QUAERITUR: Before the Council we had the TLM, so why did things go wrong?

I received this from a reader. 

Good questions are raised in the wake of Summorum Pontificum and "Save the Liturgy Save the World", as well as "Say the Black Do the Red" and many other of the points I raise on this blog and elsewhere.

I write this note in all sincerity, being a convert of 25 years. I have still never been to anything other than a Novus Ordo Mass but after spending so much time on your site, I am close to finding one to attend. The recent interviews with Fathers Finigan and Paisley were quite compelling. [They will be pleased to know that.]

Even after following so many discussion threads on WDTPRS (over which my eyes often glaze, esp. concerning the status of the SSPX) I have to ask a question about the cultural assumptions your readers make. You, your guests and your readers all posit that when there is a better translation of the Mass, the priest returns to his stance ad orientem, and the liturgy is offered with reverence, devotion and integrity, the laity will revive and the Church will be strengthened. I understand the theory and how grace works.

But…. Didn’t we have all of this before the Council? Strengthened by all these things, the bulk of the flock still embraced the sexual revolution with abandon and jettisoned years of this very foundation that your readers propose to be the answer. In fact, speaking primarily with women over the last 20 years, I find that the older women are the ones still whispering to their granddaughters to “be safe,” delay marriage, to get advanced degrees and mark out their independence. I repeat, it’s not the mothers so much as the grandmothers in so many cases, and they were the ones with a better education, more exposure to the old Mass, and time to mature before the real recklessness gained speed.

One could argue that the Council rattled the faithful at the very time that they needed to stand firm in age-old truths, but the rejection of Humanae Vitae by such a widespread Catholic population (then and now) seems to weaken the case that a better liturgy carries the weight that its worthy supporters propose.

I don’t mean to be irreverent, but I cannot see that it’s a “silver bullet” [okay] to save us from our current trajectory whose coordinates seem to be self-indulgence and willful blindness. Perhaps I’m of a darker mindset, but I rejoice over the restoration of the EF (from afar) realising that we have the potential to carry a better liturgy (and a host of excellent priests prepared to offer it) into the new catacombs, for sustenance in the coming years.

It will take repeated attempts to address this before we get something like clarity.  There are tough theological questions at stake.

Keep in mind that this question will keep popping up:

  • If the TLM was so great, why did things fly apart so fast? 
  • If the Church was so great in the 50’s, why did the 60’s tear her apart so fast? 
  • If Catholics were so well formed, liturgically and otherwise, why did so many dissent and quit and lapse?

Different ways of phrasing it.  All the same question.

Critics of Pope Benedict and Summorum Pontificum make fundamental errors when they criticize the derestriction of the TLM based on what happened after the Council.  So do traditionalists.

Let’s start by responding that the questioner got one point right.

Absolutely correct is the fact that the TLM is not a "silver bullet".  It is not the cure-all for all the ills of the Church.   I have never made that claim on this blog, in sermons, talks or in my weekly column.  Don’t think when I say "Save the Liturgy Save the World" that I think that the TLM is the only perfect liturgical solution. 

There is far more at issue.  And at the core of the issue are theological questions.

We have to make essential distinctions.

This is all about ecclesiology, that is, our theological understanding of the nature of the Church.   Ecclesiology is itself at the intersection of Christology (who is Christ?) and anthropology (who is man?).

Throughout history we have had to deal with the errors that result when people forget that Holy Church is a communion of saints and sinners.  St. Augustine said in the midst of the bitter ecclesiological battle that was the Donatist controversy, that the Church is ecclesia permixta malis et bonis… a Church mixed through with good people and bad.  The Lord of the Harvest will sort this out at the end of time. 

The upshot is that we mustn’t be surprised if we find out that there are sinners in the Church.  We mustn’t be surprised or shocked that bad things happen, or that mistake are made.  We shouldn’t lose a grip on reality and think that just because we enjoy the fullness of membership in Christ’s Church that we are therefore not going to sin any more.

Seems obvious put like that, no?  But people fall into this trap all the time, through history and also today, in the trad camps and amongst the progressivists.

We mustn’t be shocked that even though before the Second Vatican Council we had the TLM, full seminaries, the Baltimore Catechism, orders with habits, etc. etc. etc., when we got to the 1960’s things flew apart.  The Church is mixed through with good and bad.  At the heart of who the Church is, there is who man is.  Man is a sinner.

Also at the heart of who the Church is is who Christ is. 

