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10 Problems in the Traditional Catholic Movement

Problems in the Traditionalist Movement

(The following is a transcript of a lecture by Fr. Ripperger from Sensus Fidelium entitled Problems Today. Headlines and highlighted quotes have been added for clarity).

We come now to traditionalist problems which are actually affecting the process of recouping their tradition. I just want to make it clear, I’m not singling anybody out here, I don’t have in mind anyone in particular here. These are just general problems that you see pretty much across the board in almost every traditionalist apostolate. I just want people to be aware that these are the kinds of problems that we’re up against and why it’s actually causing damage to the traditional movement and why the tradition isn’t being recouped as quickly.

I could start out by saying that there's a whole list of problems that we suffer from. Part of it is because of human beings that are suffering under the effects of original sin. But there are particular problems that I think really need to be addressed because they're rather grave, and they are affecting people quite a bit.

1.) Becoming Gnostic & Elitist

The first has to do with the fact that the traditionalist movement is slowly becoming a Gnostic movement by among some, and by Gnostic we mean that they think that only they have this secret knowledge that nobody else seems to have or get and somehow there's something special about them because they get it and these other people don't. How do we know it's becoming Gnostic? They're constantly looking down and bad-mouthing everybody who goes to the New Mass, and things of that sort. Somehow or another they're special. But there's a darker side to this Gnostic aspect. Aside from the fact that it's rooted in pride and it's rude and it's haughty and it's presumptuous, because they presume that it's on their side and not on the grace of God that they can do these things, but there's a dark side.

2.) Impurity

Every Gnostic movement always suffers from grave problems of the impurity and so is the traditionalist movement. This is a serious problem. I'm not saying this as my own perception, although it is true that I noticed this some time ago. This is something that traditional priests are starting to discuss because it's becoming a serious problem. Why is this? Well it's pride. Pride is the vice in which a person judges himself greater than he is. So what does God do? He allows you to lapse into the lowest, basest, vulgarest forms of sins in order to lower your estimation of yourself. Well what's happening is, because traditionalists are so proud, they're really following into serious problems regarding the sixth commandment and it's across the board.

3.) Generational Spirits

The second problem is it’s becoming a generational spirit. What's a generational spirit? It's one in which if parents commit particular kinds of sins, they open the door to demons inserting themselves into their family life, and it gets passed from generation to generation. Now my own estimation of this is, is that the generational spirit is pride. But it's also becoming a generational spirit of impurity, because you're seeing it almost it's across the board, where the parents had a problem with the impurity, they haven't gotten it under control, or they've never done anything to undo this the generational spirit in their family or some spirit of pride.

And it's getting passed from generation to generation. What’s this mean? It means that kids that are coming up who are normally good kids, who are doing what they normally do (okay they might be disobedient here and there what-have-you), but they're getting to be 10, 11, 12 years of age and they're seriously struggling with impurity when they shouldn't be. There's nothing in the family other than the externals of the family life, but then you find out the father has a problem of pornography or self-abuse or they're doing other things or what-have-you. And this is where it's becoming a serious problem. If you look at the number of sins against the sixth commandment, sins like self-abuse, pornography, fornication, among traditionalists, they are not any better than the people who go to the New Mass. In fact, there's some estimates by some priests that it's worse than is among the New Rite people.

This is a serious problem. It's going to drag us down. Why? Because if we're not careful, we're going to end up suffering what St. Paul says which was “and God gave them over to their lusts and they started sleeping men with men and women with women.” It's already happening among the youth of the traditional movement, because of this generational spirit. If parents don't want this problem among their children, they've got to get their act together. If they've started stuff in the past they've got to get this generational line straightened out and cleaned up.

4.) Isolationist Attitude

Then there's also another Gnostic side to the traditional movement, and that is this isolationist attitude in relationship to the world.  Now the world can have a variety of different meanings. You don't leave the world because it's bad. You don't try and avoid aspects of the world because it's bad. You try to avoid aspects of the world principally because it's good. But Gnostics always view everything in the world as bad and this is how traditionalists are becoming. This has never been part of the tradition, that is, this isolationist mentality with “circle the wagons, everyone's got to hide and just keep away from I can't let my kids talk to anybody whatsoever until they're 25 maybe 30 years of age if then.” This has never been part of the Catholic religion to be an isolation shunning people and that kind of thing. Why? Because how are you going to evangelize people? How are you honestly going to attract people to Mass? You're not going to attract people. Why? Because there's a natural human psychology. People aren't going to go to some place where they know people are looking down on them. This isolationist attitude, this isolation, occurred only in certain kinds of monasteries. This was to devote themselves full-time to God. Catholic families are not in that position. They're supposed to be in the world, not of it. Traditionalists don't want anything to do with the world whatsoever. That's not their role. Their role is to transform the world by being good and holy people in the world. That's their function. Yes, the world is bad.

