, beautify and dedication of our forbearers. One thinks of how Eamon Duffy (The Stripping of the Altars) who discovered that pre-reformation England was not a spiritual wasteland waiting to be let free by Cranmer but was one of the most Christ centered societies ever existing. Yet, there is no doubt that there are trends in the modern world that threatened the soul. In Frank Sheed’s autobiography, The Church and I, Sheed reports how he began to notice in the middle of the last century that his audience throughout the English speaking world were increasingly indifferent to spiritual things and he wondered how broad and deep was this new indifference. So the call to resourcement would seem to have been the right call- yet what was actually broadcast was a declaration by implication that it was all false.

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  21. Thank you for this, thoughtful – as well as characteristically amusing – comment on the motu proprio, Larry. I agree wholeheartedly with your fundamental critique and insights and with most of the details of your analysis and prescription. I would make two small but I think important qualifications (perhaps others need making as well), one textual, the other historical-theological:

    First, while I agree substantially with your intuitive sense of the pope’s overall tone towards those he is addressing, it’s not strictly accurate to say that he offers NO accompaniment, nor to assert that there is in the document “NO consideration given to the pastoral needs of the laity who find such great spiritual comfort in attending the old Mass” (my emphasis). In fact, Art. 3, sec. 4 stipulates that the bishop is:
    “to appoint a priest who, as delegate of the bishop, is entrusted with these celebrations and with the pastoral care of these groups
    of the faithful. This priest should be suited for this responsibility, skilled in the use of the Missale Romanum antecedent to the reform
    of 1970, possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts, and
    be animated by a lively pastoral charity and by a sense of ecclesial communion. This priest should have at heart not only the
    correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful.”
    Now, granted that what this might mean in practice could range widely, and might or might not have other (more sinister or otherwise strategic) motives than those stated, but the pastoral needs of TLM devotees are, in point of fact, clearly in view here. Rest assured, I completely agree that the comparative papal attention to accompaniment of homosexuals in the Church is absurdly out of proportion, set in juxtaposition with this document.

    Second, while I (as also a practicing professional theologian) will go a long way with your enthusiastic endorsement of Ressourcement theology, especially as you describe it, and as it is often defined as a theological mode deliberately bringing to bear “the full resources of the Church’s intellectual and spiritual treasury,” there is a marked tendency (however disputed) of this school to give somewhat short shrift to what I might presume to call “true” Thomism – which I would also dare to distinguish from the neo-Thomism you, and I, find often so inadequate – not to mention St. Thomas himself. I think that our theological resources include St. Thomas. My sense is that Ressourcement, though it has long paid lipservice to this inclusion, tends, still, to undervalue Thomas’s own contribution, which is rich, enduring, and living: moreover, it is thoroughly compatible with the phenomenological and personalist dimensions of the best of 20th and 21st century theological work. I have no patience with the neo-Thomists’ caricatured dismissals of De Lubac or Balthasar, but I also have run constantly into a range of Ressourcement enthusiasts (of the more jejune, not Larry’s, variety), who generally have little familiarity, much less appreciation of the greatness and indispensability of St. Thomas’s thought or his legacy in other great Thomists, right up until the late 20th century.

    For what it’s worth.

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    1. Thanks for this Nathan. We can discuss all these points when next we meet. Especially your point about ressourcement thinkers. But the issues you raise are too complex for my combox patience level!

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    2. “Ressourcement theology, especially as you describe it, and as it is often defined as a theological mode deliberately bringing to bear “the full resources of the Church’s intellectual and spiritual treasury,” there is a marked tendency (however disputed) of this school to give somewhat short shrift to what I might presume to call “true” Thomism”

      I think this is quite true. But the problem is what’s true Thomism. Is it the school embodied by Garrigou-Lagrange or Gilson? This is not an insignificant point since one of the Thomisms is wrong and I don’t think that this has been fully thought out.

      BTW, I’m in the latter camp.

