Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The Hermeneutic of Rupture that many so-called liturgists sought for the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Compare this approach to the one below!

Now this is a Book of Revelation type of Mass! The Hermeneutic of Continuity with the Heavenly Liturgy!

Does this style of Church architecture and this style of being Church inspire you?

Will the real altar please stand up? Which altar looks more dignified and important? What does celebrating on a "lesser" altar convey to those who were use to Mass on the "high" altar?

Turning toward the Lord in all ways is the solution to rupture and decline in the Catholic Church!

Will a Mass like this turn out committed, lifetime, every Sunday Mass Catholics? The Theology of rupture and decline at work!

Why is it so difficult for Catholic sociologists and theologians to come to terms with the decline in Mass participation and participation in the Church in general and the assignment of blame to the manner in which the "spirit" of Vatican II was imposed upon the Church?

In the 1950's and towards the middle of the 1960's about 75% to 85% (higher in some places) of Catholics in this Country attended Mass. Not all were good Catholics, but at least they attended Mass every Sunday even if they did not receive Holy Communion or completely understand how to participate "actively" in the Sacred Mysteries. These Catholics knew that they were obligated to attend Mass even if they could not receive Holy Communion because of mortal sins committed or a lifestyle that was opposed to the Church's teachings. Ultimately, this participation was based upon "fear of the Lord," respect for the Church and her teachings, at least nominally and a great sense of obligation and respect for law in general and Church law in particular. There was a sense of sin, judgment, heaven and hell. Most people wanted to at least squeak into heaven and not cut themselves off totally from the Church and Mass attendance.

Today we consider it a great success if at least 30% of Catholics attend Mass every Sunday. Most places can only boast of 20% to 25%. In all honesty, what happened?

After Vatican II:

1. Strong disciplined Catholics were criticized for being too childlike in their piety, spirituality and obedience to Church authority, too rigid (black and white) when it came to morality and too narrow when it came to the truths of the Church. These accusations startled strong Catholics and caused them to reassess their Catholic identity. For lukewarm and on the fence Catholics who nonetheless went to Mass, this caused them to reassess even their Mass attendance.

2. To get across to Catholics who questioned the changes in the Mass, the Vatican outlawed the very Mass that had nurtured and sustained their faith and told them the revised Mass was new, improved, closer to the early Church's experience of the Mass and that favoring the old over the new showed rigidity and a lack of obedience to the Church or those pushing the renewal agenda. Piety, such as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the time of the elevation, or at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament or in formal Church rituals were ridiculed by pastors, catechists and liturgists. Piety and being a good Catholic were not one in the same. Frequent confession was also ridiculed. Also ridiculed was kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue out of reverence, adoration and humility especially as an unworthy sinner made worthy by God's grace. Also Original Sin and actual sin were discounted as was personal judgment and hell. This of course led to a crisis of faith concerning the Mass since it was Jesus' sacrifice that saves us from sin and death and opens the gates of heaven to us. But then, even the sacrificial aspect of the Mass was denigrated in favor of a festive, resurrection meal. But the Meal was denigrated because of a revised and more protestant explanation of the real presence! No wonder so many traditional Catholics stopped practicing their faith and going to Mass.

3. The Baltimore Catechism was dumped in favor of new teaching methods and superficial catechetical programs. Children of my parents generation (meaning me!) came home with new ways of looking at Church teaching that called into question the old ways that my parents looked at the teachings of the Church. Everything was fair game. Parents who were not as strong in the faith as other parents of this generation eventually threw their hands up in the air and decided not to be committed to anything the Church taught since everything was supposedly in flux.

4. Outright loss of priestly identity by scores of priests in the 1960's and 1970's whereby these scores of priests left the priesthood to marry or do otherwise, called into question for the rank and file Catholics serious beliefs they held as immutable.

5. Outright loss of identity by scores of religious, especially those teaching in schools and CCD programs led to a further decline in the zeal that Catholics prior to Vatican embraced.

6. Outright loss of Catholic identity due to an embrace of the world, other Christian denominations and other religions by an ideology that placed everything on an equal playing field (false egalitarianism) led to many Catholics jumping ship, joining Pentecostal and other Protestant denominations or just simply ceased attending Mass. Most of us who remember the early days of the Charismatic movement are quite aware of the "Pentecostalization" of many, many zealous Catholics who abandoned traditional Catholic spirituality and piety and sometimes even the Church. They embraced Biblical fundamentalism as a result of being encouraged to read and study the Bible independent of Church teaching and direction.

7. Liturgists hijacked the liturgy away from the bishops of the Church and began dictating how the revised liturgy should be celebrated, asked for creativity and developed "the spirit of Vatican II" analysis for not only celebrating the Mass but also for renovating old churches and constructing new one. All of this was based on a neo-iconoclasm as well as on a theology of rupture with the past, meaning the past with its old outdated Mass, architecture, spirituality and piety was dead and that the new and improved was infallibly decreed not by the Church but by liturgists.

8. By 1968 there was outright rebellion by bishops, priests and religious against the Holy See which was trying to be more conservative in directing the renewal of Vatican II and holding the line on "continuity." The rebellion against Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae by bishops, priests and religious reinforced the path for the laity, now questioning just about everything they had be taught prior to Vatican II to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it came to the practice of the faith in general and Mass attendance in particular. If the Church was so wrong on so many things, if it wasn't the True Church, if even dogmas and doctrines were being questioned as well as prayer forms, novenas, various pieties, why practice the faith or hand it on to the next generation as it was received prior to the Council?

