Thursday, August 28, 2014

Of Vatican 2, the Gates of Hell, Traditionalists, and Protestants

Yesterday, we looked at giving an answer to someone who was struggling with meeting 'c'atholics who claimed Pope St. John XXIII was elected by a freemason plot and was therefore not a real pope, which meant Vatican 2 was a false council, and everything since 1958 could just be ignored. We saw how silly this type of thinking was, but today I'd like to look at where such thinking must necessarily lead.

'C'atholics who claim the Church fell into error and heresy with either the election of John XXIII or Vatican 2 or the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae or whichever date they choose (it tends to differ) don't tend to grasp the consequences of what they are claiming.  If the Church taught error even once, then Christ was wrong. In fact, he was worse than wrong, He was a false prophet. But God is not a false prophet. Therefore, Christ isn't God either. Which means we should immediately abandon not just the "hierarchy" or even just Catholicism, but all of Christianity. More than that, we should denounce Christ as an evil man. For Christ claimed to be God and even accepted worship from His followers when He wasn't divine. Which makes Christ an evil usurper of the privileges of God who ought to be universally reviled. That, hatred of Jesus and the abandonment of Christianity, are the logical consequences of the Church teaching error at Vatican 2.

Hilliare Belloc perhaps summed the ridiculousness of trying to separate the "Christian religion" from the Catholic Church better than any other modern writer,
"There is no such thing as a religion called "Christianity" there never has been such a religion. There is and always has been the Church, and various heresies proceeding from a rejection of some of the Church's doctrines by men who still desire to retain the rest of her teaching and morals. But there never has been and never can be or will be a general Christian religion professed by men who all accept some central important doctrines, while agreeing to differ about others. There has always been, from the beginning, and will always be, the Church, and sundry heresies either doomed to decay, or, like Mohammedanism, to grow into a separate religion. Of a common Christianity there has never been and never can be a definition, for it has never existed." (From The Great Heresies)

If these 'c'atholics are not fleeing Christianity, then they show themselves to be no better than any other Christian who choses to reject the Church's authority when they don't like certain things she teaches, while trying to retain those parts of Catholicism they happen to like. This, picking and choosing from the teachings and practices of Catholicism, is the very definition of heresy, which comes from the Greek αἵρεσις meaning "to choose." Heretics are those who choose the teaching "God is love" but reject the idea of God's justice. Heretics are those who choose the teaching to "love your neighbor" but reject the teaching to not use contraception. Heretics are those who choose to use the Bible, but reject the Church who canonized it. And heretics are those who choose the Church's teaching from before the 28th of October 1958 and reject the teachings since.

Sadly, heresy will always be with us. It will always be easier to try to change the Church than to allow it to change you. Christ gave us a living teaching authority, one He invested with the power to teach in His name,
He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me. (Lk 10:16)
He didn't give us a book to read and interpret privately as Protestantism would have and He didn't give us a bunch of old encyclicals and traditions from ages past to read and interpret privately as a certain type of "traditionalist" 'c'atholic would have.  He gave us the living voice of the Magisterium of the Church and guaranteed this Church would stand against the very gates of hell.

Privately interpreting St. Paul's Letter to the Romans or Pius V's Quo Primum while ignoring the Church isn't a valid option. To understand the Truth, to be faithful to Jesus, we must hold fast to the traditions, to the scriptures, and listen with docility to the voice of the Church as it speaks todayThat isn't easy, especially in this age of rebellion against authority, but it is the narrow path and the only way to avoid the ultimate pitfall of heresy - fashioning God into your own image and likeness and worshiping an idol of your own creation.

Tomb of St Ignatius
"Religion Overthrowing Heresy and Hatred" by Pierre Le Gros "the Younger" 
This tendency toward private interpretation (which is the hallmark of all Protestantism) unfortunately has affected Catholics both of the liberal stripe ("the Church needs to get with the times" crowd) and of the radical traditional stripe ("the Church fell into heresy and I didn't" crowd). In this regard, these "traditionalists" are nothing more than liturgically minded Protestants. Are there some problems that need "protested" in the Church today? Of course, the Church is constantly being reformed - Ecclesia simper reformanda, but the abuses of one age never call for disobedience to the Church's teaching. Understanding this means the difference between being St. Francis and his Franciscans instead of Luther and his Lutherans. For, to paraphrase the great St. Augustine, if you only believe what you like in the Church's teaching, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Church you believe, but yourself.


