Saturday, June 22, 2013

IS VATICAN II RESPONSIBLE FOR A "SELF-REFERENTIAL (NARCISISTIC) CHURCH" AND BEING SELF-ABSORBED?


As a person who has a very good memory of my childhood and religious experiences both in the pre-Vatican II Church and post Vatican II Church, I am beginning to wonder if Vatican II is the cause of most of the problems that Pope Francis wants to clean up, not by going back to 1950's Catholicism prior to the Council except in one way.

And that way is to tell Catholics to be content with the Church that is given to them and to stop trying to rearrange the furniture as and renovate the Church and church we have done for the past 50 years.

What have we been doing for the past 50 years as Catholics. Let me list some of it:

1. We've griped and complained about the way the Church was prior to Vatican II.
2. We've griped and complained about the changes in the Church after Vatican II.
3. We made change a hallmark of Catholicism thinking we can refashion the church, make it new and improved like product lines continually do and tell us in their advertizing.
4. We've focused on externals, the language of the Mass, the music of the Mass, the readings of the Mass, the style of vestments of the Mass, the style of renovating the churches for the Mass and we've caused much upheaval and unnecessarily so in all of this for parish communities driving some of the staunches Catholics away from the Church.
5. We've reinvented the way we teach Catholics and in the process dumbed everything down to the point that Catholics don't know what to believe and think personal gnosticism and personal opinions about faith and morals is on par with what the Magisterium teaches.

The list could go on and on. Yet are we giving our Catholics a mission as Catholic laity? No, not in general, but the renewal groups of the Church have been doing this for some time, especially in Europe, but also in the USA. Intentional Catholics coming together to truly be Catholic and to live their lives of faith in the world. Most of this renewal groups are conservative, accept the teaching of the Church, don't push for changes in Church teachings at all and accept the Magisterium.

I know of no liberal or progressive groups that are doing what Pope Francis and Pope Benedict want us to do which is to move away from the horizontal, navel gazing Church continually trying to make things new and improved in the superficial sense and to get back to authentic Catholic living, concerned for the poor, living simply and loving God and neighbor as Jesus taught. What liberal or progressive groups are producing vocations? None that I know of and the liberal and progressive religious orders and dioceses are producing no vocations either. It is a recipe for the death of Catholicism leaving only a faithful remnant and certainly this isn't the desire of the Church or the Lord, our Head.

While there were many warts in pre-Vatican II Catholicism, this is what we didn't and did have back then:

This is what we did have:

1. Parishes that were geographical and the majority of the Catholics in the boundaries of each parish actually went to Mass and supported the Church.
2. Large families that went to Mass each Sunday, supported Catholic education as a means to make strong the Catholic faith of children and hand it on to them.
3. Vocations galore for the priesthood and religious life and the willingness to sacrifice for a severe life in these pre-Vatican II experiences of the priesthood and religious life.
4. Mass was Mass and there were only three kinds and all in the same language: Low, High and Solemn High (although most Catholics rarely attended a Solemn High Mass, more went to the High Mass, the majority to the Low Mass (no music or simply four devotional hymns inserted into it).
5. Popular Devotions both public and private thrived
6. Lay Catholic became religious and operated all kinds of outreach to the communities not only through schools, but hospitals, agencies for the poor, nursing homes and the like
7. Religious were not see as Martians but laity who made a higher permanent commitment to full time Church work

This is what we didn't have:

1. Liturgical wars with competing visions of what the liturgy should be
2. Constant renovations of churches for liturgical purposes
3. divisions among Catholics in terms of traditional or progressive (you were either good Catholic or a bad Catholic and everyone knew what that meant
4. The Mass was celebrated by the book and most people did not experience liturgical abuse or the personality of the priest foisted upon them in a liturgical setting

How can we become what Pope Francis would like to see us become and that is "a Church that would be capable of taking to the high seas, one no longer corralled within its own fences''. Herein lies the program brand of the new pontificate, along with the Franciscan ideal of ''a Church that is poor and for the poor'': it could not be otherwise for the first Jesuit pope in history. And if Pope Francis will be able to steer Peter's boat down this route, freeing it from all the excess baggage and resistances then we will be a pre-Vatican II Church in a post Vatican II way."

