Monday, April 15, 2013

A "Rad Trad's" Plea

I watched a conversation unfolding on facebook earlier this week, between a couple of bloggers who are rather well known in our little corner of the internet and some of their "friends" and I found myself turning the words over in my head, again and again, trying to explain to myself why the accusations that were being flung about bothered me so.

And this morning I'm going to try to put the whole thing into words, to make sense of it myself.

Lately, if your frequent the Catholic blogosphere like I do, you've likely seen the phrase "Rad Trad" pop up here and there, usually written into a sentence in the same way you might inject a swear word.  I see the phrase and I'll admit that I'm instantly uncomfortable.  I dislike it because I know what's going to follow... and I have yet to see it used in a way that's going to unify the Church Christ entrusted to Peter.  

It doesn't  help matters that I find the title very much mixed in with part of my own identity.  Am I a Traditionalist (they always write it with a capital T so I guess I will too)?  I cover my head.  We pray the rosary as a family.  I only wear dresses and skirts.  And yes, I prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, although I have another internal struggle going on as to whether or not we'll be able to continue to attend with Patrick's lovely incense allergy.  I pray in English and Latin when the mood strikes.  Does that make me a Traditionalist?  A Rad Trad?  

I'm not sure.  I tend to think of myself as a Catholic, plain and simple.  The rest of the stuff surrounding it is preferences that do make it easier for me to live my faith.  They add to it.  But at the end of the day, with everything else cut away, I am just me, a person who believes that Christ founded the Church with Peter ("And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." Matthew 16:19) and who can't imagine life without the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist ("Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 54He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. 55For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 56He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever."  John 6: 53-58)  

I've turned the annoyance I've felt lately over, again and again, in my mind... Why am I personally offended when I hear Rad Trad used in a tirade?  It's usually used with a disclaimer like:  "Well this Rad Trad scum... no offense to the rest of you... I mean, you're not all like that... but..."  And I think I've finally began to uncover an answer.  It would probably be a little less offensive if we ever heard anything other than negative rants attached to those words.   

Every time I read any number of my favorite bloggers posts with a reference to "Traditionalists" it is attached to some sort of extremist negativity about how we're doing it wrong.  It usually involves someone being portrayed as crazy. There is never anything nice or complementary said.  It's always about how we're some far out, set in our ways group and they'll usually throw in that we're someone or another's "minions" and we sound a little bit brainwashed or brainless depending on the post, and likely racist and hateful.  

And I want to raise my hand and say: "Yeah, I'm sure there are people who love tradition and prefer the EF who are like that, just like I'm sure there are people who prefer the OF who are like that..." because we all have tendencies towards our own particular temptations and yes for some, that particular sin, all wrapped up in an ugly sort of pride, is the poison they're predisposed to.  But I'm sick to death of only hearing about how Rad Trad's are screwing up everything, every time I read my favorite blogs.  

Can we stop sowing division now?  Ease up on the name calling a bit?  Maybe if you're really concerned with those icky "Rad Trads" that offend you so, so much every time they speak, you could try praying for them instead of writing post after post about how absurd you find them, which does offend plenty of your Brothers and Sisters in Christ who also have simple preferences that differ from your own. 

One writer I read recently said that all Rad Trads must speak out every time any Traditionalist says anything stupid.  Apparently it's some sort of unwritten obligation.  And I couldn't help but find that ridiculous.  I'm sorry, but I'm not going to give some obscure madman a platform on my blog just because they claim to prefer the EF and we have that in common, so I therefore must write about how they're wrong.  That's insanity.  Sometimes I do write about the outrageous-ness in the world,  but I think you'd all get a little tired if I went off on a rant every time I saw a story about evil that screamed out for justice, because I'd have to write at least a half dozen rants every time I turned on my computer.  

Go ahead and speak out against idiots when you find them... but if you could consider not lumping the rest of us in with them... well, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would appreciate it.  Instead of responding to hate with hate, maybe responding with truth... plain, simple, beautiful, vibrant truth... would sway more hearts and minds towards your words.


  1. I have felt saddened by this, too.

    And it just won't go away...

  2. ah Cam, I think in all charity that you have missed the point of what was said. There is a problem in the Traditionalists " community" for lack of a better word with anti semitism. It's there. Many self proclaimed traditionalists have said it's there. Many people have had first hand experience with it. There is no more anything wrong with saying that this is a problem among a specific group of Catholics than it is to say that there is a racism problem among certain white people. Sure, there are racists of all colors, but me being white, there is an onus on me to speak up when others of my race act appallingly. The same goes for this subject. It's something that needs to be turned outward and spoken against and eradicated, not turned in to feel sorry for one's self.