  1. We should be concerned with anything "heretical" in Vatican II. Was there such heresy among the thousands of pages? I have not studied the document. But what was the FRUIT of Vatican II? You will know them by their fruit. Personally I saw many Catholics leave the Church so Vatican II did result in a split of sorts, lack of Catholic cohesion among those who really believed the Mass had been instituted by Christ at the Last Supper and therefore could not be changed (the words of consecration were changed and this is a biblical matter) and so there is validity on this point. I don't care whether the priest faces me or the altar. No matter. That was a matter of the priest standing in intercession in a physical posture or the priest standing in embrace. That is stylistic because the priest intercedes no matter what. As to the shortening of the Canon of the mass? I HATE IT! Where are the prayers for the Saints? By Name? The New Confiteor? HATE IT! Where is the ABSOLUTION from the priest? So that those who did not get to confession can be absolved of their sins right then and there before Consuming the Eucharist? And was the Mass shortened out of convenience of modern day life because I think the mass should be longer so we can stay on our knees more? Well, these are the main issues for me about Vatican II. And of course, the Old hymns. Some of these new hymns, well they just stink. They really do.

    1. Liz,
      Let us then look at Vatican I - after all, many priests and laymen were upset by *that* council; schismatic movements arguing against that council's dogmatic statement split to form at least 2 schismatic sects that reject Rome, etc.Does the 'fruit of Vatican I' mean much other than people will look for excuses?
      No, it doesn't.

    2. Thanks for the thoughts, Liz. A few points. First, to your dislike for some of the changes to the Mass. I'd note 1) Vatican 2 didn't change any of the things you mentioned. They were changed in the aftermath of Vat 2, but you'll look in vain to find a rejection of old hymns, calls for the priest to face the people, a denial that Christ instituted the Mass, etc in any document of Vatican 2. Second, to your idea that Vatican 2 must be "heretical" because some Catholics left the Church after the Council, "you will know them by their fruit." Look at the "fruit" of Trent (500 yrs of separation from the formerly Catholic Protestants, which still hasn't been healed). Does that mean Trent taught "heresy?" Look at the "fruit" of Nicaea (most of the world becoming Arian). Does that mean Nicaea was wrong when it proclaimed Jesus God? Of course not, because there will always be Catholics who prefer to leave the Church to found one they like better. The existence of schismatics and heretics is no black-eye on an Ecumenical Council, it's a black eye on those who refuse to heed the voice of Mother Church. Besides, the "Traditional Latin Mass" is still validly celebrated in the Church. If you want you are free to attended it (as I frequently do myself). But leaving the Church because you "HATE!" some things about it? I'd be more careful about the eternal state of my soul than that.

  2. This is a thought-provoking post, Nathan, and a topic I don't hear many people discuss. It is the Body of Christ that makes the Church something it is not, Jesus Christ always remains the same in His mercy and love. I am one of the liberal-to-moderate Catholics who view the hyper-Catholics with loving skepticism. We need to focus more on living our lives as a model of Christ and frequently partaking in the Sacraments rather than arguing about the things we "hate" about the post-Vatican II Church. We are all fall short and are not worthy of God's grace. Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ's salvific love on the cross. Peace.

  3. Thanks Stan. I'm not entirely comfortable with the importation of political labels into the Church - primarily because they tend to increase confusion rather than clarify positions. For example, what is a "hyper-Catholic?" or, for that matter, a "liberal-to-moderate" Catholic. The best categories to use are the ones the Church developed herself, those who are in full communion (orthodox Catholics) and those who are not (heterodox Catholics). The difference between these groups is whether or not the Catholic accepts all the Church believes. If so, they are orthodox, if not they are heterodox (and not in full communion). Catholics can be "conservative" and be heterodox (e.g. SSPX, sedevacantists) and Catholics can be "liberal" and be heterodox (e.g. Mario Cuomo, Nancy Pelosi, Catholics for Choice, Catholic Women Priests, etc). The key is whether or not you submit to the authority of the Magisterium of the Church or whether you choose to set yourself up as the highest authority. God bless.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks for clarifying the confusion. I must be a heterodox Catholic trying to pray my way to orthodoxy. Although I want to be orthodox, I struggle with doctrinal skepticism. Prayer, reading, Scripture, and the Sacraments have kept me trusting and hoping in Christ. I realize, however, that "all things work for good for those who love God" (Romans 8:28), so this must be part of His plan. I look forward to reading through your blog. Grace and peace to you, Nathan.

    1. Stan, remember the wise words of Card. Newman, "ten thousand difficulties do not make a doubt." We can trust that the Church is right, even when we don't ourselves quite understand how. In such cases, a Catholic struggling with many "difficulties" is still in communion with the Church, for they believe all the Church does, even if they don't yet fully understand the 'why.'