Our experience of the Church is shaped in many ways, but the principle and probably most important way is through her official, public, communal prayer which is the liturgy of Mass. 

Who we are must be experienced in the Mass and who Christ is must be experienced in Mass.

Let us never forget that before the Second Vatican Council, Holy Church was not Shangri-la, a perfect harmonious entity without sinners.  Mass was often not celebrated with care and reverence.  Often it was. 

But that really isn’t the point. 

If we experience Christ as Savior in Holy Mass that experience doesn’t remove the reality of who we are – sinners.

It doesn’t matter which liturgy we are participating in, TLM or Novus Ordo or Divine Liturgy or Anglican Use, Holy Church will remain a communion of saints and sinners.  Holy Mass can be "perfect" in form or style or execution, but that will not change the fact the nature of man.

Whether the Church is "exalted" in this world or it goes into the catacombs, the fundamental nature of man will not change.

The form of liturgy, however, is critically important because it directs our thoughts about who we are and who Christ is.

I will be writing and speaking on these issues a lot in the future.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Bill says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Thank you for writing about this. It is a question I have asked myself before, but I’ve been unable to articulate a clear answer. I’m still not sure that I can, so I hope to read more about this from you in the future.

  2. sacredosinaeternum says:

    Well said, Fr. Z! We must remember as well that things were not so nifty in the 50’s. There were indeed many abuses in the Sacred Liturgy happening with irreverence and haste. Things were not the best theologically and spiritually either. One can see the natural progression to chaos in the 60’s with the cultural revolution also coming about. There has never been a perfect time in the Church, yet in those periods in which the Sacred Liturgy has been celebrated faithfully and reverently, great fruit has produced great saints!

  3. Ottaviani says:

    The 1950s saw the gradual rise of the nouvelle theologie which St. Pius X had only managed to drive underground. Rahner and Lubac [You can’t lump Rahner and De Lubac into one homogeneous thing called nouvelle théologie – Fr. Z] were gaining popularity secretly amongst church intellectuals, even though their books remained on the Index. Dom Lambert Beauduin had already created an “ecumenical monastery” in France, without the permission of the Holy See. Even the future Paul VI was secretly in contact with many of these suspect people, as secretary of Extraordinary Affairs under Pius XII.

    One will notice that many of liberal cardinals at the council, all received their red hat from Pius XII. As holy as this pope, undoubtedly was, he was just as disastrous as John Paul II in appointing men to places of power. He created a lot of “yes-men” who, when John XXIII came along, jumped at the chance to exercise themselves and implement what they really wanted.

    So no – the 1950s were not good internally for the church, even though externally her seminaries were full, mass attendances were high and missions were successful. I suppose the modern crisis is a punishment for the complacency of Catholics.

  4. Brian Mershon says:

    Remember, regarding Humanae Vitae.

    For something like a 3 year or longer period of time in the mid-’60s after the wake of the Council’s destruction (played by media and clerics alike), we had top moral theologians and priests speculating that Pope Paul VI was going to “overturn” the ban against contraception, esp. the Pill.

    For a more than 3-year period of time, priests, bishops and theologians were actively telling people from the pulpit, as well as the ’60s cultural revolution and the “spirit” of the Council running roughshod throughout parishes that this teaching was going to change.

    Whe priests, nuns, bishops and moral theologians almost unaninously dominate the airwaves and pulpits with this message repeatedly, the laity obediently followed along this path.

    Ralph McInerny writes about this in “What wrong with Vatican II?”

  5. Wendy says:

    I guess my problem with the saints and sinners thing is that the message gets muddled. It has been my experience that it leads to confusion about sin itself. No matter where we are or somewhere in between (and we may waiver between the two in our lives) the goal is to reject sin, with the grace of God, Jesus Christ. At least that’s what I promised at confirmation. If you lose the goal you lose the message. And our community becomes a temptation rather than strength in reaching the goal. It’s my hope that we can embrace saints and sinners but not be unfaithful to the Church teachings.

  6. Matt Robinson says:

    I think we need historical perspective. This is a battle which has been raging in the Church since the Enlightenment in the 18th Century – a histoic epoch we are still in. Previous Popes underlined the gravity of the situation more than 100 years ago.

    I think a re-reading of those encyclicals is most enlightening.

