Rorate Caeli

Yet another reply to Tracey Rowland

Fr. Gary Dickson (link in our side column) has yet another reply to Dr. Rowland's interview excerpt published by CNS:

Dear Dr Rowland,

I am sorry if your experience of attending the Extraordinary Form (EF) is as poor as you seem to suggest. I started celebrating the EF before the days of Summorum Pontificum, and while I found long-time adherents to the EF rather unwelcoming and perhaps suspicious of newcomers, I recognised this as understandable since they had been boxed into a defensive corner by thirty five years of struggle and derision. In that hostility towards the EF is still present among many in the Church (who seem to think that what was good enough for the saints of millennia is beneath them) those who prefer the EF are not likely to overcome their fears and defensiveness easily, and your interview does not help the situation.

First, you seem in this interview to be very one-sided and rather unaware of the wider picture. You say that in your experience people attending the EF dissect the celebration, yet you fail to mention a widespread attitude among those who attend the Ordinary Form of “I prefer Fr X’s Mass to Fr Y’s Mass” and the even more common “I didn’t like those hymns today”. In my experience of celebrations of the Extraordinary Form the content of the homily is much more likely to be commented upon; rarely the mistakes Father makes with the rubrics. I grant that the singing may sometimes be subject to criticism, but that criticism too is not restricted to celebrations of the Extraordinary Form.

Second, comments about being “dressed in funny clothes” or “belonging to a different era in history” seem remarkably condescending and indeed, rather off-key. It is my experience –even when celebrating the EF before Summorum Pontificum when only the brave and dedicated dared to attend- that the dress of those present was simply formal, not that of another era. It might have been good for you to note how those who attend the Ordinary Form dress immodestly; females in skirts that barely cover the buttocks and males in T-shirts with dubious messages and images.

Third, while we do indeed need to correct the idea that attending the EF is a statement against the Second Vatican Council, it might have been good for you to note how among a number of those who attend only the Ordinary Form there is often a rejection of the Church’s Tradition as expressed in the EF, and a displeasure with the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council.

In conclusion, I am sorry to say I do not feel this interview presents you in a good light; I feel you come across as someone who is either very unaware of the wider picture or as one-sidedly critical. Further, I feel you are not so much “friendly towards" the EF as “not antagonistic” towards it. Sadly, friends of mine -who simply dress modestly and are actively engaged with and understanding of the liturgy, do not seem to be given due respect in your comments.


Fr Dickson.


Sarah said...

Thank you, Father. Your response is thoughtful, thorough, and gracious. I too often dispense with the last thing when reacting to an offense.

Michael Ortiz said...


Gregory said...

Most helpful, Fr.

Cuts right through to the heart of the tiresome issue. Really, it's only three months since Simcha Fisher's blog-wringing "Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are Traditionalists and I quite like the Old Mass but it worries me that those who attend it don't do more to dissociate themselves from anti-semitism" faux schtick (a best summary link below, from the Eponymous Flower - for those who missed the tawdry episode).

Yet here we are now with Tracey Rowland on Trads and Fashion. Interestingly, Ms Rowland replicates many of the specious and spurious friendly bombs that Ms Fisher did. Basically "Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are Traditionalists, and I quite like the Old Mass, but it worries that that those who attend it wear strange clothes".


I wonder what will cycle round in three months' time. Nothing new, I'll bet.

Barriers, indeed. They erect these barriers themselves, without telling us, and then complain that we don't take them down.

Really is tedious.


Beefy Levinson said...

Well said Father.

It seems to me that the obvious solution to any acrimonious division between those who worship at the OF or the EF is to make it so every parish in the world offers at least one EF every Sunday. That would instantly solve the problem, if there be one, of the "ghetto mentality." How about it your Excellencies and Eminences?

Richard Cipolla said...

