As a self-identified conservative Catholic who's regularly appalled by the state of the liturgy in the American Church, I'm generally sympathetic to those cheering the reinstatement (or, since it was never technically banned, the promotion) of the Tridentine Rite. However, the argument raised in this op-ed (via Andrew) speaks to some of my own fears:

It’s easy enough to see where this is going: same God, same church, but separate camps, each with an affinity for vernacular or Latin, John XXIII or Benedict XVI. Smart, devout, ambitious Catholics — ecclesial young Republicans, home-schoolers, seminarians and other shock troops of the faith — will have their Mass. The rest of us — a lumpy assortment of cafeteria Catholics, guilty parents, peace-’n’-justice lefties, stubborn Vatican II die-hards — will have ours. We’ll have to prod our snoozing pewmates when to sit and stand; they’ll have to rein in their zealots.

And we probably won’t see one another on Sunday mornings, if ever.



I suppose I would fall into the author's "smart, devout, ambitious Catholic" camp, but I also think that shifting to the vernacular was the right decision overall, however badly implemented; I think that the attempt to increase lay participation in the Mass, however dreadful many of its fruits, was a necessary and long-overdue step in a Church that still has a serious problem with clericalism; and I'm troubled by the self-marginalizing tendencies among many of the people who share my understanding of what Catholic orthodoxy is supposed to mean. I admire what home-schooling parents do, but I don't want to home-school my kids; I wish more people went to confession and fewer people went up to Communion, but I also want to attend a church where the lukewarm and the zealous can feel comfortable sitting side-by-side in the pews; I understand the impulse behind Ave Maria University and all the other redoubts of neo-orthodoxy, but I'm wary of the separatism they embody. And I hate the polarization in the Church that makes me feel like I have to choose between what the op-ed accurately describes as the listlessness of the typical suburban Mass on the one hand - thick with "parents sedating children with Cheerios; priests preaching refrigerator-magnet truisms; amateur guitar strumming that was lame in 1973" - and what often seems like a strident, more-Catholic-than-the-Pope zealotry on the other.

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