Some who comment on this blog have no historical recollection of what the Church was like prior to Vatican II, warts and all.
I think the greatest problem with the pre-Vatican II Church was its paternalism (a negative, I am not referring to being fatherly or motherly, which is a positive). This paternalism was placed on steroids in terms of authoritarian tendencies and to keep adult baptized Catholic child-like and by this I don’t mean having the faith of a child, in the positive sense as Jesus describes it, but stunting the growth of Catholics in terms of their relationship to the clergy both the higher and lower “archy” as well as the Religious.
What the pre-Vatican II Church did very well and the post Vatican II is a miserable failure was to build strong Catholics with a strong faith built upon the basics of the Catechism. In this country it was the Baltimore Catechism. The Liturgy and all the sacraments were no nonsense, not based upon the cult of the personality of the celebrant and there was uniformity in styles of celebration.
Thus there was uniformity, clarity and clear lines of authority when that authority was exercised in service to the Faith.
After Vatican II and overnight, a tightly run institution with a beautiful liturgy, sacramental system, doctrinal apologetic, discipline and culture developed over centuries starting with Jerusalem, then Europe and the rest of the world, collapsed.
The greatest sign of this collapse began with so many who left the priesthood and religious life only a few years after Vatican II and those who stayed sowed misery, crime, tragedy, victimization, confusion and dissension in parish life, corrupted parishes and built kingdoms on their personality alone, not the perennial magisterium of the Church.
As a result of this, parishes began to decline, laity’s commitment to the obligation of Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation waived and religious education in parishes was abysmal. Catholic schools once staffed by an abundant number of priests and religious became lay operated and the quality of Catholic identity suffered.
Vocations from normal parishes to both the priesthood and religious life which had been in abundance prior to Vatican II collapsed as well.
Today, the only groups in the Church providing vocations and with some sense of the Catholic culture and community and Catholic life are the new movements, Charismatics, Home Schoolers and the Traditional Latin Mass Communities/parishes.
As well, normal parishes with beautiful OF Masses, clear teaching and strong community are also providing vocations.
But your normal parish? Not at all.
What these new movements and traditional parishes which celebrate the new missal have in common is that they are more like pre-Vatican II parishes were and thus we see where growth in strong Catholicism occurs.
To deny this is to be like an ostrich with his head in the sand, or an aging hippie Catholic from the 60’s who desperately wants to return to the 1960’s and thinks that mentality will bring about the new springtime for the Church. But that barque has sailed, crashed and sunk and no matter what salvage action is taken it will not sail again but only sink again.
"After Vatican II and overnight, a tightly run institution with a beautiful liturgy, sacramental system, doctrinal apologetic, discipline and culture developed over centuries starting with Jerusalem, then Europe and the rest of the world, collapsed."
Only the historically unaware would suggest that such drastic changes 1) happened overnight, 2) were the direct result of the Second Vatican Council, or 3) were not influenced by the changes taking place in Western culture from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Lazy, Mediocre celebrants stuck in the 1970s? In denial how banal it is? Going through the motions?
FrMJK you don’t recall the 2960’s and your response proves it.
I have to agree with you Father about the Hyper-Paternalism of the Preconciliar Church. I was a child as it faded and a teenager when it crumbled.
But I know enough Catholics older than myself who have told me tales of a Church in which external observations were carried to extremes: "If you eat meat on Friday, IT'S A MORTAL SIN and you WILL go to HELL!" Priests, often very unworthy ones, were not questioned and their power and absolutism was often abused. Going through the motions (showing up for Mass, tuning out and/or praying the rosary) seemed more important than an actual relationship with God. Yes, I get it.
But what have we replaced it with? You've outlined a good bit of THAT already. I blame Vatican II's ambiguity and documented defiance for some of it, I blame the changes in western culture too, but instead of the Industrial Revolution, I put more culpability on the SEXUAL revolution. Holiness became something that was not only hard to attain, but too troublesome to even bother TRYING to attain.
So where does that leave us? If I had to choose between the first scenario and the second, I would, hands down, take the first. At least Catholics KNEW where they stood and the message was consistent. Today, you'll get a different answer to your questions from just about every priest and bishop you go to. The Church was supposed to be a bulwark against the world, the flesh and the Devil. Today, it almost seems like they're all partners.
Of course he does not recall but leftwing ideologues, often wrong, are never in doubt. I was around and the collapse unfolded rapidly. The promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae only made matters worse by adding “options” galore. Although the OF can be done in continuity with liturgical tradition, it seldom is, other than by younger priests like my pastor. This past Sunday he used the Roman Canon and the chants from the Missa de Angelis, beautiful Gothic style vestments and Benedictine arrangement. He also celebrates the EF so he is not crippled liturgically like most priests of the older generation. Unless you have studied the EF, you really do not know the Roman Rite.
Fr Kavanaugh, respectfully, only people without any sense of the timeless nature of The Church would view the 50 years hence as anything more than a short but terrible night. Furthermore, the Church and her leaders are assigned the mission to help the world through times of darkness. We cannot assign our failure of duty to the storm we are chartered to address.
