We Changed the Church and Regret It

People often ask, how did the changes occur after Vatican II? I found an interesting blog by former Sister Anthony of the Infant Jesus, who documents the hows and whys of her involvement in trying to change the Church Post-Vatican II. She ended up leaving her order and the Church and regrets many of her previous “good intentions.”

Her own words:

Who thought it was a good idea to turn the Roman Catholic liturgy on its heels—to tear out the magnificent pipe organs that accompanied solemn, meditative, Gregorian chant and replace them with a couple of guitars and folk music?
Well, I did.

And there I am with my “choir” on a Catholic campus in New York, in 1967. And, yes, those are staples down the centerfold of a religious magazine. The young man in black on my right, Bob C., was a seminarian at the time. He was lead guitar. I led the singing.
This Little Light of Mine. Kumbaya.
No kidding.

After the second Vatican council (1962-1965), we who embraced its spirit couldn’t be held back. The liturgy was one facet of Catholic life that has never been the same.

Before Vatican II’s aggiornamento—”bringing up-to-date”—priests in flowing vestments stood at the altar, their backs to the congregation, saying mass in Latin. After Vatican II, we held liturgies in apartments and at picnic tables; priests in Irish knit sweaters sat with us and consecrated bread from the deli. If a tasteless wafer of unleavened bread could be turned into the body of Christ, why not a brownie?

It made sense: The priest either had special powers or he didn’t. If he could transform bread and wine, he could transform danish and coffee. The scholarly priests among us told us that we weren’t being irreverent, but rather returning to the true spirit of the gospel, to the earliest days of the liturgy. With great delight, we believed them.

After

Campuses especially welcomed the changes. Chapels built for individuals in rows of pews were taken apart and remodeled to accommodate groups of people who hugged often while praying.

Many resisted, regretting the loss of Latin in the liturgy. Better a universal language that no one understands, they said, than the vernacular, like English, that only some understand. The vernacular prevailed.

The religious habit and lifestyle were also casualties of Vatican II. I was on a legislative council, much like Congress, who voted on big issues, like whether we’d modify our bonnets so we could get drivers licenses. [Last week’s photo shows me in the full bonnet; above, five years later, I’m in a bonnet with its blinder sides cut away.]

I remember long hours of lobbying and heated discussions at meetings over the length of the habit skirt. What was the breakeven point between religious and lay? And by the way, did we really need that rule of silence at meals? Didn’t Jesus enjoy a good chat with his disciples?

Every day there was a new theology book to talk about, a new idea of God, a new cause to embrace. We believed sweeping the streets of the inner city had as much value as saying the Office. There was excitement—and maybe a false sense of heroism—as we bustled about, doing the work of Jesus the Social Worker.

The resisters warned us that once we removed our veils and shortened our skirts, soon we’d be in lay clothes with only a lapel pin to indicate that we were nuns.
Slippery slope, we cried! A fallacy! That will never happen!

But they were right. I was a member of the order for almost eighteen years. By the end of that period, I wore nothing distinguishing except a small cross on my lapel.

I lost track of Bob C. and don’t know where he is today. Maybe he’s a bishop in New Jersey, or maybe he’s a husband and father of three living in Philadelphia. Looking at the stats, the chances are very great that, like me, he’s no longer in religious life.

There’s a sadness to aggiornamento—we were never able to complete it. We managed to pick away at the externals of both the liturgy and religious life but we never got to the real issues. New popes intervened and called a halt just as we were about to tackle the exclusion of women from the leading sacrament, intolerance of the gay and lesbian lifestyles, outdated notions of birth control and other matters of life and death.
We fought to change the Church and then walked away, leaving those who loved it as it was with the remnants of our botched attempt.

I have to wonder if we should have started the revolution at all.

Her blog: minichino.com/wordpress/

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One of the reasons I sought the EF was the constant Change that has been going on in my former parish since 1966. They have completely remodelled the Church where I was Baptised and where I had my first Holy Communion - torn out the Stations of the Cross - the Communion Rails - all the Statues the Altar has been moved forward and looks like an island - its completely different in every way. The Blessed Virgin Mary Altar on the Right where my wife and I consecrated our Marriage is no longer there. ( We had a Mexican Wedding) These are things - I wanted my Children to experience as I had. Look , I dont say that all the changes are bad. I am saying that I didnt think there was anything wrong with the Church prior. One thing i can say - they used to have Three Standing room only Masses on Sunday when I was a Teenager and up to last year when I stopped going there - they now have two sparcely attended Masses. I sometimes wonder the same thing - was it all worth it.

