October 25, 2006

Of Swallows Returning

Amy Welborn has a must-read post, responding to Bottum's post about the direness of the post-Vatican II landscape. The only thing I would add is not to underestimate the effect of the mass media (and seminaries) promoting modern biblical criticism. Undermining the bible undermines the Church (though of course the Church preceded the bible) and by explaining away the miraculous (i.e. loaves & fishes was about "sharing") you give rise to a kind of Pelagianism where Christ isn't the focus because we don't really need him. If what was handed down to us in the form of Scripture is not respected, then how much more will the liturgy, also handed down to us, not be respected?

A couple interesting comments in the ensuing tsunami (up to 100 comments at last check):
I know more Catholics who have completely abandoned their faith in every way except for abstaining from meat on Fridays than practicing Catholics who observe meatless Fridays. What's up with that?
Non-Catholic Mike Poterma of National Review fame weighs in:
Vatican II was a brave act on the part of the Catholic branch of Christianity to bring itself more closely in line with the will of the Holy Spirit. It was brave because the result of such wide-ranging change was quite foreseeable: A certain "mystique"--the aura of perfect changelessness, of divine stasis--would be lost. Within a decade George Carlin would be joking that "Hey, there are still people doing time in Hell on a meat-on-Fridays rap." In other words: You don't need to take the Catholic Church seriously, folks; they've already admitted they were wrong on some things, and if you disagree with them on anything else, well, just wait till they see the error of their ways on that too. You could see, finally, the little man behind the curtain.

Vatican II was a great gamble, and conservatives find it easy to recite the statistics about all the harm that has ensued from it (declining Mass attendence, low vocations, etc. etc.). But I think that, fundamentally, the Vatican II leaders--Montini, Suenens, Lercaro, Leger, Ratzinger, Wojtyla, et al--had a touch of the Spirit in what they were doing. The Catholic Church made herself vulnerable, in trying to be faithful to the truth (as opposed to its own institutional power and importance)--and I can't help seeing, in that very vulnerability that has been the cause of anguish to so many Catholics, the face of Christ.

I predict that after this dark transition, there will be (25 years from now? 50? 75?) one of the brightest chapters in Catholicism's history.

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