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Vatican II: The Yes and the No Print E-mail
By Robert Royal   
Monday, 15 October 2012

During Richard Nixon’s 1971 visit to China, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the French Revolution (1789). He reportedly said: “It is too soon to say.”

Many thought this an amusing expression of millennial, oriental perspectives – though several China experts say the interpreter badly flubbed things and Zhou (a tough modern Communist, after all, not a Confucian scholar) was referring to recent student rebellions in Paris (1968).

Some Catholic commentators have tried to hedge their views on the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) with a similar caveat. In the long perspectives of the Church, they say, it’s too soon to say what it will ultimately mean.

This past Friday, the Church “celebrated” the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Council and opened the Year of Faith, even as it had just been engaged in a Synod on the New Evangelization – a New Evangelization necessitated, in part, by some of the negative consequences of the Council.

A half-century into the mission, it’s clear that the long-term argument is a distraction. The Council’s primary importance, for good and bad – and there was a lot of both – was what it did during the last third of the twentieth century.

The long-term impact will depend on what present and future Catholics do with the Council – hence the Synod and other measures.

In many ways, the search for the True Meaning of Vatican II is a lot like the “search for the historical Jesus.” Much depends on the assumptions, especially the unconscious ones, you bring to the task, which cannot be carried out with merely historical or analytical methods anyway.

The texts, important as they are, notably fail to convince people who think that the “spirit,” not the letter, is the Council’s real meaning. John Paul II already had to convene a Synod of Bishops in 1985, which declared that spirit and letter should not be set against each other, and that Vatican II had to be interpreted in continuity with tradition and the earlier councils.

But you’d have to be virtually brain dead not to know that, almost thirty years later, these are still very live issues in the Church. In the state of Washington at the moment, sixty-three ex-priests are publicly opposing the Church’s attempt to stop the legalization of gay marriage with a classic post-conciliar argument: it violates Jesus’ welcoming embrace of all.

For many Catholics, here and around the world, the main effect of the Council is still to have reduced Christianity to this sort of simplistic monomania.

I was in Rome last week and there was a lot of enthusiasm about the New Evangelization, as there should be, but also much unacknowledged nervousness. The bishops at the synod said some incisive and, occasionally, profound things. But talk is easy. Action, in our circumstances, much harder. And only vigorous action will bring the legacy of the Council into a different course.


           Fr. Joseph Ratzinger with Fr. Yves Congar at the time of Vatican II

The great theologian Henri de Lubac, S.J., one of the inspirations of the Council, warned after the event, “The Yes said wholeheartedly to the Council and to all its legitimate consequences must, in order to remain consistent and sincere, be coupled with a No that is just as resolute to a certain type of exploitation that is, in fact, a perversion of it.”

La nouvelle théologie brought a lot to the Church. Not only de Lubac, but Congar, Chenu, Daniélou, Boyer, von Balthasar, and others discovered something really valuable in the tradition.

It was no small thing that, at the height of its powers in the twentieth century, the Roman Catholic Church in solemn synod put forward the universal call for holiness, an increased emphasis on the role of the laity in the world, and the vision for a more pastoral and communitarian Church, rather than a juridical one.

And all of it – as Pope John XXIII intended in convening the Council – was to supplement settled Catholic theological and moral teaching and make it more effective in engaging the world. Joseph Ratzinger, a sharp observer even as a young man, remarked at the time that two early tasks of the Council were: to dispel the notion that everything was fine in the Church and to overcome an “anti-Modernist neurosis.”

The Council certainly did both. But those who warned about where the new course would take us – and who were and are often mocked as hopeless reactionaries – were right in their dire predictions.

Specifically, the recognition that the Church needed to be a less legalistic and more pastoral community led many to think that rules were per se a sign of lack of charity. But as I’ve often said, trying to be pastoral without knowing concretely what helping people means, is like being a doctor with a good bedside manner – who is ignorant of medicine.

And the Church’s “opening to the world” was often taken to mean not only that an excessive wariness about modernity was to be jettisoned, but that modernity itself was to become the standard by which to judge things in a supposedly “mature” and engaged Church.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI have cleaned up a lot of the mess, but a lot more remains, as the Synod deliberations well show. Much of the New Evangelization is aimed at formerly Christian societies  

Benedict held a meeting Friday for the surviving bishops who had been participants in the Council, at which he virtually summed up the experience of the last fifty years: “The Council was a time of grace in which the Holy Spirit taught us that the Church, in her journey in history, must always speak to contemporary man, but this can only happen through the strength of those who are profoundly rooted in God, who allow themselves to be guided by Him and live their faith with purity; it does not happen with those who adapt themselves to the passing moment, those who choose the most comfortable way.”


Robert Royal
is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is
The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, now available in paperback from Encounter Books.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (46)Add Comment
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written by petebrown, October 15, 2012
Bob writes:

The Council’s primary importance, for good and bad – and there was a lot of both – was what it did during the last third of the twentieth century.

me: I guess I'm with the Confucians on this one, Bob. Often with Councils one does have to take the long view. Could we have judged Trent 50 years out? and If we have tried what would we have said--not knowing that Spanish power was about to decline precipitously and the ravages of the thirty years war had yet to occur? I think the assumption for the prospects of the Church in Europe then would have been far far more optimistic than what ended up happening. SO maybe were making the opposite error here.

