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Pride of Orthodoxy (Pride of the Church – Part II of II)

October 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

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The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur (Week 10 of 12)
Pride of Orthodoxy (Pride of the Church – Part II of II)

Last week, I addressed a weakening of our faith identity as Catholics. Unfortunately, while this issue is critical, those of us who have attempted to re-establish a Catholic Identity after nearly two generations of ecumenism have begun to suffer from another illness:

The Pride of Orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy is a word I often heard tossed around when I was searching for an understanding of Church teaching. According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, one is orthodox, whose faith coincides with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

When I joined the Church, I wanted desperately to live according to Church teaching!  Very quickly I fell in love with the idea of structure, order, beauty and reverence within the Mass, and my desire to do the “right” thing culminated in my wanting to worship the right way – or, as I saw it, to be Orthodox.

As one who entered the Church in the early ‘90s on the coat-tails of Scott Hahn and the like, I was not around to witness the changes that took place after Vatican II. I’ve heard many stories – of the mass exodus of priests and religious, Masses celebrated in faithful homes to avoid progressive parishes run rampant with new ideas, and more. And merely by observing the architecture, I could see for myself the great differences between Catholic churches built before Vatican II and, say, those built after.

One major victim of post-Vatican II changes within the Church has been the liturgy. In the Sacred Liturgy, there is beauty beyond words; but its transmission has suffered greatly through misguided efforts to “water down” the profound depth and beauty of the Mass. Cardinal Ratzinger himself compared the liturgy to “an endangered fresco preserved by whitewash, which was stripped away… endangered by climatic conditions as well as by various restorations and reconstructions.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy)

I longed to restore the Fresco. I believed in the True Presence and therefore was attracted to a community that would celebrate the liturgy by kneeling after Mass, rather than rushing out the door in the midst of the recessional hymn, or socializing within the sanctuary. I recognized Jesus as the King of Kings, so I believed that we should wear our best clothing, whenever possible. I was taught that everything related to the Mass – architecture of the Church, grandeur, art, music, candles, reverence of the servers, kneelers, and even a communion rail – serve to redirect our easily distracted hearts and minds to God.

Here’s where the problem came in. Our family joined a traditional parish, and we surrounded ourselves with like-minded people. But when forced due to timing or circumstance, to attend a more casual Mass (for lack of a better term) I found myself passing judgment on the parishioners:

I can’t believe there were no kneelers in that Church!  So what if they’re renovating – parishioners should still kneel during the Consecration!

I can’t believe how many people left before the final song – or worse – before the closing prayer!

How could people dress like that to attend dinner with The King of Kings?!

Doesn’t everyone realize Jesus is still in their midst as they stand around chatting in the Sanctuary?

I know it looks about as obvious as the nose on my face; but, I never really realized what I was doing until I read The Secret Diary of Elizabeth Leseur for the first time. Elisabeth’s love and humility helped me to see that my desire to do the “right” thing had deteriorated into a warped form of pride. Somewhere along the line, I’d stopped focusing on Christ and started looking around, thankful that I wasn’t like the people who belonged to that parish.

Thanks to the Pride of Orthodoxy, I had become a veritable Pharisee! And I know I wasn’t alone because that pride had been nurtured and intensified through discussions with and articles written by fellow traditionalists. It seems that, in our desire to build up the Church, there is a faction of us that has perhaps made orthodoxy an end in itself.

Rather than separating ourselves from those of other faith traditions, we have been separating ourselves from one another. For all the praise and approbation showered upon the New Faithful and our love for Christian Orthodoxy, there has developed an unspoken divide that looms large within the Church.

We should ask ourselves – What good are all our efforts to experience heaven on earth in the Mass, if in our pride we sound (or think), like agents for hell?

Please don’t get me wrong. I certainly believe there is a great need to restore the liturgy to its intended grandeur. But I can’t assist in doing that by looking down on my neighbors. I can only do that by keeping my eyes on Christ. By subscribing, not to an orthodoxy focused on externals for their own sake, but to an orthodoxy of the heart, which makes use of those externals only insofar as they assist me in living out the teachings of Christ in my everyday life.


Reading Assignment:

Week 11: Monthly Spiritual Retreat – End of Preface to the Little Treatises on Hope and Peace (p. 209-234)


Discussion Questions:

1. Have you experienced or suffered from the Pride of Orthodoxy? It’s a tricky issue – do you have any suggestions for how to overcome it?

2. There were GREAT passages in our reading this week – had I read them before planning a two-part post, I would certainly have used one today. Feel free to comment on anything from our last assignment that spoke to you in some way!


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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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  • Camila

    Hey Vicky! What an interesting and challenging post.

