In full transparency, I do not categorize traditionalists as “joyless” any more. The truth is that I find more joy in traditional communities than I do the normy Catholic world. In fact, I currently find some of the highest levels of joy, happiness and fraternal charity in traditional communities than nearly any other community to which I am frequently exposed in the United States. I would consider evangelical Christians way up there, too, actually.
But “joy” doesn’t matter too much, especially as we consider the Scriptures and the official ascetical theology of the Catholic Church. Both teach that “gifts of the Holy Spirit” are given by God and they are listed in Isaiah 11 as the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. This is the fire that God gives. The sparks that come from this are called the “fruits of the Holy Spirit.” These are the symptoms of a life truly rooted in Christ as listed in Galatians 5, namely, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, Mildness, faith, modesty, continency and chastity.
Some of these fruits are absolute, like chastity, but some of these can be transitory. If joy were an absolute, Christ never would have said in the Sermon on the Mount: Woe to you that now laugh, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when men shall bless you, for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.—Luke 6:25-26. That clearly reveals that those closest to Christ on earth are weeping, not laughing. We think of the early Christians as speaking in tongues and working miracles, and this is completely true. We think of them as singing as they were tortured. And this is also true. But many of them were not singing at the time. Many of the early martyrs were crying, missing their families, wondering if they could take another day like that. None of them were laughing with the world. True Catholics in the Muslim world today are often found “mourning and weeping. ” But progressive Catholics in the West consider themselves “blessed” if the world speaks well of them (a sign of false-prophesy, according to the New Testament.)
Notice also that God tells the prophet Ezekiel: Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem: and mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst thereof.—Ez 9:4. A Thau was a symbol the shape of a “T” or a cross. Some people see this as a foreshadowing of the fact that only those marked with the cross will be saved. This is true. But what is also true is that verse reveals that the saved are those going about “mourning for all the abominations” of Israel. It doesn’t sound very joyful, does it? So when traditional Catholics “mourn for all the abominations” under the new liturgy or mourn that the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) is taken from them, the accusation from normy Catholics that trads aren’t “joyful” doesn’t matter at all. In fact, it’s a compliment as all the “saved” of Israel in Ezekiel are going about mourning how bad things are.
The New Covenant didn’t change this. St. Thomas Aquinas quotes St. John Chrysostom in saying “He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but even the good to do wrong.” Apply that line from the two doctors of the Church to the last century: Lack of anger among good clerics against bad clerics is exactly how we got into this mess of modernism. Few bishops and [probably] no Cardinals pumped the breaks of the auto-demolition of dogma and liturgy the past 60 years. Now it has reached such a zenith that you would have to be purposefully-ignorant to now think what is coming out of the Vatican is even remotely the same religion as what came out of the Vatican under Pope St. Pius X. Totally different religion. Totally different liturgy. And the two doctors of the Church above tell us this “hotbed of many vices” came to be because of “unreasonable patience” among the good, not the evil. Yes, perhaps trads should be angry more than joyful these days.
On the other hand, let’s remember that Lucifer was correct on everything he believed up until his fall. Lucifer was correct on his theology, especially everything he knew as the highest angel, at least up until he was given a preview of the Incarnation which he rejected out of pride. Lucifer was the smartest and holiest angel who was wrong about nothing up until that point. So also, I do think traditionalists are right about everything theologically these days. But just like Lucifer, it will be pride (not righteous anger) that becomes our fall into hell. This is where we must realize: It’s fine to be mad and sad about what’s happening in the Church and the TLM, but it’s not fine to think your crap doesn’t stink like the next Catholic at the Novus Ordo Mass (NOM.) That is what will drive us to hell.
It will also drive people away from us… I spoke on the phone today to a friend who has one foot in the NOM world and one foot in the TLM world. She told me about families on the East Coast she knows who used to work at soup kitchens and evangelize on the streets when they went to the NOM. Now they go to the TLM and they no longer work on the streets as they used to when attending the NOM. She told me their kids are having major problems in the new insular attitude adopted by their parents. Parents are pulling up the draw-bridges against the rest of the secular world. I partly agree with her that that’s a problem, but I partly agree with the parents shielding their kids. I understand why parents are pulling up the draw-bridges against a world that wants to corrupt all of their children. I also met trads recently in San Francisco who bring hundreds of sandwiches to the Tenderloin (one of the roughest areas of San Fran) so her critique is not applicable to every community.
But I do think she has a point, that if we really do have the most beautiful Mass, then we should be everything we can to humanly and humbly evangelize everyone into tradition. We must realize it’s to no grace of our own that we found the TLM, and so we must evangelize slowly and patiently. I believe Jesus wants this whole world at the Roman Mass of the Ages (or at least at one of the Eastern Apostolic Liturgies in union with Rome.) The only way we’ll get there is with tremendous humility and charity (even if it’s marked by sadness and anger at times.) Be humble. Be charitable. Be joyful or sad (Either can be a sign of salvation as proved above!) It’s best to even be angry at times, as St. Thomas and St. John above admonish us. But don’t be prideful about having tradition, for that is the only way I can see us falling from the sky like lightning, just as Lucifer (with such perfect theology at one point) became that filthy Satan in hell in just a heartbeat of pride.