With Vatican II, I've often wondered what might have happened had the council happened 10 years earlier than it had or 20 years later. In either case, the Vatican II would have occurred in a comparatively halcyon era wherein the changes could have been assimilated much more easily. What I think happened in part is that alot of pretty moderate reforms and changes, that in most cases were about restoring the ancient roots of the Church, got taken up into the vast cultural changes in the West in the late 60's and 70's. And so when one talks about "the changes of Vatican II" one almost has to attach an asterisk to it since many of the changes really are best filed under the heading "Western cultural trends" than "things the Church formally chose to do differently post 1965."

I can't help but think that in another generation or two with hardly anyone old enough to remember before the council and the turbulence after the council--and a US Church heavily comprised of ethnically Hispanic, Asian and African populations who never knew that there was ever a "crisis of Vatican II" anyway-- that few really will think to consider the council a mixed blessing. The idea of vernacular liturgies, moderate Biblical criticism, theological diversity beyond scholasticism and dialogue with other religions will be seen as a given, as indeed they already are.

In other words, I would ask how much of post- conciliar fallout would you classify as permanent negative fallout due to the council itself and how much will turn out to be things more contingent on the decline of Western culture--(which are more than being offset by growth of the Church in Asia and Africa)? Even forgetting that cultural declines sometimes are reversed!

In any event, thanks for the interesting and provocative piece.

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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, October 15, 2012
The “anti-Modernist neurosis” really was a serious problem.

Genuine concern over Modernism (which was rather a coterie or clique, than a movement) led to a deep and damaging distrust of mystical theology. One recalls the suspicion aroused by the monumental works of Abbé Bremond, which were based on an unrivalled knowledge of mystical writings and whose work on poetry, symbolism and romanticism earned him election to the Académie française and a eulogy from the French Symbolist poet, Paul Valéry. Even the works of the two great English Benedictine scholars, Abbot Chapman of Downside and Dom Cuthbert Butler, whose “Western Mysticism” inspired the production of reliable editions of the Rheinish mystics, Tauler and Ruysbroeck, and of the English mystics, “The Cloud of Unknowing,” Walter Hilton’s works and Julian of Norwich, were viewed with uneasiness.

Perhaps, the legacy of the Council will be the revival of a genuine theology of the interior life, of how the spirit of man is enabled, by the Spirit of his Creator, to know and to love the supreme and uncaused Act, the pure and endless Being, who has revealed Himself as saving Love.
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, October 15, 2012
The impact of the Council will be determined to a great extent by the kind of bishops Rome gives the Church into the future. We have a clear idea of the kind of bishops given the Church from the period say between 1965 - 2000. We can now look back and view the Church during that period.

Let's now look to the period 2000 - 2035 and see what kind of bishops the Church is given and whether and how the Church and the impact of the Council will be different. We will see what fruit the New Evangelization bears by the bishops who govern the Church.
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written by Jack,CT, October 15, 2012
Great read Mr Royal,Much enjoyed.
Jack
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written by Willie, October 15, 2012
Since Vatican II priests and nuns have left the Church in droves. Church attendance has declined. The sacrament on Reconciliation has become obsolete. The Church is steeped in sex scandals and post Modernism and moral relativism seem to rule the conscience. Perhaps it is not fair to relate some or all of these events to Vatican II but it seems to me that some very liberal interpretations of the Council have allowed the human conscience to trump the truth. The sense of sin has been lost and our appreciation of the sacrifice of Divine Savior is muffled. Indeed it is not to early to tell!!! It is time for a new Evangelization.
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written by Manfred, October 15, 2012
Great article, Dr. Royal! At the risk of sounding a Johnny one-note, I believe the problems of the last fifty years are systemic. In 2000, the Vatican released what it described as the Third Secret of Fatima. It described a "bishop in white" which was determined to be the Pope, climbing a hill on which hundreds of priests, religious and laity were dying as they were being shot by soldiers. When the Pope reached the crown of the hill on which stood a large cross which he embraced, he too was shot and killed.Sec of State Cdl Bertone explained the vision as the attempt on JP II 1981 and as the Blessed Mother had saved his life, we could consider Fatima as being in the past. Catholic reporters jumped up and insisted this explanation had to be false as in the attempt in 1981, nobody had died! Pope Benedict subsequently has come out and said THAT THE MESSAGE OF FATIMA CONCERNS THE FUTURE. Now this is basic. We are not discussing short term or long term effects here. The Secret has never been released in its entirety and every Catholic in the world should be demanding its release. As more time elapses since 1960 (the year the Secret was to be released by) the only conclusion can be that the Church is indeed in the hands of a cabal of Satanic imposters intent on destroying the Church Christ founded. If I cannot trust the government of the Church to release all pertinent documents on this subject, why would I trust anything about a suspect council which has been nothing but a nuisance since it occurred. (Read: The Rhine Flows into The Tiber).
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written by Robert Royal, October 15, 2012
Pete, as usual you raise good questions. I would agree with much of what you say, but I think you partly misunderstand my main contention.

