Calum Douglas Wilson explains why he is happy to be called a traditionalist.
Traditionalism within the Church as, for some time now, been a very controversial subject.
In recent months it has been put into the spotlight again following restrictions being placed on the saying of the Traditional Latin Mass by Pope Francis.
As somebody who holds history and traditions, especially those of the Church, with great reverence, these restrictions were incredibly disappointing and disheartening.
The motu proprio not only reversed the allowances granted by Pope Benedict XVI’s own motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, but restricted it further than it had been previously.
At 2,000 years old, the Church has accrued a rich history, and with it traditions that have endured throughout the great trials and tribulations of the centuries it faced during this.
I should note I regularly attend the Mass said in the Ordinary Form, only attending the Tridentine Mass when I am able to attend out of town. In contrast, many of the people I speak to who attend Tridentine Masses are either those who have exclusively attended that form of the Mass or are in fact converts to Catholicism.
It seems inarguable to me that the beauty and traditions preserved in this form of the Mass have the ability to draw people closer to the Church and as a result closer to God.
My own experience is that, when done with proper reverence, the Ordinary Form of the Mass is a very beautiful and moving experience.
However, I have also attended a number of Masses in the Ordinary Form where the liturgy was almost stripped bare and felt as though there was a lack of, not only reverence, but also a lack of connection to God.
This wild variance undoubtedly comes as a result of the allowances many priests have to celebrate Holy Mass in different ways. We often notice this when a change of priest occurs, through the little changes we notice during the Mass.
This is not entirely a bad thing, many people find connection to God in different ways, some people will undoubtedly feel a closer connection to God in a more simplified setting.
However, equally so, people will find a closer connection to God in a more ornate and a reverent form of the liturgy.
I for instance have never felt the same lack of connection that I have felt at some Ordinary Form Masses when attending the Traditional Latin Mass, in any of its forms.
I think it is right that instead of suppressing the older rite of Mass in favour of pushing the new rite onto people, that it would be much more preferable for both rites to co-exist and indeed for both to thrive.
It would be very wrong to deprive the Church of a thriving spiritual community with such a healthy growing and youthful makeup.
It has been said that the driving factor behind His Holiness’ motu proprio was promoting Church unity; however the implementation of it has undoubtedly had the effect of punishing a growing community for upholding what the Church itself had done for most of its history.
I would like to say that I do not recognise the claims of toxicity that exists in the Traditionalist community referred to by a number of Church and lay figures, but I would be lying.
There is certainly an issue within the community of people being very judgemental of other Catholics for not subscribing to the Traditional Latin Mass – however they are a minority, and their large profile is primarily amplified as a result of their presence on social media.
Equally so, very little is mentioned of the toxicity on those who voice their disdain for the Traditional Latin Mass.
I have read with dismay many, particularly older lay commentators, who decry the Traditional Latin Mass as an attack on the authority of the Church – however this is far from true.
From what I have seen of the communities celebrating the Tridentine Mass they are growing in numbers and there are plenty of young faces whenever I attend.
My experiences of attending Ordinary Form masses is that the numbers are relatively stable but not getting bigger.
At a time where His Holiness has encouraged the faithful to listen more closely to the younger members of the faithful, we should therefore be cautious to avoid the easy trap of listening only to those who fit into the narrative of how we perceive a young person should act or be.
If the Church is to thrive, I truly believe we must be more open to those frequently labelled as ‘Traditionalists’ as they often are attracted to the Church’s consistent message and the ornate liturgy.
It is a source for the renewal of our faith and one which the Church should not be afraid to tap into, after all it is a community, whose very existence is rooted in the Church’s history.