  3. I'm sorry, I disagree Shannon. I do believe you should speak out against the evil. I clearly said that in my post. I'm not saying anyone should be quiet about anti-semitism.

    But, on the Trad slamming note, if someone only spoke negatively ALL THE TIME about an ethnic group, then there'd be a problem with that too. And that's exactly what these bloggers do. Say a person sat around and bashed various aspects about white people. They never said anything nice. But they always prefaced it with "not all white people, it's just a big problem for most of you." That would be wrong. Just like this is.

    It is exactly sowing divisiveness. Speak out against the evil, don't slam an entire group of people.

    And no, I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself (and I find that kind of offensive. You should know me better than that). But I feel that we should speak out against the wrongness of dividing Christ's church, just as we should speak out against these other evils.

    I would also be more likely to address it if I'd actually seen it. I've traveled the country and been to various traditional communities and have never actually heard this or seen it anywhere.

    Is anti-semitism wrong? Yes. But so is routinely singling out members of your own Church who are different than you and talking about how much they suck for so many different reasons I can hardly count (not wearing pants? check! headcovering? check!).

    They should speak out. They should do it without slamming an entire group of people MOST of whom are innocent.

    1. I didn't read any of that from the bloggers. from the comments, yes. But the bloggers no.

      Here is part of the problem too, that I mentioned in one of the com boxes, the word traditional/ist means something different to everyone who identifies with it. Frankly I kind of hate that the word traditional has been kind taken and used for a separate group/groups within the Church when all that IS Tradition belongs to the Catholicism and IS the Church.

      When I mentioned feeling sorry for one's self I didn't mean you specifically, sorry if that wasn't clear. I meant that the response from people that identify as traditionalists was largely one that focused the criticism on themselves and glue they felt about it not on the actual wrong that is being done.

    2. I am trying to understand some of your actions," I only wear dresses and skirts. I cover my head." I worry you are sowing divisiveness by these external practices. Why do you find such surface actions make it easier to live your faith? why would you want to be singled out? are you not worried you are creating a clique mentality? I have heard, at times, in our parish " oh they feel they are just a little holier" by distinguishing themselves with these actions. I don't know how to respond....

    3. The Church doesn't teach that such practices are "sowing divisiveness," Anonymous. Why are you placing burdens on people that the Church does not?

      If someone at your parish says "they feel they are just a little holier" about people who cover their heads and/or wear skirts, the proper response is, "I don't think that's true, and it sounds like rash judgement to me."

    4. Hi Anonymous,
      Welcome to my blog. This is kind of an old post and my thinking on this has changed over time. I do wear pants now, mostly because it's cold in Michigan and it's practical.

      However I'm not worried at all about a "clique mentality." I've never really fit with "cliques" of any kind. I usually make one of one friendships that last... but I don't usually really fit with groups, especially not groups the exclude others.

      I don't like being singled out. However as composite beings with a body and soul it makes sense that the physical can affect the spiritual. And modesty can be one of those areas. I don't think there's anything wrong with feeling called to dress more modestly. It happens with a lot of converts, particularly right after their conversion as a sort of over correction from the path they walked before (and that was definitely the case for me).

      It's never made me feel holier. It did help me on my own path feel like I was taking up an action that was important in that part of my conversion. Maybe as a penance?

      Go easy on those you see who are different than you and try to assume that there intentions are good, rather than looking and thinking that they think they're better than others and trying to stand out. It can't hurt to be a little bit kinder and assume the best in others.

  4. As a non-Catholic (but intrigued) I've noticed this: That traditionalists sometimes make judgemental remarks about CINOs (Catholics in Name Only). That seems like the flip side.--Lucy

  5. Cam,

    Just wanted to say that I read and appreciated your post, and tried to reply to it but found that my comment was too long to post. :P Ergo, I'll be replying via a post on my own blog rather than filling up your comment section with a post that was probably longer than your original post. :D

  6. I understood the phrase "Rad Trad" to mean something different than what you described, Cam - Rad Trad isn't just skirts/dresses only or preferring the EF or praying in Latin & English, etc - btw, I do all those things too. :) Rad Trad is something different than that. I could give you an example but I'd rather do that over private email than a public combo box (not because it's anything bad or nasty - I just don't know how to give the example without naming a particular group, and I'd rather not do that in "public").

  7. But a 'Rad Trad' is someone who is traditional AND has a compulsion to make sure everyone else is, too. These are already extremists (thus the addition of radical). Most Traditionalists know it's their personal preferences and don't condemn others for not following their preferences. I think that's the difference you are missing. The blogger in question is asking that Traditionalists take a stand against those radicals who are doing harm. I think because she is culturally Jewish, it strikes her a bit more AND she has encountered the awfulness in person.