Yes, it's hard to evaluate the effects of a council after "only" 50 years in an institution like the Catholic Church. But we who have lived through the usual post-conciliar turmoil in an information-rich age have a special perspective.

We can see more clearly than in the past that certain reforms may have been needed and mandated, but that the process that follows is more than "implementation" or the working out of conciliar themes. It's the action of a living Church and I'd like to suggest that it may help to see this as something different from "implementation" and worthy to be recognized in its own right.

Specifically at Vatican II, a great deal that the Church wanted to respond to actually found its way into the Church, as in Paul VI's famous remark about the "smoke of Satan" that was troubling Catholicity. For me this points to the fact that something other, a different phase than the strictly "conciliar," has been under way in a Church still showing signs of vitality.

But I am less sanguine than you are that two generations after, things will be different. We're already two generations after the Council. Will Georgetown be Catholic again two generations from now? And Georgetown is not the only problem that's now become institutionalized and will remain a troubling sore spot.

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written by Achilles, October 15, 2012
Manfred, your conclusion is as myopic and absurd as many of your comments regarding Vatican II. I think St. Francis De Sales answers you succinctly.


"Take heed not to foster thy own judgment, for, without doubt, it will inebriate thee; as there is no difference between an intoxicated man and one full of his own opinion, and one is no more capable of reasoning than the other."

-- St. Francis de Sales

Could you possibly imagine that outside of the magisterium of Manfred that there could be things in and from Vatican II that are not a nuisence? I think you sow seed is discord, unless you are right and the sky has really fallen.
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written by Achilles, October 15, 2012
At the risk of sounding intoxicated by my own opinion, I put it out there that I am more distrustful of modernism than Dr. Royal might suggest is prudent. Though the Church must speak to contemporary man, relying in any way on the false anthropology of the modernists seems a compromise with the world that is impossible.
There is great comfort and solace in the deeply rooted words of the Church Doctors as they reflect the Gospel message and it seems to me that to stray from them is a mistake. Any innovations or even variations that infect Christ’s message coming from modernist philosophy seems little better than poison.
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written by Grump, October 15, 2012
Bob, switching from Latin to the vernacular and trying to be more "modern" and "worldly" are reasons why many ex-Catholics, including me, fell away. Although the Church hasn't ceded much ground on dogma, image-wise it has suffered in the wake of the sex scandals and other missteps. Perception is reality. It's only a matter of time before a liberal third-world pope is elected and leads the Church toward secularism.
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written by Jacob r, October 15, 2012
Great article!

When one can go to a Catholic Church and distinguish from a Susan G. Kolman charity meet we'll be on the road back to sanity!
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written by Sean, October 15, 2012
The clerics in charge of the Church today are the largely ones who introduced the innovations of V2. Just as the generation of clerics in charge of the Church at the time of Luther et. al. had to die off before real reform could begin in earnest, the modernist clerics who were reckless in their administration for the past five decades will need to go to their just reward before the train wreck of V2 can begin to be corrected.
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written by Howard Kainz, October 15, 2012
Ralph McInerny in "What went wrong with Vatican II" points to the encyclical on contraception as the breaking point: "Dissenting theologians have told the faithful that, according to Vatican II, they may safely ignore the Pope as moral teacher and may follow their own consciences, formed according to advice the dissenters are giving. In doing this, dissenting theologians have precipitated a crisis. They have whipsawed ordinary Catholics between competing authorities and have done untold damage to the Church. Sine 1968, Catholics have been repeatedly asked to choose between dissenting theologians and the Tradition of the Catholic Church.... The choice is not between arguments. The choice is between authorities."
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written by Achilles, October 15, 2012
The early morning and rushed writing had me err and I of course meant to write that it seems that Manfred sows the seeds of discord. I am thinking of his insults to the last two Holy Fathers, and particularly of John Paul II. He kissed the Koran, and on its appearance it certainly does seem troubling, but Christ tells us to “judge righteous judgment, not by appearances”. I admit I don’t understand, but I also do not understand how his assassin became a convert.
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written by G.K. Thursday, October 15, 2012
Whoa! Calm down and take a moment to gain composure: recall the words of Jesus in the Gospel, "But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming." (John 16:13) and "Jesus said to him in reply, 'you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:18-19)

Whatever the negatives of the Second Vatican Council, we know that God will use it to good for the Church. Achilles is correct that we should not oppose our opinion to the Roman Catholic Church's Magisterium, thinking that we are wiser than it. Especially if someone tells us that St. Mary or some other saint wants us to oppose the Church. Ask yourself, how would that be possible? The RC Church has been promised by Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit will guide it to truth through the teaching of the Apostles, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Why would any Saint advise someone to oppose the RC Magisterium? It seems to me that a mentality of Protestantism, which has espoused the right of personal judgment to trump all doctrine and tradition from Luther onward, is behind such moves. If you want to be a Roman Catholic and life in the promises of Christ, then follow the teaching of the Magisterium in its fullness. If you want to follow your own personal judgment, and gather teachers to yourself whom teach against the Magisterium, go and do it. But then don't claim to be Roman Catholic.

