Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Wow! This was a wake-up call.

Vatican II no longer matters. Well, that is not exactly true. It matters absolutely. But there is a facet to this statement that is also absolutely true.

Consider this: Vatican II was closed in 1965. Those born in that year are approximately 42 years old now. If you were, say, 3 years old when Vatican II started to be implemented, you probably have little to no memory of anything very different from that which is occurring at mass today. So for the most part, for anybody under the age of about 45, Vatican II is not a groundbreaking, earth shattering, world changing event, it is just the way things are. For many in this group it is either remembered vicariously through older persons who are struggling with this incredible development or as an ideological concept which has been named Vatican II the same way some people talk about Trent, not as a direct experience but as a handy frame of reference.

For this under 45 age group, Vatican II is a matter of history. It took place not only before they were born, it took place before there were personal computers and touch-tone phones (let alone mobile phones), before unleaded fuel (and when a gallon of regular gas cost .31), and before color television was common. It would be a number of years before man stepped on the moon and it was five years before the first of the World Trade Towers in New York would be completed and inhabitable. But that it is a topic in “history books” is not necessarily a bad thing, as we will see in a moment.

But first another interesting development with this post-Vatican II generation: They are redefining symbols. Things about the Church that were thrown out because they were seen as old, or in some cases hierarchical (in a bad sense), un-useful, or even oppressive are many times now embraced by younger practicing Catholics much to the rejecter’s chagrin. Those opposed to these "rediscoveries" are ripping out their hair out and exclaiming, “How can you return to that which we freed you?” At the other end are those who are scratching their heads asking, “Why are you getting your liturgical underwear in such a bunch? We like or find these things useful.”

This can happen because the symbols are being redefined. Symbols only have the meaning that we assign to them. There are those who live with the old definitions and those who see them in a different light. An example of this is clerical/religious garb. There are those who have witnessed or can easily see how such clothing can be used as a “religious club of authority” to put lay people in their place. Then there are those typically younger who have grown up without as visible presence of “Church” whether it be a habit or collar who find comfort both in seeing them or in wearing them. It makes the Church present and therefore relevant and allows those who wear them to witness publicly and constantly not only to their faith, but the presence of the Church.

For those post Vatican II persons the questions are no longer about implementing the council’s decrees or breaking from the past. The questions today are either about “What is it that we can we do?” or about what is orthodox. They are about asking what can we use well today to help the Church’s mission. As years pass this reality sinks more deeply into the fabric of the Church. The conversations will change and everyone needs to be aware of this.

That was the wake-up call I had yesterday. We are in the depths of a post-council transition. A lot of hot button topics while still very much alive seem to be less virulent today. A lot of rhetoric seems to be dissipating. A lot of anger and confusion has disappeared. In history class at seminary we were taught that it was not unusual for any council’s decrees to take fifty to one hundred years to be truly implemented. I had always assumed it had to do with communication and now that we have such ready means to communicate it should have taken a much shorter period of time. But it has not. Maybe we need fifty or so years to let passions and emotions lift so that we can look at a council afresh and with joy.


Wow! Thanks for your prayers! I do not think that I am at liberty to reveal what exactly they were for but I was deeply impressed with the outcome and attribute that in part to your prayerful support of the project!


Anonymous said...

it seems that the passage of time, as in 'generations', is probably as key to the acceptance or rejection and implementation or not, of counciliar decisions. we've now had approx 2 generations of give & take, and we should not be surprised to see the current settling ... and maybe see a few other "motu's" on Vatican II. it is all part and parcel of the human process - i say "Bring it on!"

Anonymous said...

Young people today crave authenticity. The presence of priests in their clerics (or even cassocks) and religious donning habits is seen as a very good thing. In my own discernment process ("2nd career vocation"), whether or not a community wears a habit is a telling sign for ME on how faithful or authentic that community is. I know that if I'm graced enough to enter into a religious community, it'll be one that wears a habit. (I'm 36 by the way).

Odysseus said...

Now, I'm curious. When, exactly, might you be able to tell us about this "secret"? It's not going to be like Fatima, is it? You're not going to give the secret to the Vatican and warn them not to reveal it for decades, right? At some point you're going to tell us, right?

Anonymous said...

As I turn "46" today, I definitely fall under the category you describe of only knowing Vatican II. And I am the product of the '70s theology that desperately tried to make sense of it all. One of my distinct memories was in 2nd grade when my teacher, Miss Terry, instructed us all to *look* at the host when it was being raised up at the consecration, not to bow. Mentioning this was the *new* way of doing things. It has been about 12 years since I rediscovered my faith with the help of some great Catholic apologetic sites. I love learning Church history (pre Vatican II). Of all of my children, I believe my two youngest(preschool) will be the beneficiaries of what is happening today.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and so glad all the prayers here helped you, Father.

