Reading and posting some of the comments that people send to me cause me to reflect on my upbringing in the Church and my formation in the seminary during the late 1970's. First, despite what I write below, I loved the seminary and the four years I spent at St. Mary's in Baltimore were the best years of my life and helped me to grow as a Catholic and into a priest. So let that be said! The silliness I experienced growing up and yes in the seminary made me study the Vatican II documents even more seriously to make sure that the Church really hadn't gone to hell in a hand bag. And reading the Vatican II documents actually proves this.
What I despised in my post-Vatican II parish in Augusta:
1. First what I loved in the early 1960's was my pastor's dedication to doing the Tridentine Mass properly. He was a stickler for detail and he trained the altar boys very well. He had a good choir that did the Latin properly. Shortly after Vatican II, choirs were deemed useless except if it was a folk group led by strumming guitars. I hated it! The music was vapid and even now when I hear "Day by Day", I want to throw up. Even as a dumb teenager I knew this stuff was crap! As well, choirs or folk groups were moved to the front adding the aspect of entertainment which was not present when singing was behind the congregation. I continue to feel it to be an impoverishment of the Liturgy for the choir to face the congregation during singing. Only the Anglican or monastic model of the choir in front of the congregation but facing each other should have ever been allowed. As well, the revised liturgy far from being done nicely, was sloppy, altar boys poorly trained, decorations abysmal, burlap and felt banners horrible. Lectors were poorly trained, selected at random, unrehearsed and dressed too casually. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were the same and not trained in the fine art of movement and reverence. Some of them had checkered reputations in the parish!
2. We had some associate priests who would yell at the congregation during a very ill-prepared and impromptu homily. As a teenager I thought that was ridiculous, but I don't think this had anything to do with Vatican II, just stupid priests. They came both before and after Vatican II.
3. Moving the tabernacle to the side altar under Mary's statue. The first Sunday as a teenager that I saw this, I thought, and if you will pardon my French, "What the Hell?" I said it to myself, I heard my father say it out loud! Even as a teenager, when I saw the priest now sitting directly in front of us behind the altar but staring at us, I thought, who does he think he is? Shouldn't Jesus get top billing? And in the vacant Church to have the priest's presiding Chair dead center and the tabernacle off to the side actually made my stomach turn! That's a teenager's perspective who was brought up to respect the Most Blessed Sacrament. Chairs, no matter how symbolic, are not higher in character than the reserved Most Blessed Sacrament. Let's face it, Mass is celebrated in churches maybe a half hour everyday except Sunday. If the Church is open, it is open for prayer and adoration. Why wouldn't the tabernacle be in the most conspicuous place possible for the majority of the time that the church is open which is not for Mass but for devotions and prayer?
4. As I recall, my mother felt very uncomfortable with the priest staring at the congregation during Mass. I remember hearing my mother yakking in Italian on the phone with her Italian friends, "I think he's looking at all the pretty women during Mass!" Often she forgot that I understood her Italian fluently (although my spoken Italian suffers). And with Italian, her voice inflections made it sound even more salacious that it would have sounded in English! But I digress, I was shocked that she would say this and thought she was over-reacting, but you know when you put a candy jar in front of a small kid and then expect him not to take some, you are pretty naive. Keep in mind that in later "wreckovations" of our churches, pews which had "modesty skirts" frontals with kneelers which also hid the sitting legs of people were removed in favor of free standing chairs. Are we shocked that some priests might have wandering eyes?
5. When I first came here to St. Joseph in Macon, our Church was closed for "restoration", not wreckovation. We met in the social hall, the church's basement. It was July and the fad for girls' attire was short, shorts, and tank tops which showed the bare midriff. Actually, all "blouses" at that time allowed for the midriff to be shown. I saw many of our girls wearing these at Mass and some of them staffed our nursery wearing these. I wondered why only the young fathers of children in the nursery were picking up their children and "staring" at our young nursery workers in skimpy attire. When I wrote a complaint about this in the bulletin and asked that modesty in dress be observed in the church, I actually had anonymous letters sent to me chastising me for criticizing the dress of these teenagers and that I should be grateful that they were at Mass! I was also criticized for not condemning the men who were the perpetrators of staring at these young girls. How naive were this anonymous writers. Should we "sexually" distract each other at Mass by our immodest dress. Should we tempt people who really don't want to be tempted at Mass by immodest dress? I report, you decide! I'm not a prude, but lets face it, beach attire is appropriate on the beach, exercise attire is appropriate in the gym. The Church requires appropriate dress too! And yes, human bodies, male or female should be covered out of respect for not only our Lord and God, but for one another. None of us should intentionally strive to be an occasion of sin for someone else, no matter if the other shouldn't be looking to begin with.
6. Dumbing down of ritual and language--we know what happened there. Yikes.
7. Out right disobedience by clergy and religious--this is perhaps the greatest evil that has afflicted the post Vatican II Church, but don't blame that on Vatican II, blame it on poor leadership.
8. Add you own comments and silly experiences.