    You bring up such a challenging topic. We want to feel safe. Like our Holy Father said, Christianity is not about feeling safe. It’s not about my camp vs your camp; me vs you. I’m challenged every day to serve, to die, to sacrifice for others. In many ways, it’s easy to do this for my ‘adorable’ children or my husband whom I vowed to love. But for my nagging neighbor? For that ‘unorthodox’ priest!

    What do you think? Are you challenged to suffer with great love for those you think are unworthy of such a sacrifice?!

  • Jeanette

    You are so brave Vicki to reveal your heart to us. It’s not an easy thing to do and I respect you for it. We have all been a Pharisee at one time or another.

    I believe that every time we see someone wearing jean shorts or something inappropriate for Mass or talking inappropriately (even gossiping sometimes), sleeping during the homily, leaving early before Mass is finished etc., we should silently thank God that they are even there and pray for them. He loves them too. We are all on a journey and are at different stages of that journey and we all need each others’ prayers along the way. It’s all too easy to slip into judging others and that is something we must keep constantly before our minds and hearts so that we don’t fall into that trap of the evil one. This reminds me of a woman who used to sit beside me in Choir and every Christmas and Easter, she would complain to me about the crowded Church. It bothered her that those people who don’t come any other time of the year would come now and cause such crowding. And every time, I would say to her quietly, I’m just happy that they are coming. We can get into a type of, ‘the Church belongs to me’ attitude and not to those other types. Dear God, please keep us from ‘Pharissee-like’ attitudes.

  • LizEst

    Great post, Vicki! Whenever I start to slip into that, the words, “Have mercy on me, Lord, a sinner” come to mind, reflecting on how great is the faith of those present and how many are my obvious and hidden sins. I am nothing without the Lord. I pray for strength not to judge them…but also not to fall into the temptation of the devil to negate the good the Lord is doing in me as that would be insulting to God…and all the credit and glory goes to the Lord. I pray to focus on Him. He is my strength, my courage, my hope, my life and my ultimate love.

    • Vicki

      That is a prayer I say often, too – more and more as time goes on:)!

  • Vicki

    I just watched Father Barron’s commentary regarding Pope Fancis’ interview. There is not a direct relationship to the above post, but I felt it was worth sharing:

    • Camila

      Vicky, the video you reference to is great. It has a lot to do with your post, and what I was trying to ask you in my previous question. We must ‘lead with grace’ and where does this grace come from? God. But through who’s intercession? Ours, as His mystical body.

      So for example, when we willingly suffer and sacrifice for those who for obvious reasons are far from the truth – we become living sacrifices, we become a means of grace for those around us. The key is love – however. Unless you have love then it is all for naught. And how do we have love? By being in union with Christ and His Church.

      I love Pope Francis, he’s extending our minds to expand our hearts. He’s really calling us out of our “little” church and challenging ever-single-one-of-us to ask ourselves whether our faith is a living, vibrant, loving, and on fire faith?!

      So, thanks! This is a great video to watch and a GREAT reminder of what an incredible gift the Vicar of Christ is for us humans – for all humans.

      • Vicki

        Camilla – Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you wholeheartedly! As Kimberly Hahn once said – each day we need to be willing to crawl back up on that altar, uniting our sacrifices with Christ for the salvation of the whole world. These days, I always try to call to mind St. Therese’s story about the sister who sat behind her in Church, rattling her rosary beads. Eventually, the sound which had so irritated her, became like a symphony to her ears.

    • RobinJeanne

      Great video… I wish, I pray that this all comes together for me that I can take what you and Fr Barron said, decern when and how to speak and when to be silient.

  • RobinJeanne

    Hi Vicki, I know what you are saying is true and i try so hard not to ‘see’
    the errors or inappropriateness when visiting another church or when we get a
    new priest. I didn’t do looking for “how things are suppose to be” but when
    looking for one things, I learn another. This is where I wish I was naive or
    uneducated like in my early days of conversion.

    Here’s my dilemma…. A lot of the mess the Church is in is because most
    people keep the mouths shut. And it starts with the priest. This idea of extra
    honor and respect one should have for a priest (as it should be) and that it is
    a sin to speak badly of a priest has lead people to let a priest do what ever,
    make what ever changes they want and no one says anything. Every time we get a new priest in, the first thing they want to do is spend money changing things to
    fit their taste, remodeling and then their gone…. So far the priest I have
    met, everything is all about them, not the people…. nice people other wise,
    just self centered. When women come in half naked, we now give them a shawl. up till then the attitude was “we’re not the clothes police” But if we know the way
    they’re dress causes scandal or lustful thought out of love for our affected
    brothers and sisters we ask them to cove up.