Anonymous said...

Having converted in 2002, I have no concept of the TLM. I don't see the big deal, now you can celebrate the TLM and the NO. I personally like the Mass in the venacular but even in Latin, I still get Jesus.

My priest, Fr. Erik, wears a cassock--I like it--it makes him seem more authoritive--it says--I am in union with God in His Church. People tease me all the time and say, "Tara, he doesn't walk on water." But, I kinda think he does. I like the authority of our Church--it's what most attracted me!

This is Jesus' Church, and we should act like it by our reverence, our dress, and by following His rules--if I ever become a nun, there is no doubt that I would wear a habit or at least a veil!

V2 is just as valid as Trent--I don't think that by celebrating the TLM this needs to change--I personally think most people will still celebrate the NO Mass.

Adoro said...

I echo what anon said ~ young people crave authenticity. "We" I'm not 36 but I'm not "young" anymore, either. Anyway, we've perhaps grown up aware there was a different Mass, and when actually studying what we were never taugh, we learn of the Mass that fed so many Saints...and when we look to the churches of today, something interior tells us that something is wrong. Even when I was searching and didn't know any better, I knew when something was wrong with a Mass, even though I didn't know why. There has been extreme discomfort with many things I grew up with, and I never understood that sense of discomfort, until I learned what the Mass is really about and what it all means. And then...well, I understood.

I've still never attended a TLM, hope to as there is one locally, and perhaps there might be a couple others that will offer it now. I have no idea.

Anyway, just an observation that came from a friend; he was raised Catholic (badly...), became an Evangelical Pastor, got married, and realized that was his Vocation so now he just does Weddings and Funerals and has deep theological discussions with people. :-)

He observed that there is a pendulum that swings and has swung throughout history. That pendulum has gone out into left field, and now it's coming back, swingign more towards the right.

I think he's onto something, because it is like a pendulum...first swinging widely, and slowly, then coming back, each swing a little shorter, until finally it will come closer to the center. And center (truth) is always center; it never changes, no matter what happens. So the pendulum must ALWAYS return to center because it is constantly driven there, it constantly passes and bypasses it, yet it will eventually come to a stop.

I'm not sure all that was his observation, and I haven't studied history enough to know if the pendulum swings are shorter in interval now as compared to 2,000 years ago, but it would be an interesting concept to address quantataively.

Um...I'm not that person. I don't do numbers. They freak me out.

Anonymous said...

I can relate to what eileen has posted. I am 43 yrs old and really only remember Vatican II.

I also was taught to look at the host when the bells rang. Although, I was not taught NOT to bow. We were taught to pray "My Lord and My God" and that this was a very reverent important part of the mass.

It's interesting since during the last few months I have wondered WHY am I looking at the host, shouldn't I bow to Christ.

I remember the change over to receive Communion by hand. I remember the communion rail being partially removed and no longer kneeling.

Recently when looking at pictures and even video of the "Old Mass" I feel drawn to it and I even wonder if I did attend attend such masses at a young age and it's stirring old, very old memories. I know when I started 1st grade 1970 and attended daily mass at my Catholic school it was the current mass.

I feel it's an exciting time and I'm looking forward to whatever changes will occur.

I don't remember where I read this comment about the current changes not really being implemented for 20+ years. I hope we start to reap the benefits much sooner because I don't want to wait until I am approaching my senior years for this experience!

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Sister Maxine said...

I'm 42 and I remember some of pre- Vatican II, mainly because my maternal grandparent's parish did not transform as fast as some parishes. They also used the kneeling rail for a couple decades after Vatican II was introduced. Although I do not remember Latin ever being the main language of the Mass, I have heard parts of the Mass (e.g. Kyrie) said & sung in Latin. (and now that Latin reenters, I pray I do not embarrass God by accidentally calling Him a "banana" since I know nothing of the Latin language).

Like Eileen & Maryb, I was taught in CCD to look at the Host, which in the last 10 years I have found very difficult to do. I think one of the things that definitely helped me was going through RCIA after college (although I am a Catholic from birth). It was a revitalizing experience. Since then, I have been very blessed to have family & friends (and blogs) that have challenged my faith and helped me grow spiritually.

It is going to be an amazing experience for everyone from here on out. Thank you, God!

Anonymous said...

Your post made me think of this book, which i found to be quite informative and inspirational:

The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy by Colleen Carroll (Paperback - April 2004)