Reginald Foster

20 02 2019

I stumbled across the above video from last year which reminded me of my own indirect tie to Fr. Foster. I took a course with an instructor who had studied under him in Rome who also encouraged me to do the same. I politely refused because by that point I no longer felt like chasing butterflies. The instructor sadly passed away at a very young age, so I remember that as one of our only one-on-one interactions. Of interest to me is how much of a “progressive” Fr. Foster comes across here. I have written the same of disgraced Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who was a great medieval musicologist who came to dislike the musical patrimony of the Church. While there were many smart and capable scholars who let go of tradition with a heavy heart, many more threw it away with relish.

Online in the past few years, I have noticed young people who seem to have nostalgia for a church they never experienced. Many more social media echo chambers are based on the premise that the “Boomer” church is dying while small liturgical ghettos are bursting at the seams with young people whose Latin may be non-existent but who have a passion for incense and lace. Some will defend “Catholic Tradition®” while expressing a taste for leftist politics or permissive social norms. To me their nostalgia is quite irritating at times, because unlike their villains Foster and Weakland, they didn’t live through the process that led most people to cast off “Tradition” in the first place. As I wrote previously, Weakland forgot more Gregorian chant than all but the most expert choir director of today ever could learn.

I say all of this realizing that I am coming up on my quarter century anniversary of involvement / affiliation with the traditionalist movement (on and off, but mostly on). I remember the heroic days of the “Indult Mass”, listening to Fr. Gommar dePauw‘s Low Mass on a distant station on my dinky radio, my subscription to Latin Mass Magazine in the mid-1990’s etc. Not only that, but even in my early childhood, I remember the elderly priests who still said part of the Mass in Latin, the old women who refused to surrender their mantillas, and the occasional old devotionals that would appear at the back of the church. While I am no longer a true believer, I am sympathetic. Sometimes I think my lukewarm attitude is a result of overexposure, and a realization that the world was never as small as traditionalists imagine it to be. I have been over this elsewhere, and I don’t have to elaborate.

My recommendation to those attached to the old ways is that they should leave aside the pretense of preserving “Tradition,” for actual tradition is without pretense. It is just what people do, or rather, did. Even now, if I must go to a Roman Catholic Mass, I would prefer to go to the earliest one available on a Sunday morning, with the least number of people. At least there, the quiet that characterized centuries of anti-liturgical thinking in the West still reigns. That is really the genius of the Western Church in my opinion. I am no longer interested in the cappa magnas, the birettas, the elaborate polyphony, and the strutting around the altar in vestments no one uses anymore. That was never really THE TRADITION anyway. It’s just what people took for granted, like an honor guard at your local high school football game. Too much emphasis on a past that is largely unknown and could never return seems like shadow boxing with ghosts.


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One response

10 03 2019
gregorystackpole

“their nostalgia is quite irritating at times, because unlike their villains Foster and Weakland, they didn’t live through the process that led most people to cast off “Tradition” in the first place.”

What are the three best books on this process? Eager to become acquainted! I own _The Banished Heart_, but haven’t read it.

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