Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Fifties Catholicism is a Dangerous Seduction for so-called "Traditionalists"

There are those who wish to return to some form of fifties Catholicism, thinking that a return to the mere externals of worship prevalent at that time will bring a revitalization. Not a chance. It did not work back then, and it will not work today. The culture has changed; and it is always changing. We can no more go back to 1955, then Catholics during the Council of Trent could return to the Church of Aquinas. 

It is a question of radical evangelization at the moment in time, and moving this into the future. It is a question of doctrine, and living that doctrine, not time travel. Do you wish to know the name of a priest who was a real missionary, a real fighter, a real counter-culturalist? St. Maximilian Kolbe. Yet it was this radically militant priest, who was able, in that hellhole of Auschwitz, to achieve the impossible: ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est... and thus save the souls of the doomed men. Radical Catholicism has that divine ability to spread true love where hatred exists! Yet this same man would no doubt be suspended from the priesthood if he were alive today. Doubt it? Read his writings! Study his life!

An even greater danger is that this neo-fifties Catholicism is a delusional re-creation of a pseudo-fifties. What some wish to reconstruct is actually even worse than what existed in the fifties, for it is a caricature. One certainly can understand why some seek the all elusive (so they think) doctrinal solidity of the 1950s, but a review of the facts does not support this. Catholics who have carefully read Bishop Sheen's "Three to be Married" (written in 1949), are aware that the late archbishop lamented the explosion of infidelity! So much for the 1950s being something to hold up as an example. All the rot that exploded after the Council was there. In fact, the 1950s themselves, did not appear out of nowhere. The 50s were a product of 500 years of protestantism and 200 years of liberalism. 

It is not even a question of the "Mass" (namely, the Tridentine Mass). It is a question of doctrine, of Truth. Of living the doctrine, living the Mass. Let us remember: the innovators all said the Latin Mass, the abusers in the 40s and 50s, all said the Latin Mass. The Catholics who all came out in favour of the Pill, and started to use it: all went to the Latin Mass. But society was organized against the Mass, and they breathed the poison in because they wanted the luxury and easiness of modern life. 

If we really want to be counter revolutionary, we are going to have to start a revolution in our spiritual lives. That means, firstly to seek humility and live with charity. That means ridding our religious lives of political overtones, of "party" politics (e.g. "I am for Paul, I am for Appollos..."), of affectations becoming fetishes. It means an end to backbiting, scandal mongering, name calling... 

As St. John of the Cross warned: "Bridle your tongue and your thoughts very much, direct your affection habitually toward God, and your spirit will be divinely enkindled"


Anonymous said...

Sorry, the 50's were a better time.

No Catholic desires superficiality.

I am only 64, so I was a kid back then.

But, the reason that I am faithful to our long abandoned marriage is because of how I was taught and what I saw, back then and even into the 60's.

But here is a surprise. What I was taught back then was reiterated and re-witnessed and re-taught to me in a Catholic Charismatic Group called, The Word of Life, that was in a place called Newburgh, New York, to which my wife and I attached ourselves for about four years 1982 to 1986.

What was taught by those in charge of that group, which eventually dissolved due to human imperfections, fundamentally helped me to see what I was taught as a youngster, all over again. I am immensely thankful for that time in my life.

It also helped to have a Polish Catholic mother and a Presbyterian Father, who had their moments, but who "stuck it out" till their ends. Dad was received into the Catholic Church at the end of his life.

Working to live, as my parents taught and for the most part lived and as the nuns taught me, and who lived it as I saw them, is how to start to rebuild.

But massive change is needed. I do not see that anywhere on the horizon. We are in for lots of trouble.

Thank you for allowing anonymous posting. That, to me, is one requirements of being allowed to call one's blog, Catholic. It is cowardly, un-Catholic and openly abusive not to allow anonymous posting.

Nothing wrong with deleting obscene, truly/objectively hate-filled posts. But allowing anonymity shows respect.

If you NEEDED to know, for a legitimate reason, who I am. I would tell you, because of the same respect that allows for anonymity. Two sides of a common issue.

