Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Over at Southern Orders, I read a post regarding Vatican Council II and orthodoxy. It was a very interesting read. I responded in the combox with the following, as questions to the post. Read on:
I understand where Fr. Barron is coming from. I understand where you are coming from, Father. But, I think that there is something afoot here that has been afoot for a long time, within the post-Conciliar life of the Church.
That is justification. It seems that almost 50 years after the Council, there is still some sort of justification going on with regard to it. It seems that with each new generation of priests which come after the Council, there is a justification of the Council, in a way that almost tries to legitimize it.
That is a big issue. Why must there be a constant apologia for the Council. The Council by its own admission is pastoral. Fine. There is nothing wrong with that. But those who have followed the Council have tried and tried to defend it dogmatically and doctrinally since. There is no need. That wasn't the point. According to John XXIII, there was nothing doctrinal or dogmatic about the Council. So, why try so hard to make it so...
Then we come to worship. The Church had/has a very mature view of what worship is. It has been the central discussion of the Church since the beginning. Saints wrote volumes on it and they were all consistent, from Augustine, to Aquinas, to John of the Cross, to Don Bosco, to the Little Flower...yet since the Council, there has been an ongoing melee of "how we worship...blah, blah, blah."
If how we worship is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why try to re-invent the wheel? I have been banging the "proper worship" drum for near 20 years. And it is a boring drum, because I'm not trying to say anything new. But then again, I don't need to. It is perfectly clear and perfectly understandable.
1. We lay our prayers at the foot of the altar
2. The priest gathers the prayers at the foot of the altar and carries them forward
3. He offers the Sacrifice of the Mass on our behalf, properly.
4. We worship in a way that most closely draws us to the Lord. That can take any number of faces...it can be meditating on the Life of Christ; the PDR; the Stations of the Cross; the Virgin Birth, or it can be as simple as making a series of pious (albeit quiet) ejaculations, such as the Anima Christi or Salve Regina; it could be praying the rosary or any number of chaplets; or it could be following the Mass itself.
All of these things lead one to proper worship. But all of these things are mostly set aside now, in favor of active participation. And that is sad, because how one participates isn't incumbent upon how loudly one sings or how far in the air one makes the orans position at the Pater Noster, or how much of a show one makes of carrying the Lectionary or gifts during a procession, yet that is what "proper worship" has been reduced to in 99.999999% of churches in the Catholic world.
You say that Fr. Barron talks about the Council not in a way of modernizing, but being missionary. I disagree with him. I think that the Council was about modernizing. That was a stated aim. That was part of the point. What is the title of Gaudium et spes? As for the rest of the documents, they all speak to a greater or lesser degree about modernizing the Church. There is very little to do with being missionary. I think that is something that has been inserted after the fact.
This begs the question, if we wipe away Vatican Council II from the history books, what harm is done the to the Church? In contrast, if we wipe away a previous Council, what harm is done to the Church?
I think that is what is more pressing than continually defending the Council. I think that to ask the very hard questions about Vatican Council II are more needed than trying to justify the Council and re-imagine it into something that it was never intended to be. It was never intended to be a missionary Council (whatever that is) or a dogmatic/doctrinal Council. It was intended to be a pastoral Council, which leads me back to an earlier question on this blog...was it "really" a Council, as understood by the Church or was it a rather well attended universal consistory?
I don't doubt the validity of Vatican Council II. I just question the constant re-defining of the premises...Let's just call the Council what it is and move on. There was nothing defined, there was nothing which held the Church to the floor, there was nothing definitive about it, but rather it was a subjective pastoral action....
The Church needs pastoral actions, but not necessarily to the extent that Vatican Council II went and not necessarily to the extent that the reformers took it afterward and not necessarily to the extent that each generation constantly tries to re-define and re-imagine it.