      The other issue is what does “Ressourcement” actually mean, and I’ve got a suspicion here that the movement may have gotten it wrong, seeing it as an temporal “historical” movement and thus concentrating on the “early church” rather than drawing upon the transcendental realities of Christianity (If I’m vague it’s because I’m not a trained theologian.) Slavery, for instance, in my opinion is intrinsically wrong, but to engage it “historically” would somehow seem to justify it. It’s injustice is recognised by a deep meditation on Christianity and not on an argument based upon appeal to historical sources.

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  22. Very good essay. I agree that people are trying hard to fill a sense of something missing. OTOH, I don’t think the anger and bitterness comes from that; it comes from legitimate grievances discovered. For a lot of people, it’s the sex abuse scandal. For me (although that didn’t help, and yes, it touched parishes I had gone to), it was finding out that so much that I had been taught about Catholicism all my life was, if not untrue, than incomplete or misleading. It took me years to get over that anger, and every so often it still catches me.

    (Like the homemade chewy Communion bread that was sweet enough that they must have used honey as an ingredient, so it must have been invalid matter, and I was eight and didn’t know better. Every so often, I happen to think about it and just feel sick. And yet, somebody must have stopped it, because it only happened for about a month and then disappeared forever – but they didn’t preach on it or apologize or have anything in the Bulletin. So yup, I got grudges.)

    What helped was to do something about it. Yes, I will start fasting on Friday. Yes, I will learn Latin, so that I can read older books. Yes, I will find out more about the Bible. Yes, I will find out why this connects to that, and pass it along. Reading the Fathers helped a lot, because ancient Rome felt a lot like our confusing world.

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  23. I’ve read and reflected on various commentaries and comments relating to this motu proprio, including those here, with a measure of cautious bewilderment at how and why it has come about. The effect on me has certainly been to steer me closer to the Communio school. It may have been remarked on elsewhere, but to me it all looks a bit too much like a case of good old Girardesque contrived “othering”, scapegoating and sacrifice, the better to bring about a perception of moral expiation and re-assertion of unity within a currently dominant, if evidently brittle, faction. However, even in imputing the purest of motivations behind it, I just cannot see those being the lasting effects. Quite the contrary, it feels more like the deadening embrace of a continual revolutionary/counter-revolutionary zeitgeist.

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  24. I have been wondering about the impetus of the motu proprio. Wasn’t it just a month prior that news spread of an FSSP parish in Dijon, France defying their bishop on a concelebration? Whether they had a valid reason or not, here we had members of a priestly order known for the Tridentine Mass but are ostensibly in full communion with Rome – and yet their actions were throwing shade on the Novus Ordo thus seemingly bringing it into question. Not saying this calls for the disciplinary measures in the motu proprio but I wonder if it has been written and waiting in the wings for something like this to respond to.

    And just a month prior to that, SSPX put this video on their youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZpbnoyd1zg – “Should Catholics Attend Novus Ordo Mass?” Spoiler alert: ‘No!’ At one point they compare the NO to Cain, that it is a ‘sacrifice displeasing to God”! The hubris of the priest is unbelievable; he actually thinks he has the authority to tell people which liturgy they can or cannot attend.

    While I can’t say how widespread these attitudes are, there is a temptation to turn the TLM liturgy into an idol (speaking from personal experience here) and hopefully the Holy Father is guarding against that, however imprudent. Can we get a motu proprio banning clergy from using social media please? Maybe even a temp ban on homilies?

    Thanks for the tip on the Ratzinger book, will keep an eye out for that.

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    1. The FSSP in Dijon didn’t “defy” the bishop, as their order doesn’t celebrate the NO at all. Their founding was specifically to celebrate the TLM so for a bishop to tell them to go against their founding docs, is overstepping his authority. The bishop seemed to use that as an excuse to throw them out in some kind of triumphal rage.

      Whatever the SSPX may have said, it shouldn’t have had any bearing on the Pope’s letter since the SSPX wasn’t addressed in the document.

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      1. I stand corrected on the Dijon story, thanks. Re: SSPX its true they are not directly named but do they not operate their chapels in dioceses at the bishop’s whim, just as the other priestly societies do? Never quite understood what their jurisdiction is with relation to their local church authority, but its odd to me that they are untouchable and can set up shop wherever.

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