    The old saying “bad things happen when good people do nothing” We in this
    mess because no one wants to say anything, it’s like the frog in boiling water,
    it seeped in slowly…. first lets uncover our head…. well what’s wrong if we
    were pants to Mass as long as they’re real nice like a pantsuit…. now see,
    people wear shorts flip flops, etc….

    How do we know when we should speak up and when should we turn a blind eye and not be bothered when we see a priest walking up and down the isle to give his homily?

    • Camila

      The Catechism teaches us that the faithful has the “right and even at times the duty” (CCC 907) to manifest their opinions to the sacred pastors on matters pertaining to the good of the Church. We are part of the ‘sensus fidei’ and if we are, in union with the Holy Father, and with the Tradition of the church, then we may (or must) manifest ourselves.

      Check it out:

      • RobinJeanne

        Thanks Camila, I do try to pick my battles, I don’t want to be a Pharisee, but
        I don’t want the church drug through the mud either. I will keep praying for
        dicernment and prudence and listen harder for when i should speak and when I
        should be quiet…. it’s not always easy to be quiet… :/

        • Vicki

          I’m right there with you. There is certainly a time for action. I’m not trying to advocate passivity. But I was trying to make a distinction between a loving heart and a raised eyebrow, so to speak. There is a difference between talking with my pastor in charity, and grumbling about the way things are with others or even in my thoughts. There is a definite lack of charity in that. And whether we mention it or not, others can sense our lack of charity – that does nothing to communicate the beauty of orthodoxy. In my early days as a Catholic, we experienced it ourselves. When we first found a traditional parish, we felt very much frowned upon – we weren’t familiar with the Latin prayers, our children were too loud and I’m sure we didn’t dress “appropriately” for the parish. After a month, my husband decided that if THAT was “traditional” Catholicism, he wanted no part in it. But no one had said a word to us – it was all in the body language.

          I’m sure none of us wants to represent the Church as a “Pharisee” – when we find ourselves lacking in charity, we just need to check ourselves at the door, remembering who we are. As Liz mentioned and Pope Francis so eloquently said – “I am a sinner.”

          • RobinJeanne

            I like what you said. I will try to really think before I speak and as you said, is there charity in my thoughts. Maybe that’s it, I “grumbling about the way things are with others or even in my thoughts” and maybe i try to justify it and my conciense knows better…. I have so much growing to do. I desire to reflect the Lord to others but fail many times. Thank you both for your wise words, food for thought.
            God bless.

        • Becky Ward

          My spiritual director and I had a conversation about this subject not so long ago. When DO you say something?!?!
          The answer is this……..when you really don’t want to.
          When we are all fired up and want to blast someone…that is pride and we need to pray and keep it to ourselves. Chances are that no one has told them it’s not right to _________whatever! Pray for the Holy Spirit to inspire them…and be a good example yourself. If God has put this love and desire in our hearts, you can be sure that he is reaching out to others through us.
          But when you feel prompted internally…and are reluctant to say or do what you are being inspired to do, then it may very well be time to speak or act. It does take a lot of prayer and discernment as others have mentioned….and courage and humility. Always a good idea to discuss the issue with one’s SD or a holy friend.
          Great post Vicki!!

          • Vicki

            Hi, Becky! It’s so nice to see you back! Thanks for your comments – they are always full of wisdom:).

          • RobinJeanne

            AAWW !! That makes sense and most of the time i am fired up and adjitated… that would be more from the enemy so if there is peace yet reluctant then that is more apt to be from God. Usually at those times when I want to say some thuing, if I were to ask myself(when I remember to) what would my spiritual director say … I can always hear… “now Robin, don’t say that, let it go….” and reluctantly I let it go. I will be so happy when I grow to the point I am happy to let it go…. to be happily obedient… 🙂

          • Jeanette

            I agree wholeheartedly with you especially with ‘pray for the Holy Spirit to inspire them and be a good example yourself.’ And we better be mighty sure it’s the Holy Spirit inspiring us to speak or act and this can only be determined by taking the time for humble prayer and discernment of spirits as you have said. To rashly chastise someone without doing so is not a Christian attitude. A quick negative word or a deprecating look from us can turn someone off coming to Mass again especially if they at the point of wavering in that regard. Great advice Becky!

          • LizEst

            Becky – What your spiritual director told you is one of those great pieces of advice on when to say something. It’s a keeper. Thank you so much for sharing this.