    The main problem was and is a steady de-supernaturalization of the faith which has progressed since the 1700’s. Despite the solid Tradition, people retain free will. If people rejected Our Lord Himself, when he was on this earth, what else can we expect? The logical conclusion however is not to blame Our Lord for not teaching effectively, nor to blame the TLM for now being pastoral enough.

    The fact that the Church could disintegrate by the hands of people who were familiar with the TLM, only increaes my pessimism that the New Liturgy this same generation devised and still cherishes, is even more incapable of righting the Church.

  7. Gladiatrix says:

    Personally, as a believer, I would like to see both a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury who are willing to ‘put a bit of stick about’. I think it is time that HH Benedict XVI and HG Archbishop Williams took a leaf out of the book of people like the medieval Popes and early CofE ABCs like Cranmer and Laud and made an example of some of the more senior clergy.

    Without wishing to be disrespectful to His Holiness, I fail to see the point of issuing a Motu Propriu and then declining to enforce it. The first bishop or Cardinal who refused to comply with it, or claimed authority to put obstacles in its way, should have been publicly and immediately defrocked and, if necessary, excommunicated.

    ++ Rowan should have done the same to those people in the Anglican Communion who ignored the Windsor and Dar es Salaam agreements.

    I feel tremendously sorry for those observant Catholics who had such high hopes when Summorum Pontificum was published, only to see them dashed on Rome’s inability or unwillingness to follow through. Equally, I feel increasingly distressed by my own church’s navel gazing.

    It is time for the Pope to crack the whip, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury to do the same.

  8. Matt Robinson says:

    Sorry, my typing is terrible lately….above should read “nor to blame the TLM for NOT being pastoral enough”.

  9. CK says:

    Well, from my own experience, I think that those who look at things, without experience, from a priori positions will probably have those questions. People assume that the faithful somehow, en masse, raced to turn altars around, swing the guitars, and quickly (almost in the dark of night so no one could stop them) knock down altar rails. That’s not so. This was literally a strong shock deliberately foisted upon the faithful by a few desiring to deceive – (talk about those who so desire the Church to be a Democracy today)! And, believe me, that real and deeply felt shock effect also included its own psychology that tempted other teachings to appear to have been suddenly found wanting and without foundation as well. Along with such a shock came the psychological backdrop for rationalizing against other foundational rules. You see, there have to be certain fortresses/rituals protecting those striving to be good within the kingdom of the evil one. That is a most human fact. The evil one knows that, and walls/symbols/visual teachings for good had to go first as a form of terror!

    We often refer to the times when, if you threw a rock through someone’s window, your parents knew about it before you got home…due to the network/fortress of protection by the whole neighborhood and its unity in its high expectations for all. Those too have gone by the wayside, even though everyone recognized them to be for the health of all – it was proven. In the 50s lurked only the temptations – as are always present in anything good – but then a first time real separation from moorings was also just setting a new stage – that of a first time generational higher education separation from simple guidance and reminders of homespun obedience. That provided the milieu for unbridled and unsupervised experimentation everywhere – and by the innocent-without-guidance too. In some sense it was a case of the few rotten apples within the unwatched perfect chemistry for spreading. And casualness became the more comfortable equalizer rather than ideals that demanded the stricter self discipline that accompanied the form/ritual of the former fortress! The shock earthquake swallowed up that which was without heartfelt consecration. And throughout history, it’s always just a remnant that is left. Perhaps that is now Benedict’s “smaller Church”!

  10. Gregory DiPippo says:

    I recommend to this questioner two things to read. First, Geoffrey Hull’s book “The Banished Heart”, which makes a very good case that one of the Church’s main problems before the Council was precisely the fact that the liturgy had already lost its pride of place in the daily life of the Church – and furthermore, that the problem goes very far back, long before the Council, long before the Modernist crisis. Secondly, Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid’s paper, delivered at the CIEL conference in Rome in Autumn of 2005. (I don’t remember the title). In this paper, Dr. Reid, explains how the liturgical movement of Dom Gueranger, Romano Guardini et al., which hoped to restore the liturgy to pride of place in the minds and hearts of ordinary Catholics, was highjacked by the radicals who eventually produced the Novus Ordo. In short, the fault is not in our prayers, but in ourselves…

  11. Rochesterian says:

    I’ve pondered a lot about this question myself. Hmmm. And I’m not sure I find your answer satisfactory, Fr. Z. Everything you said was certainly true, [There it is. – Fr. Z]but this reader’s concern seems to be exactly that of a woman I spoke with just the other day, who said, “I hope the pendulum doesn’t swing back the other way [towards the Latin Mass], because back in the 50’s everything was so legalistic; there was no love. It was only about the ‘rules’.” [Fine. However, what I address is the very root of questions such as that raised by the questioner and the woman you spoke with. Both of those are consequences of what I am talking about.]