So what the pope is advocating and what I advocate is Evangelical Catholicism, with the home and the Christian family the nucleus of the Church, meaning that it is in the home where Catholicism is lived and breathed, that we form strong Catholics.

Then once a week or even daily, every Catholic goes to Mass. If they wish to participate verbally or musically fine. If not fine. Just be strong Catholics. Be at Church every Sunday, weak or strong Catholics. Don't making the so-called active participation at Mass the litmus test of being a good or bad Catholic!

Make sure that the Mass is celebrated by the book. Let's limit the style of music at Mass and really give a go at making Gregorian Chant and its offspring the music of the Mass. Don't leave it up to liturgists and musicians to plan the Mass and the Music. Make them sing the official Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons and limit the number settings of style of music we have for the parts of the Mass or maybe mandate Latin for those parts.

What this would do is to take away from liturgists and musicians the authority to plan the musical composition of the Mass according to their tastes and agenda and return the Mass to the agenda and taste of the Church.

So, we won't get as a processional hymn "We are One in the Spirit" or "Gather Us In" or a variety of other vapid hymns with an ideological agenda or preachy message, but we'll get the Psalm that is prescribed for the Entrance Chant.

Removing authority from those who have taken it and pontificate about it will go a long way to making the Church into what Pope Francis desires.

Don't misinterpret what I am saying. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be ecumenical and in dialogue with other religions and with those of no religion. I'm in favor of the Church's teaching since Vatican II on ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and religious liberty. I am in favor of what Vatican II asked for the liturgy and the Missal we have. We don't need to keep reinventing the Church. Now is the time to settle down with what is given us in the Post Vatican II Church and stop making it less or more what we want it to be and more what God and the Magisterium want it to be.

The following is what many believe Pope Francis means by coming out of a self-referential and narcissistic Church:

The Church needs to overcome a tendency within the Church to be self-referential or narcissistic. The Church, the pope said, needed to “come out of herself”, moving not just to the geographical but to the “existential” peripheries (the troubled material, moral and spiritual edges on which people live their lives), in order to evangelize effectively. When she fails to do this, the Church becomes self-referential, which is a kind of sickness. This leads her into a very serious spiritual evil, which the great theologian Cardinal Henri de Lubac called the worst evil that can befall the Church, namely “spiritual worldliness”.

The pope is talking about a certain attitude among the Church’s members—narcissistic, self-referential, worldly in their very spirituality—which makes the Church as an institution extremely ill.

A Partial List of Examples of Spiritual Narcissism

This critique of a certain malaise in the Church can refer only to one thing: When we start defining the Church according to how we ourselves are, we are committing this sin of narcissism; we are being self-referential. And in this sense, we are making the Church self-referential in all of her operations, which must be carried out through her members.

Let us consider some practical applications of the Pope’s thesis.

-- When theologians and academicians redefine faith and morals according to their own desires (chiefly, in our day, through the cancer of Modernism), they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When laymen use the Church for their spiritual comfort while rejecting whatever Catholic teachings they do not like, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When people at any level in the Church decide they are not called to express the way, the truth and the life of Christ to others because it is outside their personal comfort zone, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When affluent Catholics constantly find excuses, including legal and political excuses, for not stretching themselves to serve the poor, including immigrants, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When those with strong feelings about certain traditions and the liturgy claim that they alone are the bearers of the true light of Christ, dividing themselves from others and from obedience to ecclesiastical authority, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When cardinals and bishops refuse to speak truth to power, preferring to enjoy life with “people who matter”, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When Catholics invest their emotions and their sense of mission in unapproved apparitions or other similar phenomena, as if these hold the key to everything, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When priests alter the liturgy to suit their tastes or fail to teach the fullness of Catholic doctrine, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- When religious communities depart from their founding charisms and pursue essentially secular goals with a spiritual veneer, they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.
-- Whenever anyone defines right and wrong in terms of chronology (“Come on, it’s 2013! Don’t be so medieval!”), he or she is being narcissistic and self-referential, and making the Church sick.
-- And when Catholics fail to seek constant enlightenment from both the Church and the Holy Spirit in prayer, preferring to go on spiritually without making any real effort to lay bare their own spiritual weaknesses—preferring the comfort of an apparently serene but half-hearted and surely one-sided Christianity—then they are being narcissistic and self-referential, and they are making the Church sick.