            This summer two young girls about 8-10 years of age were seated behind me during Mass. They talked all through Mass…and loud enough to hear. I was quite torn about saying something to them, particularly as there was already an adult with them. After Mass, as they were heading out, I explained about Mass and worship and also how they had disturbed my prayer throughout. Their grandmother stopped me and I thought, “Oh, here it comes!” Lo and behold, she was delighted with my comments and correction of her granddaughters. She had told them many times not to talk and couldn’t make them stop. Apparently, they had her it so much from her, they tuned her out. Having someone else say something to them got their attention. I haven’t seen them since. But, by their reaction to my comments, I suspect they have toned down their talking in church or stopped altogether. Sure enough, grandma–and your spiritual director–were right!

  • Mary

    I just wanted to comment on today’s email. I hope you don’t stop doing the book club. I have never been much of a commenter. I rarely have anything to say, plus I have a hard time using these comments that require longing in (I never get it right – I’ll type along comment only to find out that I didn’t signin properly). But I do love the book club and love reading your posts. This is my fourth book with you and I am getting so much out of it. Thanks!

    • Vicki

      Mary, Thank you so much for you comments! God willing, we have no plans to stop doing the book club. I’m very pleased to hear that this is your fourth book with us – it’s unfortunate that it’s been a hassle for you to comment, and I’m really sorry about that. I hope you’ll continue putting in the effort. So much of our spiritual growth through this book club stems from the perspectives of other readers – sharing gives such great depth to each of our experiences with these books – that process is the great benefit of a book club environment. Regardless, I’m glad to know that you’re out there (with us in spirit, if not in print:)). God bless!

    • GHM_52

      I can relate, Mary! Sometimes posting can get really tricky! Because of that, I stand by your petition to Vicki not to stop the Book Club even if most members don’t post.

  • GHM_52

    It can be hard to keep still in the face of behaviors that seem irreverent. It may help to remember that most probably, God will find “mindless” or “misguided” irreverence less offensive than an anger-full, prideful response to those behaviors. What works best for me when I begin to get upset and critical of my fellow parishioners and/or priests/deacons/pastor is to ask myself how frequently do I injure my God’s Sacred Heart and my Mother’s Immaculate Heart by ungratefulness, tepidity, forgetfulness, etc. The response to that question never fails to chill any and all critical fires within. After that all I want to do is pray that the Holy Spirit will ignite my own heart, the hearts of all the members of my parish and the hearts of all the faithful in this world with an unquenchable loving thirst for God and that such a burning thirst will outwardly manifest itself in a manner delightful to God.

    • Vicki

      So true! It doesn’t take long, once we turn inward, to put ourselves “in our place,” does it?!

      • GHM_52

        No, it doesn’t, Vicki. And the funny thing is that as soon as we acknowledge our place, God’s peace sets in!

  • Alexandra Campbell

    I sit in the front row so I can only see the sanctuary. I wear my veil close around my face so I don’t look around at other people because I don’t want to be tempted to judge, I put my head down, way down, to pray after mass and I don’t leave until the sanctuary is quiet. I talk to God and beg Him not to ever let me be like the Pharisee who prayed not to be like others and I thank God that He gave me the gift of Reverence…I will call it that. I also pray that others may receive that gift too because it is a veritable fountain of graces. When I am participating in the Mass fully I often start being wracked with soft sobs at the consecration which I try hard to hide. I hope people don’t see me get out my tissue to sop up the tears streaming down my face. I have received permission from my priest to kneel for communion on the carpet with no kneeler and it is often just a little difficult for me to get up! I am afraid I may one day fall flat on my face! This is how I worship and it has caused me some embarrassment…but I offer it up.

    My mother once accused me of trying to look “holier than thou” by veiling, but she doesn’t know that it actually is a mortification to wear it because I really do not want the attention at all. I feel that the Lord wants me to wear it. I know Who I am wearing if for.

    • Luisa

      Alexandra – I could not believe what I read? I could have written word for word what you wrote being my experiences as well! So remember there are now 2 of us who do and think the same same things! Only thing different is that I completely kneel on one knee only, as my priests are frustrated enough with me doing this and could not handle more! I also take Communion only from the Consecrated hands of the priest, which means I have to change aisles sometimes! Thank you Alexandra for making me not feel so alone and cherishing our reverence and sobs of tears of Joy! Luisa

      • Alexandra Campbell

        Bless you Luisa,
        It would be easier to not worship the way I feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to do. And I certainly do not think I am better than others who do not do what I do. Most people are nice and friendly to me after mass but I have not made any really close relationships except with my priest who gave me the permission to kneel, so maybe they all just think I am nuts. I always ask the guest priests when father is away if I can kneel and they have all said “well, I would prefer you did not” and seem perturbed by my even asking. So, then I do not kneel, but I still stick out my tongue to receive and keep my hands folded and down. I just do not feel worthy to handle the King of Kings in my unconsecrated hands. No priest has forced me to receive in the hand. I have also “changed lanes” if I see a female on my side distributing communion. I love the women, but I just can’t do it.

