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  #1  
Old Jul 21, '11, 2:50 pm
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3DOCTORS 3DOCTORS is offline
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Default The 1980s in American Catholicism – You Had To Be There

These are my recollections of that time. I was in college and then out in the workforce as a 20-something.

Setting the Scene:
Twenty years down the road from Vatican II, and hippies were becoming yuppies in the larger society. In the Church, it was still a time of implementation of some of those “in the spirit of Vatican II” changes that were a mixed bag. Also, EWTN was in its infancy, and many of our great new Catholic apologists hadn't come on the scene yet.

Contemporary music. I like some of it still, some of the songs were uplifting during very trying times in my personal life. Others I just plain like. (So nobody’s snark about that will change my opinions, but go ahead and snark if it makes you feel better.) However, to put it in context, I also very much like traditional Catholic music, Gregorian chant, Latin, etc. There are also a few contemporary songs that I am not fond of. It just depends whether the music is melodic (I like melodic) and the lyrics aren’t awkward or sappy.

Experimental programs, retreats, and workshops – Enneagram, Centering Prayer, feminist-oriented stuff, workshops based on 12-Step programs and Inner Child healing, etc. Again, quite a mixed bag. Some people got some help out of healing stuff, as long as it wasn’t too “out there.” Myself, I never got into the Enneagram thing at all – I glanced at it and thought I might, but didn’t get around to it and then it got discontinued in my diocese at the order of the bishop. There were some Sisters who were doing some solstice celebrations and stuff that was questionable – whether they were trying to Christianize neo-paganism or what, I don’t want to judge their motives, but I didn’t feel like it was anything I wanted to get into.

People’s outlooks and speculation about future changes in the Church– women’s ordination, birth control (and maybe abortion), “internal forum” marriage annulments and those sorts of things. What I recall is a sense that it was only a matter of time before some of these things became permissible – or that they were already permissible in the individual conscience. I even had conversations with friends who were in homosexual relationships as to whether “gay marriage” might someday be permitted.

It was a time when your average Catholic in the pew probably took for granted that more “progressive” changes were in the pipeline – at least until Pope John Paul II and the CDF drew the line on some things, and what has come to be known as the “reform of the reform” began to take shape.


Those who were there – want to take a trip down Memory Lane? How are your recollections of this time similar to or different from mine? What was the American Catholic “zeitgeist” as you experienced it in the ‘80s? It might be helpful to provide at least a general sense of what part of the country you were in during the time. Me, I was in the Heartland, Bible Belt, and I’d say still basically traditional part of the country.
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Old Jul 21, '11, 4:48 pm
George Stegmeir George Stegmeir is offline
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Default Re: The 1980s in American Catholicism – You Had To Be There

I was very lucky to be associated with an ethnically Polish parish (only 2 English language masses a week) in NYC. All of the priests in the parish are from Poland. Because the Polish Church is conservative, I was spared most of the fol-der-rol the American church went through.
Although the current English language Mass is more like something lifted from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and is not even a good translation of the Latin Mass, the Polish language Mass is a direct, accurate translation of the Mass.
With the huge Polish immigration to the US in the 80's, our parish did not suffer the losses that many US parishes did. Even the gentrification of the neighborhood had a minimal effect on attendance.
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Old Jul 21, '11, 7:50 pm
DianaCC DianaCC is offline
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Default Re: The 1980s in American Catholicism – You Had To Be There

<looks around nervously> are we allowed to say negative things about the postconciliar tribulation?

My home parish happened to be the cathedral of a big midwestern city.

They gutted it. Every beautiful object was thrown in the dumpster. Stained glass windows were replaced with chunky abstract stuff. Crucifixes all gone, replaced with a single chunky abstract "Risen Christ". Reredos gone, replaced with (really nice, actually) wooden paneling. Communion rail gone. Silk embroidered vestments replaced with polyester tablecloths with iron-on butterfly appliques. No more votive candles, because that would be a fire hazard with the new industrial carpet they glued to the floor.

Asked my parents one day what a "miniskirt" was. (I pronounced it "meh-NISS-kert".) Dad said, "a very short skirt, like what the women in the choir wear up on the altar".

"Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof" became "Lord I am not worthy to receive you". "Brethren" became "my brothers and sisters". Psalm responses had weird, almost random tunes. Could never figure out which of the three (?) six (?) readings in the pew books were being read. Had to wait until they told us where the psalm response was and then I knew for sure.

The parish school went out of business.

Ambiguous sermons about divorce. Plenty of sermons about AIDS, none about homosexuality. Lovely seasonal banners with themes such as racial harmony. None about any peculiar Catholic doctrines like the IC or the Assumption. Most frequently heard phrases: (1) "And so I think what that means is..." (2) "...in our daily lives".

In high school I went to the rectory to get enrolled in the Brown Scapular; priest literally told me, "we don't do that anymore". Inquired about spiritual direction and the priest gave me a non-Catholic book.

No more confessions on Sundays because Sunday is not a penitential day. Confessional boxes no longer used (there's vacuum cleaner in it). Now there's a "Reconciliation Room" with a half-divider with a burlap screen, around the divider there's a chair for face-to-face confessions. Goalpost Jesus and silk flowers on an end table, but no Crucified Savior. Priests experimented with alternative forms of absolution such as "Your faith has saved you; go and sin no more".

In college, the Campus Newman Center regularly omitted the creed on Sundays. "Because people consider it divisive". Went on retreat once. Guest-priest leading it creeped me out. Just "something about him". Twenty years later his name came up in connection with The Scandal. Read Vatican II for the first time. That's for another thread.

Back home I thought I'd look for a nice Catholic man and settle down, so I joined the parish choir. Dropped out after a few months. The eligible men were charming, just not the marrying type.

Then the words "he", "him", and "his" disappeared from the liturgy. Replaced with "God", "God", "God's". Entire lines of prayers from the missal were skipped if they contained words like "Father". But it didn't matter; there were so many options a missal was useless. In the creed "for us men and for our salvation" became "for us and for our salvation". There were something like seven totally different Eucharistic Prayers. But you could count on EP2 being the default, and you never ever heard EP1. One of the priests, at the elevation, instead of elevating the host, held it out flat towards the congregation. Bells? What bells?

Participated in young adult ministry. Talks were given at parishes around the diocese. Stopped going after some definitely heretical stuff got passed off as Catholic doctrine.

Friend of mine and I stopped by an RCIA meeting to find out what it was all about. The topic was baptism and we broke up into small groups to "share" our "feelings" about it. Was asked not to come back, because random strangers make people feel uncomfortable and disinclined to share.

Then one afternoon ... I stopped by the church on my way home from work to "Say Hi" to my Lover in the tabernacle and there was something very, very weird going on. There were only a couple people in the pews praying, but it was like there was a presence that filled the church to bursting. There was a big golden plate-like thing with a white center sitting on the altar, and on the floor in front was a sort of hook-stand (like for a microphone) with a smoking metal box dangling from a chain on it. As I stood there staring at the gentle rhythmic puffs of smoke as the box wavered from side to side, I gasped: I KNOW WHAT THIS IS!!! I READ ABOUT IT SOMEWHERE!!!
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Old Jul 23, '11, 8:48 am
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Default Re: The 1980s in American Catholicism – You Had To Be There

Keep on keeping the faith - and thanks for posting!
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Old Jul 23, '11, 11:40 am
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JimR-OCDS JimR-OCDS is online now
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Default Re: The 1980s in American Catholicism – You Had To Be There

Quote:
Enneagram, Centering Prayer, feminist-oriented stuff, workshops

Well, I wouldn't have included Centering Prayer(which we're not allowed to discuss) in this list, for it has nothing in common with the other things listed and was around going back to the Desert Fathers centuries ago, although titled with different names over the centuries, i.e. mental prayer, contemplative prayer etc.


I was taught it back in the 70's and once I began reading St. John of the Cross, discovered it all through his writings.

Anyway, it seems that the eighties moved really fast. The Charismatic movement was in full swing in my area along with Marriage Encounter.

My son was born prematurely at 27 weeks in 1981. So, for the next ten years, my life was centered around raising a kid with cerebral palsy and an older sister just entering her early teens.

Mass fed me deeply no matter what style of music was played. My wife and myself looked forward to our annual week-end retreat at the nearby monastery.

Jim
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