I agree with Robert Royal as he summarizes his piece with the quote from Pope Benedict. It bears repeating: “The Council was a time of grace in which the Holy Spirit taught us that the Church, in her journey in history, must always speak to contemporary man, but this can only happen through the strength of those who are profoundly rooted in God, who allow themselves to be guided by Him and live their faith with purity; it does not happen with those who adapt themselves to the passing moment, those who choose the most comfortable way.”
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written by Manfred, October 15, 2012
Post script: Howard Kainz is spot on. One need look no further than the Vice Presidential debate between two Catholics last Thursday evening when they were both asked how their Catholic faith had impacted their lives and it has affected their position on abortion. Joe Biden stated clearly that he believed that human life began at conception but then stated he would never impose his beliefs if someone wanted to take that human life. That has been the Left's "catholic" ethos for forty years.
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written by Brennan, October 15, 2012
It is difficult to see the actual fruits of Vatican II as anything other than really poor. The criticism of the Church prior to Vatican II was that the members were simply "pray, pay, and obey" sheep. And now we can only wish for those heights of sanctity from our laity.

And really, did it not occur to anyone prior to Vatican II that the laity were supposed to become holy? Were there no avenues in place, whether retreats, books, parish devotions, etc. that were meant to increase the sanctity of laypeople? And what do we have now?

It seems as if all the lofty goals of Vatican II, a reinvigorated Church, greater sanctity of the laity, greater evangelisation, etc. have been met with the opposite results. And we are, for the most part, stuck with a liturgy which is simply banal.

God bless the efforts of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, but much of it seems to be (necessary) damage control.
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written by Graham Combs, October 15, 2012
It is one thing to be demographied by politicians, marketers, human resource managers, and admissions officers, but to be demographied by the Church is a mistake. What assurance does petebrown have that Asian Catholics for example will be a bulwark against abortion and same-sex marriage? Here in America I see no such consistency of fidelity. Hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants filled the streets of Los Angeles carrying professional signs with uniform messages (A PERSON CANNOT BE ILLEGAL being the most incoherent) provided by pro-choice unions. Have they been equally vigorous in their opposition to the HHS mandate or have they negotiated their faith in the manner of some bishops, priests, religious and a vast number of upper middle class Catholics?

In Asia so-called sex-selected abortions are estimated at 160 million female unborn. Will Catholic Asians default to Church's teachings not only on the sanctity of human life but the worth of individual life as well, male and female?

Only last week people were making much of women's negative reaction to Vice Pres. Biden's thuggish behavior during the debate. Yet in the 1990s women voted for Clinton despite the numerous scandals and his own tendency to bully and lie. And women are no more the ally of the unborn than men and no more likely to question the Administration policies aimed at institutionalizing abortion beyond any extrication.

As it happens from the Church in Asia have arisen remarkable leaders, including Cardinal Sin of the Philipines, Cardinal Kim of South Korea, and Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong. We can rail against the hierarchy but Catholics need leadership like everyone else. Looking for a demographic fix to the problems that surround the Church in the English-speaking world seems simplistic. And it ignores the American influence almost everywhere. Only last year over six nations explicitly or implicitly petitioned the United States Navy not to leave the Pacific. Guess why? As for immigration, even Mississippi has a Chinese community well over 100 years old. Asians have thrived here, like the Church herself.

Doctrine matters. Rule of law matters. Principles matter. Living the Faith matters. If they didn't, America would be as pale and inbred as the American Association of University Professors or your average publishing house.
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written by John Sobieski, October 15, 2012
If you can judge a tree by its fruits, the Second Vatican Council is a complete and utter failure. And if Cardinal Dolan's appearance with comedian Stephen Colbert is representative of what the so-called New Evangelization aspires to be, it too will be a dud. I've seen very little substance in the New Evangelization thus far. Just seems like a new set of pom-poms dressing up the same lame Vatican II cheer-leading.
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written by DS, October 15, 2012
When I hear of wistful remembrances of the pre-Council church, I have to remind myself of a few things. First, God willed us all to live now, in today's Church, and Jesus is as present with us today as he was with our forebears back in, say, 1952. So if there is work to be done (whether healing the church, praying for the unborn, feeding the hungry, getting our parishes to sing during Mass....) let's stop whining and get to it.

Second, there are very real things to thank Vatican II for:

- The Roman Catholic Church actually lives up to its name. It is no longer defined primarily by being curial or Roman or Italian or European. It is truly catholic. At the next conclave, Pope Arinze or Pope Dolan are real possibilities.
- The openness of the Church (and specifically the papacy) and the engagement with the world has produced tangible results. Would the iron curtain have fallen peacefully without JP-II's 1979 trip to Poland?
- Jews are no longer accused of perfidy.
- Hard ecumenical work has borne real fruit and non-Catholic Christians are no longer demonized (there's enough of that going on inside the RCC)

I would also take slight issue with the good deacon's comment about bishops. It is too narrow a measure. Vatican II taught us (or, more accurately, reminded us) that the Church is the entire people of God. So the legacy of the Council is up to all of us.
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written by Michael, October 15, 2012
Mr. Royal's comment about Georgetown makes me wonder: Why isn't Georgetown Catholic already? I agree that the University doesn't appear to be Catholic. When I think of what Georgetown stands for, I think it is roughly the same as the modern Democratic Party platform. But why is this so? Shouldn't the Jesuits be teaching the same thing that we hear from Benedict XVI? How do they justify winking at certain teachings?