Anil Wang said...

While I agree in general, I have a few big quibbles.

(1) "We can no more go back to 1955, then Catholics during the Council of Trent could return to the Church of Aquinas.". Not true. As G. K. Chesterton pointed out, the clock being a human invention can be turned back to any time we want. Yes society changes, but it also repeats. Remember that the golden age of Aquinas preceded the Borgia Popes, just as the golden age of Catholicism preceded the St. Galan Mafia which elected Pope Francis. Unfortunately history has shown that only a major crisis can reverse a great loss as has happened since our golden age.

(2) WRT Bishop Sheen and The Pill, true enough but we're dealing with a different order of magnitude. The norm was towards piety and although many sinned, the recognized they were sinning and many repented. Sin wasn't celebrated and sinners refrained from the Eucharist. Now, the norm is towards sin and sin is celebrated ... there are whole parades affirming that "good is evil and evil is good", and there are laws in place in many countries that force you to affirm "good is evil and evil is good". And the Eucharist has become a prize for prideful sinners.

In short, 1950s Catholicism and 1950s society was salvageable. Our modern society will have to burn to the ground before it can be rebuilt. If Pope Francis is replaced by a brave reformer Pope, there's still hope for the Church to escape judgement with only the loss of half it's bishops, cardinals, and priests. But if we get another timid reformer like Pope Benedict XVI, the rot will continue and Pope Francis II, Pope Francis III, Pope Francis IV, etc are inevitable before the Church wakes up after the devastation.

Barona said...

Anonymous 10:48. I agree that the 50s were better. My point is that they were not good enough to stop the slide... Already the churchmen, Catholics in general were too close to the edge of the cliff.

Barona said...

Anil Wang, Chesterton was referring to correcting error, to discerning where and when the error was made. But he was not calling for a return to this or that society. We cannot go back, we can only go forward.

As to the 50s, Pus XII already lamented back then that the "loss of a sense of sin" was the greatest danger. He also referred at one point to the world being swamped in sin. Doesn't sound very good, does it? Already far, far too many Catholics were compromising; far too many wanted to flirt with the world. Far too many were already beginning to no longer seriously believe in sin. The fifties were corrupt; everything was there - in fact it was there decades earlier, seething, rotting, preparing. If we went back to the fifties, we would merely race right back into the 60s and beyond, because modern man loves his sin. It is a question of being truly counter-cultural and living the Gospel.

Anil Wang said...

WRT Chesterton, I don't see a distinction. The social mores define the society. Go to any part of the world where Catholicism (or even Christianity) dominated. Different countries implemented those social mores in sometimes drastically different ways at different times and places but those social mores were common and they were common to the generation before and several generations before that. Given how wide spread they were across so many times and places, I don't see why it could not be returned to. Would it look like the 1950s? No, but even the 1950s in one part of the world was dramatically different than another part of the world.

WRT Pius XII, I never claimed the 1950s were perfect. I don't think you can find a single time in Church history where this statement couldn't be applied. Different times have different sins and ever time a society became more pious in one area, they often increased in sin in another.

But something broke fundamentally in the late 1950s. I was born in the decade that followed, but even as a child I saw things falling apart. Yes, far too many wanted to flirt with the world because of 1960s euphoria, but it was salvageable because temptation does not imply action and the sense of repentance was still strong even if actions were followed through.

Pope Pius XII's ***hand picked successor***, Pope Paul VI did not have the fortitude to shut down Vatican II and the subsequent gutting of Catholic institutions, drastically re-organization the Curia, religious institutes, rewriting Canon law to be more lenient, changing the language of fundamental doctrines from condemning error (anathema) to affirming truths (thus encouraging false ecumenism), creating national bishops conferences, making the liturgy center on the priest rather than God (even a reverent N.O. still places many options in the priests hands), gutting the oath against modernism, elevating certain modernist theologians to celebrity status, and turning the Pope into a world trotting celebrity instead of a reserved head of the Church that focused more on being the pastor of bishops and head of the curia than being connected to all lay people and leave the wolves to run the curia.