This is what Cardinal Bergoglio was explaining to his brothers just before they elected him pope. He may have used some academic language to refer to the problem. Indeed, Pope Benedict had done the same, calling it “self-secularization”. But it really is not so difficult to understand. When we make the Church into what we see in the mirror, instead of stretching ourselves to the “existential peripheries”, we plunge the Church into spiritual worldliness. We make the Church sick.



24 comments:

ytc said...

"So what the pope is advocating and what I advocate is Evangelical Catholicism, with the home and the Christian family the nucleus of the Church, meaning that it is in the home where Catholicism is lived and breathed, that we form strong Catholics."

Excellent!

Anonymous said...

"I am beginning to wonder if Vatican II is the cause of most of the problems that Pope Francis wants to clean up..."

Yes.

We are going to have to wait for another generation that has no investment in Vatican II before it is publicly admitted that the whole venture was a colossal mistake.

Pater Ignotus said...

As an ecumenical Council, constitutive of the Catholic Faith, there cannot be a time when a generation of Catholics has "no investment" in the Second Vatican Council.

John said...

We have been told umpteen times V-2 promoted no new doctrine.So, Pater I, what is it we are invested in exactly? I feel very comfortable with reforming the reform as B-16 advocated.

Vatican-2 as an event in the life of the Church was a Tsunamy with the usual consequences typical of such sorrowful phenomena.

Anonymous 5 said...

The CCC cites overwhelmingly to a) VII documents and b) Scripture, probably in that order. Regardless, there is very little citation to the preceding 20-odd councils combined.

I call that "invested."

Henry said...

The question is whether the disintegration of faith, morals, liturgy, and Catholic identity in the aftermath of Vatican II itself, or of the betrayal of the Council by generations of priests and Church leaders who have side-tracked and have not yet implemented its recommendations. For instance, typical parish liturgy today is a mockery of the intended revitalization. Is this really the fault of the Council, of generations of clergy and bishops malformed in seminaries that perverted the teachings of Council?

Anonymous said...

I seriously question whether as a Catholic I have any obligation to be invested in the folly of Vatican II. Many Councils were called to combat heresies and carried anathemas as penalties to those who refused to comply. In the case of the hyper-canonized Second Vatican Council, we have a Council that nearly blessed the Synthesis of All Heresies (Modernism) and carried no anathemas.

Lest anyone think Vatican II is untouchable, I suggest looking into the history of the Second Council of Constantinople. The Council was called to deal the the Monophysite heresy, failed miserably and since shortly thereafter has been pretty much ignored. Vatican II has failed equally in opening up the windows of the Church (unless you consider letting the evil spirits in as a "success") and deserves to be ignored every bit as much, if not more, than Constantinople II.

Alfred D'Auberge said...

"Reform of the Reform" is starting to sound a big stale. Why don't we call it what it really should be:

"Cleaning Up the Mess"

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that the Second Vatican Council gave its "blessing" to modernism - the "Synthesis of All Heresies" - reveals a woeful ignorance of Vatican II.

Anonymous 5 is, to use a phrase popular here since the debut of Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife, not to mention The Vicar of Dibley, As Time Goes By, Are You Being Served, Yes, Minister, Yes, Prime Minister (the cleverest of them all), etc., "Spot On" when he reminds us that Vatican II is an integral element in our Catholic Faith.

If you think it is not, go start a new church, er, Ecclesial Communion. It's been done before....

Anonymous said...

I did not write that VII gave its blessing to Modernism. I said it "nearly blessed" Modernism. By its very ambiguity and lack of coherent substance, the Modernists came out of the closet and took over the Church after VII. And the authority structure of our Church has done little to stop it or slow it down.