        I wish I could meet at least one person who I felt a kinship with in my area of rural central California. I live where there are no “traditionalist” parishes, but maybe that’s a good thing? It’s so confusing now to read about two camps what with all the bickering over Pope Francis. I stay well clear of this even though what I have read kind of freaks me out a bit. I just trust and pray and try to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.

        You might enjoy reading Marjorie Kempe’s book. She would roll around on the floor and moan loudly and do other really bizarre things “in the Spirit” in church or if she saw a crucifix, and had to put up with a lot of persecution. I have to say I am kind of glad that I have not been that blessed! haha…

        I want to confess another, possibly bizarre, but also possibly inspired thought that I have not acted on and probably won’t because I don’t think I have the guts: sometimes I imagine making myself a sort of habit, with some type of head covering to wear all the time, almost like the German Brethren or some other Christian groups do who wear the “prairie” dresses!!! I have studied about the Beguine movement of lay women in the distant past who lived together in community and wore distinctive dress but I don’t think any Catholics are doing this. And of course it is how we love our neighbor that is important, not what we dress in.

        Isn’t it wonderful though, when those sobs well up when we realize we are in the actual presence of the “re-presentation” of the sacrifice of Calvary? Every time it happens to me it is shocking and I do not expect it. But I sure don’t regret it even if I do stifle it a lot so as to avoid bringing attention to myself.

        My 13 year old son next to me in the pew has not criticized me and he is more and more interested in coming to Mass and confession even though our family has been decimated by divorce (dad left). I pray so hard that the Holy Spirit will make me a better mother as I try to keep my boys in the Faith.

        I feel no pride in myself for any of the Graces I have received but I do pray that He will pour out the gift of a spirit of reverence on us all, more and more! God Bless you Luisa, I will pray for you and think of you the next time I go to Mass. Please pray for me.

  • Becky Ward

    Just wanting to provide reminder so that you do not beat yourself up too badly over this. Thoughts are not evil in and of themselves, it’s what we do with them that matters!! Why is this important? Because many of those thoughts may come from the devil….not from you.
    I acknowledge that I have not read this book, and I do not know the context that your post comes from. But I AM very familiar with the behaviors you have written about.
    When we start working to eliminate a bad habit, the devil goes into overtime. He has watched us for our whole lives and knows what we react to, and just how to ‘poke’ us and get us upset. So when you see someone in church who is dressed immodestly, for instance, and you close your eyes and start to pray for them, you can expect the evil one to be right there chattering in your ear…..”It gets worse every week!”…..”She’s old enough to know better!”…..”Someone should really say something!” etc. That is the voice of the accuser!! Keep praying, and if you can, whisper it out loud so the evil one can hear you, “Bless her Lord, I’m sure that nobody ever taught her about modesty. Thank you for bringing her to Mass each week.” This should help quiet the voices.
    We cannot help but make observations about the things we encounter. And we are right to examine our consciences about these things and discuss them with out confessors or spiritual directors to discern their origin. But the simple fact that we have a bad thought does not mean that we have sinned.

    There is a delightful little book called “Recapturing Eve” that gives an amazing illustration of spiritual warfare, and I found it helpful in eliminating some of these disturbances.

    Christ’s peace….

    • GHM_52

      Thank-you, Becky for the important reminder!

      • Becky Ward

        You’re welcome! Just passing on what others have shared with me.

  • Terese10

    Many thoughts ran through my head reading this message and all the comments. My parish is more non-traditional. I’m sort of a mix. I find I have to fight judgmental thoughts at both my parish–where I am tempted to judge people’s hearts by apparent irreverence– as well as at more traditional parishes where I am tempted to judge their hearts as prideful. I have to keep praying when I notice the thoughts and turn my thoughts back to the mass, not the other people there. It can be exhausting at times. I suspect this is Satan’s way of trying to get to us once we are set on following Christ. He can’t get us in the “big” sins so he tries to get us this way in our thoughts and with judgement of each other.

    I admit to being somewhat confused by the split in the catholic church these days. I left the church and came back 4 years ago to find out that there were two camps. I really dislike the disunity. I also see online that people are playing out this split with their take on the Pope’s recent interviews. This has led to confusion for me. I found Fr Barron’s video to be very helpful in that regard. I am reminded to have faith and hope in God’s plan and recognize that I am not the Pope, nor do I know his heart or even his intentions, but I do trust that God knows what he is doing through this Pope.

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