Monday, August 6, 2012


Okay, there are a number of Catholics, a huge number, either through their own fault or not, have no clue as to what a true Catholic identity is. I tend to feel for them as they have been like sheep without a shepherd. And their shepherds have been so malformed that you really can't blame them entirely.

We have to go back to the post-Vatican II era and "Pandora's Box" that was opened for all kinds of experimentation and novelty in the Church as it regards the Mass, catechesis, the way religion is taught and the new morality. This has to be viewed in the overall cultural and societal upheaval of the 1960's and 1970's that affected everyone religious or not, Church or not and every institution. That has to be in the mix to evaluate all this.

However,we have to keep in mind that a slow shift in the Church has taken place since Pope John Paul II's election in 1978, only 13 years after the close of the Vatican Council. His long papacy combined with the tenure of Cardinal Ratzinger in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and then as an extension of Pope John Paul's papacy as the pope himself has had a dramatic effect in the Church, so much so that "aging 'spirit of Vatican II' Catholics", both clergy and laity, are a dying breed but still very vocal, very revolutionary and very much in denial of the great harm they have caused the Church in their unbridled reform of the Church and/or their embrace of it.

I do not blame Vatican II entirely, although there is an unbridled optimism about itself contained in the documents themselves, which is far from infallible and some of the social changes the documents rely upon are far from infallible. But the manner in which reforms were carried out, that is the problem and the loss of Catholic identity in the ensuing years.

What were the deleterious effects of so much of the so-called "renewal" in the post Vatican II era?

1. A loss of respect for legitimate authority in the areas of faith, morals and canon law and a contempt for obedience.

2. The horizontal aspects of the Mass so emphasized that Catholics lost the reason for the Mass that it was and is the Church's way of worshipping the transcendent God and not for their emotional pleasure entirely.

3. The banality of so much of the renewal that leads to the loss of Catholic reverence and fidelity to their Church

4. Horrible catechesis and poor religious education materials

What is changing?

1. We now have the Catechism of the Catholic Church and catechesis is better.

2. The celebration of the Mass is better and is in a time of transition which will lead to the revision of the OF Mass and make it more like the EF Mass, but remaining the OF Mass.

3. Authority in the Church is being reasserted. This is going to be messy for the dying breed, but it is necessary!


William Meyer said...

I am tempted to assert bad catechesis, but one would hope not, in the case of the religious, and our priests. Yet I must wonder, who led the charge in changing the liturgy? Who among our bishops decided that Latin would be obliterated? And why?

Clearly not a lack of catechesis.

How is it that so much of what was decided in Trent and in Vatican I was ignored? How is it that so much declared by really outstanding popes was cast aside?

Discovery of a history which might clarify these issues has so far eluded me.

rcg said...

What accounts for it? The fear of standing alone. It's easy to bear the Cross if other people think it's cool. It may be doable if everyone just ignores you. But who will stand alone with the Cross when everyone hates you for it? Not many. That is just human nature.

Marc said...

WM, read a history of the modernist movement French and German seminaries starting the late 19th century and building steam into the early 20th century. Then, you will have the history that clarifies what happened.

John Nolan said...

It's easy to blame the flower-power generation of the 1960s and 70s. Yet Paul VI, who presided over all this (fiddling while Rome burns?) was born in the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

Templar said...

The heterodoxy of the laity I lay the blame for right at the feet of the Clergy. One month Cardinal Dolan is ringing the bell and calling us to fight againsy the HHS mandate and the next he is inviting Obama to pal around with him at the Al Smith dinner in NYC. The Bishops are the culprits.

Marc said...

Templar - Amen.

I am reminded of our Lord's telling us about wolves in sheep's clothing, false prophets, and knowing them by their fruits.

This is the fruit of "neo-Catholicism," which is really just a fancy way of saying lukewarmness. And we know what our Lord said about the lukewarm.

But, lest I sound more like the Pharisee than the Publican from last Sunday's Gospel: there but for the grace of God go I. He brought me from atheism, he can surely bring these bishops from their heterodoxy (back?) into the Faith.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

One has to keep in mind that if the Extraordinary Form of the Mass did such a wonderful job of making for truly staunch Catholics, how is it that so many so easily abandoned not only it, but obedience to the faith and a fear of hell within a matter of a decade or less? These were pre-VAtican II Catholics who did this. Was there something intrinsically flawed about the dogmatism of the pre-Vatican II Church, over emphasis on externals and a pharisaic obsession with rules to the lack of a personal faith, and love for others that made many Catholics just down right mean spirited sorts of people? Just asking? I knew many pre-Vatican II Catholics who were quite fed up with being treated like children in Church, having to have "actual participation" passively and being caught up more with the letter of the law rather than its spirit. Many of them are in my family and felt liberated by Vatican II but then went in the other extreme.
Seems to me that the proper balance is needed, not the denial of our pre-Vatican II experiences and faith, especially that which was good and holy and not the denigration of Vatican II altogether since there is much good and holy there in much of the reforms many of which just went too far and eroded the faith of so many.

Marc said...

That's a tough question, Father. Let me respond by pointing this out from your own comment:

People in your family were fed up with being treated like children in Church, with the way the did not participate at Mass, and with following the Law.

You see the difference? Prior to Vatican II, people might have had complaints, but they remained in the Church. After Vatican II, when people have complaints, they just stop going or go elsewhere.

Why? Because the Church's hierarcy ceased to present the Church as the bulwark of Truth and the sole Ark of Salvation. People like it easy and are selfish. Catholicism is difficult and selfless. Being a hedonist, Baptist, Methodist, you name it, is much easier than being a Catholic - so, when priests and bishops give the impression that false religions are just as good, well, why not take the easier route and ditch all that "Catholic guilt?"

That's a simplification to be certain. But, people are pretty simple when you get right down to it.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Fr. McD,

Good points. It raises the question of what would have happened to Mass attendance in the late '60s and '70s had there been no (or more restrained) liturgical changes.

My guess is that if Rome had stuck to its guns--had Paul VI kept churning out encyclicals after Humanae Vitae and actually disciplined and excommunicated dissidents, and had we kept the Anglicized version of the Tridentine Mass rather than going on to the NO--you may have seen the same declines. But I bet you would also have seen the modernist element leave the Church to a much greater degree, rather than staying and trying (with considerable success) to subvert it. The heretics only stayed within the institutional Church because they realized that the orthodox leaders of the day, when not fellow travelers, weren't going to oppose them and they could have their way. Better for them to have left. We's have a much easier job of reclaiming things today if they'd done so.

dominic1955 said...

As far as liturgy is concerned, maintaining an internal homeostasis of orthopraxy is a very delicate matter that doesn't necessarily bring about immediately observable results. The Church at large started screwing with this when we starting thinking the Roman Rite was the preeminent rite while all the others (primarily Eastern) were somehow inferior exceptions to the norm. When we treat the liturgy as a means to an end, soon it becomes subject to all sorts of nonsense. The same clerics that were content with pushing the Roman Rite soon turned on it because it was just another tool of the Church, subject to whatever we want to do with it.

The true successors to the ultramontanes of the 19th Century are the heterodox of today. They took the Vatican's invitation to be open to the world at face value and as a marching order.