If you can honestly look at the Church of the last 40 years and tell us that it has not been dominated by Modernism, you must be deaf, dumb and blind.

Gene said...

Yeah, Vat II is an integral part of the Catholic Faith like the Civil War is an integral part of US history...

Anonymous 5 said...

Anonymous at 8:43: A catechism--any catechism--that relied on just one of nearly two dozen ecumenical councils to the near-exclusion of all other sources would be a catechism I took with a grain of salt. I don't care which council we're talking about. Such a document is more about the perspective of the authors than about the Catholic faith, especially when the authors of the catechism were heavily involved with the council they relied upon so heavily.

I'm not interested in starting my own religion, thank you. I'll leave that to the so-called Catholics who have done so in the past fifty years while continuing to formally associate themselves with the Catholic Church. I'm interested in the Catholic faith as it has been taught throughout its 2000 year history, not the modernism that has been promulgated in the past fifty years.

Why do you maintain that VII didn't _nearly_ bless modernism? If you really believe that, then I invite you to take my challenge here:

http://cemeterypicnic.blogspot.com/2012/04/open-invitation-to-all-comers-to.html

Thus far, A2 is the only person to have given a plausible answer, to one of the four issues. Unfortunately, he isn't authoritative, and as far as I know the hierarchy has assiduously avoided ratifying his answer. It seems instead intend on ignoring the issues in question rather than seeking to resolve them.

Anonymous said...

Any Council builds on the magisterium that precedes it. Vatican II did just this. Unless you can show, by citing the Church's teaching authority and not relying on your own idiosyncratic reading of Vatican II, that Vat II has taught falsely, then you have the Church's teaching.

In that event, it is not necessary to cite the passages from prior Council or other magisterial teaching that is contained in the Vat II documents. The CCC thus states, "1557 The Second Vatican Council "teaches . . . that the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred by episcopal consecration, that fullness namely which, both in the liturgical tradition of the Church and the language of the Fathers of the Church, is called the high priesthood, the acme (summa) of the sacred ministry."

It is unnecessary to cite each and every (or many) previous Councils of Magisterial documents that taught the same thing.

TomD said...

@ Anonymous 5:

"Why do you maintain that VII didn't _nearly_ bless modernism?"

To say that VII "bless[ed]" modernism is not accurate.

It is more accurate to say that the modernist element in the Church seized upon the opportunity of VII in an attempt to forward their agenda. In many cases, particularly in the liturgy, they were successful. Over the long term, the movement will fizzle out in the Church as the adherents of modernism pass away.

There have always been dissidents and heretics in the Church and there will be in the future too.

Anonymous 5 said...

Anon: Regarding sources, as opposed to what you characterize as my own idiosyncratic reading: I again refer you to

http://cemeterypicnic.blogspot.com/2012/04/open-invitation-to-all-comers-to.html

which you will find cites heavily to VII and to many earlier sources. Maybe you should check out what I suggest you to check out before you accuse me of not citing anything.

And, by the way, I note that you yourself cited nothing but Downton Abbey and the like for your own idiosyncratic interpretation of the CCC.

Also, are you prepared to argue that VII builds so completely on prior councils that it addressed absolutely everything that a) all of the prior councils addressed and thus b) absolutely everything that should be included in a catechism? Is it so thorough, so complete, that we can quit worrying about all of the earlier councils?

Gene said...

Vatican II produced no dogma, no doctrine, and nothing infallible issued from it. That makes it very difficult to take seriously. It has produced nothing but division, dissension, and apostasy in various clergy and religious groups. Anyone who cannot see that it was an unmitigated disaster for the Church just does not want to see it.

Saul Bass said...

"There have always been dissidents and heretics in the Church and there will be in the future too."

No kidding. Of course that's true, but never in history have there been so many who have been allowed to propagate their garbage with impunity, almost never being silenced or punished. Except for the Aryan heresy, I doubt there's ever been a time when so many dissidents and heretics had as much power as they currently enjoy.

