What is pain? Pain is a beautiful reminder and an instant jolt that something needs to change so that we never experience that thing again. Whatever that pain is – emotional or physical – distant or near; for most people, the course we take to remove that pain from our life so that we ever experience it again is to run away from it, rather than to engage it deeper. We will even make it our mission to save other people so that they don’t have to experience that same pain. As they say, a customer who has had a bad experience goes on to tell ten other people.
For Steve Skojec, the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.COM, the pain that he believes that the post-Vatican II transformation in Catholic ethos, culture, and praxis has caused him, has now become his mission of charity – to warn and to scare other people away from what he has termed, “Novus Ordo Paradigm“.
To be sure, one of the greatest tragedies of the Second Vatican Council is that its product rollout/product launch strategy was absent. There was no plan in place to effectively market or teach what the council fathers had proposed. We wouldn’t see such an epic failure of devising something new and completely failing at explaining what that new thing is again until 1982 when Atari launched “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”. After spending $21 million to purchase the rights to the franchise, $5 million on the promotion of the game, and producing 4 million copies of the game, Atari only sold only 1.5 million copies. A few years later they buried the leftover copies in a landfill. Indeed, the hope of some Traditional Catholics is that the Second Vatican Council would also, one day, be thrown into a landfill.
The absence of a plan to promote and teach precisely what it was that the council fathers were ‘pastorally’ proposing created a vacuum in which entered were all types of radical and strange ideas that have dramatically changed the Catholic ethos, culture, and praxis of the faith – especially in the ‘developed’ West. I’m not convinced that most of Africa or countries like Poland who have, thus far, rejected the insertion of liberal ideology into the faith, have experienced the same level of deconstruction of the orthodoxy that we have seen in places like Germany and the Americas.
I would like to believe that most reasonable Catholics would agree with the facts set forth about how liberals and communists took advantage of (perhaps created) the opportunities available to co-opt the council and to make it their tool to destroy the Catholic Church. Yet, where Steve Skojec and those like him drive most of their energy against is not in reteaching the Council, but, rather in attacking the new order (Novus Ordo) liturgy and creating a war against liturgies; as if many of these heretics, homosexualists, and pedeofiles in the Church today were not raised up in the Liturgy of Council of Trent (so-called Traditional Latin Rite); as if they weren’t at one time altar boys or priest celebrants of that rite themselves. As if there would not be abuses of the Tridentine liturgy occurring if people like Father Michael Pfleger of Chicago or Richard Rohr, OFM, or James Martin, SJ were required to celebrate it. As if there would be no so-called ‘Gay’ Masses if we would just return to the Traditional Latin Rite. No, there would be ‘Gay’ Masses; they would just be in Latin.
The problem with easy answers to pain is that we ask the wrong questions. The first questions that pain asks always start with words like ‘who’ ‘what’ and ‘how’ – Who caused this pain? What caused this pain? How did this pain begin? These are questions that never get the root of the problem. These are what I call ‘bandaid questions’ because the answers they generate only mask the problem that continues to live and breath deep beneath the cover. They are the type of questions that people who rather run away from and quickly treat the problem asks. On the contrary, discovering the true source of pain always begins by asking questions that start with ‘why’ – ‘Why am I feeling this pain?’ ‘Why this particular pain?’ ‘Why did the ethos, culture, and praxis of the Church change?’
Steve Skojec kept running and running – “parish shopping”, as he calls it, shopping for a parish for the best Mass he could find. He even tried the Eastern Rites, “which I loved and admired, but where I never felt I truly belonged.” Finally, he runs away for good to the Tridentine rite, saying:
And so, fueled by this conviction, for the past 15 years, I’ve stuck by the decision that I will no longer subject myself or the people I love to the tyrannical abuse of power that was inflicted upon us. Despite a strong propensity to second-guess myself, it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. And although the anger I felt when I first discovered what had been carelessly discarded has mostly faded, I still find it infuriating that there is a Catholic parish less than five miles from my house where I know I will never belong, because the religion that is practiced there is so irreconcilably different from the one I’ve come to know that it makes me physically uncomfortable to be there.
Instead, I have to drive 30 miles to get the same Catholic experience that would have been found in every parish in every backwater town across the globe less than a century ago. And that’s pretty easy compared to what many people have to do!
If this were just one guy finding his nice little safe space, I would leave it alone, but this attitude has become a problem in the Church today. We have too many Catholics running away to other rites and out of the Church altogether because we haven’t asked the right questions, and in lieu of that we have chosen individual experience, liturgical autonomy, and selfishness over true sacrifice. Rather than staying and fighting the real war against the liberalism and the heresies that have invaded our sacred space, we flee like cowards and start waging war against liturgies (not the real problem or the one that ‘why’ answers).
When I wrote my book The Divine Symphony: An Exordium to the Theology of the Catholic Mass, I wrote it with Catholics like Steve Skojec in mind. I wanted them to understand that the true essence of the Mass is found in all of the liturgies of Church, and for that reason, we don’t have to pit one against the other. Moreover, once you understand the liturgy beyond the base level of ‘experience’ and those things connected to senses, you fall in love with all of the many liturgies because they all, though many, deliver The One – Christ Jesus.
Rather than run to a safe space where everyone agrees with you, I would like all more faithful Catholics to reengaged in this war for the soul of our Church by sitting in the front pews during Novus Ordo Rite liturgies – with your veils and all; receiving the Holy Eucharist kneeling and on the tongue. I’d like to you volunteer to be catechists and teach the orthodoxy of the faith to the children of the parish. I would like men and women to join the parish Bible studies and small groups to bring your sense of the faith to the others. If you’re qualified, I’d like you to apply to become Directors of Religious Education. I’d like you to encourage your Priest to say at least one Mass a month Ad Orietum.
Altogether, I ask you to leave the war of faithful Catholics against faithful Catholics and join in the war against Satan at ground zero. Your absence at ground zero is only creating a bigger vacuum and if you don’t fight it here, you will not be safe anywhere. Don’t be cowards. It’s not all about you! You can still attend a different liturgy whenever you want and experience a safe space, but as the Church Militant, your duty is to do battle where the battle is taking place. Come!