Friday, July 18, 2014

WHILE THERE IS PLENTY WRONG ABOUT THE POST-VATICAN II CHURCH, WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE PRE-VATICAN II CHURCH?



Let's face it, the Catholic Church prior to Vatican II and after Vatican II is infiltrated with sinners! Yes, there are sinners galore in the Catholic Church, some of them mortal sinners destined for hell if they didn't or don't repent and go to confession.

Who are we to judge previous generations of Catholics? Well, that has been done for the past 50 years as a sort of examination of conscience to promote Vatican II theology.

I can only speak from personal experience being a cusp Catholic, one who recalls as a child what the pre-Vatican II Church was like, one who lived through the tumultuous changes in the Church an society in the 1960's as a pre-teen and teenager and one who graduated from high school in 1971 and entered young adulthood in that period often called the silly season.

I remember vividly the Cuban Missal Crisis, the duck and cover strategy to survive an atomic bomb and the digging of  fall out shelters in backyards.

I remember the assassination of President Kennedy (and added that term to my vocabulary on November 22, 1963). I remember the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King.

I remember the changes in the Church beginning around 1964 in my home parish of St. Joseph in Augusta. It was called an updating of the Church making us more modern, which in 1964 was an important word, becoming modern. It was a good term to hear even when referring to what would happen in the Church.

This modernization would bring about stronger Roman Catholics. We would become more adult and take our place in striving to live holy lives along with the priests and nuns who were considered the truly holy people of the Catholic Church.

Authority would be shared by the laity on the parish level. Parish councils would vote on important issues concerning the Church. All would be made perfect because of this.

But what was wrong with the old, unmodern ways?

There was rigidity in Catholicism and being a good Catholic meant that one prayed, supported the Church/parish/diocese, and obeyed legitimate authority, especially ecclesiastical authority.  One went to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, made their morning and night offering, examined one's conscience at the end of the day, went to confession regularly, did penance and fasted before Holy Communion, abstained from eating meat on Fridays and fasted on the appointed days.

Catholics loved their externals too in the pre-Vatican II days. Nuns, priests, monks and sisters and brothers wore distinctive garb, habits and one could tell which order they were by the habit. Laity wore Sunday  best to Mass, women/girls covered their heads in Church and there was respect and deference to the clergy and religious.

Catholic institutions were very strong, parishes, schools and hospitals flourished with nuns for the most part running not parishes, but their schools and hospitals. There were religious galore in most cities even in predominantly non-Catholic communities such as Macon, Valdosta and Augusta, Georgia.

Vatican II called the laity to holiness and to take their rightful place in the liturgy, in parishes and in the public square.

To assist the laity in the liturgy, the vernacular soon became the norm for all liturgies. Catholics were taught to think for themselves and not rely on blind obedience. Catholics were called to update themselves and not rely only on the Baltimore Catechism they studied until they completed Catholic school or CCD programs.

Catholics were taught to read the bible, join bible study groups and be ecumenical.

Most of all Catholics were called to be activists, joining the anti-war movements, hammering nuclear weapons after breaking into military installations and joining in other acts of civil disobedience to make their political and religious points.

Catholics were called to pray before abortion facilities.

Catholics were called to use their conscience in making moral decisions. This meant consulting the Church, seeking counsel and then making their decision. Fierce individualism was promoted in this decision of conscience and not always based upon the common good if it went against the individual's good.

Prior to Vatican II Catholics supported slavery and racism. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II Catholics supported virginity and chastity. After Vatican II this all ended

Prior to Vatican II Catholics did not practice artificial birth control and had large families. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II all Catholics were pro-life. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II convents, monasteries and seminaries were full. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II Catholic laity were very pietistic. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II Catholics were very humble and believed in their unworthiness. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II Catholics did not participate in the Mass or sing. After Vatican II this all ended.

Prior to Vatican II, apart from providing vocations galore to the priesthood and religious life, did not participate in the institutional aspects of the Church such as parishes, schools and hospitals. After Vatican II, the laity stopped providing vocations who would become non human (not laity).

