From Indignation to Enthusiasm
Bravo, Fr. Sretenovic!
I will admit that as someone who has been immersed in the world and all its revolutionary ways - I am always amazed how far from Catholicism I was and how far I have to go despite being Catholic my entire life and educated for 12 years in Catholic schools (1965-1978)!
I continue to suffer from the effects of a lifetime of the Revolution and its influence. I say "continue to suffer" because when I first read Fr. Sretenovic's article critical of the Chartres Pilgrimage, I winced. I felt indignant. I felt that way for a few days. Mulling over his critique and reading more about the "way it used to be".
I wondered when - exactly - did we become so casual and so comfortable in our dress and manners? Family pictures from 40 and 50 years ago show ladies in dresses with gloves (!) and men in suits although these people (my family) were of modest means and the occasions were usually family dinners or a family party. Newspaper and magazine clippings from years ago show the same mode of dress.
My own family - although very poor - would never go to town wearing less than a nice dress (the ladies) or a jacket (for the men).
I think - although we may believe ourselves to be more traditionally minded than we used to be - many of us still suffer from years of habitually dressing comfortably and very casually.
I believe Mr. Matt got his feathers ruffled as I did. It is difficult to think that despite our best efforts to be more traditional, we have a long way to go.
I have rambled too long - but I appreciate seeing both sides of this discussion between Fr. Sretenovic and Mr. Matt.
Humility is a very tough virtue to acquire. Dressing as dignified gentlemen and ladies in this day and age is a sure fire way to be counter-cultural. It's an outward sign that we are counter-cultural. And I believe it takes a certain amount of humility.
Thank you for this wonderful website! I enjoy getting past my "wincing" to grow a bit more in Catholic virtue.
Ban the Shorts!
Dear Father Sretenovic,
It's not very high, but people are constantly needing to be rescued off it: I climbed Cadair Idris (Wales) in a mid-calf length skirt - good boots, thick stockings, an L.L. Bean knit skirt with a bit of room, t-shirt, pullover and jacket has so far let me go just about anywhere. I was in my late 30s at the time and quite overweight, and I did the climb in February! (For the geography of the area click here.)
The Chartres pilgrimage ladies really should be encouraged to set a good example - it's not that hard. I am all in favor of shorts being banned for everyone except boys under the age of ten.
Begging for prayers,
The Remnant of the Mainstream?
After reading Michael Matt's deplorable response to Fr. Sretenovic's article, I had a mind to air my criticisms of the former. Instead, I believe it might be more interesting to cut across the grain and attempt a defense of Mr. Matt's leadership of the Chartres Pilgrimage (even if his insulting refutation of Fr. Sretenovic's article cannot be defended).
First of all, Mr. Matt is a layman. He has a wife and, as near as I can tell, about a half-dozen children. The idea that he should be able to cut away from his professional and family responsibilities, fly over to a foreign country, take charge of an army of mostly strangers, exorcize it of revolutionary tendencies, then march it in good order from Paris to Chartres is not realistic. That he was able to lead this multitude as he found it is a feat in itself.
Fr. Sretenovic says that the marchers should have been required to dress modestly and comport themselves in a Catholic manner. I agree. But to compel this sort of compliance would require real authority, which Mr. Matt does not have. After all, who is Michael Matt but just some guy from Minnesota? Imagine if he had tried to issue by fiat a dress code and dictate to 15,000 young people, contrary to their ingrained habits, the practice of meticulous manners while marching 70 miles on public roadways. He would have had a mutiny on his hands.
But if he had had real authority, if he were able to say, for example, "By orders of the archbishop, we a required to dress in such-and-such a fashion, and carry folding chairs, etc. . .," then he might have been able to impose some order on this rag-tag bunch.
But there's the problem right there. None of the hierarchy, i.e., those with the God-given authority to impose order on the laity, are willing to do so. None. So it seems a little unfair to blame a layman for not doing so in such an overwhelming situation.
The Editor responds:
I agree with you that Mr. Michael Matt has many points in which he deserves consideration. His family dedication and his professional responsibilities are just a few of them. Your defense of Mr. Matt gives me the opportunity, as editor of the TIA website, to stress that the criticism of his liberal approach to dress and customs that Fr. Sretenovic pointed out and TIA endorsed, does not mean that we are entering into some quarrel with him for personal reasons.
I have good memories of the time when Mr. Matt stood shoulder to shoulder with me, Dr. Horvat and Mr. John Vennari resisting the infiltration of Progressivism in the Church - even when it comes from the conciliar Popes. The Declaration of Resistance that the four of us signed and sent to John Paul II remains as a glorious landmark of that friendship based on noble ideals.
Unfortunately, today I have to appeal to memories, because for some time now Mr. Matt has been taking a more concessive approach toward those same religious authorities he used to resist. I am sorry for him, because by trying to join the mainstream, he is losing face before that small and heroic remnant of Catholics he is called to represent.
I have not abandoned the hope, however, that I still will have the pleasure to see again Mr. Matt astride his horse close to ours and entering a holy rivalry to defend Holy Mother Church in this time of tremendous need.
Setting aside the fact that TIA does not have any personal antipathy toward Mr. Matt, let me answer your defense-attack.
I believe that you are greatly exaggerating what Fr. Sretenovic suggested in his two articles. Indeed, he did not propose that Mr. Matt should assume a place of authority over the some 15,000 people in the Chartres Pilgrimage in order to change its customs. He just said that Mr. Matt should establish standards for the American delegation. This he is perfectly capable of doing. He would only need to hold some few meetings here in the U.S. Or perhaps even less than that: just to communicate by phone, e-mail or Skype with a handful of American leaders and agree about general directives to be required of the pilgrims.
So, the conflict of responsibilities, the painful lack of authority, the unfairness of asking him to do something, and the other speculations you made based on this false presupposition seem to me out of place.
If I understood well the suggestions made in those two articles, they supposed that if the American delegation to that event would act and dress as true traditionalists, its example would set a tone that would influence the ensemble.
It seems to me, therefore, that those two articles are perfectly on target and remain timely. There is no lack of proportion in them, as you implied.
Atila S. Guimarães
Posted September 17, 2009
The opinions expressed in this section - What People Are Commenting -
do not necessarily express those of TIA
Related Topics of Interest
What's Not Catholic in the Chartres Pilgrimage?
A Disrespectful and Empty Refutation
Formation of Children and Youth
Objection: You Cannot Condemn Women Wearing Slacks
Pro and Con Women In Slacks