Also, it seems that any "new evangelization" is doomed to fail if the Church cannot get its leaders (bishops, priests, religious orders) to be obedient in proclaiming the whole Catholic faith.
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written by Da, October 15, 2012
I guess the acid test of the Council will be the success, or the failure, of the New Evangelization, to which we are all committed. How we long for a coherent presentation of the Faith by all the bishops of the Church. How we need a re-affirmation moral theology. After Trent we saw the Counter-Reformation. We still await its homologue in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Europe and the West are if anything further from the Faith than before. It is time to fast, and pray, to convert, and to share with others our confidence that despite the current crisis, grace will triumph and souls will attain to glory.
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written by Maggie Louise, October 15, 2012
From Mr. Grump: "switching from Latin to the vernacular and trying to be more "modern" and "worldly" are reasons why many ex-Catholics, including me, "

From Brennan: "And we are, for the most part, stuck with a liturgy which is simply banal."

Until recently, I would have disagreed with both of the above statements. Then, our parish had four consecutive days of the Latin Tridentine Rite. It was so beautiful, so profound. It was an experience of pure worship. And the silence was . . . I can hardly describe it. I had had a few experiences of this rite before, but they were isolated, and I was confused a good bit of the time.

This time, there were four straight days and I was becoming more familiar with the rite and I could follow those beautiful prayers in the book. There were no lay people invading the sacred space to mumble and use a hatchet on the names of places and people in the Bible, no silly hymns, no talk, talk, talk, no waving across the room, no 1960's peace signs waving in the air, no "banal" prayers and intercessions. It was, indeed, heaven on earth.

And, on the fifth day, there it was again: the Novus Ordo, the banal prayers, the unrelenting organ music filling every moment when someone wasn't talking, the loud hymns, the continuous chatter, the inaudible scripture, some lay person parading up the aisle to the sanctuary, the continuous noise, noise, noise, the bad grammar in N.O. that makes me want to scream every time I hear it. The peace signs waving in the air, and people still turning around and waving well into the Agnus Dei. I wanted to shout, "Will you all please shut up!!" No silence. No contemplation. No lifting one's heart to heaven. Only noise and performance and activity from one direction or another.

In the weeks since those four heavenly Masses, I have come close to staying away altogether--and I have on many a weekday. I force myself on a Sunday. It is just too painful. Now I understand how Mr. Grump and the legions like him feel.

Our parish priest works very hard. He is a most priestly priest, is faithful, orthodox, fully obedient to the Faith and Tradition. There is no more priestly priest than he. The music is excellent--just too much of it when none is needed. It is the best Mass in the vicinity of 500 miles, of that I have no doubt. But the banality, the dumbing down, the ceaseless commotion, the noise, the busy-ness are all built in, and there is no getting around it.

Another blog says, "Save the liturgy, save the world". I have found out how true those words are. At this point, I am on the edge of losing my soul, let alone the world.

I guess we have Vatican II to thank for all this, and Pope Benedict to thank for those rare moments of sublime transcendence that I have experienced in the Latin Mass.



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written by Maggie Louise, October 15, 2012
@ DS: "So the legacy of the Council is up to all of us."

I shudder to think, given the less-than-adequate catechesis of the average Sunday morning (or worse, Saturday evening) Catholic in the pew.
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written by Manfred, October 15, 2012
Hold the presses! Over the last three days beginning Friday there has been a Eucharistic Congress held at the PNC Center in New Jersey. It was led by David O'Connell, the bishop of Trenton and former ten year president of Catholic U. There were 8,000 Catholic students there on Friday and 4,000 adults on Saturday and Sunday each. What was noteworthy was there was a Eucharistic Procession which began with Pange Lingua being sung, Bishop O'Connell presided, only priests distributed Communion, there were no female altar servers and, if you wished to receive Communion from Bishop O'Connell, there was a prie-dieu just outside the Sanctuary where one was to kneel AND RECEIVE ON THE TONGUE. I was told that a no-nonsense priest who served for ten years as an Episcopal priest, remained celibate, and converted to Catholicism a few years ago, was chosen by the Bishop as the head of religious education for the diocese of Trenton schools.This priest immediately reached out to an order of Sisters in Red Bank and one of them IN FULL HABIT is the director of outside the Catholic schools religious education, i.e., RCIA, CCD,etc. People who were there said they felt like Rip Van Winkle rising after a fifty year slumber. Abp Jone Myers attended yesterday.
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written by DS, October 15, 2012
To Maggie Louise, don't interpret my comment to mean that the Council is what each of us decides to make of it. Rather, it is the entire church - bishops, priests, deacons, religious, laity - taking responsibility and living fully into the Christian life to which we are called. So if catechesis is a problem, make the shortcoming known vocally to your priest of bishop, or take it upon yourself to get trained, or if your means allow, hire a catechist to help you (I know of a family that cut back on leisure expenses to do this.)
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written by Maggie Louise, October 15, 2012
Dear DS,
Thank you for your explanation. I assumed all that you said. Our parish has an excellent religious education program--probably the best one around, and most of the instructors are young and well catechized. But we are a small parish in an out-of-the-way rural area. I realize that that doesn't limit the extent to which their influence can extend, but, even so . . . In an obscure region of a deep blue state, there is only so much that a person can do. It was a lot easier for St. Paul to take up the subject of the "Unknown God" to a religious people than to try to preach to a society whose response is "Been there, done that."