    Now, as much as I believe in the vital importance of tradition and the hermeneutic of continuity, I see this as a valid concern. Was catechesis all that was needed back in the 1950’s, with the Mass remaining entirely the same? [You are now lost in the details. Not to say that these are not important. Again, I was looking at a deeper theological point.] If we see, as we pray, a much wider use of the 1962MR since Summorum Pontificum, with the “gravitational pull” in effect on the entire Roman Rite, why won’t we be the same as Catholics in 1950? Is that even a bad thing? Will the difference be, with much of the desire, the requests for the Extraordinary Form, coming from the ground up, the people will truly appreciate it? [First, we must avoid the “fly in amber” approach of some trads. The Church is not “Jurassic Park”. Also, we know more now than we did then.]

    Of course, as both you and your reader believe, as I’m sure we all do, the EF is not the silver bullet. But with so much (often implicit) prejudice against the EF — I notice, most often through the horrific descriptions of the pre-conciliar period I’ve heard from many orthodox Catholics, age 50 and up — what will become of the orthodox Catholics who thrived in a resurgence of faith in the 80’s and 90’s, who often idolize Pope John Paul II above all other popes, who themselves are now fast becoming the older generation? [That wasn’t the question posed to me.]

    Or will time tell?

  12. David G says:

    I do think you reader has made an important point, which is that it is naive to suppose (as some do) that the post-Vatican II Church environment is accountable for the decline in moral standards and Mass attendance amongst catholics. Because two trends originate at (or around) the same point in time does not mean they are causally related. In this case, as your reader points out, there were wider changes in society and culture taking place which surely affected catholics as well as others. You only need to look at the obvious decline in other western ecclesial communities, not subject to Vatican II, to see that there is something else at play.

  13. Maynardus says:

    It is enticing to conclude that when the liturgy was dismantled that was the catalyst for the whole Church to go kablooey, but it has to be more than that.

    Throughout Her history the Church has faced many crises, I believe that one of the key factors in weathering those storms was that there was always a high degree of unity in belief and praxis. There will always be those who try to tear the Mystical Body asunder, e.g. Luther, but heretofore the simple priest and the average peasant knew what the basic Faith of the Church was and felt safest sticking with the Church. At the same time he knew he’d face the opprobrium of his neighbors and the community if he publicly embraced some novel creed or morality.

    As Ottaviani has noted the liberal cancer began growing stronger in the 1950s, to whatever extent Pius XII was culpable he at least had the sense (divine guidance?) not to call a council which he felt would provide an opportunity for their ideas to infect the entire Body. In addition to the liberals and ecumenists there is credible evidence of Communist and Freemasonic “infiltration”, so in addition to the usual sinners and naive dreamers who may at least be said to have “meant well” there were active enemies working from the inside to destroy the Church.

    I think it’s nearly unquestionable that John XXIII’s decision to call the Council was the spark that touched-off the whole thing. There is ample testimony that the liberals cou;d not believe their luck when J23 was elected and even more so when he announced his “inspiration”, and we know that they endeavored to put forward a united front to maximize their influence. It was no accident that their first victory was the liturgy schema, it was vital to their plans to get that approved before opposition began to coalesce.

    I do not blame the Council per se, but it certainly provided fertile ground for the weeds sown by the enemies of the Church to begin choking the harvest of souls. In addition to the unprecedented inexactitude and even outright ambiguity of some of the Council’s documents there were the powerful expectations of “aggiornamento” fed by no less than Pope John himself.

    It seems obivious to me that within those ten years (1959-1969) the average Catholic had his world turned upside-down. He no longer worshipped as he had all his life, priest and nuns no longer acted or dressed as they always had, and Catholics were permitted and even encouraged to do things which had been forbidden as long as anyone remembered. While it is not inconceivable that this upheaval in the Church itself had some influence on the societal breakdown on the 1960’s, I think it is quite certain that very many Catholics were left in a state of confusion by the situation in the Church and without the certainty and structure which had characterized the Church and their lives as Catholics no longer had the will to resist the illusions and temptations of “modern culture” born of the 1960’s. The lack of unity in the Church made it more likely that the “peer pressure” he’d be subjected to would be to “get with the program” rather than to “get back to the Church”, indeed he may have thought he was going along with the “new” Church.

