I was born the first, so-called, “cradle Catholic” in my family, into a Church of reform. My earliest church-going memories involve images of burlap banners, kumbaya bands singing “Sound of Silence” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” (offertory hymns), and bad, bad architecture.
I’m not mocking it. I’m just saying… Where have all the hippies gone? I’d like to know!
Whatever happened to the Spirit of Vatican II?
There are two sides to every story. It was also a Church of reaction to reform, at times outspoken, at times reclusive and reticent.
I’ll admit that I found neither side very appealing. I was Catholic, because by the Grace of God, I was born in the Bible Belt. It wasn’t exactly Northern Ireland, but I could relate. You had to stick to your guns sometimes and stand up for your faith.
The diverse attitudes that challenged the integrity of the Catholic Church seemed to change in the 1990’s — thanks to the Great Pontificate of John Paul II, I believe. The spirit of renewal the Church was waiting for began to take effect.
I never realized you could pick up a copy of the Vatican II documents and actually read it until I was 20. Still today, most people don’t seem to realize you can access these documents and read them as easily as this: (go on, give it a try). I say this because, you’ll hear people talk about the retro-mentality of the Church all the time. But when you ask them simple questions just to see if they’ve actually read the Catechism (all it takes is a simple click), they get that deer-in-the-headlights look and stutter something like, “I j-j-j-just rem-m-m-membered… I’ve got to k-k-clean my hamster k-k-k-cage… See ya!”
See ya Elmer Fudd.
The same phenomenon would happen back in the early 90’s, when any suggestion that a given liturgical innovation might be a little heterodox would elicit the response, “Vatican II happened, you know?” And if you asked, “What were the four main goals of Vatican II?” You’d hear this: “Um… Umm. Reform…. Reform?… and… I think it was reform.”
“Nope. It was renewal, aggiornamento (getting up to date), ecumenism, and evangelization. It’s stated in the Second Vatican Council documents. Liturgical reform was part of the renewal and “aggiornamento,” but it wasn’t the only focus of the Council. Have you ever read a council document? This is the first paragraph of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.”
“This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.” — Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1
“Oh. Really? And what is all that supposed to mean?”
“It’s the New Evangelization, stupid.”
New Evangelization is the thrust of JP II’s teaching and the commission his successor Benedict XVI has handed us. I believe that New Evangelization is the true spirit of Vatican II. That means bringing the Church into the world today along the following lines:
- Renewal: to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful
- Aggiornamento: to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change
- Ecumenism: to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ
- Evangelization: to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church
The Pope himself is seeing to the liturgy. It’s in capable hands.
This week, I’d like to focus on each of these four goals in a separate post. Tomorrow’s post will be on the Church’s ever increasing vigor.