In my years as a Catholic, I have relied exclusively on the excellent reading material that is being published these days--especially the old stuff. I don't attend any adult religious ed. class for which the instructor has no credentials or the authority to say to someone, "You are mistaken." Previous experiences proved that they were mostly "pooling ignorance" sessions.

At almost 80, I will continue to rely on the printed word (Fr. Schall, for example, and others like him. I love Belloc, and one J. Ratzinger is my favorite) as long as the eyesight holds out. Speaking of J. Ratzinger, I heard an FSSP priest quote from his book "Feast of Faith" about the profound and spiritually beneficial effects of silence in the Mass--one of my favorite themes. It is next on my list. But first, I will try to get through "The Brothers Karamozof" because it is time for some fiction. Even there I found the best description of modern society given by The Grand Inquisitor. And he was right on target talking about many Catholics: 'Men do not so much seek God as they seek miracles." I have found this to be true. Most Catholics I have known can go on at length about miracles but don't have much to say about the Faith. Reading Scripture, I don't find the Apostles preaching about miracles as much as they preach about God and His Son. That should be our model.





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written by Alecto, October 16, 2012
I happened to hear Hugh Hewitt's address at the Napa Institute. To be in the world, but not of it, should be the focus of every Catholic. It feels new to hear this as well as how to achieve that (no small feat).

At the same Napa Institute conference, Cardinal Chaput stated that this is not our home, something we know but don't hear very often. Why was it necessary to disown 2000 years of tradition to bow down to a world that is nothing more than an illusion? Why the need through Vatican II to make Catholics more comfortable in it, then? So much of modern Catholicism is so gentle, so soft, like pudding, that it makes excuses for us when it should be reminding us to repent, and prepare ourselves for our real home with God.
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written by Alecto, October 16, 2012
One more thought about Vatican II. Could the music be any worse? I am ashamed to admit that sometimes I just can't take any more of, "Jesus, yeah, he loves me, yeah, lifting me up on eagle's wings and raising me up, blah, blah, blah," and I have to leave. Don't we all belong to the one institution that has the richest musical tradition in the world? Wouldn't silence be more appropriate than the fifth-rate beginning guitar chorus?

The words the happy say
Are paltry melody
But those the silent feel
Are beautiful -

Ah, Emily, the wondrous beauty of silence is golden.
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written by Louise, October 16, 2012
Whenever i am disturbed by things that seem awry in the Sacred Liturgy such as non liturgical music, etc...I have a little way of coping. I picture what the Crucifixion must have been like - the gambling beneath the Cross, the curses, the blaspheming, and I offer what is currently disturbing me as reparation. Truly God deserves better but until we get it we can continue to acccompany Him in the poverty of the surroundings. True, sometimes the Mass today is the re-presentation of the Saving Mysteries in a distressing disguise, but even in that distressing disguise it is still more precious than anything in this world!
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written by Alecto, October 16, 2012
@Louise, you humble me. Of course yours is the appropriate response, thank you for showing me the way.
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written by Templar, October 16, 2012
The French Revolution was the direct result of the French Kings' rejection of the alliance proposed to them by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, made to them one hundred years earlier. Vatican II was also a revolution and was the direct result of the Papal Monarch's refusal of the proposal made to them at Fatima by Our Lady of the Rosary. "God wishes to establish in the world, devotion to My Immaculate Heart." With these words, Our Lady of the Rosary gave the Popes a choice, "If what I say to you is done there will be peace. If not..." We have experienced the "if not" since 1965. It's all there is St Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 2. The rebellion, the chastisement from God, "He who restrains is taken away" (The Holy Ghost) and the remedy, "Therefore stand fast and hold to tradition."