Prior to Vatican II, non humans, those who are not laity, ran everything. After Vatican II this all ended as non humans (those not laity) no longer ran institutions which then shut-down.

22 comments:

Gene said...

Fr, I grew up same time you diid. I disagree that "Catholics supported racism and slavery." In fact, the Catholic Church was often at the forefront of all human rights/civil rights activity. Catholic Churches were one of very few places you would find blacks and whites and other races worshipping together.

dbonneville said...

Gene, I think Fr. was being facetious on the racism bit. But I love this post, one of Fr.'s best! And I'm a faithful reader :)

Anonymous said...

Baby, bathwater.

That's the perennial challenge.

How to toss out the dirty bathwater without tossing out the baby.

While it's true that lots of things were wrong "in the bad old days" pre-Vatican II, justice requires us to distinguish the degree to which Catholics were responsible for these travesties and tragedies.

Were orthodox Catholic clergy or laity responsible for the rise of atheistic socialist regimes?

Were Catholics to blame for the world wars? The League of Nations? The creation of the Federal Reserve and consequent centralization of power on DC?

Were Catholics to blame for the racism, Jim Crow, and economic disparity?

Just exactly what about the 'bad old days' can we lay at the feet of the pre-Vatican II Church both in terms of individuals and in terms of broad policies, praxis, doxis?

This is where historical-theological critiques breaks down. It's easy to say "I don't want to return to the 1950's" when you think about racism. But was Racism a result of Pre-Vatican II Catholicism? No! So the change of Vatican II had next to nothing to do with the end of institutional racism.

Was Pre-Vatican II Catholicism to blame for world-wide Communist civil wars, terrorism, turmoil, etc.? No. That by far hurt more Catholics than anything else as our Vietnamese and Chinese brothers and sisters can attest.

Sure things were too rigid (as compared with what?) but that's the trappings. By all measurable, laity were more involved in their local parish and school, had more parish groups and higher mass attendance, etc. than afterwards.

So we need to distinguish what about the past was due to the praxis of Catholics and what was just a part of the age.

Cameron said...

Gene, I think he is being a bit mocking.

JBS said...

As for racism/slavery, I suggest reading Joel s. Panzer's article/book on the subject: amzn.com/0818907649.

As for laymen reading the Bible, the Church has encouraged the practice for centuries, going back to the invention of the printing press. Take a look at an old Catholic bible from the 19th century, and you'll see there's even an indulgence attached to reading the Bible. Catholics who did not read the Bible before the 1960's were simply being lazy. What percentage of Catholics read the Bible with any frequency today?

rcg said...

I got it! FrAJM's off beat humour is back.

Anonymous said...

1964:

I was 16, and remember going, one weekday evening, with my father and the other men of our parish to our very small church. Our task was to take our altar and move it forward. Then our poor, flustered pastor could begin facing us while offering Mass in English.

The atmosphere was one of confusion and concern: Why were we radically changing a liturgy that had served the church so well for centuries?

My Dad, recalling his WWII army service in Africa, Italy and France, said "I never had any problem with Mass in any of those places. I might have missed the sermon, but I could participate in all the worship. Using Latin made me feel part of the universal Church; all that is gone now."

Anonymous said...

JBS, your comment about Catholics and Bible reading is, to put it politely, not true.

Just a little bit of research on your part will convince you that you are incorrect.

And no...I am not going to give citations and proof. If you require them, you find them.

Anonymous said...

The Federal Reserve is now the result of the change from Latin to English in the mass?

Woo Hoo!

JBS said...

Well, Anonymous, there have long been indulgences attached to reading the Bible, and such reading has never been prohibited. Further, it would make no sense to provide a particular indulgence and then prohibit fulfilling its requirements. Since you have no authoritative sources, but I do, I'll stand by my earlier statement, which is the only reasonable thing to do.

Anonymous said...

JBS
USCCB
"Changes In Catholic Attitudes Toward Bible Reading"

JBS said...

Anonymous,

The claim in your link cites no sources. Where is the official document/statement from the Vatican discouraging lay reading of the Bible? Again, take a look at an old Bible and you'll see letters from popes encouraging lay Bible reading. The popes are in charge of the Church Militant, so what they say goes.