I am greatly saddened by the hyper reaction to Dr. Rowland's interview on CNS. I will admit that if one had to judge her vis a vis the EF purely on that interview, one would be at least puzzled if not upset. But I heard her excellent paper at Sacra Litrugica 13 in Rome. It was a reasoned and forceful statement of support for the EF in the future of the Church and especially with respect to evangelization. Her reference to "odd dress" of some traditionalists has nothing to do with fashion or judgment of taste. Nor is it a put down of modesty in dress. One cannot deny that in some traditionalist circles, especially those who continue what I call "the indult mentality" and who have not embraced the possibilities given to the Church by Summorum Pontificum, there is a flavor of Little House on the Prairie in style of dress that in and of itself is certainly not wrong, but it may point to a "circle the wagons" way of looking at things that is not at all helpful if the EF is going to become a real force in the Church in the near future. Dr. Rowland has written at least one fine book on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger. Her admiration for the man and his thought is strikingly evident. She realizes his crucial importance in the present time of the Church. Therefore, rather than engage in hyperventilation over a less than five minute interview with some infelicities and some points that need correction, we should all be actively supporting each other to see to it that the Traditional Mass becomes an integral and normal part of the liturgical life of the Church at this time we live in. The stakes are high. We must be united.

New Catholic said...

Agreed, Fr. Cipolla. Then she should not open "friendly" fire.

Long-Skirts said...

Oh, Fr. Dickson I could kiss you!!!


Your hand I'd kiss
But not for this
The mundane games
Men play.

Your hand I'd kiss
For doing this
Absolve my sins

Your hand I'd kiss
But not for this
That any man
Can do.

Your hand I'd kiss
For doing this
God's strong, His choice
The few.

Your hand I'd kiss
But not for this
Like any
Virile male.

Your hand I'd kiss
For doing this
Place Him between
Lips pale.

Your hand I'd kiss
But not for this
Your strength
Exudes each pore.

Your hand I'd kiss
For doing this
Your prayers
I do implore.

Alphonsus Jr. said...

Yes, it's much better to attack those who dress frumpily at traditional Masses than those who dress like nickel hookers at Novus Ordo services and thus lead men into mortal sin.

poeta said...

Speaking of something out of another era, I'm beginning to get flashbacks to 10 years ago when Cardinal Castrillón was pleading for traditional Catholics not to be treated as "second-class citizens" in the Church.

God bless Pope-Emeritus Benedict.

JB said...

As a lay person I don't have to deal with the intra-clergy repercussions of helping S Concilium actually take effect in the world. I'm sure it's difficult at times.

Having said that, you don't make fun of peoples' clothes. It's incredibly rude. You also don't kick people who are down. Basic manners.

Rorate called this one, as usual, correctly.

Woody said...

I would second Fr. Cipolla's comments here, based not to so much on the immediate interview, but instead on what I have read from and about Dr. Rowland in other settings that I trust. In the latest that I have seen, she has been linked with Marc Guerra and Joseph Trabbic (as well as Thaddeus Kosinski) in questioning Maritain's endorsement of the idea that democracy is the most essentially Christian form of government. As I recall it, she also raised interesting questions about the Whig Thomists (e.g. Weigel, Neuhaus, Novak) in her book from the early 2000 period. My impression is that she is a powerful intellect who is, or at least is poised to be, an ally of Tradition. We should cut her some slack on this matter.

Frank Carleton said...

What Tracey Rowland plainly has never experienced is the contempt for traditional Latin Mass adherents, both priests and laity by malevolent and ignorant prelates and clergy since the 1960's.
Has she ever known a priest treated as just short of a certifiable lunatic for fidelity to the Mass rite of his pre-Vatican II ordination?
I've known more than one such priest in more than one country.
In making explicit the unbroken legality of the traditional Mass rite Summorum Pontificum exposed numerous bishops as liturgically incompetent bullies and liars.

poetcomic1 said...

Perhaps it is uncharitable of me to say it, but those who prefer the N.O. deserve the N.O.

JC Fej said...

Thank you, Father. That was well said.

Bwangi Kilonzo said...

I would like to point out one more thing as a person who is married to a woman who dresses like Ms. Rowland say’s ‘from another era’.
Woman do not dress modestly because they do not have a sense of fashion, they do. My wife can afford to go to Macy’s or JC Penney and buy decent and fashionable clothing that is very modest and covers her well without being tight and exposing her nakedness.
However the motivation is not to dress like she is from another era, the motivation is to dress modestly so that she may not be an occasion of sin for another person, especially ‘sick’ secular people that do not have custody of their minds or eyes.
Some of our Traditional mass going friends dress like its 1917, but Fatima has nothing to do with it. They are poor, and cannot afford to shop at fancy places like Ms. Rowland. They make their own clothes as best as they know how. They have a lot of children to raise and even when their husbands have professional level incomes, the money is not necessarily enough to go around, especially if you throw in adoptions and old parents.

