The Church is made up of all types, that much we know. It’s often possible to drop people into one of several general categories, but sometimes…sometimes people cross into a surprising combination of characteristics. This morning reminded me very much of this fact.
Mr. Wonderful and I went to Tridentine Mass in a city a little ways away from home. He had been there a few times before, and after the lowest of low Masses, the congregation (that is, 7 or 8 others) gathered in the entry, and when the two of us finished praying and came out, they all pounced on “that Notre Dame guy”. In short order, we were introduced to the music director, with whom they insisted we had to talk. To that end, we were hustled off to breakfast at the usual spot, a pancake house across town. The apparent leader of the group, self-described as “the most litigious man you’ve ever met,” let us know right up front that this was an “endowed breakfast.”
It seemed at the beginning that the group was going to be pretty typical of people who go to a 7:00 Latin Mass on a weekday – complaints about their liberal bishop, grand plots of starting a rehab facility for heretical priests, etc. Basically, my initial reaction was that this could easily be the retiree version of the students’ Saturday morning brunches. Then things got a little more complex.
The first sign was when someone else joined our table and immediately informed everyone that a certain Italian charismatic mystic priest we’ve heard about at length (whose relationship with the Vatican is of a questionable status) had recently suffered a heart attack. Obviously, that’s not good news about anyone, and I wish him a speedy recovery, but the affection with which they spoke of him indicated a more sympathetic view than I would generally take.
Then the conversation turned to Fr. Corapi (naturally), and they took a rather different view than most traditionalists I’ve heard or read on this topic. While no one knows the full situation, the view that the breakfast crowd took was that he was completely a victim of the Church – again, not something typically heard from this type of group.
Okay, so, they’re traditionalists with charismatic tendencies. We can deal with that and not offend anyone. But then, in practically the next breath, they spoke of Bp. Fellay in a…not entirely disapproving way. And our internal compass needles went spinning.
It wasn’t that they couldn’t make up their minds: there were very strong opinions on all of these things, as well as the Pope’s recent use of Twitter (against), my photography major (questionable), and Evelyn Waugh (in favor of).
Overall, they were wonderfully nice people, and very funny. They were fascinated by our Mass situation at ND, and told us earnestly and repeatedly that they hoped we would be back soon. I’m not sure how feasible that is, but it would be nice. The moral of the story? Some people just refuse to be pegged.