Zmirak should re-read John 17

On Rich’s blog, I commented that Zmirak’s article seemed divisive and uncharitable. Several events have delayed my response. I wish I’d written this response at the time because it would have been just based on Zmirak’s post. Since then, I’ve read Mark Shea’s piece that prompted Zmirak’s response and in context of Shea’s post, Zmirak’s piece raised my blood pressure to an unhealthy level. 

This post will briefly respond to Zmirak’s article and I’ll do my best to indicate which comments were responses before and which after reading Shea’s piece.  I will follow up with other thoughts in a few days, including responses to commenters on Rich’s blog whose reading comprehension apparently doesn’t extend to “I’ll be without Internet access” and the obvious result that I’d be unable to respond.

As for divisiveness, in the first paragraph Zmirak writes of “the conflict between … simply as ‘orthodox’ and … traditionalists.”   He continues with “the division is palapable.”  My pre-Shea notes that the first red flag was “conflict between orthodox and traditionalists” and that Zmirak shows no awareness there’s something wrong with that statement. He doesn’t see what’s wrong with conflict that’s not with dissidents but conflict with Catholics faithful to the Magisterium. There’s absolutely no awareness of the grievousness of justifying conflict among the faithful.  Three times in John 17, Jesus says “that they may be one” (quick search, I’m sure if off by a smidgen, someone will correct me).  Zmirak is justifying conflict, division, and disunity  - the opposite of what Jesus calls for. Over what?  Obviously not matters of doctrine, but over practices that, to use his own words, are not essential and not inherently evil.

Maybe I’ll just list my initial responses:

Zmirak divides the orthodox Catholic world into two camps: traditionalists and converts. He treats those of us orthodox cradle Catholics as if we don’t exist. 

In the paragraph on aesthetics, Zmirak apparently thinks that anyone who prefers the Novus Ordo to a Low Mass is looking at it “from a purely human point of view.” Those who prefer the Novus Ordo apparently are not sufficiently spiritual.  That was my pre-Shea reaction. Now that I’ve read Shea’s piece – I had not heard the term “Neo-Catholic,” but had run into that attitude – I would say it’s not just Zmirak, as I’ve been called that before by some Trads.  That Zmirak did not challenge the “Neo-Catholic” definition, but indeed seems to be justifying it, is divisive.

“Get over it, fratres” is uncharitable to his fellow traditionalists both in tone and content. If you’re going to follow the 1962 Missal, the responses are said by the servers, are said in Latin, and the congregation would not use the vernacular. I’ll come back to this topic in a later post.

Zmirak’s portrayal of the Church prior to 1962 as not riddled with the problems post 1962 is always attractive to traditionalists, but doesn’t hold water. 

“What faithful Catholic wouldn’t … swap the American church of 2010 for that of 1940?”  Quite a lot of faithful Catholics wouldn’t swap.  But we don’t exist in Zmirak’s world.

Then there’s the old chestnut that Ottoviani begged Pope Paul VI not to issue the Novus Ordo. That’s true in itself, but reportedly incomplete. Matt1618 (which earned a green light from catholicculture.org) says that after the Novus Ordo was promulgated, Cardinal Ottoviani wrote “no one can be scandalized” while noting the need for “a prudent and  intelligent catechesis.”  I say “reported” as I have no way of checking the references this website cites.

Also uncharitable is Zmirak’s slighting, belittling description (three quarters down) of the merely orthodox.  As a further insult, he says that the merely orthodox don’t realize that inessential things have power.  That’s right, us poor merely orthodox  don’t get it – we don’t get it so much that I’m looking at a picture of Joseph and Jesus across from me, “us merely orthodox” have Advent wreaths at home, and get our rosaries blessed – yeah, we don’t get it at all.

Zmirak starts the piece saying it’s an explanation for the “simply orthodox” (only specifying converts) and then goes off on dissidents.  Now that I’ve read Shea’s post, my guess is that this is more about vilifying Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

Who is he applying the Pidgin English to?  The orthodox he initially said he was addressing or the dissidents?  Or are all non-Trads seen as Pidgin English?

“That is how it felt to be young and Catholic in the 1970s.”  Yes, there was a great deal of pain and upset at the time. But no, Zmirak does not speak for everyone, or even a majority, of those who lived through that time. He certainly does not speak for who are spiritually sustained by the Novus Ordo.  

Maybe Zmirak and those who agree with him should stop picking fights over what he admits are non-essentials and re-read John 17.

Update: Since posting yesterday, I decided to soften the title.

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