There is a lot of anger in the opinions section of the Catholic blogosphere, and many people enjoy it. I enjoy it, too, when it's clever, funny and well-written, but last week I discovered that Someone had drawn a line into how much lyrical anger I could take. It made me wonder how much I myself have been adding to a hermeneutic of the "mad trad."
I think the path best taken is to eliminate all my little jibes against the novelties adopted since the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and just talk about why I love traditional devotions, particularly the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. I might even add a list of the novelties I actually like. (Or that my mother likes. My mother very much likes the protracted congregational singing, and the jollier and more the hymns make her feel like dancing, the better she likes them.) I could even point out where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, so long in developing, may further develop: e.g. the sermon returned to the end, before the announcements. Those who want to hear the announcements will have to hear the sermon.
One of the lovely things about traditional theology, the Extraordinary Mass and traditional devotions is that there is so much to learn. Once you get hooked on the traditions of the Church, and how they foster devotion to the Blessed Trinity, to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Saints, you never run out of wonderful books to read or helpful ideas on the internet.
Another lovely thing is how they all match up. The more I read the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, the less satisfied I felt at ordinary English-language Mass. I wasn't really satisfied until I began to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass regularly. It astonishes me that I have been going to the same parish--only once feeling dissatisfied (tremendous confusion of self re: Triduum as had wrong missal that year)--for almost seven years.
Because everything matches up, everything is treated with great importance. I am not sure how ministers of music usually pick the hymns for the Ordinary Form, but the singing in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is inextricable from the (Traditional) Calendar. For example, every Sunday has its proper-to-it Introit and the Master of our Schola carefully considers what day it is before he chooses any extra music or decides the congregation should sing an English-language recessional hymn instead of our usual, seasonal Marian anthem.
A thought came to me of a tapestry. You can add to the end of a tapestry and you can freshen up its colours if it becomes faded, but you can't start messing around with, and picking out, its threads without making a massive confusion.
Traditional Catholicism is like that tapestry. You can add things--for example, the Master of the Schola composes new music suitable for Mass--but if you start taking things away, other parts become confusing. They cease to make as much sense, especially when you are reading what all saints who died before 1962 have to say about the Mass.
When I was a child, I began to notice that many aspects of Catholicism writers of old (or reprinted) books took for granted did not feature at Mass, at school, or even in my Catholic youth group. When I asked a teacher at my Catholic school to tell me what the Mass was like before Vatican II, he couldn't tell me. (In exchange for full governmental funding, the school board had agreed to hire non-Catholic teachers.) Therefore, I never really understood what the old writers all took for granted until I was in my late 30s and stumbled upon the Extraordinary Form. And now I'm very glad I did.