I’m not old enough to remember Vatican II.  As I grew up, I sometimes heard people talk about a “Latin Mass,” but I never attended one until well after I graduated college.  That’s when I started teaching Catechism at our local church, and in order to make sure I could answer 9th grader questions, I researched a lot before each class.

I found a cool mixture of tradition and reverence at the Tridentine Mass.  I grew up with the Novus Ordo, but I attend both the Tridentine Mass and Novus Ordo, depending on what makes the most sense for my family at the time.  I’ve even gone to Eastern Rite churches when I travel.  To me, the Mass was always about the miracle: the transubstantiation of bread into the Body of Christ.

Sadly, I feel alone in thinking this way.  A storm brews inside the Catholic Church.  On one side are the so-called “traditionalists,” who treat the Novus Ordo as heresy.  The other side has the “progressives,” who believe the Church needs to modernize for the 21st century.

I get caught in the middle of this storm.  My in-laws never attended my wedding because I wasn’t “Catholic enough” (read: attends the Novus Ordo).  I bristle when people complain about “rad trads,” and then tell me they are OK with artificial birth control and abortion.  It’s aggravating, and unfortunately I have few friends that I pleasantly converse with about my Catholic faith.

But this whole debate is really a fallacy, because being Catholic has absolutely nothing to do with what language the Mass is said in.  I’ve met wonderful people on both sides of this debate, and it greatly bothers me that people spend their time vilifying others with all the evil that already exists in the world.

For so-called traditionalists (or “rad trads,” or whatever other silly titles they have), your blanket judgement of people that attend a Mass in vernacular is ridiculous.  Jesus didn’t give us a rigid Mass structure, he gave us guidance and the Church built a Mass, which has evolved over time, even before the Tridentine Mass came into existence.  So don’t lecture me how you are the original Mass, unless you want to roll back to saying the Mass in Aramaic.

For so-called progressives, I’m even more dismayed.  So little is expected of us as Catholics: weekly Mass, regular Confession, follow basic Church teachings, pray regularly and teach your kids about the faith.  When you consider that in many places you can’t attend Church without risk of death, these requirements are a small price to pay for salvation.  Yet over the past month here at my local church I’ve seen:

  • A bulletin announcement for parents picking up kids from Catechism, asking them to please attend Mass with their kids.
  • A lasy in front of me at Mass constantly checking Facebook on her phone during Mass.
  • People regularly showing up late to Mass and leaving early (get an alarm clock perhaps?).
  • Folks coming into the pew in front of me while I’m praying and talking loudly.
  • People shaming a mother for bringing her kids to Mass when they make one tiny peep of noise…sadly, the same loud people that interrupted my prayer earlier.

And I’m not trying to call out my local Church, because I’ve seen similar things elsewhere.

For both sides, you all are being played by an atheist-minded media hell-bent on tearing the Church apart from the inside.  This media gleefully alters quotes from Pope Francis to get people riled up.  It dramatizes Church business like the Synod of Bishops on the Family.  I think I spend more time proving that what the media says is wrong to people than I do talking about how much I love the Church.

And that is the problem.  We’ve become so focused on hating each other we often forget that the Church is supposed to bring people together, to help us overcome the daily temptation to sin, and to be our supernatural support structure.  We’re so busy arguing about who is better that we forget to see the good in others.  We’ve been corrupted by the world around us, rather than changing the world for the better.

I encourage you to change the status quo.  If you’ve never attended a Tridentine Mass, find one and go.  Same for Novus Ordo.  Talk to those Catholics after Mass.  Volunteer to teach Catechism and build young adults who are strong in their faith and knowledge of the Church.  Turn off your phone and pray peacefully on Sunday.  Set a good example, not just at Church, but whenever you walk out into the world.

Be that light to the world that Jesus wanted us to be.


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This week I had the chance to visit the USS YORKTOWN museum, docked at Patriot’s Point in sunny Charleston, SC.  The crew at Patriot’s Point have done a fantastic job fixing the YORKTOWN, and one of the new exhibits I hadn’t seen before was called the Combat Information Center (CIC) experience.  So, I walked in to check it out.

The revamped CIC at Patriots Point. The “people” are actually projections. Image courtesy of Patriots Point.

The “officer” in CIC talked about tracking a Russian Tu-95 bomber that was preparing to overfly the Navy vessels in formation.  Then he had to deal with a quiet Russian submarine.  The CIC experience walked through the how the Navy tracked and dealt with each of these circumstances in the Mediterranean.


Russian TU-95 bomber , with US escort in the background. DoD Image.

I was struck at how much things haven’t changed.  We’re still dealing with Tu-95 overflights and Russian submarines, and we’re still in the Mediterranean.  Students of history will likely chime in “History repeats itself.”  But I don’t think that’s the full story.  What amazed me as I walked around this World War II era ship is how similar things are to current ships.  While we have nicer equipment, the equipment is essentially covering the same functions as it did 60 years ago.  Even weirder, I read a few of the old ship “Plan of the Day” and some diary entries, and the issues they dealt with were very similar to what we still have now.

I don’t think history repeats itself.  Rather, I think people haven’t changed much, and they tend to attack problems in the same manner they have been for generations.  The only time history changes is when someone steps outside of that box.  Look at World War II Germany.  Previous European wars had not changed the map very much.  Germany shifted to massively different tactics (Blitzkrieg) and won surprising victories.  Eventually we copied that idea, and we haven’t changed much since.

Russia realized this after losing the Cold War and has completely shifted tactics.  That’s why we’re seeing Russian disinformation campaigns, cyber attacks, and a much more subtle Russia, followed by low level conflict to gain territory.  But even this isn’t new…it sounds strangely similar to Germany in the 1930s.  Our sanctions response is doing nothing because it hurts regular Russians, who blame the US for their problems instead of President Putin.

If we want to stop watching history follow predictable human behavior, we have to do something new, and stop attacking today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions.


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