Given all the sheer destruction happened in the decade of my birth, you cannot expect the Church not to suffer dramatically. If this had not happened, and it did not need to happen, we would have a very different Church today. Would it be perfect? No. But look at Eastern Catholic Churches and the Eastern Orthodox which were less affected by Vatican II. They have succumbed to modernism (partially as a result of Vatican II which is used even within the Eastern Orthodox to liberalize it), but nowhere near to the degree that Western Catholics have.

IMO, we can return to predestruction times, which would be similar to the 1950s which were not all that different with the 300 years that preceded it in all parts of the world in both rural and urban settings. But the Church needs to face the cross first and likely 50-300 years more of rebuilding.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:48. I agree that the 50s were better. My point is that they were not good enough to stop the slide... Already the churchmen, Catholics in general were too close to the edge of the cliff.


I DO come away with the impression that the building immorality, which certainly was on the increase in the 50's, was part and parcel to the changes put into a more "official" motion, by Vatican II.

I was an altar boy who learned the Latin Mass in my original training. But it was not long until the vernacular came into being and everything began to change. Honestly, I was not bothered by the change and, honestly, some of the music I loved and I still do. Although I also love, memories of older Catholic Church music, although I can no longer listen to any music due to hearing loss and the dissonance that has resulted. So, all music is a memory for me now.

I am one of those Catholics who sees value, sometimes some more valuable than others, in things on, apparently, different sides of the issues involved. But, I have been like this my whole life. I was never part of a particular group. I usually bounced around with friends of differing mindsets.

But, I was also once told by a committed atheist that he was touched by my behavior towards him, as it left him able to make his own choices without harshness on my part, although he said that my positions were quite clear from our discussion. He told me that he doubted that he would every believe in God or become a Christian/Catholic. But, he said, "If I did, you would be the first person that I prayed for." I told him that I was honored by that comment and he told me, it was meant that way and sincere.

Sometimes, one does have to address issues more strongly and more closely to the edge of serious discord. But, it always takes discernment. Honestly, things are extremely confused in Catholicism now. Souls are being lost in large numbers. Even my faith is wavering, but I am still hanging on.

If a guy like me is viewed as intransigent/intolerant/unloving, I am sorry because whomever thinks that way, is the person with the real issues. I would say THEY are projecting THEIR issues upon others.

I believe those in power in the Catholic Church, now, in OVERWHELMING numbers are projecting their own INTOLERANCE upon others who are doing their best to be faithful, in a tempest. That they cannot see this, is a PROOF of what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

We need to Faithfully return to the Word of God and to His Commandments and demand the same of our Shepherds.
The institution worships Mammon , Jesus said the contrary to His Apostles.Let's get back to worshiping God the Holy Trinity.
There can be no true evangelizing any other way.

Barona said...

Society was already decadent for decades prior to the 1950s. Contraception had become widespread decades earlier and accepted by "middle class" women as liberating. In the USA in the 1940s, at least 25% of women used IUDs (this does not even take into account the widespread use of foams, suppositories etc whcih had been going on since the mid-late 1800s. Condom production and use was rampant, and had been for decades....In fact, by the early 1930s, over a million were produced per day for US consumption.A lot of sin, a lot of decadence, a lot of evil behind the nice veneer of a false Christianity.

In France, Germany the decadence was just as bad... Gross immorality and promiscuity had spread all through the "upper classes". In essence, the 1800s was already an illusion...a gold filling in a rotting mouth of a formerly Christian civilization. 100 years of liberalism had already done its dirty work. It was just not admitted. Only with the explosion in the 1960s, was the fraud exposed.

I wish this were all not true, but sadly it is.

Kathleen1031 said...

