Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Yes, I Like The Second Vatican Council

"I hate him; he beats his wife."
"Actually, that was a bad rumor started by some cruel people; he has never done that."
" are defending a wife-beater?"
"No, I am defending a man's reputation--he does not beat his wife."
"Then, I have to assume from your comments that you beat your wife as well!"
(Insert sound of very loud sigh here.)
Have you ever experienced a conversation like this? I have, multiple times, but it was not actually about accused wife-beaters. Rather, it was about the Second Vatican Council. "What", you may ask, "does wife-beating have to do with Vatican II?" Nothing (that I know of), but the illustration is still accurate. Let me change up the terms and show you what I mean.

"I hate Vatican II; it ruined the Church."
"Actually, that was a mistaken notion started by some very confused people; the council itself has not ruined the Church."
" are defending a council that causes confusion and breaks with the tradition of the Church?"
"No, I am defending the truth of the council--it did not break with any tradition of the Church."
"Then, I have to assume from your comments that you have broken with Church tradition as well!"
(Insert sound of very loud sigh here.)

I hope this makes it clear, but I will say it specifically, just to be sure. Since I have read the actual documents that came from the second Vatican council, and since I have studied the difference between those documents and the teachings that later arose in numerous locations (erroneously) claiming to be in accord with the council, I can say that I think that Vatican II is a terrific Church council.

The Council itself is, of course, to be distinguished from the "hoopla" that flitted around during the 70's and 80's touting the "spirit of Vatican II". This "hoopla" that I refer to encouraged things like burlap vestments, liturgical dance, pop music in the Mass, theological compromise and a loose application of the rules of the liturgy. It is these types of behavior that are often equated with Vatican II, though there is nothing directly from the council, nor found in its documents, that endorses or encourages anything of the kind. That general sense of "anything goes" that showed up in the 1970's has still not gone away. Yet, to many, that is what Vatican II was all about.

As (I believe) Pope Benedict XVI once said, the Mass is only effective when celebrated with deep reverence and according to the exact rules given to it. This is what I mean when I say that I like Vatican II. It spoke clearly about a good theology and about a wise application of the gospel in the modern world. Yet, there are a number of people--like Hans Kung--who said that Vatican II did not go far enough, and (apparently) they wanted to take it further on their own (even without permission). 

Do I defend the errors? Never. Do I speak about proper obedience to the rubrics of the Mass? Whenever I get the opportunity. Even more important, I like to tell people that, "I like Vatican II--that is, the real Vatican II, not the impostor." I recall once a few years back, a dear friend looking at me with a face that expressed doubt and shock at the same time. It was the first time that he had heard that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were not supposed to be used at every Mass (yes, this is true, look it up if you do not believe me). When I showed him the actual statements from the documents, he said those words I have heard so many times: "Why weren't we told this?"

So then, no, I am not defending the errors when I say I like Vatican II. Rather, I am defending the truth and wanting everyone (especially those who think the council supports their liturgical abuses) to read it for what it is. How else can we learn from it, and carry out what it tells us to do? Have you read the documents; any of them?