There is a quotation of the XXII session of the Council of Trent which has been cited several times in our website and which forms also the ending and the summary of my comment concerning the beauty and its role in the Church. I recall that because it is a short lecture on what a pomponiard needs for food for the soul. And, in fact, what every human needs, because as it is rightly written: “such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things.” Is it different today? Has the second half of XX century launched a kind of mechanism in the man and flushed his nature in the abyss of non-existence? I doubt it.
I confirm myself in that conviction mostly observing the modern, utterly rational world in which people, nevertheless, search for mysticism – a natural element of the God-human relation. It is especially about those whose faith is not strong enough to shape and develop itself without the outside help, as, although the beauty of the cult is simply destined to God, it is, above all, help for us. And I dare to say that such people are in majority. This is why during post-conciliar liturgical deforms churches and seminaries emptied so quickly: this spiritual food demanded by the weak human nature was not distributed any more. Something that had been holy for ages suddenly was deemed a detrimental manifestation of backwardness – such a blow shook the faith of the many.
Currently priests make desperate attempts to attract the youth to churches, dancing during festivals or, even worse, making Masses “attractive”. However, those who are far from the Church perceive their behaviour, their childishness with certain embarrassment. For a few decades there has been also a pernicious tendency which may be called simply lowering standards: one demands less and less of the faithful and a part of the hierarchy undermines the legitimacy of this, already highly reduced, discipline. And a searching man does not want this. Throughout the ages people turned towards Catholicism charmed with its extraordinary force: relentless guard over the faith announced from the position of an exclusive owner of the treasure which is the Truth. This attitude was confirmed by the majesty and splendour of the Church Militant, solemn ceremonies and ancient customs. All what external, from the sacred art to the robes of clergymen, was a manifestation of the might of the Church strong with her truth, aware of her history and proud of her tradition.
Today patting on the back during ecumenical or interreligious meetings seems, in the eyes of people not connected with the Church, to be a recognition of possibility of equally easy salvation in every religion, or even outside of it – the only thing required is to be a good Protestant, a good Muslim, a good atheist. Opening of the door of the Church encouraged people to go out and the attempt of dialogue with the world resulted in the attack of this world on the Church. Today, what was once the pride of the Church is considered a reason of shame or disgust by her sons: this is why many looked on the attitude of Benedict XVI with such reluctance and now observe Francis’ actions, part of whose gestures and words is perceived as clearly contradictory to the predecessor’s vision, with such enthusiasm.
And what did papa Ratzinger? He did not flirt with the world so he did not shine on media – his thoughts, actions and even garments expressed what many would like to forget about. He was a pope who forcibly stated that the crisis of the Church is realm, and the acceptance of an illness is the first step towards healing. The second one is to discover the reasons of the ailment and the third one is the proper treatment. Thus, he decided to struggle fiercely with the followers of “the spirit of the Council” and indicated that the renewal of the Church must be preceded by the restoration of the proper dimension of the liturgy. Finally, he was the pope who embraced conservatives, in the broad sense of the term, with a look full of love; he did embrace this flock which was longing for former normality and whose spirituality is different from what is now served in churches. He was the father for these who were perceived in the Church mainly as the remnants of the past, even if they were young people, who traditionalists usually are.
The strength of this movement is its timelessness and even the lack of Benedict on the Peter’s Throne will not disturb its development. Indeed, Francis pacifies aptly named Franciscans of Immaculate (although, looking on the history of the Church one may deduce that the persecutions will only strengthen them) but from many parts of the world comes information about new places of celebration of the Old Mass, about another bishops who celebrated usus antiquior and, what is the most important, about new young priests who familiarise themselves with traditional liturgy. This old-new movement will grow steadily (things are destroyed quickly, but they are built slowly) because it gives, as far as possible, what people expect: tough Catholicism instead of shallow ecstasies. Tough, but joyful and modern, which is visible in actions of the traditional communities in the Internet. But not only: people connected with the Old Mass are active proponents of pro-life movements; the attitude of a well-known pomponiard, beloved Raymond cardinal Burke, in that matter may be the example for all Church prelates and a clear negation of the thesis that there is nothing more in pompons than the external beauty.
Does it mean that traditionalists are the examples to follow and decent Catholics? I would not say that they differ from other believers in that matter, however their awareness of faith is on much higher level than the others’: it does not mean, however, that it protects them from human frailties and sin. Yet, for the development of their piety they need that what Church have been granting for ages and what is “based on apostolic regulations and traditions.” Why our shepherds refuse to give us those boons, then? Why they do not want to reinforce our weak souls with what for ages has shaped the faith of the clergy and the lay? Are they scared to face the challenge of “the experiment of the Tradition?” Are they disturbed by the thought that the collapsing structure of post-conciliardom would be destroyed completely under the influence of the wave of the real renewal?
And these things I described above are not only elements supporting the faith but also utterly useful tools for conversion. And the pompons themselves may be a great help: one should just immerse himself in the memoirs of the converts from old times whose curiosity of Catholicism was evoked by the beauty of the liturgy. Today it would not be different, which I mentioned in the introduction: even non-believers or heretics marvel at the chant or Church polyphony and one may prove it, looking only on the comments under the videos on YouTube. One may often encounter reflections of people outside of the Church that the clear and uncompromising attitude of the Church, demanding discipline and the whole pomponious halo are the logical consequence of confessing the faith expressed in Magisterium. One of my non-believing acquaintances, after almost an all-night-long discussion on the faith, admitted: “if the church looked the way You see her, I would become a Catholic”. These are only words, but they express a certain desire of finding authenticity. I, or my friends, heard similar opinions of the faithful of eastern rites, Catholics or Orthodox – for them the Old Mass and the traditional spirituality are the continuation of the ancient traditions of the West, just as they are the continuation of the traditions of the East.
Is there any future for the pompons in the Church, then? The response can be only one – they are the future of the Church, as well as her past. It cannot be different “because such is the nature of man…”.