Why would he say a Mass with a bishop who has a golden image of himself that’s supposed to be St Joseph by the altar? Also, the letter I referenced is below the sources.
The Holy Trinity and Modern Heresy | Fr John Hardon, SJ – Return To Tradition
Open Letter to the Anti-Trads
September 12, 2021
Commemoration of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary
To Whom it May Concern,
With the July publication of Traditionis Custodes, there is has been an onslaught of commentary for
and against the Traditional Minded Catholics, especially those who appreciate and attend the ancient
liturgical rites of the Latin Rite of the Roman Church. As someone who would fit into the classification
of a Trad, I would like to begin by offering my thoughts and observations of those who are publicly
commenting against the Traditional Catholic Community.
First, I must say how astounding it is that so many anti-Trad Catholic commentators are focusing their
attention on social media commentators and social media influencers. While there is no doubt that
these men and women have influence it is silly to think that their commentary is representative of the
average Trad in the pews. It is an utter insult to the average Catholic to suggest that you can watch a
YouTube video and assume that you have covered your bases and now understand the movement.
The second astounding thing is to assume that the comments section of a website are filled with
authentic Trad Catholics and that their comments are universally applicable to all Trad Catholics. In
the Trad Catholic circles, I move in, almost no one posts comments on any frequent basis and few are
actively involved in social media to any extent. What husband and wife raising young kids actually has
time to engage in this stuff to any significant degree? Very few. I am sure that they make a comment
or two from time to time, but the majority of the mean-spirited banter online I am utterly convinced is
not from the average Catholic. In my experience, I just don’t know how it could be.
The only thing I can say is that all of the Anti-Trad commentary that points to online commentators as
their primary example is showing themselves to be foolish, lazy, and irresponsible.
The next topic to be addressed is the notion that there is an Anti-Vatican II ideology that flourishes in
the Latin Mass communities. I will say, this may be true, at least to some extent, but all of the analysis
I have seen on this from those cheerleading Traditionis Custodes have the analysis all wrong. I will
share my personal experience as an anecdote.
Way back before I had ever stepped foot into a Traditional Latin Mass, I lamented about the revolution
in the Church since Vatican II. As a convert, I came into the Church based on reading the saints and
studying Church History. I was hugely disappointed and confused after I entered the Church and found
out that a number very close to zero people attending the Catholic Church in my region (not just my
parish but all of the surrounding parishes where I knew parishioners and sometimes went to Mass)
actually believed in or practiced the faith to any meaningful degree. Not only that, but none of them
took the liturgy seriously. This literally caused me a crisis of faith and it made me wonder what was
going on in the Church. Why did no one believe? Why did no one know the basics of their faith? Why
was Mass so banal, dull, irreverent? Why were the churches so dull, ugly, and filled with cheap
material? Why did no one go to confession? Why did no young men take their faith seriously once they
went to college? Why did almost no young dads attend Mass? As a young man and a young father,
all of this was extremely disheartening and demoralizing. What’s worse is that when you seek the
counsel of the priests, they tell you that things have changed – wait for it – after Vatican II, we no longer
teach (believe, practice, etc.) those things. Well, wait a minute, what happened at Vatican II? What
As time went on, this topic came up more and more. Things had changed since Vatican II. This theme
was repeated by young and old clergy whether they were liberal or conservative. It was a common
theme that seemed to be the clerical answer for nearly every question I had. Why is the tabernacle off
to the side in that strange location? Why are people encouraged to talk before and after Mass instead
of encouraging prayer? Why are you encouraging people to dress casually for Mass? Why are there
so many extraordinary ministers and why are they wearing tee shirts? And so on and so forth. Whether
legitimate or not, often times the answer I would receive would be – Vatican II. These were the answers
from priests and deacons in normal everyday Novus Ordo parish life and usually not conservative ones,
although sometimes they were. It made me wonder what really happened at Vatican II and what
happened after Vatican II that is blamed (or praised depending on your perspective) for all of this lack
of belief, lack of understanding, and lack of practice of the faith and for how ugly and cheap most
modern Catholic churches are. It made me suspicious. But the conservative Novus Ordo crowd I
eventually found through Opus Dei was adamant that the problems had nothing to do with Vatican II
but were all a result of the revolution that occurred after Vatican II. It was the Spirit of Vatican II that
was the problem, Vatican II itself was good. That answer never really satisfied me because it seemed
to be the same people that interpreted and implemented Vatican II that also took part in Vatican II. How
could the same group of people go so far astray in just a couple of years? And, if it was some sort of
conniving manipulation by a few bad men, why didn’t the rest of the hierarchy fix the problems if they
truly believed that what occurred after Vatican II was so different than what was called for at Vatican II?
