This is meant as something of a followup to our previous post on Neo-Calvinism in the Catholic Church.
I missed the 1970s-2007 Traditionalist milieu. I have attended Mass in a FSSPX chapel once in my life, otherwise having gone entirely to diocesan "indult" and Summorum sponsored Masses, both in the old rite and 1962. I grew up in the Pauline Roman liturgy and found it utterly banal, unrepresentative of the powerful faith I was taught in elementary school and by the authors I read privately in high school. I did not grow up in Traddieland, nor did I know the "pre-Conciliar" Church aside from my father, who was born in 1941. Talk of "neo-Modernist Rome," "eternal Rome," the "true Mass," and Conciliar "errors" sail past me. I understand the objections and can lend my credulity to them in part, but the culture around them does nothing for me. Having never known Pius XII's Church nor the FSSPX, my integration into and practice of the faith was always more local than organizational.
The old guard of traditionalists were, as we will see in the upcoming series (still waiting for a book on Msgr. Gilbey before I can start it), not entirely comprised of FSSPX sympathizers and those of the old establishment, but that skeleton of the 19th and 20th century Ultramontane establishment did survive in the FSSPX. Many in those days seemed to think that at some point a good pope would finally be elected who would subdue the Modernists, consign the Pauline liturgy to the dust bin, condemn the world, and consecrate Russia to the Virgin of Fatima. That has not happened nor will it. This was an aspiration founded on the old pyramid framework of authority that Msgr. Lefebvre knew as a young man and which he inculcated into his seminarians (interestingly, Lefebvre also had enough French sensibility to ignore Rome at times). That outlook is either dying or dead.
Young people who involve themselves in older forms of the Roman liturgy never knew this milieu either and many do not seem terribly interested in carrying on the old Ultramontane framework, the late 20th century hopes for a restoration, or a return to the Prisoner in the Vatican outlook. This growing minority of traditionalists either grew up in older forms of liturgy or discovered it, all the while living in the modern Church. They are not ignorant of the problems of the episcopacy or the popes or the average parish, but having not know what things were like "in the old days", they are better equipped to remain level headed, to avoid excesses of emotion, and not put too much stock in a top-down restoration. They often know that the first place to begin any work is at the parish level, with Mass, the Office, traditional prayers, lectures, seminars (on something other than "John XXIII and Fatima" or "The Modernist Infiltration"), and by reaching out to other sympathetic groups. These people will not take over the Church, but, given their propensity for reproduction, they may well overtake the traditionalist movement and vocations both in traddie organizations and diocesan settings. It is in this capacity that they are best suited to influence the Church universal. Even a modicum of reasonable influence is two generations away, yet it is something. Then perhaps the conversation will be about teaching and passing on the faith and not about old memories of 1950. The end of old illusions may spell the beginning of new dreams.