The Year of Faith is doomed to failure, unless the Holy Father decides to totally reverse the course the Church has taken since 1965 by restoring the ancient liturgy and establishing devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world.
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written by Brad Miner, October 16, 2012
@Templar: I wonder . . . would you acknowledge that Benedict XVI has already restored the "ancient liturgy"? In most seminaries now, students are once again studying Latin, and there is no barrier to saying the Tridentine Mass anywhere. But it was also Cdl. Ratzinger who wrote that it was necessary for the "wall of Latinity" to fall. Of course, he never meant to suggest that Latin shouldn't be a option, but he knew that understanding of and participation by the laity in the Mass is essential. He is engaged (and has been since becoming pope) in the reform of the reform. That there was a revolution is beyond dispute, but that revolution is being made null. Now we have true reform. As Chesterton wrote (and I paraphrase): Reform implies form. Reasonable and determined men know that form: a thing is out of shape and we mean to put it back in shape. And we know the shape.
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written by Louise, October 16, 2012
@Alecto, thank you, but i'm not trying to humble you only encourage you and the others who are discouraged by the persistent problems...I hope it helps. I've never been tempted not to assist at Mass; I assume i am not up to the temptation and thus God has spared me from it!
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written by Maggie Louise, October 16, 2012
Dear Louise,

We do have the same reaction when disturbed by something in the liturgy. Under the constant barrage of loud hymns or interludes of organ vibrations, my thought often turn to the Passion of our Lord and try to walk with Him. I think that, one of the most difficult things to endure from the moment of His arrest until He bowed His head in death must have been the constant noise of the crowds and the chaos, the comings and goings, the helplessness in the midst of constant confusion and motion, the chatter, the shouting, the noise, noise, noise, when He was a man who spent so much time in the quiet of the desert, on the mountainside, in silence and in prayer. I'm sure that the enemy created as much chaos around Him as he could gather, because chaos is his milieux. Also, how did our Lord know that the disciples were not praying while He suffered His agony in the garden? Obviously, they must have been making noise, some snoring in sleep, some in boisterous laughter and conversation. Noise, noise, noise.

So, I do exactly as you describe. The question is, should every Mass be a penance without a moment for silent worship? Are worship and penance the same thing? Maybe they are. I sometimes approach the church door thinking exactly that, knowing that, when I exit that door, my ears will be ringing, my nerves will be vibrating with the tremolo of the base notes of the organ, and my head will be aching. It's not that the music is bad--it is actually very good, it is that it fills every last moment that is not otherwise taken up by priest, lectors, peace signs, etc. Every thing about the Mass is very good, as good as the N.O. allows. Sometimes, I just sit there and stare up at the high altar and, in my mind's eye, see the priest, hands raised, ad orientem, and pretend.





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written by Templar, October 17, 2012
@Brad Miner: The liturgical restoration you refer to, is part of a larger plan to combine the Traditional Latin Mass, with the Novus Ordo, into a common rite. As a practical matter, most Bishops are hostile to the idea of a return to tradition. The vast majority of Catholics have not experienced the silence, the reverence and the transcendence of a TLM.

The current spiritual crisis needs a spiritual cure, Catholics worldwide praying the rosary daily while getting acquainted with the "Apostolic" faith, by attending a Traditional Latin Mass.
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written by Louise, October 17, 2012
@Maggie Louise, fellow woman warrior, I am glad that we have hit on the same solution; it is a gift from God no doubt.
Have you ever discussed it with your pastor? The rubrics promote periods of silence and that is one of the things that was emphasized with the new changes.
I'm not suggesting that we can't try to improve things but it is a delicate thing and it takes the wisdom of Solomon to figure out the best approach. I just did an online search for "silence in the liturgy" and found some excellent resources.
In my case it is more retro=we still have "all guitars all the time" and that soppy music that Alecto references.
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written by Maggie Louise, October 17, 2012
Dear Louise,

Given the choice between your cross and mine, I'll take mine in a heartbeat. Guitars are just more than a soul should have to bear.

We have a fine, fine pastor, and he works very hard. He takes his day off once a week, but not until after he has celebrated morning Mass. We have 40-hour devotions every year. Midnight Mass is at midnight. Confessions are heard before every (yes, every) Mass, every day except Christmas Day and Easter. He is in the church every day at 3:00 praying his breviary. There are no altar girls, nor women as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Nobody give the homily except him or a visiting priest. He is a dear and holy man, and handles all the problems of many constituencies in the parish. And he did open his heart and his parish to the FSSP for four days last summer, which, strangely enough, was the start of all my problems--but I don't want to add to his.

