Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Rant on Vatican II

It is an unfortunate reality that ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ has become the much touted reason for any and all innovations to the Catholic faith and the way it is presented and expressed these days. This ‘spirit’ has become the animating principle behind such glorious theological constructs as 'devout' catholics being pro-abortion and liturgies of such true noble simplicity as the parish ‘Polka Mass’ – I kid you not! This ‘spirit’ of the council, while remaining silent throughout the council itself, began to speak even before the seats of the Council Fathers had cooled. This 'Spirit' has long since then spoken through the ‘creativity’ and ‘intuition’ of a select, but influential, few whose life mission seemed to be the call to carry forward the complete overhaul of the Catholic Church to bring it 'up-to-date' with the world around it; this ‘spirit’, however, seems to be anything but the Holy Spirit which for twenty centuries has guided the Church through the most difficult and dark moments of its long journey of faith.
Nowhere can this ‘spirit of the council’ be seen to be more active than in the travesty which sometimes passes for Catholic liturgy. Nowhere is it clearer that somehow, somewhere something has gone wrong, than when one sees a Mass that is more man-centred than God-centred, more about entertainment than about sacrifice, more about what the people can get out of it at the level of the emotions rather than what they can put into it at the level of the heart and soul.

So what went wrong? Why did a council which offered such an immense opportunity for the Church to engage with the modern world and which has, without a doubt, produced immense good fruit, also yield some of the most undesirable fruit imaginable? Who could have foreseen such a disastrous implementation of the council’s directives, as seems to have occurred in some quarters? So many questions, each with many diverse and complex answers, but I think Pope Paul VI intuited it well when he spoke about a supernatural undermining of the Council. Precisely because the Council was desired by God and guided by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, and precisely because it has (not had) the potential to revolutionise the Church in the most positive of senses; equipping it for the great task of evangelising the third millennium; precisely for these reasons the attack of the evil one will obviously be all the greater, since the Church’s charter is one of salvation and all her efforts are to this end and anything which the Lord inspires and graces the Church with will always make her more adept at fulfilling this purpose. And so, is it any wonder that the Council should undergo an attack of this kind, a subtle misinterpretation or misrepresentation?

It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for us to hold faithfully to the intentions of the council which are absolutely clear to anyone who reads the documents of the council without any preconceived agenda being at work in his or her mind. Precisely because the council has not been implemented faithfully by some of those assigned this task, must we strive all the more for fidelity to it.
The past few decades have been a sort of labour pain for the Church. The labour began when Pope John XXIII was inspired to throw open the shutters of the Church and let the Spirit breathe new life into her members. The Church rejoiced that the seeds of the ressourcement would soon bear fruit in a renewed and vibrant Church, which would harvest the whole world. But the labour pains have been many and at times torturous and, as with the woman in the Book of Revelations, the ancient serpent sits ever ready to devour that fruit. But the pains will, I believe, soon be passed and with great hope we should all look forward to that day when this masterpiece of the Spirit will be truly accomplished and the Church will emerge stronger and more faithful to her Lord. These labour pains will then be a memory.
Had the implementation of the council passed off peacefully and smoothly, without that the barque should rock a little, then perhaps we would have cause to worry. But the fact that it is attacked, misrepresented, misinterpreted and rejected by many should help us realise that it is truly a marvellous work of the Spirit and one which will lead to the spread of the Catholic faith and the salvation of souls to the glory of our Heavenly Father.
We, who are pastors of the flock of Christ, must therefore at all times recall our commitment on receiving Holy Orders to faithfully minister to the faithful only from within the faith and according to that faith. It will be love for Christ, for the Church and the people of God that will motivate both our creativity in winning souls and, at the same time, our fidelity to the means by which that salvation is administered. Christ does not need gimmicks to touch hearts, theology need not accommodate every spirit and disposition, and liturgy need not be simplistic and banal to be noble and simple. The true spirit of Vatican II presents us all with a great challenge to live faithfully the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a world that is often hostile to that way of life. The agenda-driven ‘spirit of the council’, on the other hand, is but a spectre which needs to be exorcised by humble religious submission to the authentic Magisterium of the Church, and adherence to the laws which govern the liturgical life of the Church.
May the good Lord give Pope Benedict XVI many more years. Another 10 years and he will have the whole ship back on course! Amen!


  1. Excellent rant! As a new Catholic (from Evangelical Protestantism), much of the Vatican II stuff scares me. Many of the Protestant denominations have veered so far off the mark, that they are no longer even Christianity any more. Those churches are entertaining and emotional -- but have zero truth to their substance. I wish the Catholic Church would go back to the Latin Mass and do everything the old way.

    Nice blog.

    Jenna Pope

  2. If one wishes to do everything the old way, why not follow the Seventh Day Adventist. They follow the bible and keep all the 10 commandments.