In this inaugural issue of MIR-A-CALL CENTER's publication of A CALL TO PEACE on the CATHOLIC-INTERNET NETWORK, we wish to address this serious issue to the best of our finite ability, recognizing that God knows where His One True Church is headed, and that the bottom line is and remains that which Sacred Scripture contains: "And behold, I am with you, even to the end of time"Matthew 28:20.
If the above questions were asked of those who espouse the "liberation theology" of today, the feminists who espouse ordination for women priests, etc., the overwhelming response would be that the Church as a whole is not moving forward fast enough to satisfy the needs of the people. They would argue that the Church is indeed mired in the centuries old tradition that seems to preclude forward motion. They would suggest that the Church needs to become more enlightened as it were, a bit more "modern", keeping up with the times, with societal changes. And for these people, the changes that have come about are too little and have taken far too long, and these changes do not keep pace with the ever-changing society in which we live.
Ask any traditional, staunch conservative Catholic the above question, and the overwhelming response is that the Church as a whole seems to be headed toward disaster, the "abomination of desolation in the temple" (cf.Matthew 24:15) as recorded in the New Testament. To these people the changes the Church has undergone over the last thirty years are ridiculous, having ruined the fabric of long standing tradition, and with the hoopla that the liberal press gives to the dissenters within the Church's ranks it seems we're headed for schism, heresy, and the fulfillment of Scripture as given in the Book of the Apocalypse.
Is there a right and a wrong here? Can any one group say with pure heart and clear conscience that they're right and the other guys are dead wrong? Who among us is without sin that we should throw stones? Before any side clamors for the "correct" or "popular" side, consider the conditions put upon this: a pure heart and a clear conscience. Who among us can claim this with such humility as to be pleasing before the Triune Divinity? Hardly anyone. We are all partly right, and partly wrong, because our human emotions and desires get in the way, and these emotions, most often, have absolutely nothing to do with our relationship to God, or His to us. In fact, we bring God along into our emotions, and consequently get Him jumbled up with our crazy ups and downs in life, and make Him an arguable point when, in truth, God is not arguable, because He is the Eternal Truth.
For any Catholic who was raised in the Church prior to Vatican II, it is evidently clear that something very significant was "lost" when the sweeping changes came upon us. Does that make Vatican Council II wrong? No!
Have you read the documents of the Vatican Council II? Be honest now, have you read them, not just head about them? Okay, then have you read the post-concillar documents relating to this Council? Again, have you truly read them, or have you just heard about them from various "authorities"?
These documents are readily available and from all that we've poured over, we reassure the reader that the Vatican Council documents support the fact that the intent of this council was to re-invigorate the Church in a holy and positive way and was never intended to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. If you doubt this, retrieve the documents and read them, in part or in whole, and you'll begin to understand just how clever the evil one has been all along, and how we've been sold a bag of hooey [editor's choice of words] by those in authority who should know better.
Does this mean we're naysaying the Vatican Council II? No, not in the least. We want to make that very clear; as in past printed issues of A CALL TO PEACE, we've stressed the importance of the traditions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Some may want to put a label on our viewpoint but we prefer to not label ourselves "right wing" or "left wing" but "centered-on-Christ", translated: "Roman Catholics." Do we still cling to the treasured traditions of the pre-Vatican II era? Yes, for nothing major was changed by and through the Council Fathers at Vatican II. The Council did not throw out Latin, kneeling for Holy Communion, proper liturgical music, proper translation of Holy Scripture; nor did they wish for the decline in vocations, devotions such as the Rosary, the laxity among our vowed religious, etc. In addition, the Council Fathers did not empower ICEL to totally mistranslate the Sacramentary and Lectionary; nor did the Council ever encourage any group of bishops to undermine or question the Papal Authority. On the contrary, the Vatican Council recognized its rich traditions and sought to keep them intact. Yes, it's true. The Tridentine traditions that had been in place for well over 400 years were not thrown out the window as the majority of the laity were led to believe. His holiness Pope John XXIII and his successor Pope Paul VI both sought to open a window of opportunity and, on the wings of the Holy Spirit, bring a breath of fresh air into the Church which admittedly needed to re-vibrate, having fallen into a state of ecclesialogical complacency exhibiting a stagnant liturgy to many. Too many liberals, however, sought this "window of opportunity" to allow the evil one in as they misinterpreted the Council Fathers, or worse, sought to rewrite the rules according to their own agenda in deference to God's Will. The result has become evident. It was even detected as early as 1968 when Paul VI, near death, proclaimed: "We had intended to open a window and let a breath of fresh air in, but instead a tempest has blown in and Satan is now in the Sanctuary."
If this is indeed true, and the evidence points overwhelmingly that it is, then what can we as concerned Catholics do? Whatever "changes" were made were approved, by and large, to fit the "exception" rather than the rule. Yet, over the years the "exception" has become the rule and nothing is exceptional any more. For example, as cradle Catholics, we pose this question to many of our readers: How many felt that as changes were introduced in the Church and spoken about from the pulpit, that they wer totally sanctioned by the Holy Father (first Pope Paul VI and then Pope John Paul II) who, being the Vicar of Christ, must know of these changes and have approved them?
Point two: How many, feeling that somehow our Pope had approved these changes, did so believing that the bishops, priests and nuns were totally behind and obedient to the Holy Father, and thus, would never steer us wrong?
Lo and behold, in these last years how many, heeding the messages of the Blessed Mother of God from LaSallette to Medjugorje and beyond, woke up and realized, with some sense of shock, that the full communion among the priests and bishops with the Holy Father was sadly lacking? In some cases it was even missing. How many realized that was was being touted from many pulpits across the country was contrary to the Pope's wishes, and was likewise contrary to the decrees of the Vatican Council per se?
Once this realization became apparent, how many became confused, lost, turned-off, or perhaps even became militant dissidents succumbing to the wave of "new age", "humanist" and "liberation theology" sprouting up like ragweed in the Church?
On the other hand, how many had become so accustomed to the "new" Catholic Church in America that any thoughts of returning to what the Vatican Council documents truly state and to a more traditional, stable Catholic faith were impossible to comprehend. This mind-set lead many to dig in like Missouri mules; many becoming "dissident militants" harping for even more changes, not giving any thought whether these changes were needed or whether it was the correct course to follow.
Somewhere, in the above, lies the breeding ground for the polarization that is now so entrenched in the Catholic Church. Dissention, anger, jealousy, bitterness, and yes, apathy, seem to dominate the news in this day and age. Thanks to the liberal media - the "false prophets" of today - who feed on bad news, most of the time all we hear is the "dark" side of Catholicism. A good example of this was the sacriligeous film "Priest" which, unfortunately is now in the video stores. Let's pray these tapes will collect cob-webs and, through heavenly assistance, they will not function in VCR machines. God can allow the "bugs" to prevent the tapes from being viewed... if we pray!
Adding to these bonfires are the rampant voyeuristic articles attempting to expose priests as pedophiles. True, pedophile priests need to be weeded out for they are indeed a blight on all other priests. But the manipulating media make no effort to identify them as the exception but rather as part and parcel of the order of the holy priesthood. This is a direct assault on all that is holy within the foundations of Holy Mother Church.
From the persecution of the martyrs to the Saracens, from the Protestant Reformation to the French Revolution right up to today, the Church has been attacked at her roots and has withstood all attacks from without. What has weakened her the most throughout history are the attacks from within. In the next installment (January 22nd) we will begin to identify these attacks and offer ways to combat them.