Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII. I was three years old, which essentially means the Council has been overshadowing and influencing my life in one way or another for most of my life.
It apparently took some time to take affect in my little town in Michigan, because I do have faint memories of sitting on my grandma's lap while she prayed her rosary during the Latin mass. I also remember being a happy third grader, drawing pictures based on the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as Moses and Elijah and thinking how neat it was that I was learning all of these wonderful bible stories. That all ended abruptly by fourth grade and suddenly we were doing the butterfly analogy of life into death (an analogy that was done so continuously through my Catholic education that I have a serious dislike for butterflies to this day!) and making burlap banners and singing dopey new songs for church.
The only thing even remotely looking like a serious study of Catholicism happened in 10th grade for one quarter, when we were asked to read The Last Temptation of Christ. So consequently, I graduated high school not knowing much about Catholicism at all. I wrote more about that here. I didn't even think about studying my faith until my sister left the church and then started asking me all of those famous "anti-Catholic" questions. I literally studied my way back into my Catholic Faith.
Not surprisingly, when I find my old classmates on Facebook, many of them have left the faith, or self-describe as Christians or merely believers. Ditto many of the 30-somethings who had my generation as parents.
But they tightened all of that up a bit since then didn't they? Well sort of. I guess.
But just anecdotally, I am not impressed.
- I know of at least three graduates from one of the biggest Catholic High Schools who, not only found themselves expecting babies outside of marriage - but with the full support of their Catholic families including big baby showers and weddings with all the trimmings.
- Catholics on Facebook who think the only licit choice for president in this election is Obama... abortion and religious liberty be damned!
- Reports of Catholics practically coming to fisticuffs in my Diocese during the forums for Faithful Citizenship!
What all this tells me is that the elusive "spirit" of Vatican two still needs to be corralled and sent to the taxidermist, because the heresies of the catastrophic implementation of Vatican II still abound.
- Catholic kids aren't learning that it is a mortal sin to have sex outside of marriage. In fact, folks are so happy that they aren't aborting their children that there's a huge payoff for getting pregnant. You can get knocked up and still get your fairytale wedding plus all the loot from bridal and baby showers - so it must not be THAT much of a big deal!
- Social Justice has been pushed so hard that despite the bishops' best efforts, it out shines abortion and even the right to be practice authentic Catholicism! And of course the only good Social Justice is government delivered social justice at tax payer expense. The Good Samaritan certainly got that one wrong. He needed to report the dying man by the side of the road to the authorities and let them cover that unfortunate guy's health care.
- Civility has apparently been lost for Catholics as well. Why else would police be called to a Catholic forum on Faithful Citizenship? We don't know how to defend the faith, nor do we know how to debate, so what passes for debate on t.v. and radio becomes the norm.
Into that backdrop tomorrow, per Pope Benedict, we start the Year of Faith.
The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.
Will one year be enough to turn around all of the problems of the past? No. But it's a start and it can certainly start in the home with our own kids,
- by how we handle this upcoming election and the outcome
- by maintaining civility
- and learning about authentic Catholic teaching with regard to social justice, human life and sexuality.