Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bred in Captivity

If I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels 1 Corinthians 13

In the last few weeks I've become convinced that very few traddies, at least here in Britain, have been completely 'bred in captivity'. Rather, it would seem, that a considerable portion of our number have actually been brought in 'from the wild'. In other words a lot of people that I come across have started their pilgrimage to tradition either as converts or reverts. Don't get me wrong I don't think this is a negative thing but rather it does give the 'movement' as a whole a dynamism that is rare in main stream Catholicism. I find particularly encouraging the news of the Mass organised for Catholic school children in Birmingham (see here). I suspect the odds of their lapsing have just become reduced. I wish I'd had the gumption to organise such a Mass when I was involved in teaching. A couple of years after I'd left teaching a group of my old students presented me with a lovely missal hoping that I'd learn to use it. It turned out that there had been a secret nest of young traddies under my own nose for some years. I was saying a daily private Mass daily in the school chapel and they were, at the same time, bemoaning the lack of the traditional rite in the school chapel.

Anyhow back to today's Epistle. If I speak with tongues. St Paul addresses a situation in the Church at Corinth which can't be too far from what we experience now. As an understatement we could say that there was a variety of opinion amongst the faithful. I wonder if the young traddies at the time were trotting off to the Aramaic Mass Society, on the quiet, to the despair of their syncretistic parents. A particular problem seems to be a division between those who were demonstrating particular spiritual gifts many of which we would associate with the modern Charismatic movement. St Paul's advice, is of course, integrationist, that the various gifts given to all Christians have to be consumed into the whole body of the Church.

Twice during the past week I've been engaged in conversation with people who have come back to practicing their faith through the Charismatic movement. It's not the first time that this has happened indeed I seem to be discerning a trend that if Charismatics are likely to return to the Church from the various sects they have run off to join they are highly likely to gravitate towards the traditional rites. The reasons for this are complex but I suspect the spiritual pendulum that the 'swings and round abouts' in the lives  of many Charismatics ultimately needs to be tempered by the strong guidance of tradition and dogma. Without such a balance faith can be reduced to what we feel rather than what we know.

So some of us have been 'bred in captivity' others have been 'caught from the wild'. In the true tradition of a Universal Church we are tempered and brought together. It's that balance that those children in Birmingham have now been exposed to. With any luck that single celebration of Mass will sow the seeds of a balanced faith which will lead them to seek out the fullness of the faith rather than the transitory attractions of a cafeteria approach which craves the greatest spiritual 'sugar fix' available at any one time.

 Apologies for the dearth of postings over the last few weeks. I'm afraid I've been given some extra duties and it's taken a while to establish a new routine.


  1. Interesting that you should mention this about the Charismatic Catholics, as there is a woman who belongs to the Charismatic Renewal and has recently begun attending our Sunday EF Mass. I am most intrigued; I would never have thought a Charismatic would be attracted to the Old Rite.

  2. Perhaps Father you could remind your brother priests who have been bred in Traditional captivity; that being born a cradle Catholic is not a pre-requisite for a Traditional vocation.

    I've had the door slammed in my face by a Traditioanal Monastary and the FSSP without serious consideration.

    Too traditional for the diocese, but not 'of the correct breeding' for the traditionalists

  3. JAMC - I am sorry to hear that. But I know of a few converts who have joined traditional societies such as the FSSP and ICKSP. Some of them ex-Anglicans.

    What about the Oratorians?

  4. “…faith can be reduced to what we feel rather than what we know.”

    Very true Father – and it has been so reduced frequently.

    Shortly after coming to the US some 40 years ago, I was invited to a Catholic Charismatic meeting. I was less than enthusiastic about the prospect but, under the rubric of “I’ll try anything once”, I went. My initial misgivings proved true and I didn’t tarry there for the “whole show”, as it were. Too much ‘feelings’ - not to mention some dodgy theology. I put it down to an extension of ‘the 60’s effect’ – love, peace, flowers in the hair, etc.

    However, I did notice one other thing which was indicative of a wrong direction. I knew many of the people in the group but subsequent to my rejection of their ‘happenings’ I found they were distinctly cool to me - if not out-rightly dismissive.

    It appeared that all the good feelings of love, peace and brotherhood were reserved only for those who were members of the group. Something, incidentally, I have also felt among some ‘traddie’ groups since… Not quite what Our Lord intended by ”ut unum sint”.

  5. @Auricularis

    Thanks for the suggestion; do you know how one enquires with the sons of St Phillip Neri?


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