Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thoughts on Vatican II

As promised, I'll now present some musings on the Second Vatican Council and its mixed legacy.

Two words were often thrown about by journalists during the conciliar time: aggiornamento and resourcement. Aggioramento is from the Italian and means, roughly, a bringing up to date, and entered the general lexicon through a pre-conciliar speech of John XXIII. Ressourcement is from the French and indicates a return to sources. I believe its popularity derived from the work of French patristic scholars in the era of Pius XII.

I'll focus on aggiornamento for now, as we've seen far more of it over the past half-century than we have ressourcement. Aggiornamento, as it's been practiced, implies an opening to the contemporary world. Certainly we've seen that, so much indeed that the Catholic Church as too often seen as an institution of the Zeitgeist rather than an eternal and timeless reality. A certain sensus fidei on the part of laymen and clergy alike has been lost, leaving a Church in many regards indistinct from Protestantism. Ecumenism was a main goal of the aggiornamentoniks, and the reintegration of Christendom is a laudable goal to be prayed and worked for, but 95% of it nowadays is done on the relativistic terms of the liberal Protestants. Dialogue with the secular culture and the academy is likewise important, but it's too bad that our Catholic universities have scarcely a Catholic ethos any longer. Let's face facts: some excellent goals were made, but those charged with the Church's endless "dialogues" usually merely assume the worldview of those with whom they're making the dialogue. Therefore, it's no longer a true dialogue, but a grand opportunity for defection--and not really a defection, but treason, as they remain in our own ranks, spewing their civilly respectable, politically-correct, vile drivel out on the faithful either to poison their minds or make them run for the church door.

Nowhere is this treacherous destruction of our own identity more evident than in the ill-conceived liturgical reforms which nauseate me still. This is not necessarily to lionize the Tridentine Mass, the present extraordinary form of the Roman Liturgy, for that too can be said shabbily, but with the Novus Ordo, shabby seems to be the norm. Gone suddenly were the Latin and plainchant of yesteryear, with much of the liturgical art that adorned our church buildings, with much of the ceremony that adorned and oriented our lives, replaced with spare meeting-halls, unsingable and sappy guitar songs--an ugly, charmless religion mangled by Puritans, who robbed us of the former touchstones of our lives and replaced them with ephemeralities. The charm, mystery, and magic of the Church that I first experienced as a wee lad while lighting candles before the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary was gone, replaced by yet another consumer product, and not a very good one at that.

As a personal note, readers, how I've languished in the past, enduring Disney-movie music and almost incoherent pep-talk homilies to make my way through to receive Our Lord in the Sacrament, knowing that a "meditation," an insipid puppy-love song with no theological merit whatsoever would be playing when I returned to kneel at my pew and would bother any true meditations out of my head at the time! But I'll not bring up this maddening inappropriate liturgy out of context, which is the general loss of Catholic culture and imagination through this faulty, and ironically ever so passé, aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council. Something worthy of being reclaimed, this culture, eh?

Therefore, my next brief essay will touch on the ressourcement--not so much what it meant in conciliar days, but the ressourcement which His Holiness proposes to lead now, with perhaps some reference to other bloggers whom I am finding to be a gold mine of information regarding the happenings in Rome, likely at this very moment.

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