N THE FOOTNOTE to a recent article, I mentioned something about TLM parishes. As someone involved with the “Traditionalist movement” since the 1990s (on multiple continents and all over the USA), I have personally dealt with hundreds of TLM priests. When it comes to TLM parishes, one thing is certain: parishioners who act the most pharisaical (i.e. “judgmental and hypocritical”) are almost without exception the ones whose personal lives are the most disordered. A professional psychologist would probably have a field day with that reality. We must guard against letting “one bad apple spoil the whole barrel.”
Ordinary Form! • Please do not assume I am ‘targeting’ EF communities. Believe me, OF communities can have more than their fair share of problems. There’s a false perception these days that Ordinary Form parishes are more welcoming than TLM parishes. This hasn’t been my experience at all. For the last 30 years, our various TLM communities frequently “shared” parishes with the Ordinary Form. That means EF and OF communities had to live together in the same church. I remember one parish had huge banners all over the place saying: “We welcome everyone! You have a home here!” And yet, the actual people in charge of that parish—which was mainly run by lay Catholics—were some of the nastiest people I ever encountered. I was treated with contempt for the “crime” of directing music at an EF Mass. Indeed, I was once threatened physically by a member of their parish council who declared: “We can get rid of you people anytime we want.” (I wasn’t really frightened when he raised his cane at me because he was elderly.) I tried to offer up the various abuses I suffered, but it wasn’t easy. By the way, I’m not trying to come across as some kind of martyr. I’m merely pointing out that just because people post “welcoming” banners all over the place doesn’t guarantee they’re nice people. On the other hand, some of the OF parishes were really wonderful. I still remember Monsignor Trompeter (d. 2003), who used to tell us stories about what it was like when he was a seminarian during World War I.
Context Is Key • All that I’ve written so far was my (rather cumbersome) attempt to lead up to something important. Context is key. At the inhospitable parish I mentioned, the music director—who was insanely jealous of our choir—made a huge gesture of allowing our organist to use one of the pipe organ’s memory levels. Perhaps you’re saying to yourself: “Jeff sure does come across as ungrateful. Here they are generously allowing his organist to use one of the memory levels, and he’s not even grateful.” But context is key! That particular pipe organ had like seventy (70) different memory levels! Moreover, that particular Ordinary Form parish often used the piano (!) and didn’t even have an organist—whereas our community’s organist had a doctorate! I don’t think it would have killed them to let our organist use more than one memory level.
Alphabetize Hymns? • When asked whether it makes sense to alphabetize the songs in a hymnal, I suspect most would say: “Absolutely, because then you can easily find the song you want quickly.” Believe it or not, that’s the wrong answer—and this video explains:
Here’s the direct URL link.
One Final Example • To give another example, suppose you approached folks on the street. And suppose you said to them: “The truck driver’s manual says any driver who leaves his truck will be terminated. Therefore, does a driver who leaves his truck—and gets fired—have a right to file a wrongful termination suit?” Needless to say, 99% would reply: “Absolutely not! The manual clearly says the drive cannot leave his truck.” But context is key! You failed to mention the truck broke down in a blizzard, and if the aforementioned driver hadn’t “left his truck” he would have frozen to death! Context is key.