Many traditionalists deny their children legitimate things because of the fact that it's an exaggeration, it's an excess. So what happens? Well you're ending up with the same kind of phenomenon that you're seeing among Amish. The kids end up just bolting from the traditional movement because they just can't stand the fact that things that are perfectly okay are being denied from them entirely. So we're having attrition rates among them.

Plus there are other problems that the traditional movement has. And don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the traditional movement. I wouldn't be standing here before you if it wasn't a case.  I'm just saying these are problems that are affecting the recouping of the tradition on the side of people outside of the tradition. Why? If you're not holy, we're not meriting the grace for the people outside the traditional movement to see the value of the tradition. So what’s the moral of the story? We're dragging the rest of the church down. That's what it boils down to here. You’re either part of the problem or you're part of the solution. There's no mean. It's called the principle of the excluded middle. So either you're going to be working holy and by the merits of your works are going to be helping the rest of the church, or you're going to be dragging everyone else down. It's part of the mystical body of Christ. It's a unified body.

5.) Depression & Despair

What are these some of the other problems? Well, becoming depressed. They sit and they'll mull over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, and by the way I'm saying this over and over again so you get the point. How bad everything is in the church. Okay, yes, it's bad, but it's leading to despair. We may see how bad everything is and then we judge everything to excess. You know “There's no hope. The church is never going to recover. Things are just always going to be bad. The Novus Ordo is invalid. There's no pope.” You just go on and on and on. And then there's also the problem of allowing the anger to consume our life in the view of the church. A lot of people suffer who've come to the traditional movement, but don't let the sun go down on your anger. In other words, you have to bury the hatchet and forgive people. We cannot allow the problems of the church to affect our spiritual lives. It doesn't matter if someone's put the knife in your back. It doesn't matter how bad things are. If it's starting to affect your spiritual life, you have to get your mind off it. And this means that we have to have it a detachment even from the idea of a healthy church even though that is what we must strive for. We must be detached from any vindication from those who harmed us.

6.) Anger

Anger’s a real problem among traditionalists. We have to be sure that the problems in the church do not affect our charity, and we have to stop detracting against the Magisterium. Okay, why? Because in the end it destroys people's ability to the virtue of piety. How can you expect people to want to submit themselves to Christ’s legitimate authority handed on through the Magisterium if you're constantly running down the bishops and the priests and the Pope and things of that sort? You should never say anything against somebody unless 1.) it's necessary for that person’s spiritual life or their physical well-being or what have you 2.) it's just. Don't exaggerate it, and 3.) it's charitable. What does that mean? It means that it's proceeds from a desire for people's spiritual well-being and for the love of God, not because you're mad and angry and want to hack at people.

7.) Disrespect of Authority and the Magisterium

This negative attitude towards the Magisterium is one of the reasons why the Magisterium has been so slow to give us anything, because people have had such a negative attitude. They're just like, well we have to be careful with what we're giving these people, because they're going to end up biting the hand that feeds them. Then they allow their filial devotion to the office of the papacy to wane; that is not making the proper distinctions between the man and the office. It doesn't matter what the man does. The fact of the matter is we must be faithful and loyal to the office. Very often you see trads disrespecting authority and then trads wonder why---traditionalist parents will badmouth the Pope with their badmouth some priests or something and then they wonder why the children have no respect for their parents. Excuse me, but grace flows downhill. If you want your children to have the grace to be obedient and respectful of you, you have to be obedient and respectful of those above you.

