Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We have moved on

I am still not feeling well so I to missed a clergy gathering to discuss the legacy of Vatican II.
I am a Catholic, I not a Concilliarist. I occassionally take a cheap shot at Orthodox friends by accusing them of being trapped by the Spirit of Ephesus II. My problem with Councils is the whole  "the Spirit of " business. The Spirit of any Council is not its teaching, perhaps only now are we getting to grips with the "Spirit of Trent". The difficulty with Vatican II is that its teaching wasn't contained in a few short memorable canons which defined the faith but in dense and sometimes contradictory documents, written within the highly nuanced obscure philosophical terms of the period. In order to unlock its richness one has to understand that philosophy. At the same time Vatican II happened within the Spirit of Vatican I, with its highly ultramontane and authoritarian concept of the Curia. As someone once said of the Council Fathers, "You have to remember some of these men were the friends of Salazar and Franco, the majority were not imprisoned under Hitler and Mussolini", I think he meant they were compliant.

The Orthodox understand Councils by how they are taken up by the Church - something akin to Newman's understanding of sensus fidelium. We do that of course but we also have the singular role of Peter's successor in interpretation and identification of the Magisterium. The Council happened we have moved on, we moved on to the great documents of Paul VI: Humanae Vitae, the Credo of the People of God , Populorum Progressio, Indulgentiarium Doctrina etc. and the Encyclicals of JPII and Benedict XVI, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Indeed the last half century has been an attempt by successive Popes to clarify the teaching of the Council.

The Tabet blog, which I have just discovered, is bashing Bishop Davies for saying that faith has not been passed on in recent generations. Sr Gemma Simmonds of Heythrop says in gushing terms. "The greatest gift to our time is the enduring legacy of the Council [VII], the most authoritative gathering of the Church on earth." I would like to debate with her what she meant by "authoritative".

She then goes on to deny a principle teaching of the Council, that the liturgy "is the source and summit of the Church's life", by saying, "Going to Mass on Sunday is certainly a way to express and nourish faith, but it is not the fullness of faith, which is something that has to be lived in the context of the ordinary in solidarity with all that is good and true and beautiful in our world." I tend to agree with someone who comments on this post and reminds Sister that in Jesus Christ we encounter the fullness of faith.

For me Sister and the commenter who speaks disdainfully of "the Institutional Church", as if Christ found a Church without Apostolic leadership, seem to encapsulate a way of understand VII that praises it as concept yet denies its teaching.


Anonymous said...

I do hope you get well soon. Prayers for you.

shane said...

My prayers for your health Father.

I think, as your post indicates, we have become much more open to discussing Vatican II and its legacy, and questioning its merits, than under the previous papacy. While few would deny the orthodoxy of the Council's decrees, it's clear that the way in which they were formulated is not very helpful in the modern environment, where we need increased emphasis on clarity and precision. It's obvious that Vatican II failed in its aims, which calls into question the continuing relevance, if any, the Council still possesses. Could the Church not simply forget Vatican II and pretend that it never happened? It's happened to plenty of previous ecumenical councils. Why not this one?

Ttony said...

Dear Father, did you notice that Sr Gemma "has been involved in religious and priestly formation since 1993"?

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Immediately after His betrayal, Our Blessed Lord was summoned before a religious body for the first Church Conference of Christian times, held not in the city of Lausanne or Stockholm, but in the city of Jerusalem. The meeting was presided over by one Annas, the primate.

He opened the meeting by asking Jesus to make plain two important religious matters, the two that were discussed later on in Lausanne and Geneva and Stockholm, namely, the question of His doctrine and the question of His ministry.

Our Lord was asked by a religious man, a religious leader, and a religious authority, representative of the Common faith of a nation, to enter into discussion, to sit down to a conference on the all-important questions of religion-ministry and discipline-and He refused!

And the world's first Church Conference was a failure.

He refused in words which left no doubt in the mind of Annas that the doctrine which He preached was the one which He would now uphold in religious conference, namely, His Divinity.

With words, cut like the facets of a diamond, and sentences, as uncompromising as a two-edged sword, He answered Annas :

"I have spoken openly to the world . . . and in secret spoke I nothing. Why asketh thou Me? Ask them that have heard Me, what I spoke unto them: behold, these know the things which I said."
(Archbishop Sheen).

Sr Gemma Simmonds of Heythrop and Annas seem to have a lot in common.

No one has ever added to or taken away that which God has created during the Six Days of Creation.

Same with the teachings of Christ; we can have a bazillion Popes, but we will still have one Christ.

The Church can only teach, it cannot change that which Christ has commanded.

"Moving on" means moving away from the cross.


Adulio said...

Sr. Gemma Simmonds, as nice a sister as she is, has always been of the Bologna school of thought (that Vatican II is rupture with the past and a good one at that). Rather sad, that she cannot read the sign of the times and see the last 40 years have been one of desolation and evisceration of the faith.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Shane, We can't forget it happened, that would be a denial of the Truth!