  8. Thanks for clarifying Shannon. The use of the word makes me uncomfortable too, because it's such a general Catholic word, and it doesn't feel like it should be used for any one group. Or that we should see these divisions as us and them like that at all (but that's another post!).

    Jennifer, I totally see your point, and am all for standing up for what these specific individuals are saying. I do feel like all of us get lumped together with quite a number of these bloggers though, specifically the ones that rather regularly post making fun of those who are more traditional (if this was the first time, or the second time or the third time this had happened I wouldn't be writing about it.... and it's been on a variety of subjects, from pants wearing to headcovering to liking Church Militant TV, which I happen to watch every single day).

    I just get tired of the blanket statements.

  9. Hi Cam,
    I'm sorry if I missed the poiht of your post, but I don't think you're a Rad Trad at all. Rad Trads, in my experience (I attended the TLM exclusively for a year), think everybody else has to wear skirts all the time, think the 3rd Secret of Fatima hasn't been revealed yet and that Russia hasn't been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart (the priest even had to preach against the people that think this-it's super common with Rad Trads), generally don't like JPII, or Paul VI, or Vatican II, and have a tendency to be conspiracy theorists.

    Sorry for the poor grammar. I'm super tired and can't think straight.

  10. Cam, you've expressed my thoughts perfectly! Indeed, the use of the term "rad trad" or even "trad" or "traddie" does nothing to increase unity within the Church. It only sows division and

  11. I'm a Rad Trad and I'm proud of it. I cover my head at mass, I don't go to the TLM on a regular basis but I have attended a few of the masses, I listen to Ave Maria radio on the 2 hours I commute a day, I wear skirts 90% of the time, I like traditional catholic culture but don't demand it. But To the people at the place that I work, and person, I work for I am an extreme "out of touch with the real world" catholic. Oh and by the way I work for my local diocese. O yeah, I see the forced division in our church very well. I get the "Oh you go to THAT church?", "What is that thing on your head?", "Why don't you get with the times...", "Well you know Vatican II changed that right?(Usually something which isn't true, for example removal of the alter rails and black being a liturgical color.) I don't appreciate being lumped in with the Society of Pius X because I follow the Pope and am not a schismatic. Anytime you don't follow the Catholic Church's teachings you place your self at odds with it. I do not do that so I'd prefer if others didn't feel the need to clump those who have left the Church's teachings behind because they don't agree with the changes made, and someone like me who just takes advantage of the richness that the Catholic Church has to offer together.

  12. I love the fact that everyone gleefully approves and commends Spanish Masses with all their pomp, Samoan Masses with their candy leis and Native Masses with their feathers and drum dances, but burn a little incense and pray in Latin and "SLAM!" You're totally unwelcome here!

  13. As someone who reads a variety of Catholic forums, blogs, etc., I can state strongly that in no way, Cam, would I classify you as a "Rad Trad".


  14. To me, Rad Trad = someone who thinks the OF is invalid, thinks Vatican II wasn't a real council or that it taught heresy, thinks NFP is illicit, etc. Last time I checked, that's not you.

    I think Mark Shea et al raised valid points. It's wrong for Traditionalists to demur from chastising those in their midst who are openly anti-Semitic, just as it's wrong for Catholics to demur from chastising those in their midst who support abortion, contraception, etc. (And by chastise, I mean admonish the sinner in all love and charity.)

    The rad trads won't listen to those of us who don't attend the EF regularly, because we're inferior in their eyes. Therefore, those who have more "street cred" in the eyes of rad trads will be more effective to that end.

    And I gotta say, whenever a "rad trad" goes off on an anti-Semitic rant, you never see Rorate Coeli or Michael Voris repudiating that kind of speech. It almost seems like tacit approval, and it's unsettling. (But whenever pro-abort Catholics shoot their mouths off, tons of faithful Catholics repudiate their statements.)

  15. I really appreciated this post - a friend linked it on Facebook. She and I both witnessed and discussed and hand-wrung about the things you are referring to, and I have the same feelings as you.

    I think of it like this. I have a few friends who belong to some variety of Baptist denomination. If someone were to find out they were Baptist, would they gasp in horror and wonder if they were associated with the Westboro Baptist Church? (The ones who protest at soldiers' funerals, children's funerals, etc.) No, because most people realize that those are a few hateful extremists who don't represent what the majority of Baptists believe. My Baptist friends should not have to be defensive every time they say "I am Baptist - but not like those Westboro Baptist, I don't think all soldiers are going to hell!" They are radical outliers.