To read that statement sounds as cheaply fatalistic as the smoker who says, "You gotta die of something." How insulting.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anonymous 5 - I cited Downton Abbey regarding the usage of certain British-isms such as "Spot On." I did not cite it regarding the CCC.

I am prepared to argue, as the Church itself asserts, that the Second Vatican Council is 100% Catholic and 100% part of the magisterial heritage of our Church. It is now an essential element of the Church's doctrinal and dogmatic Tradition.

No Council or other Magisterial document has ever "addressed absolutely everything that a) all of the prior councils addressed and thus b) absolutely everything that should be included in a catechism?" If this is your expectation regarding Vat II or any other conciliar or magisterial document, you will be perpetually vexed.

We keep earlier Councils in mind, but do not expect that they will be explicitly cited every time the Church produces a text relating to some aspect of the Faith.

Gene said...

How can something that produced no dogma or doctrine be "an essential element of the Church's doctrinal and dogmatic tradition?"

Anonymous 5 said...

Pater,

Since you concede that VII isn't the be-all and end-all of Catholic theology, then shouldn't you agree that the CCC is suspect since it cites the documents of other councils practically not at all? You can't have it both ways: Either VII is one-stop shopping, in which case the CCC reliance on it is understandable but we can pretty much ignore the earlier councils, or the earlier councils address crucial doctrinal matters not covered by VII, in which case the CCC is flawed for ignoring those matters and relying so very heavily on VII. Which is it to be?

Regarding your "100% magisterial: assertion, I invite you yet again to accept the challenge here:

http://cemeterypicnic.blogspot.com/2012/04/open-invitation-to-all-comers-to.html

Pater Ignotus said...

Anonymous - I concede that NO Council or Magisterial text is the "be all and end all" of Catholic theology. Anyone who expects one Council or one text to be such is going to err.

The CCC is not suspect in the least. It represents, in its totality, the teaching of the Church.

If you think something is missing, maybe you could bring that up for further discussion.

Anonymous 5 said...

Pater,

No time for me to do a point-by-point analysis of the CCC contents today, and I actually digressed by discussing it as flawed. My original point was about its authors and not its contents, to which I now return.

That point is simply this: The inordinately heavy reliance on VII in the CCC to the near exclusion of documents of all other councils reveals a heavy bias of the current generation towards VII, since "NO Council or Magisterial text is the "be all and end all" of Catholic theology. Anyone who expects one Council or one text to be such is going to err." If they didn't have a heavy VII bias, then they would have had a more even citation of sources in light of your concession. And a heavy bias in favor of any council--VII, Trent, Nicea, whichever--is not likely to produce an accurate summary of the Catholic faith. And if they are biased in the CCC, they are likewise probably biased in other fora, such as in the liturgy, thus distorting Catholicism.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 5 - As I have said, I don't think that the CCC or any magisterial text has to cite four or eight or twelve ecumenical councils in order to represent the Church's teaching on one doctrinal point or another.

Citing the Second Vatican Council, since the Second Vatican Council is among the most authoritative organs of the exercise of the Church's magisterial office, is sufficient.

Relying on Vat II is relying on the teaching of the magisterium that has gone before.

Katherine McMillan said...

"He has scattered the proud in their conceit."

We sing in everyday at Vespers. I cannot imagine how offensive it is to God when we change the mass because, we might lose Catholics and their tithes. I cannot imagine the hardness of our hearts that we could think so little of Our Blessed Lord. I would not want to be the Pope that stands at judgement, before our Blessed Lord and say I had to change the mass, because it's us who converts not you.

Only God can write straight with these crooked lines, but we have to get serious about fasting and praying. We need serious priests, Bishops and Cardinals who care less for White House dinners and more for reverence for Christ in the Eucharist.

Everything our Blessed Mother said at Fatima is happening. "In the end there will be no reverence for Christ in the Eucharist and people will care more for their bodies than their souls. When will the clergy wake up? How many more souls have to be lost? Vatican II was a disaster, who cares why, just fix it.