Anonymous said...

Father, reading that list and remembering what the Church was like before Vatican II - I could weep for what we have lost - I remember at school for the missions we would fold newspaper - that venture went on every school day and after school as people from the parish would pop in for a cup of tea and a chat and fold the papers, after school school children would often join in. There was much more sense of parish and as a child growing up I noticed the difference between the Catholics and the protestants - how for we Catholics it was a daily thing but the protestants it was a Sunday thing and now that is what the majority of Catholics seem to have become - Sunday Catholics ...

This is why I prefer, if I can, to go to the Traditional Latin Mass, not just because of the reverence of the Mass but also because there is a unity of belief that is now not present in the mainstream Church.
Jan

Bee said...

What's the point of being Catholic?

Prior to Vatican II - to know, love, and serve God in this world, and be happy with Him forever in the next. After Vatican II, all this ended.

And I think that is the greatest tragedy of all.

rob said...

The Church on slavery:
from a Catholic Education dot org publication:

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0006.html

Anonymous said...

JBS
Do you REALLY believe that every rule, regulation, custom, tradition etc. of the Church is backed up by an official document/statement from the Vatican?

The document I cited is itself an official source regarding Bible reading.

Anonymous 2 said...


Rob: I just read the very informative article on the Church and slavery. Thank you for providing the link.

George said...



The Catholic church and slavery: things are not always as simple as some would characterize them.

Catholic influence in American society was much stronger in the less populous South than in the North at the time of the war.

The first Catholics to live in the United States were located primarily in the slaveholding states of Maryland and Kentucky, and there were more Catholic dioceses in the South than there were in the North until 1850. [J.F. Regis Canevin, “Loss and Gain in the Catholic Church in the United States, 1800–1916,” Catholic Historical Review (January 1917), 380–81]

Catholicism and the Old South:



http://www.catholicism.org/catholicism-south.htm


Good things can come out of a Bad situation:

The first African American priest was a former slave Augustus Tolton. The first African American bishop James Augustine Healy was the son of a white Catholic slaveowner and a slave. Good does triumph over Evil. Does anyone think it would have been better for the Catholic church to pull out of the slave-owning areas of the country?
In more recent times, look at a country such as Poland when it was behind the Iron Curtain. No institution was more against Communism than the Catholic Church. Yet Catholicism and the Communist government of that country co-existed for over 40 years! And out of that co-existence came a great Pope.

Unknown said...

I was born in 1948 and remember the pre-Vatican II years and the transition very well. My question is: which of the post-Council changes enriched the life of the Church and nurtured sanctity in the baptized? Was it dropping Friday abstinence as a unifying sign to the world, giving up a universal liturgical language just when our culture was becoming globalized, refocussing the liturgy on the people arranged in a closed circle with a performing priest, allowing a quick Saturday afternoon Mass to fulfill the observance of the Sabbath,turning catechesis into mush, repeatedly changing Scriptural translations so that we never hear the same thing twice, forgetting about Confession, bringing in altar girls, denigrating devotions such as Benediction and the Rosary, moving Holy Days to Sunday, relaxing fasts, or, above all, making "the modern world" the standard governing our choices?

George said...

(The link above doesn't seem to work). Try this one:

Catholicism and the Old South:


http://catholicism.org/catholicism-south.htm


Or just past this in your browser

http://catholicism.org/catholicism-south.html

Gene said...

Vat II is a classic example of providing stones when asked for Bread. If the architects do not burn in Hell, I hope they spend a long time in Purgatory being forced to read Pope Pius on Modernism...maybe for a billion years or so...fires at their feet, of course.

George said...


Catholicism and the Old South

I couldn't get the link above to work. Just paste the link below into your browser and it will take you right to the article:

http://catholicism.org/catholicism-south.html

Anyway, today's parable of the wheat and the weeds is apropos. If the Church had pulled out of the slave-owning states, it would have pulled out the wheat as well as the weeds. The same could be applied to those countries that were, or still are under, Communism.
The Church may be expelled or purged from a country but it never pulls out and leaves. Like God, it never abandons us or gives up on us.