    The anti-Semitic Catholics who happen to attend the EF are kind of the same - the outliers, and we shouldn't have to apologize every time for them every time we mention that we are "Traditionalists". They don't represent us. Of COURSE it's good for us to express our love for our Jewish brothers and to speak up when we hear something anti-Semitic, but I don't feel like we should have to go around apologizing all the time, anymore than someone with Japanese ancestry needs to go around constantly apologizing to Americans for bombing us in World War II.

    If anything, can't the bloggers who call people out on this stuff just call people out in general - "Hey, Catholics, speak up and suppress the anti-Semites!" Why does it have to be "Hey, Trads!" I feel like there is a lot of lip service paid to "let's all be united, we are all Catholics and belong to the same Church," and yet when someone is doing something wrong, suddenly we are quick to point out the division ("We are not like them!"). (This goes for both people who go to the EF and OF.)

    And I'm with you, by the way - I have attended the EF for years and have never met anyone in person who actually is anti-Jewish or who denies the Holocaust. I'm sure they exist; in my experience, they exist only on the internet. I think these anti-Semitic "rad trads" are being given too much credit and attention (and who knows how many of them are just trolls!)

    Anyway, sorry for the super long comment! I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, and it upset me to see some of my friends being attacked by some of these people in the combox/comment stream, as well as feeling marginalized yet AGAIN as an EF worshipper, and then being told that there is something wrong with us if we are getting defensive about it.

  16. I left a comment on the Catholic Bloggers Network on Facebook. I'd say that you are correct that you don't need to give way from your blog's purpose to address every nut job's point of view just because he happens to have one thing in common with you. We'd all be pretty busy refuting jerks on all our blogs and not very busy with the Good News!

    Also, I think a Rad Trad is more akin to a Sedevacantist than a Catholic, they just haven't left yet. Since they believe that one form of the Mass is invalid, they ultimately have a problem with Authority, not the form of the Mass. If it is a matter of preference, no matter how strong the preference is, then Traditionalist applies.

  17. Cammie
    I so appreciate your post and I am REALLY happy that I began following you some time ago.
    I completely missed this exchange...from what I gahter it took place on CBN FB page...Altho, I have been trying to curtail my online time and keep it to short blogging spurts in the AM and perhaps jumping online here and there throughout the day for HSing purposes/quick research/ visit to the library site to reserve an item, etc....
    Even so, if I did see this thread, I have to admit that I can't really enter into any intelligent dialogue b.c I ( ashamedly) really don't know enough about the difference between "traditionalist" catholics and, those who, I assume are like my family...we go to "regular" mass...not the TLM and we're very active in our parish..I am honestly ( even after going from gr 1 through graduate school to Catholic institutions) learning the Faith more and more along with my hubby too, as his family went to mass Sundays but that's about it when he as growing up.
    I have had negative experiences with "trad" Catholics in our HS group b/c of their superior attitudes and rather haughty our-way-is-better-than-YOURS manner BUT I have gotten past the surface hurt ( these were ppl I thought to be lifelong friends of my family's) after a deeply wounding incident last year right before Thxgiving....We have had to divorce ourselves, sadly, from this Catholic HS group. BUT I do not see that their behavior is at all illustrative of other trad Catholics simply b.c of all traditionalists' perspective on practicing the Faith. In other woirds, this is my experience with these "friends" and I don't feel that other tradit are this way simply bc they are traditionalists. I also live in a very snooty area of the country where Mommy competition is a sport. So add that to the "Oh, you "only" go to parish mass not the TLM??" furtive dismissive quips we experienced frequently and there you go. One recipe for exclusion of the "non Trad" families from the "traditional" families in the HS group is made.
    I am sorry that you're going through this; none of us should feel anything but acceptance and sadly, this is not so. Catholic women can be rather divisive, I have sadly learned ( as I'd imagine can women of other faiths....)
    I just pray that I never inflict hurt on anyone as deeply as my family was hurt....and more importantly to the point of my comment, that I never condescend to any the way you have been treated!

    Sorry for the long com...I so wish we were closer and tat we could chat over tea!

    Keep up the honest and great work, Cammie:)


  18. Sorry, as if my com wasn't long enough...was does EF mean?
    I t-o-l-d you I wasn't knowlegdable enough to even discuss!

    Thanks XOX

  19. Hi Chris,

    I wish we could chat over tea too!

    EF is just short for extraordinary form (and if you see OF it's ordinary form).

    And I'm so sorry that happened to your family. I've definitely noticed in the conversations I've had since this post how much hurt there is on both sides of the issue.

    Maybe my husbands idea of splitting our time between the two forms isn't such a bad idea (we've been talking about it because our littlest is allergic to incense and the low mass is only two weeks a month now).

  20. Thank you, Cammie:)for the kind words and the info you included....
    I do hope the climate improves.. division and exclusion are just never a means to an end...

    Have a lovely day:)


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