Interesting. Just visited her blog. Sounds to me like she still has many psychological problems. Still hung-up in the 60’s-70’s but with a defeated attitude. Sort of feel sorry for these people. There are still many priests limping around today with the same attitude.

I pray that they find some sort of peace before they pass on.

It made sense: The priest either had special powers or he didn’t. If he could transform bread and wine, he could transform danish and coffee.

Oh, please. Obviously she and her friends through theology out the window along with the pipe organ. You can’t blame Vatican II for that.

Very true. The “fugitives from the '60s” (as I have called them for years) are, as a group, incorrigible. But, I suppose this woman is, perhaps, better than most of them: at least she left.

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I didn’t live in those times, I’m quite Post-VII. But I also regret many of the changes that occurred sweepingly in churches.
I work in religious education and it’s disheartening to see 99.5% of the teens not bother coming to mass after confirmed. And the 0.5% who stay, don’t know much of anything about the faith. I do what I can, but I am young and with priests not caring about training for religious education or attendance of youth I can only pray.

Once again, I’ll state as I state in just about every thread:

I am not blaming Vatican II, rather it’s misapplication and this women’s story is a good example of that.

Looking at the big picture, the evil one is an opportunist. I can easily see how he incited, then exploited social conditions to add impetus to changes in the Church. On a time line, look at the changes that are roughly centered around WWII: social and political unrest, a liberalizing of morals, technological advancement; nuclear weapons; communications improvements; great overall social change; rebellious attitudes; increased divorce and contraception, and the streamlining and polishing of abortion for profit. The greatest changes that the world has seen, compressed into a quite short span of time, and either leading up to a world-wide war, or immediately following it. The Church was caught in the middle of this, attempting to make sense of it all.

I am a post-V2 Catholic and have never attended a Latin mass. But, I can’t help but think that we are experiencing a misplaced sense of nostalgia in wanting to “go back”. We have suffered from disobedience over the course of the last century. We are now here, moving forward, with liturgical improvements soon arriving. There is a new and more reverential tone developing in the Church. It is being reawakened. God is in charge. Let’s allow Him to lead us.

Nostalgia? How about a sense of the sacred.

The comments of this young man (not much younger than myself;)) answer your concerns beautifully:

Brian Walden says:

I can’t speak for everyone, but here’s my opinion as an under-30 Catholic: There’s a shift going on and more and more Catholics want to return to standing out from the general culture. I hope this isn’t a full repeal of Vatican II, but rather a correct implementation of it where we engage and change the world around us without becoming part of it. I think this may be the real story; the liturgy is just the field where this battle is played out.

I’m noticing more and more that I desire the Church to not only be a spiritual refuge for sinners through the sacraments but to also be a physical refuge. Where my friends and family tell me to ignore the hard teachings of the Church, I wish my fellow parishioners would push me to try to live them to their fullest. Where mass media and culture tries to force relativistic values on everyone, I wish there was a strong Catholic culture to help create a buffer and affirm absolute truth. Where art has turned into a medium of conveying an artist’s personal agenda rather than the truths of the human condition, I wish my church were filled with stained glass windows and statues and hymns to flood my senses with inspiration.

This is how it should be, but all too often it’s not. And more than the examples above, the liturgy should be a refuge from the world around us. It should take us both to the foot of the cross and to the great wedding feast when Christ comes for his Bride. Because Mass is the most important thing in a Catholic’s life, I think the liturgy is where this difference between what the average parish should be and what it really is becomes the most evident.

While I support the liberal use of the Traditional Latin Mass, I don’t think it’s the only option. What people, especially those too young to ever have attended a TLM before the new missal, want more than anything is reverence - a Mass that lifts them up to God. Because the Novus Ordo Mass is so frequently abused, or at the very least not celebrated as reverently as it easily could be, young people turn to the TLM. If they could find a reverent NO Mass near them with incense and altar bells and high quality hymns and meaty homilies and the priest facing East and Latin for common prayers if not the entire Mass, I think most orthodox Catholics would be happy. These things are the standard for the NO Mass, yet sadly they’re hard to find so people opt for the TLM if there’s one available.