Nothing really answered these questions satisfactorily. So I studied and researched this topic
extensively and the more I studied the more I quested not only the “Spirit” of Vatican II but what
happened during the Council, too. The few of us conservative Catholic men who really tried to take
our faith seriously would talk about all of the chaos we experienced all of the time and wondered how
and why things had gotten so bad.
I drudged on trying to find good Catholics and good Catholic priests entirely within the Novus Ordo
parish structure. When I mentioned that I found good, faithful, conservative Catholics through Opus
Dei, it should be noted that the majority of those Catholics were Vatican II men, and were generally
suspicious of anything Traditional if not antagonistic to it. There were some exceptions, but not many.
So, I was taught to be very suspicious of anything Traditional. I never really understood that, because
it seemed like the Tradition of the Church was indispensable for understanding who we were as
followers of Christ. But, nevertheless, I avoided traditionalists because I was trained by both the liberal
Catholics and the conservative Catholics alike that the Trads were just no good.
The point is that Vatican II, or at least the revolution that occurred immediately afterwards, was suspect
to nearly any of us that took the faith seriously and this was entirely outside the world of Traditionalists.
Something had clearly gone wrong to lead so many priests and so many laity away from what it meant
to be Catholic and this seemed to occur in the wake of Vatican II. What went so wrong?
I found Traditional Catholicism only after being asked to leave our parish and asked to remove our
children from Catholic school. It was a bad experience and I was the cause of it. I had asked the
pastor and the faculty to be faithful to the teachings of the Church for about 2 years. They grew tired
of me. The final straw was after we lost our baby to an early delivery of unknown cause, the priest
refused to come baptize our son because he was heading to a family dinner party and it didn’t matter
anyway because our baby was sure to go to heaven. That was the final straw for me. I no longer had
any desire to hold back my frustrations and over the next month, while grieving over the loss of our
son, I wrote a series of emails trying to plead with the faculty and the pastor to stop making a mockery
of the Mass. I needed the comfort and peace offered by Christ and the chaos and irreverence of the
local Mass only made the situation worse. So, I wrote and I wrote and I called and I met with people.
Eventually, they lost restraint and in an angry rage, asked us to leave. We did.