9. My generation of Catholics gave birth to children whose religious foundation was compromised by silly experimentation with the Mass, poor catechetical materials, sometimes outright heterodox formation and no real depth of appreciation for the Church, her history, her sacraments, her truth and being the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Catholic traditional morality especially in the areas of sex was mocked. Guilt trips were directed now towards those who didn't give enough money to the poor, didn't live simple lives, didn't join in protest movements and didn't join the peace corp.

10. Today, my generation's children are having children and have either chosen not to have their children baptized, or if they do, only to please grandparents, great grandparents and have chosen not to affiliate with any particular church, religion or ideology, except political or secular.

To say that there is no cause and effect from what occur to the members of the Church both clergy, religious and laity in the 1960's and 1970's and beyond and what is occurring today in terms of the dramatic decline in Mass attendance and Church participation is naive at best and an outright misrepresentation of our Catholic families' history since the mid 1960's until today.

The law of prayer is the law of belief. What law were we teaching in the 1960's and 1970's and how did that law undermine the law of prayer and the law of belief prior to the Second Vatican Council?


Gene said...

There is much more going on here than a dialogue within the Church, as important as that is. But, the philosophical and socio-political consequences of Vatican II are very disturbing. Unwittingly, as a result of Vatican II, the Church played right into the hands of the Post Modern, De-Constructionist world view that continues to creep, amoeba-like into every aspect of our society. The Church is, and always has been, an authoritarian structure, and that is as it should be. After all, we believe in a "revealed" faith, a "from the top-down model", as it were.. However, "authoritarian" is a term that the post-modern mentality cannot abide (never mind that they will blithely support forms of government and political parties in this country that are based on government authoritarianism). Protestants hailed Vat II as the best thing since the Reformation. I was in Vanderbilt grad school of religion in the '70's where we had a Jesuit (wouldn't you know it) Priest leading a seminar on COCU...remember that, we called it "Coo-Coo," the Committee on Church Union." Prots flocked to these seminars. He used to show up wearing Che Guevara tees with a collar, and thought the Berrigans were just the sort of hip Priests we needed. I believe he actually wrote his PhD thesis on Hans Kung, to whom he referred as the "consummate post Vatican II theologian." You can't make this stuff up, folks. This is the heritage of Vat II.
Do you was about this time that protestant churches (we are talking even Baptists and Methodists here) and ministers began doing things like observing Lent and Advent in much more pronounced ways, putting out kneelers for Communion, observing Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday...all things that were never done before? Prot ministers started wearing collars and other such disjointed nonsense (imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it was going in the wrong direction). This was the era of "ecumenical services" and communion services in theology classrooms with a jug of Dago red and sour dough bread from the deli across the street. Nuns would show up to class wearing Jones of New York dresses and Aigner shoes with a ten pound pewter cross hanging around their necks and carrying copies of, "Fear of Flying." I saw it all... I was there. I found it laughable then; now I weep. The Church has been moving in the same direction as Protestantism these past several decades...less authoritarian, more democratic (read "egalitarian), and more vulnerable to the inroads of a secularizing, post-modern juggernaut...and if you don't believe Protestantism has completely lost all doctrinal and moral integrity then you haven't been paying attention. If returning to ad orientum, Latin, and simple rituals and gestures such as lifting the chausable...which is pleasingly quaint and charming if nothing else...can return the Church to a more sacred awareness of her calling, then Praise be to Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Henry Edwards said...

Some questions are easy to answer:

Q. What does celebrating on a "lesser" altar convey to those who were used to Mass on the "high" altar?

A. Hey, it's not that big a deal any more. If you'd rather catch up on yout sleep some Sunday morning, don't worry about it, give yourself a break.

Anonymous said...

Father, you explain this topic so eloquently and so thoroughly.
Chime in if my uneloquent and simple following observations need correcting.

Now that I know more about what pre-Vatican II was like (I'm 44 yrs old, so never experienced it), the current state of most Masses and also most behaviors and philosophies outside of Mass is so SELF centered, not Christ centered.
It just has been striking me for a while now that if one is centered on Christ and believes that this is indeed the Church that He founded that one should EMBRACE it's history, traditions, and the Magesterium.
Who are we to verbalize our 'dislike' for 'stuff that comes out of the Vatican'?
It seems to me that it just isn't our place, nor should we wish to do so.
It's not about what we prefer or what makes us 'feel good', it's about awefilled, humble worship of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Period.
All this loosy-goosy business strikes me as just plain selfishness. ME,ME,ME...
Correct me if I've oversimplied this too much or there's something that I'm missing.

Anonymous said...

What's with this thing called a 'Communion Service'?
I thought receiving Communion was just for Mass or brought to the sick/homebound who physically couldn't attend Mass.
When is a Communion Service appropriate?
Must it be performed by an ordained Deacon?

Gerbert said...

Father McDonald, I do believe you have hit the proverbial nail on the head Smoke of satin entering the church? Proof provided, well said.

Templar said...

I agree unequivocally with the blog post and most of the comments on this one. And being in such complete accord I am compelled to ask why we do not do more to correct these errors? Acknowledging a failing is the first step towards correction, the second step must logically follow that we take as many steps as we physically can to correct our errors. And many of the things done wrongly can be corrected at the Parish level without over stepping one's authority.

The longest journey still begins with a single step. If there is to be reform of the reform embraced "zealously" anywhere, why not let it be here?