They are also spiritually mature enough to be detached from the world of fashion and the world. They put service to God above being accepted by modern society and being fashionable. It serves two purposes, detachment from the world and not being an occasion for sin to others.

These are some of the best people you could ever meet. I know many a 1917 dressed woman who is a living breathing saint. Right under everybody’s noses.

Thom said...

It is tiring to be confronted with yet another "I'm a traditionalist, but" straw-man argument, but I suppose we must tolerate these folks with the patience of Christ. There is virtually nothing we can do to satisfy their whims, unfortunately. We will always be either too extreme or woefully lacking in some virtue or other in their eyes (and indeed, who is not woefully lacking in some virtue or other?).

If we care not for the fashions of the world we are deemed aloof and off-putting. If we sacrifice our own resources in order to enrich the celebration of Holy Mass, we are deemed Aesthetes, or "making an idol of the Liturgy" -- a new and innovative accusation I recently endured during a sermon. If we use phrases like "Holy Mass" we are too old-fashioned.

Such arbitrary standards can never be satisfied, or even predicted. Thank you for defending us during these confusing times, Rorate Caeli.

JTS said...

That would be great! I'd bet that heaps of people would attend the TLM if there was one available in their own parish.

Athelstane said...

I think Fr. Dickson's response strikes a good balance in critiquing Prof. Rowland's comments, which I also found unfortunate (and unfair at certain points). Thoughtful and respectful, but not lacking in clarity.

JTS said...

Two wrongs don't make a right. The priest at the pulpit and the parish newsletter should remind people to dress modestly at church. Everyone needs a bit of religious instruction now and then. Having said that people who are absorbed with the Mass and concentrating on their prayers shouldn't be so easily distracted into lustful thoughts by anyone's outfit. It makes it sound like all the TLM men are weak minded types who couldn't be let anywhere near a NO Mass incase they disgrace themselves. It's time to stop all this them and us business. We need to pray for TLM to be available in every parish so people can attend either form of Mass. A lot of people don't know TLM is still around.

Henry said...

Some extracts from Dr. Tracey Rowland's address, which--far from criticising the TLM--emphasized its necessity for restoring the liturgy and the evangelizing the secular world:

“I want to argue that the usus antiquior is an antidote to the ruthless attacks on memory and tradition and high culture, typical of the culture of modernity, and that it satisfies the desire of the post-modern generations to be embedded within a coherent, non-fragmented tradition that is open to the transcendent.”

“[The 1960s generation] dismantled a high Catholic culture by removing its cornerstone and they left subsequent generations of Catholics in a state of cultural poverty, confusion and boredom.”

“A Catholic who is ignorant of [the usus antiquior] is like a student who majors in English literature but is unfamiliar with Shakespeare.”

“It would be a major advance if those responsible for liturgical decisions could at least get the message that modernity has not been fashionable since the 1960s.” “Elements of Catholic culture which were suppressed by the 1960s generation of pastoral leaders are being rediscovered by younger Catholics who treat them like treasures found in their grandmother’s attic.” “Catholics of the post-modern generations want to know how the Church looked, how the faith was practiced, when there was a coherent Catholic culture.”

“The whole structure of the usus antiquior engenders a deeper sense that there is a sacrifice, not a mere meal… There is really no greater antidote to secularism and what Pope Francis calls a ‘self-referential Christianity’ than a reflection on martyrdom and the sacrifice of Calvary and the Roman Canon sustains a person’s reflection on this reality.”

“The usus antiquior should be a standard element of the cultural capital of all Latin Rite Catholics since it so effectively resists secularism and satisfies the post-modern hunger for coherent order, beauty and an experience of self-transcendence.”

JB said...

The terminology is getting bewildering. Now it's the "usus antiquior"? It used to be the Tridentine Mass, or the Latin Mass (when the vernacular was exclusive. Then we got the "extraordinary form" versus the "ordinary form." Now the UA.

I don't think this confusion was what the Council fathers intended... oh well.

JOR-EL said...

It appears "Catholic" Answers page-boys Patrick Coffin andTim Staples want to dig an even deeper grave for themselves on this issue (and others):