I remember the changes brought about by Vatican II. Specifically, the changing of the liturgy from Latin to English. At the time I was far too young to fully appreciate what it meant, but I did feel (and still do but for different reasons) a sense of loss. Even at (or especially at) the young age of 8-10, when one is beginning to grasp the Church is a bedrock, a true sanctuary in ones life, yet they are changing things which at that age took some effort to understand, to bring on board (a whole different language used to converse with God).
My (very limited) understanding of Vatican II is that it was brought about to “modernize” the Church. To do some “house cleaning” and re evaluate the mission of the Church in light of the “modern world”.
The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, was an ecclesial, theological, and ecumenical congress convened in the autumns of the four years from 1962 through 1965. Pope John XXIII convoked the Council on October 11, 1962, and with bishops from all over the world, sought to define the nature, scope, and mission of the Church. Of the 2,908 clergy entitled to attend the Council, 2,450 did so. The Council closed December 8, 1965.
The Council produced 16 documents some of which are described as the greatest expressions of Catholic social teaching in church history.
Vatican II marked a fundamental shift towards the modern Church. The decisions of the Council, especially those regarding the liturgy, affected the lives of Catholics around the world. After Vatican II the use of the vernacular language was permitted in the celebration of the Mass and in 1970 the new Sacramentary and Novus Ordo (New Order of Mass) were established. Increased participation by the laity distinguishes Catholic life after the Second Vatican Council. Bible study groups, Marriage Encounter, social action organizations, and the charismatic renewal movement are all fruits of the Council. Vatican II made possible the many post-conciliar official Church documents on Catholic social teaching.
“The Second Vatican Council Resource Guide
Nostra Aetate, Forty Years and into the Future : 1965-2005”, Introduction,
And being a youngster at that time, I didn’t grasp all the implications of what was being changed/allowed. All I saw was “my religion-my special club”, if you will, was changing. It seems trivial looking back. Perhaps it is. But to a youngster just beginning to grasp what his faith was all about, the repetition, the sameness, the consistency was a very important thing. Here was something which was supposed to be (as my parents and great Uncle – a Priest – had told me) constant.
I was at the age where I was beginning to see the Church as bedrock. That there was comfort to be taken in the sameness of it all. As a child I thought when reciting the Latin, I was speaking in the same language as the Apostles, not realizing it was not really the case. But it provided a link (in my mind) to the very beginnings of my Church.
In other ways things changed as well. Used to be Fridays was meatless … period. Fish, grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna casserole, cheese (or veggie) pizza, were standard fare Friday nights. In a small way it set *us* apart from others, made a unique statement, a reminder to my young mind, that we had rules to follow different from some of my friends and neighbors. And as a child it did not seem to be a sacrifice at all (though my parents food budget may have felt otherwise). It was also considered a “sin” if you knowingly ate meat on Friday, it was considered that important. As a child, the fact it was a sin not to follow this, was a big deal – all sins were “a big deal” and had equal weight. Now, with the advent of Vatican II, it was a sin no longer (other then on various holy days, and the season of lent).
In short, my bedrock was being chipped away. If these things could be changed , what was going to be changed in the future? Was anything important enough to not be modified or removed by some future Pope? Or public acclamation? Understand this, in a world that was going through some major changes; the war, the assassination of a president-not too many years earlier, the space race, the threat of nuclear war (Yeah, on a simple level, even at that age, I grocked we could all be blown to atoms), my youthful budding faith, my Church, was security. As an adult perhaps I would have had the intellectual ability to gain a better understanding of all that Vatican II was trying to bring about. As a child this was not the case, and looking back, was where the seeds of doubt and discontent were planted.
The years have gone by. There have been many more changes within the Church. There have been many changes within me as well. But as I grow older, I often times long for the simple honest faith I had as a child. And I read (C. S. Lewis is a bright light indeed). I think. I wonder. Even imperfect as it is implemented by mortal man, perhaps the bedrock of old needs to be revisited … for the core values (the teachings of Christ) are as they ever were, whether in English, Latin, or Aramaic, a gift freely given.
In this time of world wide upheaval. A time which allows for a cancer to masquerade as a faith, the lines are clearly being drawn. One one side is western civilization, and by extension, an aligning with those who believe in (the Judao-Christian) God and all that entails. The other side of the line is darkness. Which side of the fight are you on? I prefer to be on the side of the light. And as imperfect a man as ever there was, the light still calls to me. It can not be ignored or pushed aside. That there are others whose writings promote thinking, and resurrect memories of a youngster (from so long ago) help more then they know, in my finding the path. Thank you Francis, Og, and others. By not hiding your lights under a bushel, you give light to where my path may be (or has been all along).