Today I woke in the predawn darkness with my mind strangely at ease and at peace. There’s something about the stillness of that hour right before the sun slowly adds light and color to the surrounding world that’s conducive to just resting without thinking. Of course at that hour I was just going through the morning ritual on autopilot; plunking food and water in my cats bowl, making the first mug of Cafè Du Monde for the day, and slamming my first dose Kratom before taking my friends puppy out for his morning constitutional. Sometimes autopilot can be a good thing, as it allows you the mental space to contemplate other things, or during that hour nothing at all. I’m reminded of all the years I spent delivering US Mail and cherishing that monotonous daily routine so that I could spent my mental energy listening to educational talks on church history,philosophy, music or simply life in general.
The neighborhood on the edge of a university campus is a ghost town today, New Year’s Eve, when classes are not in session. The only sounds are the little red cardinals chirping away in the live oak canopy above and the occasional hoot of a barred owl, its haunting sound one that always amazes me . Here where I live is on the margins of the city, a city that, if it weren’t for the university would be just another run down ghost down in the Deep South, plagued by poverty, addiction and broken dreams, a fetid swamp of alligators, mosquitos, venomous snakes and misery.
It’s a little crazy but I love skating or walking this part of town and looking at and photographing the unique old homes and buildings, many of which have turned to vacant lots or are homes for poor folks. There’s character here on the margins where you get a chance to glimpse the real life of the average people in this town that aren’t wealthy transients just here for a degree.
I grew up near Detroit, and that rotten hulk of a city with its story of urban decay and it’s slide into decrepitude was like a shadow man lurking just outside my field of vision.It haunted me back in the late 80’s; it haunts me now. It’s such an ominous presence in southeast Michigan it’s hard to really explain. Going there to visit family gave me a perverse interest in urban decay and abandoned structures. Even here now, almost 1500 miles and close to 15 years away from that rust belt corpse I still have this fascination. These buildings and homes have character, they tell stories. Whole lives, fortunes, hopes and dreams are part of their story, and this seems to come into my mind as I walk or ride past them and contemplate.
This has been on my mind as of late because so much is slated to change here. Big corporate wealth is coming in and tearing down our unique area in order to build upscale shops and apartments, driving out most of us lower class people and the unique character of these neighborhoods, leaving nothing but cookie cutter Main Street USA amidst the dust and debris. It happened where I grew up, and it’s happening here now. All that old character and unique and regional style of building and local culture gets bulldozed so that corporate America and the nouveau riché can have their Starbucks and 1500 dollar a month gated apartment complexes. It seems as if all one can do is to take photos for memories, and ride around these old places soaking up the feel of a place before it’s gone.
On another note I ended my run down building skate tour at the local Catholic Church, and despite having a sort of estranged relationship with the Roman Church these days I went in to pray. This church in the student part of town is stunningly beautiful for a 1950’s style building that was probably a prototype for the Pauline Mass. They just renovated it and made it more in line with the Latin Tradition,putting the Tabernacle back behind the altar, adding better statuary, a baptistery and in general beautifying it. This, in my opinion, is what a Roman Church ought to look like these days; a mix of old and new,but mostly old. It’s obvious when you enter that, while not set up for the Latin Mass as most trads know it, it’s still at least steeped in the Latin Tradition.
My own opinion is that the Pauline Mass is here to stay, it’s never going to be suppressed. Like others have opined, there are places where there is a robust western Catholic life that is fully orthodox and fully steeped in Tradition where the new Liturgy is all that’s used. While I personally don’t like many aspects of the reform, I do believe that it can probably pass on the core of the Latin Tradition. After all, Western Catholicism has a breadth and scope that goes back centuries beyond the Tridentine era through the 1960’s. The Western Patrimony runs deep, much deeper than manual neoscholasticism, Fatima devotions and 1950’s throwback Catholic Puritanism a la some Trad chapels.
Still though, nostalgic as I felt I am still deeply troubled by the papacy and what’s it’s come to be, and so I still find myself on the hinterlands of Rome, somewhat sympathize and not at all anti Catholic but more Orthodox with more love and appreciation for the Western Patrimony than many Orthodox.
Well, I want to post some photos of those buildings and the interior of that church but my phone is acting up, so I’ll have to revisit this blog post and put them up once I get it up and running.