This vocation recruitment film for the Paulist Fathers in California is very good. It shows how human a Paulist priest is but without betraying the majesty or dignity of his priesthood. It shows a priest who is connected with the people he serves yet celebrates the pre-Vatican II Mass and gives Holy Communion to devout young Catholics who receive as every Catholic of this period did, with deep piety and reverence. They receive our Lord on the Tongue as they kneel and unrushed. They don't receive on the run!
This should put to bed the so-called rigidity of the Church prior to her loss of Catholic identity, priestly identity and religious (meaning nuns/sisters) identity to rest!
The second film is a group of 3rd Order Franciscan Nuns out of Pittsburgh. In complete habit, the film shows how engaged they are in their specific apostolates and engaged in the lives of those they serve. Yet there is a majesty and dignity to their way of live that attracts novices and vocations rather than repels as happens today with so many bachelor nuns or nuns who are invisible because they do not wear any kind of religious habit. I suspect in the late 70's this particular order abandoned all that made for their success and are on life support now with most of their amazing apostolates gone.
And this shows us precisely what Vatican II so-called "renewal" brought about. Yet the very religious who foisted this onto their orders continue to call it renewal. Vatican II had no such intention of remaking the priesthood or religious life into something that was the antithesis of what it had been but rather to make it more of what it was. This video captures what has happened and why so many long for the religious life as it was. This should not be an insult to religious but rather a wake-up call to how appreciated they were in the so-called "bad old outdated days."
Below is a direct paste from Fr. Z's blog on the topic of "rigidity". He says it all:
Our Lord told us, in Matthew 5, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now, something that is perfect has no need to change. Need to change implies imperfection. A god who changes wouldn’t be God at all. Dig, dig and we find that God simply cannot change. God is … “rigid”.
Our Lord told us, in effect, “Be rigid, as also your heavenly Father is rigid!”
The Christian Faith, by nature of Christ's teaching and the writers of the NT and by the Church's doctrine, is inherently rigid. Either you believe or you do not. Either you take Christ's words seriously, or you do not. Either you seek to embody those beliefs in your life, or you do not. There are really not a lot of "grey areas" in the Faith.
Sadly the Sisters marginalized themselves. Most fled teaching where they were highly visible and did so much good. Not a wise recruiting strategy. The abandonment of the habit and common living only hastened their demise. My late mother-in-law worked for a Catholic hospital and the sisters there (the few that were left in the hospital no longer wore even a veil) complained people didn't know who they were! My mother-in-law who had a wicked sense of humor suggested they put their pictures on the menu! They were not amused.
Father McDoald, perhaps I've misinterpreted your headline as I have read your post in light of Pope Francis' many comments about the Church having been ridged for far too may years..centuries.
But if you permit...
I would like to build upon my first response here with the following: I have been surprised during the past couple of years that the following from His Holiness Pope Francis hasn't garnered greater attention within the Church.
I believe that the following reveals a great deal about Pope Francis, his agenda, and demonstrates that his determination to reform the Church into a more merciful entity (at least he believes that greater mercy is required within the Church) is very much in line with his predecessors, beginning with Pope Venerable Pius XII.
During a December 2014 A.D. sermon, Pope Francis offered the following:
Pope Francis: Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart
Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast”:
“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water.
"But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true.
"When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! "No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’
"So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church.
"And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart.”
“This is the drama of these people,” and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism:"
1. Pope Francis referenced Pope Venerable Pius XII to, in effect, trace and justify his (Pope Francis) belief that rigidity had marked the Church.
2. The Faithful had been burdened by a very "heavy Cross" — that is, Holy Mother Church's Eucharistic Fast.
3. Traditional Catholic practices could/should be overturned.
4. A merciful Pope will work to eliminate "heavy Cross" Catholic practices that burden the Faithful.
5. A Pope who does so will be attacked and labeled a "heretic" by Pharisee-like Catholics.
It fairness to Pope Francis, when Pope Venerable Pius XII reformed the Traditional Eucharistic Fast, he (Pope Venerable Pius XII) insisted that the Church should conform to modern society.
Pope Venerable Pius XII made it clear that Traditional practices could very well become burdensome to Catholics as the result of modern societal conditions. Rigid Traditional practices must conform to modern society, rather than the other way around.
Therefore, to make the Church more merciful, Holy Tradition must give way to the times. If not, then the Church could become a Pharisee-like institution.
Pope Venerable Pius XII:
"It should nevertheless be noted that the times in which we live and their peculiar conditions have brought many modifications in the habits of society and in the activities of common life.
"Out of these there may arise serious difficulties which could keep men from partaking of the divine mysteries if the law of the Eucharistic fast is to be observed in the way in which it had to be observed up to the present time."
"Pope Venerable Pius XII made it clear that Traditional practices could very well become burdensome to Catholics as the result of modern societal conditions. Rigid Traditional practices must conform to modern society, rather than the other way around. Therefore, to make the Church more merciful, Holy Tradition must give way to the times. If not, then the Church could become a Pharisee-like institution."
In all pre-Vatican II mitigations of ecclesiastical tradition, such traditions (much less Holy Tradition, itself) were never characterized as "rigid," nor were such pastoral accommodations justified on the basis of a perceived need of ecclesial conformity to modern society in order to avoid legalism. Rather, all such alterations were for the benefit of helping the faithful partake more fruitfully and easily in the Church's sacraments and to aid the Church in her mission of spreading the message of salvation to the modern world. In fact, even in the 1953/1957 mitigation of the venerable Eucharistic Fast of the Latin Rite, Pope Pius XII encouraged the faithful who were able to do so, to continue to observe this fast, thus demonstrating a respect for traditions missing from modern churchmen. Clearly, to characterize pre-Vatican II mitigation of ecclesiastical discipline as an antidote to legalism mandated by modern society is incorrect and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the magisterium of our past pontiffs and the history of the Catholic Church, which was overwhelmingly characterized by a salvific zeal and piety missing from the modern purveyors of nastiness and emptiness, whose allergy to tradition is matched only by their zeal for decadence.
To seek commonality between churchmen who preached the message of salvation to the world, preserved unity of ecclesiastical discipline, and continually warned against the secularism of the modern age and churchmen who condemn all attempted conversions of non-Catholics, promote ambiguity and a breakdown of ecclesiastical discipline, and pervert the Mystical Body of Christ with worldly sentiment is to seek communion of Christ with Belial and deserves the same condemnation (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:15).
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