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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Mark Brumley

Here is how I am tempted to respond ironically:

Vatican II shouldn't be interpreted in terms of what the bishops actually said but in terms of what the "progressives" wanted to say but couldn't persuade their retrograde episcopal colleagues to agree to say. The Holy Spirit operates only in altering things in the direction of innovation; he never operates to preserve or safeguard or to moderate change.

Because the Church obviously needed to make some changes, any changes the "progressives" proposed, especially if the "progressives" proposing were not themselves bishops but merely theologians trying to influence bishops, must have been the right thing to do and therefore represent the true "spirit of Vatican II", while what the bishops actually said isn't really what the Holy Spirit wanted.

Furthermore, while "progressives" are free to ignore the texts of the Council in preference to its alleged "spirit", any criticism by more traditional Catholics of the Council's formulation on even relatively minor points of a highly contingent, prudential nature--certain elements in Gaudium et Spes touching on geo-political matters for instance--is clearly tantamount to rejecting the Council and therefore of rejecting the Holy Spirit.

I say I am tempted to reply in this way. Count my not having done so as my having overcome the temptation.

Carl Olson

Count my not having done so as my having overcome the temptation.

It's good to see someone adhering to some form of Lenten restraint. I know I can't! ;-)

Brian Day

Professor Hitchcock's thesis dovetails nicely with Ralph McInerny's What Went Wrong With Vatican II, especially the sexual side and how that ties in with Humanae Vitae


"(The most perplexing question about the post-conciliar period is why the hierarchy made so little effort to insure that the faithful were educated as to the Council's authentic meaning, and why the hierarchy failed to insure the authenticity of those programs which claimed to do so.)"

Indeed. That is a perplexing question. John Paul II did spend a lot of time and effort and great volumes of writing trying to put the Council into practice as it was intended. But perhaps he was too voluminous. If the people would not read the Council documents themselves, and I have yet to personally meet a lay person or priest who has, how much less would they read long encyclicals from JPII.
It may be that the people prefer to be given simple rules in negative terms with enathemas attached. Perhaps that is why God gave Moses the Ten Commandments as they are, simple, only ten in number, with a couple of "thou shalt's" and the rest "thou shalt not's". He knew that if they were too detailed and voluminous the people wouldn't listen and remember them, and there might be a faction of Israelites who would go about promoting the "spirit of the Commandments."

Brian Schuettler

"there might be a faction of Israelites who would go about promoting the "spirit of the Commandments.""

But there were such interpreters of the Commandments, but instead of being liberal promoters of an agenda to hijack a modern day council they were righteous Jewish hypocrites; the Pharisees. Jesus proclaims them as such in yesterday's Gospel reading:

Mt 23:1-5

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’

They were so caught up in their own attempt to outdo Yahweh's simplicity with their own mind numbing minutiae that they couldn't recognize the Messiah standing in their midst.

Robert Miller

Jim Hitchcock's article is a superb synopsis of "what went wrong with Vatican II".
There remains, however, the question: What is the true "spirit of Vatican II?
It is not, of course, that antinomian "spirit" that Hitchcock does so well to exorcise. But neither is it non-existent. Neither John Paul II nor Benedict XVI stand for a principle of Vatican II literalism or "fundamentalism".
Hitchcock suggests that if Vatican II had occurred earlier, its teachings might have been explained better to the faithful and, consequently, its aftermath might have been more orderly. Maybe. But I think we learn from the two great post-Conciliar pontiffs that there is a genuine "spirit of Vatican II".
The real spirit of Vatican II is, I think, a spirit of prophecy. Thus, in retrospect, we see the Council's ressourcement of the Scriptures and the Fathers as an exercise in a "higher criticism" of a dying modern world which, even as late as the 1950s and 1960s, remained supremely confident in its own Nominalist rationalism. The spirit of Vatican II points the pilgrim to the "days ahead" in which the modernist experiment in apprehending reality with a disembodied "mind" undermines the conviction that man is a person -- a being whose very act of knowing and loving draws him to a Thou Who is most intimately Personal.
The spirit of Vatican II is one of prophecy in that it points to a more complete and actual (actuosa) participation of the faithful in the Sacred Liturgy. For many of us, this more complete and actual participation in the Liturgy has come about in suffering the degradation of ritual imposed by modern culture. We look for Our Lord in the tabernacle, but all too often we find only a bare table. We cherish and unite ourselves all the more fervently with the Sacrifice of the Altar when we must participate in a mode accommodated to our deracinated culture.
The spirit of Vatican II is prophecy. It is a prophecy of the "end time". As we now see, it occurred providentially just as the forces were gathering to attack reason itself and the human person -- just at the moment reason and the human person most needed the intervention of that Word Who is a human Person.

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