Sounds as if I have nothing to complain about, doesn't it. And maybe I don't. Although a little silence would be so nice, Solomon I'm not. Templar is right. It is only the experience of God in the TLM--the experience of heaven on earth--that will save the Church, I think.
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written by Alecto, October 17, 2012
@Maggie Louise, there's a cure for post-mass tinnitus, it's called Beethoven, Schubert, and Mozart. They all wrote music for masses which I only hear on WETA's Vivalavoce! If that isn't irony, what is?
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written by Bob Rowland, October 17, 2012
Henri de Lubac's New Theology was recognized as resurgent modernism and was denounced as "fslse opinions" by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis. Yet it became the foundation of the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council. Popes have continually taught that the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (Scholasticism) is the irreplaceable basis for Catholic teaching – the remedy for the modernism that seems to have invaded the Church through VCII. I will go to the grave believing the Second Vatican Council was the greatest tragedy in my 85 years for one reason– Belief in the Real Presence has plummeted from almost 100 percent to an unconscionable 25 percent. I thought Communion in the hand was the guilty party, but now I have come to realize that it was the natural result of the rejection of Scholasticism of St. Thomas Aquinas. How in the world will we ever regain full belief in the preeminent doctrine of our faith. No wonder I have thoght and commented on occasion for 50 years that modernism was alive and well in the documents of the Second Vatican. There may be hope now that substantiation has returned. I hope I am beginning to understand what drives Pope Benedict XVI to try to overcome excesses of VCII. Renewal would be complete if we could revive the infallible doctrines of the Council of Trent. God help us.
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written by Bill Foley, October 17, 2012
To Maggie Louise.
My wife died in May 2009 at the age of 70. She was the most Christ-like person that I have ever known. She was a daily communicant since her first Holy Communion, and she lived it. A young Jewish friend of ours told her mother that she loved her as only a daughter could but that even she was not like my wife. I could give you other testimonies of my wife's Christian selflessness. My point here is that she attended the ordinary form of the Mass since its inception, and it was not an obstacle to her growth in holiness. In fact, the Holy Sacrifice was a key to her spiritual development. If you prefer the extraordinary form of the Mass, that is fine; however, please do not make negative remarks about the Holy Sacrifice in the ordinary form. It is, whether in the vernacular or in Latin, the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary
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written by Bill M., October 17, 2012
Cardinal de Lubac himself repeatedly argued that Humani Generis in no way impugned his own arguments, and it is hard to imagine anyone more committed to the retrieval of the riches of Aquinas than de Lubac. In fact much that was called 'Scholasticism' was as much Kant as Aquinas.
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written by Maggie Louise, October 17, 2012
Dear Alecto, Good advice. Throw in a little Debussy and all will be well.

Dear Mr. Foley, My condolences on the death of your wife. Seventy is much too young. Having lived a holy life, she must surely be in the nearer presence of God, which can only give you profound comfort.

My husband and I had known only the Novus Ordo since our conversion in 1971 and reconversion in 2002 after 20 years in the wilderness, and I have no doubt that we would still be content with that Mass if we had never experienced any other. Since 2002, we have been almost daily communicants. We had a 25 minute drive to Mass for the fist 3 years but then we changed parishes and added 15 minutes to the drive, but it was worth it.

We experienced our first Latin Mass two or three years ago. On the way home, my husband and I shared our thoughts. They were identical. My generally taciturn chemist husband said, "I don't know what happened up there [on the altar], but SOMETHING did." It was a something that we had never experienced before. It took both of us by surprise.

I have no doubt that a person can become a devoted, holy Catholic with the N.O. and I do not say that the TLM is the only way to attain holiness or heaven. I apologize for having left that impression. I can only tell you what we experienced and compare that to the challenges that the loosely structured N.O. Mass presents. There seems to be no limit to the novelties that various priests and liturgist are willing and able to introduce, and they do not hesitate to do so. You just never know what a Sunday morning in a different parish will bring.

My daughter told me of a priest of a large, inner-city parish who was disturbed that he could not integrate all the various ethnic groups for which he had to offer a different translation of the Mass. "What can I do to bring them together," he lamented. Well, how about the Latin Mass? What could be easier?

Thank you for writing and telling me about your lovely wife. How good God is to assure us that we will meet again.


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written by Achilles, October 18, 2012
Dear Bob Rowland, Your post moved me. However, even though you espouse a return to the Council of Tent, might I suggest that your suggestion is a by product of modernism? We in these times have been inundated by scientism and materialism. We have been duped into seeing things upside down. Luckaks makes reference to that “pestilential habit of false attribution” that is a hallmark of our times. There can be arguments made that Vatican Council II is infected, but they are mostly of the empirical kind, word count, observable perversions from bad theologians, vagueness etc…… But really my brother in Christ do you attribute these dark times in the Church to Vatican Council II? If we strive for a little more panoptic view, the notion is absurd.
How about a glance at the renaissance leading into the failed enlightenment experiment? How about Bacon’s inductive method being applied to humans by every modern philosopher? How about Pope Leo XIII’s vision of that conversation between satan and God? How about the sexual revolution?
Isn’t the Spiritual Combat interior in its entirety? Isn’t the only thing we have any control over all in this our own hearts? God won’t change, satan won’t change, fallen human nature won’t change. God wants our broken hearts. Don’t despair, believe. God is not looking at the horrible guitar masses and turning His back on those who truly love Him, he is not judging the flock by heretic priests, we only have to turn our hearts and minds over to the Will of God.

Have faith Bob that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. It sends shivers down my spine to hear and see good devoutly intention mature men second guess the Holy Spirit. The Council is valid, good true and beautiful. The times are infested with demons and commanded by the dark one himself, pray for faith and please pray for me too. Peace to all men of good will, Achilles
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written by HJoan, February 08, 2013
Vatican II's Constitution on the Church says this in chapter three:
"Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held. This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith."

The 20 ecumenical councils before it are still infallible, like the ecumenical council of Trent that declared that Catholics with faith can lose salvation from unrepented mortal (grave) sin. And that baptism or the implicit desire of baptism is necessary for salvation. And Jesus is physically the consecrated bread wafers we receive at mass.
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written by HJoanJ, February 12, 2013
Vatican II said this in it's Constitution Dei Verbum:
"Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence."

Vatican II showed that traditions should be kept with loyalty.

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