Who I Am—Notes from a Traditional Catholic with an Unusual Background …

Traditional Catholic site
Confiteor in the traditional Catholic Mass.

There are many blogs where the blogger reveals a great deal of his or her personal life and day-to-day affairs. And such, I am sure, is appropriate for many forums.

I have wanted to do something a bit different here: to try to address more universal themes, and use the personal mainly for illustrative purposes.

But for a variety of reasons, it seems to me a little more background, even autobiography may be needed. And so it will be tagged: Personal/Autobiography – Roger. Readers who want something else can easily skip these entries, then.

Some autobiographical notes, though not in any grand order:

I am American by birth, and British by parentage. I grew up in both America and England. And the secular and Protestant heritage of these countries, provided me with hardly a clue about the Catholic Mystery. This fact is not without significance – not only for my life, but for this whole web-project . . .

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Christianity … in the America of my youth, it seemed filled with those who would have me believe that the Earth was created in seven twenty-four hour periods, because such literalism was the only way to interpret the word “days”.

And I have recounted here already, there was even one who tried to convince me of a heaven filled with literal gold – literal golden houses and golden cars! And what of those televangelists who blanketed nearly all the Sunday morning American channels, with programming I occasionally saw with deep distaste?

In England, I met my Protestant missionary English grandfather. He did not fill me with distaste, but nor did his religion offer anything to my soul. To be fair, I later met some evangelical Christians whose sincerity impressed me. Still, there was little I could relate to in their religion.

And virtually nothing in my youth spoke to me of the Catholic Mystery. I would have had not the slightest idea of what Holy Mass was, nor know, if I had heard the term, why it should be holy

Virtually nothing, I say. I do recall once attending the new Protestantised Mass – and seeing one thing I have never forgotten. The face of a pretty young girl, twelve perhaps, as she returned from communion. There was something reverential in her young features. She clearly took this seriously. It struck me as strange—and unforgettable.

But such clues to the Catholic Mystery were, again, almost non-existent. And like many others I suspect, hungering for Mystery in a world of Materialism – I gravitated to a very different New Age Mystery.

In 1980 at age sixteen, I went to the Findhorn Community in Scotland. This pioneering cradle of the New Age milieu remains one of its major planetary centres, and is now represented at the UN as an NGO. Later on, though still young, I would live and work and meditate and study esoteric books there …

Living at Findhorn, I encountered many of the luminaries in the New Age scene, such as the late Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy McLean who had founded Findhorn, David Spangler, Richard Moss, Carolyn Myss and more.

There I now see, I uncritically absorbed much dangerous ideology.

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But it did not stop with absorption. I would leave Findhorn with the intention of spreading this ideology in the world. I moved to Cambridge, England in 1988 and with the help of others, established a New Age registered charity there. Workshops, lectures, small periodicals, a drop-in centre and lending library were established to promote New Age spirituality.

Unconsciously at least, I assumed New Age Spirituality had far, far more to offer than the institution of Christianity – a Christianity which the ideology suggested was fated to diminish as we exited the Age of Pisces in transit to Aquarius.

Of course, like the majority of New Agers I knew who tended to hold religion as something inferior, I had never even practised a religion. And I still knew nothing but a caricature of Anglo-American Protestant Christianity. I had very little idea indeed that something like seventy per cent of global Christianity was ordered and centered around something called a Sacrament

And that outside the Anglophone sphere, this other, unknown Christianity was almost always the dominant one. (A few non-Anglophone exceptions obviously exist, e.g. parts of Switzerland).

After nearly ten years of New Age activity in Cambridge, I began my journey to the Church. Of unestimable importance in this liberation, was a strange book written originally in French, by an anonymous Catholic author: Meditations on the Tarot.

Now, this book has nothing to do with telling fortunes, but it cannot be denied that in explicitly drawing on a hermetic, Christian tradition, particularly as it existed in France, it contains some less than orthodox material (though relative the whole, this is truly of minor importance).

Nor can it be denied that my indebtedness to this book is enormous. Perhaps I could never have broken free from New Age spirituality without it.

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Gentle Traditionalist

This book I believe, can lead many who are lost to Jesus Christ and his Church. And if the book is referent to a French, hermetic, Christian tradition, it should be noted that in addressing that stream, it calls that stream – powerfully – to the Church:

It is in so far that the Church lives that we live. The church bells once reduced to silence, all human voices desiring to serve the glory of God will also be reduced to silence.

We live and we die with the Church. Because in order to live, we need air to breath; we need the atmosphere of piety, sacrifice, and appreciation of the invisible as a higher reality. This air, this atmosphere in the world, exists in the world only by grace of the Church.