We looked for a new Church to attend. One of the Churches we tried was a TLM offered with the
bishop’s permission within a neighboring diocese. Within a very short time, I was hooked. I was
amazed at the richness, the depth, and the ability to pray. I had almost never before been to a Mass
that helped me to pray. There were a few Novus Ordo Masses I attended while on silent retreats that
encouraged prayer, but never had I experienced anything that so thoroughly drew me into the Mystery
of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let me say it again, the Mass itself, helped me to pray and pray
deeply. At almost every Novus Ordo Mass I have ever attended, there is vocal prayer and activity, but
my only good, deep prayer occurred if I had some silent time after Mass. Depending on where one
attends a Novus Ordo Mass, it may not even be silent after Mass. But here at the TLM was a Mass
that drew me into deep prayer from the beginning through the end. The only distractions were my own
kids. I didn’t have to try to remember what I was supposed to sing for the responsorial psalm. I did not
have to remember what my next lines were. I was not troubled by constant activity nor by the casual
dress of the lectors and extraordinary ministers. Everything seemed to be ordered and directed towards
almighty God and to the Sacrifice which was being re-presented before us. Mass was reverent and
beautiful. The people reflected the solemnity with silence before and after Mass (unless a rosary was
prayed prior to Mass). The people dressed like they took Mass seriously. The church, itself, was
beautiful. The statutes, decorations, stained glass, everything was top notch. There were no cheap,
ugly banners. There was no nasty, smelly, odd color commercial carpet. Everything about the
environment pointed towards the richness and beauty of the faith and of God. Not only was the Church
and the liturgy beautiful and conducive to deep prayer, but the community was the most friendly I have
ever experienced in my life. Everything I previously had to travel two hours away to find at an Opus Dei
center, such as adoration and benediction, frequent opportunity for confession, good, powerful homilies
and talks, a community of Catholics that knew and tried to live the faith, and so forth, was all here in
one parish. Then, as I began to grow to understand how much had been lost in the devotional life and
the liturgical life when the Church moved from the old liturgical rites for all of the sacraments to the new
rites, I felt like I had been totally robbed of my Catholic heritage. I felt like all of the beauty and richness
of Catholicism had been exchanged for a cheap imitation. I have been overwhelmed with the beauty
and the richness of Catholic life, both liturgical and devotional, found at the TLM community I belong
too. Indeed, everyone I talk to feels the same way.
Notice, nowhere in my testimony of becoming part of a traditional parish have I spoken of Vatican II.
Why? Well, it’s because it is not a regular focus of any of the liturgical or devotional life. Do questions
and comments come up among the laity? Of course. But the questions and comments do not arise
any more frequently than they did in conservative Novus Ordo circles. The professional Trad
commentators give much more lip service about Vatican II than what the laity ever do. For the most
part, most of the laity, whether Trad, conservative, or liberal, never carefully read the documents of
Vatican II, if they read them at all. As such, most of them would not even know where to begin
commenting on it. What most Catholics of any stripe know is that something drastically changed after
Vatican II. Trad Catholics think much of the good stuff has been lost and they have found something
substantial in the Traditional Latin Mass communities. Among the Trad crowd, most of them simply
prefer their experience at the TLM and in the TLM communities because it helps them grow closer to
Jesus Christ. For my family and I, it has really helped us to grow in our faith in a way that simply could
never have happed at the average parish in my region. I know that from experience. Why would I want
to give that up?
While I do think something very funny happened either at or after Vatican II, I actually think about it less
now as a Trad Catholic than I did when I was a conservative Novus Ordo Catholic. I have found the
pearl of great price, what I was never able to find in Novus Ordo Parishes, and it has really helped me
to grow in my faith. It has helped me to grow much closer to Jesus Christ and Mary and the saints than
I ever had before. Being in a traditional parish has isolated my family from the chaos, ugliness, and
lack of belief we used to regularly encounter – all of the stuff that made me question Vatican II in the
first place. Now, more and more, I just try to focus on growing in my faith.
On a final note, there is no nostalgia nor a desire for old things. The desire is to grow in holiness. I
have found the aid to grow in holiness in the TLM that I have found nowhere else.
From my experience, the analysis that the Traditional Latin Mass fosters an ideology about Vatican II
is the reverse of what actually happens. In reality, the TLM is very often the life raft for those who
developed a questioning attitude about Vatican II after experiencing the banality, incredulity, ugliness,
disorder, and chaos in many Novus Ordo parishes. Remember, many of us were told by the liberal
priests that it was Vatican II that is at the heart of the changes that lead to the ugliness and disorder.
Often times, it has been the liberal parishes priests that have planted the seeds of doubt about Vatican
Banning or restricting Latin Masses will not stop questions about Vatican II. Any serious attempt to
stop the questing of Vatican II must begin by stopping the abuses of the liberal priests. When the
Hierarchy starts cracking down on liturgical abuse, communion in the hand, irreverent Mass, and so
forth, then, I will know they are serious.
It seems that in reading many of the articles and even the letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes
that the institutional Church does not begin to understand the Traditional movement and they reveal
how much that is true when they put their thoughts into writing.
Kyle T. Pociask
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