Catholic traditionalists sometimes have a reputation for being sour or bitter.
Alas, this reputation is not always entirely undeserved!
It is, however, I think, very much understandable.
For the traditional heart is broken, broken by all that has been lost and destroyed these last fifty years.
Moreover, I would say, the traditional heart is often acutely awake to what is truly at stake here. And this, to my mind, appears nothing less than the very future of the Church and the West.
Thus, a traditional heart might be broken by the destruction of any number of precious things – reverent liturgy, beautiful altars, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, etc. – but, in all of this, as I say, a much bigger picture is at stake.
That bigger picture entails the loss of faith for millions upon millions of people. And although it seems needless to say, let me add something obvious, as well: the faith of their children.
For children growing up in faithless homes are far less likely to find faith themselves.
Thus, the Catholic traditionalist looks out upon a world of decimation of the Catholic faith, including and proceeding from the decimation since the 1960s of the Sacraments. Obviously, Confession – and therefore absolution – has plummeted most grievously, but of course there are also tremendous drops in receiving the Eucharist, in Catholic baptisms, marriages, ordinations and more.
It is very easy then to feel heartbroken. And heartbreak can often turn to despair and even more unhealthy things: self-pity, bitterness, moroseness, rage …
In writing my book The Gentle Traditionalist, I wanted to address this all-too-understandable situation within Catholic traditionalism.
Thus, my challenge was to create a character who was not bitter, not ranting, but genuinely kind and, well, gentle. That character needed to be both wide-awake to the heartbreak of modernity and, at the same time, also genial and joyful.
Because, however heart-breaking modernity may be, there are always countless things to be grateful for!
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Now, one thing I am personally very grateful for, dear Reader, is the outpouring of sheer support for my new book (which has also shocked me in terms of how well its sales appear to be doing!)
It is also very deeply gratifying to receive feedback from those who evidently understand what I attempted in my book.
Thus, I was more than thankful to receive another review at Amazon from someone who calls herself ‘Anna Luxworthy’ (a reference that will be understood by those who have finished my book!).
I don’t know who this Anna is – although I guess she is a new reader at this site – but here is what Anna writes:
Telling truths that need desperately to be told, but truly in a gentle way, uniquely delivered… half exposition, half conversation, Roger Buck has managed to weave together a story of hope and relief for the post-modern, post-Christian restless heart. Perhaps precisely because he has occupied both worlds / world-views, Buck paints a credible picture of the angst and confusion wrought by the loss of Sacraments and Mystery, particularly in the Anglosphere (not to mention – in the micro – in the hearts, minds and lives of individual persons, increasingly troubled by a chaotic world). Somehow the book achieves both lightness and urgency, with quite a bit to say to the lost-but-searching, as well as to the already-convicted traditionalist. Highly recommended.
Thank you, deeply, Anna for your gift to me in this review.
How grateful I am for your words, including the pairings you invoke ‘hope and relief’ ‘lightness and urgency’.
For the gentle traditionalist (any gentle traditionalist) has hope, has joy – but never at the expense of the sense of urgency: being awake to the cry of humanity.
That is why, ’Anna Luxworthy’, your invocation of the word urgency is most, most appreciated.
For the Gentle Traditionalist in my book has been watching the world for a very long time. He has been watching not only the destruction of Catholic tradition, but also the rise of materialism and indeed the new atheism, likewise increased sexualisation and sexual disorders, psychologically damaged children, ecological decay and far more.
Moreover, in Ireland, where my book is set, the Gentle Traditionalist recognises for example, how murder and suicide has grown monumentally since Catholic tradition broke down. He sees also the rising use of drugs, prostitution, domestic violence, homelessness . . .
And he, GT remarks to his interlocutor GPL:
GT: These things would have shocked previous generations. But we accept them as “normal” now. And it’s not stopping—but growing. Yet no- one seems to be asking: where is all this headed in the future?
You see, my friend, I’m not just looking at today. We need to consider the longer-term view: the world of 2100 or 2200, for example. Frankly, it scares me.
GPL: You and me, too.
GT: But there’s more. The growth curves of mental illness. And the growth curves of children taking drugs to combat mental illness . . .
All this is just scientifically measurable mental illness. What about other forms of illness? We see this explosion of sexual perversity, sadomasochism for example. It’s pathological. But you’re no longer allowed to say that, of course.
In the past, these things were seen as sicknesses of the soul. Now they’re normalised and accepted as an “alternative lifestyle”! It’s politically incorrect to call them “sick.” Soon it may be illegal to do so—what with legislation against “hate crimes” and the like […] We may be nearing the end of religious liberty. The secular metaphysic, the secular ethic, the secular elite—that small sliver of humanity—may soon have total power to crush Christian ethics. . . .
Moreover, the power of technology is boosting the secular metaphysic like never before. Never before has humanity been bombarded like this—round the clock. Television. Advertising. Pop songs. Jingles. Internet. iPods. And it’s going to get worse. Virtual reality is coming, no doubt virtual pornography . . . Challenges like never before . . .
There’s also “reproductive technology,” so-called. In England, they’re splicing together DNA so that a child has genes from three parents. Why not four? Why not sixteen? Where is this headed?
A child isn’t a child anymore—a miracle of God. It’s becoming a product, manipulated by technology.
We’re all turning into machines in a world of technocracy. Everything’s becoming like steel. Steely efficiency. Steely ruthlessness. Steely cold.”
Something about the way he said steel, steely sliced into my heart […]
He buried his head in his hands and started weeping softly again. “2100” he said a couple of times. Then, “Steel, steel . . .” After that, we both fell silent.
Now, this last passage may strike some readers as dark and despairing.
But my book, I believe, is not.
Again, I thank Anna Luxworthy above for crediting my book for its lightness, hope and relief.
Because, dear Readers, dear friends, known and unknown, the situation on our planet is indeed urgent.
But there is also hope.
Christ is with us and He comes to us every day in the Sacraments of the Holy Church.
He becomes PRESENT on hundreds of thousands of altars, each and every day in the world …