The Thing With The Guts
Around the Catholic blogosphere there is a lot of writing about orthodoxy, and rightly so. Orthodoxy being at the very core of Catholicism, it is perfectly fitting that it should receive the first place in the discussion.
Still, I seem to notice that not every orthodoxy is born equal; that, so to speak, this beautiful quality may be found in a shiny, resplendent way, or in a more opaque one.
In my eyes there are, broadly speaking, two types of orthodox Catholics: the silent and the vocal one.
The first one does everything right; if he is a priest, he can be very conservative in his priesthood, and liturgically unexceptionable; if he is a layman, he is a credit to his religion, and at all times aware of the example he wants to be for others. He is, in a word, perfectly sound, but that’s that.
Then there is the second type, the vocal one. If he is a priest, he is one of those priest who can’t shut up, or one of those bishops who end up in the viewfinder of the IRS; if he is a layman, he is the one likely to take fire every time heresy and negation of Christianity is discussed among his circle of friends or acquaintances.
I do not make any observation here as to the personal quality of the two archetypal “orthodox catholics”; for what I know, it can be those of the first kind are, on average, better able to live a Catholic life than the representatives of the second kind. But the fact remains, the second ones probably do more to advance sound Catholicism among the masses.
I am, for example, rather impressed by the difference in public behaviour between the Society of St. Pius X and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I do not doubt the members of the second order are perfectly orthodox Catholics, strictly obedient to the Magisterium and intent on advancing the cause of Catholicism through spotless orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Still, I notice it is rare that priests of this order are in the line of fire when something really controversial happens (like the Assisi gathering, say) and whatever the position of the one or the other of their members might be, their collective profile is far more subdued than the one of the SSPX.
The latter are, as religious orders go, a completely different animal. They do not limit themselves to talking the talk, or to walking the walk. They go beyond these very laudable traits, in that they fight the fight. You see this not only in matters concerning internal disagreements with the Vatican (disagreements on which it is to assume the members of the FSSP must often be of exactly the same mind as their cousins at the SSPX; they just don’t say so), but matters of faith and morals in general. As every blog writer, I roam the internet seeking proper events and news which might make a blog post an interesting and possibly instructive reading, and I must say the presence of the SSPX whenever controversial matters are discussed is far more noticeable than the always unexceptionable, but rather less incisive FSSP. I cannot avoid thinking those members who left the SSPX to join the newly created FSSP knew from the beginning this would be the case, and were happy to proceed on this basis.
I do not think much will change after the Vatican-SSPX reconciliation. I expect the SSPX will proceed to some small adjustment in volume, but without any change in the tone. If you ask me, they will continue pretty much the same battle they have fought up to now, limiting themselves to only those small adaptations dictated by elementary common sense and proper behaviour.
They will do this also because they will be subject to intense scrutiny from their own members, of course. But in the end, I think they will continue to do it simply because they have guts, and see their role in fighting the fight.