    Again, this was not caused so much by the acts of the Council itself but by the atmosphere and attitudes it created. One might even call it the “Spirit of the Council” to coin a phrase!

  14. Bill Haley says:

    I would love to hear this discussed with some reference to seminarian formation where reason is not held in high esteem. I know of current situations where, in orthodox seminaries, the seminarians are not required to think critically and become disciplined in their use of reason. Often, they will pass a philosophy class or Latin (!) course without the requirements of the professor being met. This is partially justified on the basis of their calling from God which should not be hindered by a professor. They are also continually kept “active” and are supposed, thereby, to be well formed. True leisure is not being fostered.

    When a priest comes into a parish, they have to be able to reason on their feet and address the many different situations that come to hand. Simply parroting back what a teacher wants on an exam will do little to assist a priest at that point.

    This downplaying of reason seems to have been in the seminaries for decades and does go on today.

    I would bet, though I don’t know this for sure, that St. John Vianney is an example referred to. “He didn’t know Latin”, I have heard a priest say in justification of not studying or praying in Latin. “He was still ordained.” Yes, he was, and you know he prayed in Latin his entire life with his whole heart in obedience to Holy Mother Church. The exception, while proving the rule, should not become one.

  15. Chris says:

    Perhaps we also need to ask ourselves why Vatican II called for liturgical reform and simplifictaion. The idea that turning things back to 1962 is the answer is surely way too simplistic.

  16. Mark says:

    As to the subject of the “sexual revolution”, I would say that it came from Western Europe and North America. At that time, the cultural, economic, and political situations behind the Wall and other parts of the world were arguably different from Western Europe and North America. Also, the power to define reality (mostly thru the audio-visual media) gave the first world leverage to eventually introduce new sexual attitudes to the second and third worlds.

    I would think that any analysis of “what went wrong” should be primarily centered on the cultures of the first world during the relevant time frame.

  17. TJM says:

    I think many of you would find Stripping of the Altars an interesting read as to what occurs when radical Liturgical change is mandated from on high
    with little or no catechesis. The radical changes in the way Mass was celebrated undoubtedly had a deleterious effect on the Faith. What should
    have been a new Spring became a bleak Winter. If I may be critical of the pre-Vatican Church, I think there were problems with religous education.
    We were all taught the basics from the Baltimore Catechism which is an excellent initial tool because it gaves us all a common religious
    vocabulary. The problem was, much of the teaching stopped at that level, so many Catholics did not have a real grounding in the Faith at a deeper
    intellectual and spiritual level. But we are recovering. Tom

  18. Jrbrown says:

    Archbishop Lefebvre himself indicated that he supported the calling of an ecumenical council for the purpose of fostering authentic liturgical reform and also promoting a greater sense of the call to holiness of all faithful, including those in secular life. The problem, as he and many other have since noted, was that certain pressure groups, and certain periti, began to dominate the Council proceedings and craft documents which often were the result of compromise and contained phrases and terms which were ambiguous. For example, Paul VI’s famous preliminary note to Lumen Gentium explaining how the document wasn’t, in fact, heretical on the question of papal primacy, or his intervention on the question of the ends of marriage. Benedict XVI addressed this same issue in his Christmas, 2005 address, in which he condemns the concept that the “Spirit” of Vatican II is precisely that these ambiguities, resulting from such compromises, were intended to be ‘timb bombs’ to be interpreted in heretical ways once the dust settled from the Council. While this was obviously not what a majority of the Fathers of the Council intended, including Archbp Lefebvre, it is exactly what many periti did after the Council, along with Cardinals and bishops. Schillebeecx, Rahner, Boff, Kueng, etc., used ambiguities to promote errors and heresies, while Cardinals like Cardinal Suenens would routinely refer to Vatican II as a revolution and great departure from the past.

    These undercurrents had obviously been around since at least the Modernist uprising in the time of St Pius X, but had been suppressed by the Popes, including Pius XII. The problem was that these same theologians and bishops/cardinals still held these errors, in secret, and used the Council as the opportunity to attempt a takeover. THe evidence on this is plain for anyone to see, and is indisputable. We ask ourselves why the term subsisit has been officially interpreted by the Magisterium at least 4 times, yet still is presented heretically by former periti and leaders of the Church. Obviously the term means different things to different people, and that by definition is ambiguous. Why else does it need multiple definitive interpretations?