:thumbsup:

The words “go back” say a lot. I’ll leave it at that.

What “liturgical improvements” are those? The new English translation of the OF? :confused:

Interesting read. It’s hard to see what exactly improved after Vatican II. Vatican II did absolutely nothing to rein in sexual abuse, which, if anything, probably only worsened after Vatican II. There seems to be almost universal disgust among older people at the loss of altars and statues during the 1960s and 1970s, even among those who didn’t even like the Latin Mass. I’m sure no priest or bishop ever asked the old ladies who cared for the altars whether such ornamentation should be thrown away. Older parishioners have told me how hard they had to fight to keep high altars and how demeaning priests were to them. What a mess Sister Anthony helped create.

At my grandparents parish in the late 80s, a new pastor buzzed in and immediately stated he intended to renovate. The parishioners, of all stripes, fought it loudly. The pastor brought in some examiners and they stated the altar had termites. Termites! Out of nowhere.

He then laid out his new plans which entailed taking out not only the high and side altars, but all of the statues and the stations as well. The parish said, “NO WAY!”

So he ripped out the altars and kept some of the statues and the stations and repainted the church in hideous mauve tones.

My grandfather, a convert and daily communicant, stated, “If they take out the altar, I’ll never step foot in that church again!” And he didn’t. He died during the reckovations and the funeral mass had to be said in the gymnasium.

Shortly after, it came out the pastor had lied and there had been no termites and that he had misappropriated parish funds to go to Europe for the World Cup. He was transfered to another parish and another church was made ugly.

The Ghost of Vatican II in action!

Great posts HCC Thanks.

“A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of Communism.”

Here’s a question that I ask with all sincerity; is the Reformation (and the ramifications of it) a “ghost” of the Council(s) that preceded it?

My using the term “ghost of V-II,” is a play on the term, “spirit of V-II.” It is also a take on Bishop Walker Nickless’ comment, “The so-called “spirit” of the Council has no authoritative interpretation. It is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work.”

His comments in full can be read here: catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=4335

My question stands though. For all of what people rail against “the spirit” of VII (and in many cases for good reasons), I wonder if people thought the same thing during the time of the Reformation. Seeing the corruption and heresies spread, it would be easy to place the blame on previous Councils and leaders within the Church.

What is also lost in all of this is Pope Paul VI has, without question, made some of the biggest impact on the Church as any Pope has. He reigned during a very difficult time and brought us three things;

  • The conclusion of VII.
  • The Ordinary Form (which will no longer be the “Novus Ordo” once the Anglican Use gets officially ratified, assuming it hasn’t already, because the AU will be the newer form).

I think many of the changes people talk about regarding the “spirit of VII” would have happened anyway due to society and the way things were progressing. And I think Pope Paul VI knew this, which is why he brought us a third thing. Something we should all read and take to heart. Something that continues to shepherd us to this day:

Humanae Vitae.

This is all just my opinion of course. But for standing defiant in the wave of controversy, Pope Paul the Sixth remains one of my favorite Popes.

As Catholics, we must avoid opinion and know the truth.

None of the changes that occurred after Vatican II were even suggested by Vatican II:

catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1145

I was there before Vatican II and after. I had no reason to be less worshipful of God afterwards. The Mass did not change. Instead of Latin, it was now in English. The old Altar still contained the Eucharist. A new, smaller altar now faced the people along with the Priest. The nuns in my Catholic school told us this was done to encourage greater participation among the people. That’s it. They still took out the beautiful monstrance for Eucharistic adoration.

A coordinated attack, primarily by people outside of the Church was launched in 1968. Humanae Vitae stood in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Some theologians took out a full page ad denouncing it in the New York Times. Humanae Vitae was not taught in the seminaries in the 1970s. Prospective priests were told that it was a personal conscience issue for parishioners.

In July 1967, a statement was issued that separated Catholic Universities from the Church hierachy.

catholichistory.net/Events/LandOLakesStatement.htm

The assault was well-timed and well planned. We were set up. Our Catholic trust and compassion were taken advantage of.

God bless,
Ed

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As always, your reflections on HV ring true Ed. Thank you for posting this,

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