I was born in the 1950's. As far as America goes, the 1950's were still very much a Christian era, compared with today's post-Christian, pagan, and godless era, it was paradise. There is no comparison. I wish we could return to that era, but that is impossible. You cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube, and a people, once corrupted, cannot be un-corrupted. Our culture has gone mad, violent, drawn toward corruption and evil and sin. Not entirely, we have many faithful Christians in America, but this is Satan's Day, not God's. The 1950's were a relative utopia, far better. My son and other young people say it was not, because they have been force fed the notion "it was only better for some", but this is not true. Consider fatherlessness, one issue alone, there are many fewer fatherless children, a huge factor for drug use, alcohol abuse, crime, delinquency, poverty. One could go on an on.
There is simply no comparison to the culture we have today. It was not Paradise. Christ did not walk among us, but it was far better, more innocent, gentle, civilized. We did not fear our fellow man in the streets, vulgarity was not heard. Children were not encouraged to participate in disordered sex. Yesterday my niece attended a wedding. There was a 6 year old boy there, dressed in a gown. Please don't tell me the 50's were bad, or just as bad, etc. They were not the beginning, man has rebelled since Judas, but they were far better days than the madness we have now.

Barona said...

Todays madness cannot be explained without a serious assessment of the decades prior to the 60s. Fornication rates were already very high in the 1950s. In fact, the rates rose the quickest before the 60s. What I am trying to say, is the corruption was already very well entrenched before the "swinging" sixties. Everything was there to precipitate the collapse.

We also have to ask ourselves, if things were so good, how did we go so bad in a few years? If the Faith was truly lived and believed, Catholics (from the top down) would not have gone off the rails so quickly. The 1960s are not possible without the 50s. The crash came because God is a jealous God who wants "all or nothing". He saw that fifties Catholicism was a time of flirtation with secular culture. This truth was realized at the Council, and following the Council, when the vast majority of churchmen and faithful crashed off to the side welcoming the secular world.

Anonymous said...

Good points by Barona.
So many, many "Traditionalists" scream and cry for the "50's" as if every single thing about those 10 years was perfect.
Social services were nil in 1950; returning soldiers with PTSD were just written-off as "unable to adjust" and became drunks or institutionalized.
Teen pregnancies were high; as most girls went to live in a home for unwed mothers.
Alcoholism was rampant; drunk driving killed many, many motorists and pedestrians.
Pills were something new; sedatives and "pep pills" were being abused by both housewives and laborers.
Ethnic neighborhoods, although stable and relatively safe, immediately collapsed if a person of color moved in. These Catholics left their beautiful parishes to rot away, abandoned, in their wake. Those that moved away to new suburbs wanted tidy, white parishes, and found their kids hooked on drugs 15 years later, bored and isolated in suburbia.
Catholic parishes of the 50's thrived on parochialism. Most parishioners in their 30s, 40s and 50s were the children of late 19th-early 20th century immigrants. Many were "Catholic" in culture, but severely-lacking in FAITH and UNDERSTANDING. The parish was a great social center and offered societies and sodalities and so many more activities. It was expected that members of such organizations had to be at mass. It was expected for parents of kids at the parish school to attend Sunday mass. Nothing wrong with that; but kids were shamed by students and faculty alike if they weren't seen at mass. As most masses were rarely high, pontifical, Tridentine masses as seen today; the mass itself was usually a silent, dull low mass. Few parishioners understood, or even cared about what was going on ahead of them. Husbands found a way to watch a sports game on their new TV; moms became "busy" on Sundays; the rot of the 60's and 70's was already present in the 50's. I've met so many older people who rarely set foot in a church beyond weddings and funerals today, yet still complain....the mass was changed to accommodate YOU and give you the necessary UNDERSTANDING of the Eucharist. But I've heard complaints because they had to go, it took too long, it's boring, it's too hokey, etc. You don't even go! (yes, I'm aware organists and pastors alike in the 70's ruined a lot, but c'mon. We've done a lot of damage control since).
I still see younger people silently saying the Rosary during the mass at "traditional" parishes. That's what ladies did during pre-council low masses; sit in the silent mass and pray a Rosary. It's not "wrong," but the sacrifice of the mass is RIGHT AHEAD of them and they're clinking the Rosary as if it's 1955 and everything is fine and peachy under the mantilla.