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Pride of Orthodoxy (Pride of the Church 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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