Giving in to the vice of curiosity by reading literature which affects our faith or affect us psychologically or spiritually is another problem you see among trads. And this is something that’s clearly demonic because of the fact that it drives people to spend large amounts of time reading every last stitch of literature on how bad everything is. We have an obligation to protect our faith and sometimes that even means avoiding people who tell us the truth for which we are unprepared psychologically, spiritually, or intellectually. If reading this stuff drags you down, you've got to get away from it and stop reading it. We ought to be aware of the problems in the church, but you don't need to read too much for that. It seems like there's a new book every week almost; or there's some new article on how bad everything is. People say “father have you read this? father have you read that?” I'm just like, “I've seen it all. I don't need to read it to know it.”

And I’ll ask these people, when was the last time you read a book on the saints? And they say  “Well I find that literature  boring or difficult.” When was the last time you did any spiritual reading? “Well, you know, insta-bed. By the way have you read this blast book come out? Oh yeah I've read that three times already! I love that book!” Well what's that mean about your spiritual life?

8.) Loose, Reckless Argumentation

Engaging in argumentation when they are intellectually unprepared out of a desire to defend what they think is true. This is a serious problem. I've read so much literature by a traditionalist that has theological error in it because they raced in where they were unprepared to defend. In fact, if you really want to follow the tradition, the tradition was until recently that laypeople were forbidden to engage in public debate regarding theological and philosophical matters unless they had permission from a local bishop. But today, now granted, part of the reason that they got involved in it is because of the fact that many of the members of the Magisterium were failing in their jobs. But that doesn't mean that all of a sudden that you race in when you're unprepared. We should rather ask some of the proper background to defend the truth if necessary.

9.) Bullying People

We have to be sure that we're not always trying to seek to beat up on people. This is part of the whole anger thing. Yeah, it's true that the state of the church is bad, but that doesn't mean that when you see people doing something wrong, you beat up on them. We must accept that people aren't going to get it. They're just not going to get it because they don't have the grace. You cannot see the value of the particular tradition without grace. That means that because grace is gratuitous you didn't merit it. You're here because God chose you, not because somehow you think you're special. The same thing applies to these other people. He wants us to merit the grace for them. How are we going to do this if our spiritual lives aren't in order because we're angry, we're impure, we’re this or that. If we're not getting our act together spiritually, the traditional movement will never get off the ground. Now granted God will always raise saints to make sure the tradition is passed. But we'll be part of the problem, not part of the solution. Just because you see the problems, and you have the grace to see the problems, does not give you license to abuse both the grace that you received and other people.

10.) Driving Others Away

And so what does this all mean? Trads, in my experience, tend to drive more away than they attract very often. And this means that we have to do some serious self-reflecting about how we're behaving in relationship to other people to make sure that they are able to see the value of the tradition. And the only way they're going to see the value is if they see that we're different from everybody else. If we're shopping on Sundays, if we're committing acts of impurity, if we're constantly using vulgarity and profanity, if we're behaving the exact same way, if we suffer from the same worldliness that everybody else does, how do you expect them to see the value of the tradition? They're going to look at it and say “you're no different and it obviously provides you nothing more than the rest of religions or even of the Novus Ordo.” And what does this mean? Well that's not true. That's a false conclusion. It just means that we haven't gotten our acts together. We cannot place the entire onus, by that we mean burden, of coming to the tradition on others. It is our responsibility to make sure that we do what we can to attract people and lead them to the tradition. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Editor's Note: This is not a condemnation of the traditionalist movement by any means. In the spiritual life, one looks inwardly at one's own flaws in order to improve oneself. So too must we also do that collectively as a movement. As Fr. Ripperger has alluded to, his lecture is rooted in a desire to advance the movement to a greater level, so it can truly become a shining city on a hill.

Catholic Prayerbook for Spiritual Warfare

Regarding Fr. Ripperger's note on generational spirits, I highly recommended you watch his 3 part video series for information on how to discern them and deliver yourself from them. His Deliverance Prayers prayerbook was specifically put together for the spiritual combat.

Click here for Fr. Ripperger's biography and books.

Fr. Chad Ripperger

Fr. Chad Ripperger, Ph.D. is a theologian, Thomistic psychologist, philosopher, author, and exorcist. He has developed a stellar reputation as a stalwart defender of Catholic tradition. He has an outspoken, no-nonsense approach to the Faith, which many of the faithful see as a breath of fresh air. He now has his own society, the Doloran Fathers, also known as the Society of the Most Sorrowful Mother, which is located in the archdiocese of Denver.
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