The problem is 50 years on we are still asking "what did we do?" or better, "what did God do?"
Being able to ask that question within the context of continuity might help, so might asking in a context outside of the rigid sterile agenda of the Bologna School might also help.

Jacobi said...

and sometimes contradictory documents,

Fr William R. Young said...

It is not that Vatican II failed. It has encountered a double misfortune: to be praised to the skies by one set of people who have not understood it, and to be reviled by another set of people who have not understood it. We need to revisit the texts, read them, understand them, and receive them. There are dogmatic utterances in Vatican II, and these need faithful assent. There are things in Vatican II which are only pious exhortation. Vatican II is not a monochrome council. It was not intended to be the knock-down answer to all the problems of the 1960's world. But is was the beginning of the Church's being able to respond. Perhaps now, 50 years later, now that all euphoria of the faithful has dissipated, we can have a fresh look. We need official, accurate translations of the documents. We have the Catechism and the Compendium, but, yes, perhaps we do need something even briefer to be a dogmatic summary, not exactly a list of anathemas, but a clear, unambiguous and authoritative statement of what defines a Catholic. One can only hope that the SSPX "negotiations" will further this process.

Jacobi said...

"and sometimes contradictory documents"

Vatican II was a valid council, teaching in continuity. As The Pope has said, it contained no new doctrine. The documents, however have many ambiguities deliberately inserted by the Reformers, so that they could subsequently claim other interpretations after the council. This has been openly admitted by Schillebeeckx, and it is on such misinterpretations that the "Spirit" lot of Reformers subsequently based their discontinuity.

Sooner or later the suggestion of Bishop Schneider, that we have a new "Syllabus of Errors " covering these ambiguities, will have to be implemented . I understand this can only be done by a Pope or another Council which will take some time, so lets hope Benedict
finds the time soon in his busy schedule.

Michael Clifton said...

Fr Ray if you are still unwell by Friday and have a temperature it would be most urgent to see a doctor. Rest and liquids important and cut down on smoking if you have a cough.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr William,
What a good idea, an official translation of VII documents!

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

"...What a good idea, an official translation of VII documents!..."


I have never had a problem with the documents of Vatican Council II.

I believe most (Traditional) Catholics don't.

What we have a problem with is the creation of a Church within a Church, and the Freemason impletation of Roman Protestantism in the aftermath of the Council.

The smoke of Satan has to be cleared by eliminating it.

Which means abrogate all the novelty and New Mass.

No explaination is possible or necessary.

Fighting over Vatican Council II has been going on so long and everywhere, we forgot much of what we've been fighting over.


kiwiinamerica said...

Ahhhh yes, the........*cough*.........."springtime" of Vatican II............LOL!!

Empty churches, no vocations, parishes closing, doctrinal confusion and two generations lost to the faith.

What a wonderful "enduring legacy", eh sister?

What planet do these people live on?

Will Staver said...

Dear Fr Blake
Please can you confirm that Bishop Richard Williamson of the FSSPX/SSPX and the person who signs himself 'Saint Michael Come To Our Defense' are one and the same. I ask because the style of writing is uncannily similar to that of this astonishing bishop.

Will Staver said...

I forgot to say
Get well soon. The best remedy is to stay in bed and drink plenty of gin with sugar and hot water. And most importantly - prayers. Believe me they are effective.

James Blythe said...

Sister Gemma was the compere for the Invocation Festival this year, and did an excellent job. It was clear that she was committed to the mission of promoting the Universal Call to Holiness among young people as understood by Bl. John Paul and B16, and in particular promoting vocations to the sacred priesthood. It is entirely possible to read her article in a much more positive way than it has been read, and I hope that some context as to her current role in the Church will stop commenters reaching for their knee-jerk reactions.

anna said...

Prayers! Did you hear Woman's Hour yesterday?

Anonymous said...

I hope you feel better soon Fr.Ray. The National Pastoral Congress which was held in Liverpool in 1980 influenced a great many changes in the Church. In my parish that is when I heard 'collaborative ministry' for the first time ( still not been defined!) It was at that time the p.p. asked us to identify specific gifts of the parishioners. Ministry of the laity began to be more defined , but it grew like Topsy to amazing silliness - eg. ministry of welcome / flowers. One of the young priests at that time was uneasy about attaching the word Ministry to all activities undertaken by us. The p.p. asked about dance - was there anyone skilled ? I could see he was uneasy. But liturgical dance had started and I suppose he was just following orders ! As far as I know , the Congress of 1980 was an attempt to put into place ideas gleaned from Vatican 11. I would like to see that Congress re-examined by bloggers such as your good self and Fr. Tim. Sorry to have gone on at length ! ( Lindi)

nickbris said...

Some of us who have been around for best part of a century get confused about the continual arguments for or against Vatican II.

What is patently obvious is that our places of Worship are getting emptier,could this be because
we are dying off? or do we just feel that we are under occupation?

I just wish it could be sorted out while we are still able to remember the words.

Amfortas said...

'The Documents of Vatican II' published by St. Paul's in Australia in 2009 claims to use English translations from the Vatican. Surely no one is still using Flannery!