Friday 17 August 2007

Fr Dwight: the grapes of wrath?

Fr Dwight decided to let off more steam on his blog Standing on My Head (a very good blog, by the way) having discovered Roman Christendom and its criticism of some of his views on the traditional liturgy.

Fair enough! I think that is his right. We shouldn't begrudge it. I like him and that's why I'm engaging with him. So please read the below in that spirit.

First, under a heading "Watzablog" he gives a lecture on what a blog should be like, accusing some people of bad manners and then claiming to know who was the author of Roman Christendom and seeking to "out" us.

He launched into an attack on James Bogle, whose letters I have borrowed from, even accusing him of being "insulting" and "arrogant" and this blog of making "senseless and weird" attacks, whilst claiming himself to be "objective and cheerful" and to give those who favour the traditional rites (or Mass of John XXIII as he insists on calling it when it is, of course, the oldest rite in the Church), the "benefit of the doubt".

He then gives us a treatise on how we're all wrong when we think we are right and thinking you're right, even if you are right, is self-righteous. Well, if we all followed such a principle there would, of course, never be any debate at all.

To add spice, the whole is interlaced with choice references to "fundamentalism", "little fortresses", "aggressive", "belligerent", "martyr complexes", "self-pity", "sick kind of mentality", "obsession", "mania", "self-righteous", "extreme", "suspicious", "intolerant", "the seriousness of Satan", "demented terrier with a slipper", "sulk", "infected wound" and the like.

No prizes for guessing, folks, that this is at least partly aimed at Roman Christendom for daring to defend the traditional rite in the face of some pretty ill-informed opposition.

I need say no more: Fr Dwight is not "standing on his head" over this one but on his own dignity by over-reacting somewhat.

Well, at least he is engaging, now. That's a good start!

Fr Dwight is, I consider, actually a very good guy, but both he, and his Parish Priest, Fr Jay Scott Newman, also a good guy, ought to exercise a little caution when using sacerdotal authority particularly on anything that might be interpreted as undermining the Church's traditions (Latin, Chant etc) or the manifest and proper wishes of the Pope and use scorn sparingly against others who simply point this out.

Targeting Catholics who prefer the traditional Roman rite is a recreation that is past its sell-by date. It's done great harm these past 40 years and the Pope has quite rightly called time on it.

Fr Dwight erased most of the comments on his blog that criticised his view of liturgy and Fr Jay now won't receive any further comments on his blog. His penultimate post was, aptly but sadly, entitled "Liturgy Wars". It was not traditional-rite Catholics who started the war.

There should, of course, be no wars over liturgy. We should all be on the same side not divided internally.

Unfortunately, it is the kind of statement that appeared in Fr Jay's Parish newsletter that can sometimes tend to prolong the war. I publish it below as it is in the public domain and a commentator has sent it to me.

If any priest is going to claim to be loyal to the Pope and to say "Where Peter is, there is the Church", then he needs to be open and willing to implement the motu proprio, and should avoid minimising it by suggesting that it "kinda, sorta" gives wider permission for the traditional rites.

The reality is that the motu proprio gives extremely wide and extensive permission for the use of the traditional rites.

But here is Fr Jay's advice to his parishioners on 1 July, just before the publication of the motu proprio:

"When this document is finally published, there will no doubt be a circus of media attention of the most sensational kind, but please do not be confused or disturbed by what you read in the papers or see on television. Whatever else may be the case, there will certainly be no changes made in the present way we celebrate the Missal of 1970 in our scheduled liturgies, and pending a careful study of the document, I do not anticipate that a regularly scheduled Tridentine Mass will be celebrated here at St. Mary’s. For now, simply know that a document will probably appear this summer, and when it does, we will study it together."

To be fair to Fr Jay, he clearly did not anticipate the breadth and width of the rights granted by the motu proprio and, I suspect, is still slightly in denial about it all. On his blog, he certainly admits - actually I think rather courageously and even humbly - to being a bit confused by it all. That actually rather endeared him to me, I have to say. My heart went out to him!

I suspect that when he and Fr Dwight have had time to digest it all, reflect upon it all and pray about it, they will take a more balanced view.

So let's give 'em a chance, folks, and pray for them and for what I have a feeling is a very important and influential parish in that part of the US of A and two potentially very influential priests.


Anonymous said...

I read Fr Longenecker's post. The one where he talks about being wrong when we're right. I thought it was pretty good. He didn't mention your blog, or your friend Jamie, and didn't even talk about traditionalist Catholics, so why do you think it is aimed at you?

If you do think it is aimed at you, and you're mad about it because you're so sure you're right...then as Fr Dwight said, he's scored a bullseye. The laugh's on you mate.

Tribunus said...

If you think this is just about laughs, then maybe the laugh is on you, Mr Anonymous?


Anonymous said...

If you can't laugh at yourself mate, then the laugh really is on you. Lighten up. Get a life.

Anonymous said...

As a young priest who was asked recently to begin celebrating the extraordinary form regularly and teaching it to other priests, I am asking myself why it is that some Catholics just do not seem to understand the push for that rite. To me and my Latin Mass devotees it is quite simple: we as Catholics have always done this, so why is there such a problem doing it now? The point of the MP is that those attracted to this rite have been treated like second-class Catholics because of their preference. The St Mary's, Greenville blog response to the MP has been to do the same. It is as if no one is reading the document: there is a plurality of rites in the Church and priests should respect that. Perhaps if priests spent more time trying to actually live the Mass in either form and not waging liturgical wars on either side in blogdom, then all of the Church would be renewed. As it is, the continued spilling of cyberink on the Latin Mass by those clerics who see it as a marginal issue just goes to show that even priests who considern themselves faithful to the Church really do not want to do what the MP really says. I am doing it in my parish and there is no problem; why should it be one in Greenville?

Tribunus said...

Thanks, young priest. I agree with you 100%. Well said, Father. You are a true pastor.

Tribunus said...

To anonymous: I'd take your advice but I'm too busy laughing at you.