Without it Hermeticism – indeed, every idealistic philosophy and all metaphysical idealism – would be drowned in utilitarianism, materialism, industrialism, technologism, biologism and psychologism.

Dear Unknown Friend, imagine to yourself a world without the Church. Imagine a world of factories, clubs, sports, political meetings, utilitarian universities, utilitarian arts or recreations–in which you would hear not a single word of praise for the Holy Trinity or of benediction in its name.

Imagine to yourself a world in which you would never hear ‘Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancti, sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper et in saecula saeculorum” or ‘Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, Filius et Spiritus Sanctus’

A world without worship and without benediction … how deprived of ozone the psychic and spiritual atmosphere would then be, and how empty and cold it would be! . . .

Let us range ourselves amongst the builders of the great cathedral of mankind’s spiritual tradition – and let us try to contribute to it. May the Holy Scriptures be holy for us; may the sacraments be sacraments for us; may the hierarchy of spiritual authority be the hierarchy of authority for us …

Anonymous (Valentin Tomberg) Meditations on the Tarot, p188, 415.

My estimation of this unusual book may trouble some traditional Catholics. Perhaps it is good to stress here, that if the book is not without a few less than orthodox elements—again minor compared to the whole—it also contains the most towering affirmation of the Mystery of traditional Catholic Christianity, of the understanding of the Fall, and of the Crucifixion and the Redemption through our Lord and His hierarchical and sacramental Church.

And if I cannot deny some of my sources, I pray dear Reader, that you will find nothing that is less than orthodox in this website. My aspiration is to support as deeply as I can, by the Grace of God, the Catholic Tradition …

I want to waste little time with the wide-ranging ranks of unorthodox critics and rebels, hurling stones at the Church. We live in a very dangerous time on Earth. We live in a time of very dangerous threat to the unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam. And we very much face, I believe, being (further) “drowned in utilitarianism, materialism, industrialism, technologism, biologism and psychologism”.

Struggling to be conscious of what this really means for the fate of the Earth, I pray to be enabled to do what I can to support the Catholic Tradition …

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But my background and my reading is broader than the Tradition in very many respects. In trying to grasp more fully the danger of our time, I have spent many years now trying to understand the rise of modernity, the rise of secularism and capitalism and materialism.

My reading includes sources from the Right and Left, from the secular and religious, from psychotherapeutic to Catholic. It includes real indebtedness for example, to Christian psychotherapists such as M. Scott Peck and Robert Sardello as well as to the unusual Catholic Valentin Tomberg, whose defense of a very traditional Catholicism, which he sees compromised by Vatican II, helped me enormously. (Some extracts about this and about Tomberg´s judgment of Vatican II can be found in the afterword to a long article here).

If some should look askance at me. I confess I take a certain comfort in something I found at the beautifully traditional and very helpful site Fisheaters:

We don’t fall for the idea that a given work is verboten simply because its author may have written other works that are questionable. That is an ad hominem fallacy and lacks charity; even the Index of Forbidden Books only banned individual works, not people or everything a given person ever wrote.

If a lesbian atheist (like Camille Paglia, whose writings we often enjoy in spite of frequent obvious and vehement disagreement) writes a relevant, inoffensive essay, if Famous Apologist X who might have an animus against “trads” writes an article that any Catholic would find beneficial, if a dunderhead pundit who writes 99% nonsense comes up with a good one for once, etc., we might well link to the articles in question.

“In no grand order” I said at the outset. And in no grand order, there is still a bit more that needs saying about my background and my biography, particularly about my life in France and Ireland. This will be continued, then . . .

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2023: Looking Back Years Later

Those words were written fourteen years ago—a quarter of my adult life-time. So much has happened, much of it growing out of the things I briefly sketch above. And the world, it seems to me, is a far darker place than it was, even in those troubled times.

But my work has continued to unfold along many of the lines given above.

There have been some surprises, though. Perhaps the most glorious of all, the greatest joy, was truly discovering the great Hilaire Belloc in 2012. By that time, I was in Liverpool, England (after leaving Spain where the above was written).

I had read Belloc, at least a little, before that time. But in Summer 2012 I began to devour his books, drinking deeply, astonished by one after another. I shall never forget that extraordinary, joyous English summer.

Today, I think Belloc may be the greatest source of inspiration for my work at this site—as well as my YouTube channel, started in 2017.

Another tremendous grace was returning to live in Ireland in 2013. I had lived in this beloved country earlier (from 2004-2006).

And then there are my three books, which have grown from all these things . . .

Books from Roger Buck

Foreword for Monarchy by Roger Buck

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