This might seem off-topic, but I think it applies, albeit obliquely:
I am a huge fan of Coppola's film series The Godfather. Recently, a TV series about the difficulties and ironies of its production was released, aptly titled The Offer. The focus of the series is how producer Al Ruddy joined forces with Robert Evans, then the head of Paramount Studios and their struggle with the parent company, Gulf-Western and the participation of the mafia in clearing the path to using New York locations for shooting.
While it IS interesting, one rather troubling feature of the series is its gratuitous use of the "F" word. Once character in particular, Ruddy's French girlfriend, Francoise, seems to preface just about every clause she utters with "f_cking". The Ruddy character repeatedly uses the F word. So does the Robert Evans character, the executives at Gulf-Western and just about everybody else. In that respect, it is so over-the-top that I find myself cringing with embarrassment for the actors when I watch. (I get the same cringe when I see otherwise capable actors dressed up ridiculously like superheroes for the increasingly banal Marvel film series--how can they sell out like that?).
I am old enough to know that people have been using that unfortunate word for a long time. However, I am also old enough to know that it was NOT used THAT gratuitously. No, what I've witnessed watching the show was a kind of cultural revisionism. It goes like this: To excuse our bad behavior, we have to make the public think that it was ALWAYS this way.
I don't live in a fantasy. I know crude language has always been with us. However, anyone who lived in the 50's, 60's and 70's knows that its popular and accepted use grew exponentially as our society became more "tolerant" and less restrained. We see the same kind of revisionism in the historical dramas that show kings, queens and popes fornicating at every possible turn.
Our world IS less restrained than it used to be. People today behave worse and on a larger scale than people did in the past. While I cannot provide numbers to prove any of this, I would dare to say, a good bit of it can be traced to our compromises as a Church and our willingness to dumb down our liturgy to make it more palatable to the impatient.
rcg - I'm taking view much longer than the last 50 years. The historical horizon I use is about 2000 years back.
No one doubts that we, in the present age, have our struggles. Some would say "These are the worst of times" for the Church, but the point is debatable. That cry of catastrophe makes me think of those who, in every national election in the USA since I first voted in 1976, have opined, "The is the most important election in the history of the United States." Well, I have my doubts.
I think there have been more "moments" in our history that were far darker than the present age. We're not being hunted door to door as in the early days of Christianity, there are not three people cliaming to be pope, the papacy is still in Rome not on the Rhone River in the south of France.
Despite Fr. ALLAN McDonald's claim, the changes that came about after the Second Vatican Council were not "overnight" changes. The process of thinking that gave rise to many of them was unfolding three or even four generations prior to the Council. Beginning forty years before the Council, John XXIII served as nuncio in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece, where he encountered Orthodox Christians and Muslims in daily life. That was the groundwork for the change in the approach of the Church to other Christians and to non-Christian religions.
While the changes may seem "sudden," they were not.
I don't know what the frequencey of use of the F-Word was like in Mafia circles in any era, thanks be to God. But I suspect it was heard far more frequently than inside the family than outside.
If you are a fan of car crash videos on YouTube, you will find that the British, Australians, and Russians are the most inclined to use the F-Word, along with a host of other equally vile expletives, in their reactions to crashes.
Of course Father McDonald is correct about the suddeness of the "reforms."
Was the Mass in the vernacular in the Latin Rite in the US prior to the Council? no. Except in rare instances, did the priest face versus populum prior to the Council in the US? no. Did Catholics in the US prior to the Council receive Holy Communnion standing and in the hand? no. If you do not view these as sudden and consequential, then I want to have what you are smoking. To equate what Pius X or Pius XII did in terms of the Liturgy to what occured under Paul VI's pontificate is intellectually dishonest. Moreover, St. John XXIII on the eve of the Council issued Veterum Sapientia which was intended to bolster, not diminish the use of Latin. Pius X envisioned congregations singing the Latin chants at Mass, not Kumbaya. The Church in the US is in very serious condition, and none of the so-called reforms, including the OF, have done the job of inspiring Catholics. What they have done has driven millions away. I guess for some, that is a feature, not a bug.
TJM, exactly. Maybe the new liturgical movement of the early 1900's foresaw some of this or discussed it, but it was a very highly clericalized/academic discussion amongst theologians and some bishop-theologians. No lay person knew of any of it.
As I recall, vividly,the majority of Catholics went along with the changes in the 1960's out of obedience. Most did not like the changes, except for maybe the vernacular. The only ones who like the changes were the young people of that period, who are the old people of today. And they haven't changed.
I recommend "Mass of the Ages" Episodes 1 and 2. You can find this on YouTube. It is very informative and eye opening. It really highlights a lot of what Fr. McDonald calls out regularly in this blog
You are spot on. It is hard for me to understand how someone who was probably 3 or 4 at the time of the changes has such a vivid recollection. I recall that the people most excited about the “reforms” were in their 20s or 30s. They have not evolved for the most part. Since I was trained to use the Missal and Kyriale I was not enamored with the “reforms.”
I see our resident "expert" has fled the conversation, no doubt looking for his diary cataloguing his observations at 3 or 4
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