    Also, it is obvious that even before the Council many “experts” were harboring a theology of the Mass that was incompatible with Trent, and the Council and post-Conciliar period allowed them the chance to ATTEMPT, unsuccessfully, to alter the Church’s doctrine. See, for example, the original paragraph 7 of the Instruction on the Roman Missal from 1969, suppressed and altered by Paul VI when the evident error was presented to him. No amount of catechesis, good spirituality or pastoral attention could have fixed the bad will or confused theology of some of these persons, which has become all the more obvious since the Council. The problem is that these persons became empowered during and after the Council precisely because they were given their best chance at the Council, with the assistance of certain bishops and cardinals, to alter essential points of Catholic doctrine. It is not surprise that to this day Vatican II is cited by liberals and Modernists as their battle cry due to, in the words of Benedict XVI, the false concept of disruption and rupture. The attempted suppression of the TLM (erroneously believed to have been suppressed by Paul VI and John Paul II based on their Indults on the subject) became the rallying point par excellence for those who wants to discard traditional doctrine and practice. Not that the Popes themselves wanted this at all (though they seemingly did allow it to occur for whatever reason) but there is no question that the Bugninis and P Marini’s of the theological world do not like the TLM for THEOLOGICAL reasons.

  19. My father was in the seminary in the 1940s. Even at the high school and early college level, he heard a few “pet theories” expounded by his professors. I couldn’t point to any one event of decade. But I should think that Pius X’s efforts to contain modernism were not entirely successful — mostly, not entirely — because they reared their heads again in subsequent decades. As to what happened in the 1960s, I’m not even sure I blame the Council, so much as the social and political upheaval that was taking place in that decade. I grew up back then, and not everything that was spinning out of control was limited to my parish church. It was happening everywhere.

  20. Floridiana says:

    David Alexander is right – modernism did not die. It went underground.

    But I don’t think we can underestimate the influence of the secular left. 1968 was simply the perfect storm. A weakened Church (thanks to the devious work of the modernists at the council) with a politicized clergy met Dr. Freud and Karl Marx in the mud at Woodstock.

  21. Brian Kopp says:

    Rochesterian posted “If we see, as we pray, a much wider use of the 1962MR since Summorum Pontificum, with the “gravitational pull” in effect on the entire Roman Rite, why won’t we be the same as Catholics in 1950?”

    Did the Counter-Reformation simply reset the Church to the status quo of the pre-protestant era?

    The post-SP era is going to be seen in hindsight as a second Counter-Reformation.

  22. Regina says:

    We keep beating the Second Vatican Council like a dead horse when at the time it was deemed as a solution to the changing cultural mores and social upheaval at the time.I often wonder if it were not for the Second Vatican Council if the Church would indeed be dead by now, with even more people leaving and going elsewhere- or going nowhere. And that would really be a shame.
    Of course, the return to the Latin liturgy is not a panacea, but it brings people back ( if they will stay and learn from it)to a very sacred form of worship, a mystery that often cannot be explained in today’s terms, but certainly felt- a more internal worship that is free from the cultural community aspects and centered more on the sinner who truly wants mercy and wants to lead a good Christian life. The return to tradition is also a viable way to make the priesthood a more noble and disciplined profession. People are freaking out that the priesthood has become a gay profession, and straight men cannot tolerate that. Well,
    as a returning Catholic, I have done a lot of reading, and I am surmising that there will be no Church without priests.Not all people who are gay are pedophiles. I risk my palm being smacked, but I personally am glad that the Church has been a welcoming haven to many of our gay brothers and sisters who are trying to lead a chaste life. I risk Biblical condemnation, but at this time of scientific knowledge and understanding, I think people are born gay. I don’t think the return to Latin and the traditional methods of prayer will change the orientation of many seminarians, but it will make them better priests.

  23. paul says:

    Just a few thoughts about how things may have gone so wrong so quickly. During the 70’s-80’s we were exposed to so many changes that were okayed by clergy, religious and “experts”. My father remembers the day that he was acting as a server in church and was going to get the plate for Communion which was placed under the chin of the communicant. Father stated that that was not necessary anymore. What does such an action convey to the laity about the sacredness of Holy Communion. There were just so many changes and we were all taught to obey so our obedience was used against us. Very sad.

  24. Andy says:

    – I cannot see that it’s a “silver bullet”.

    So, everybody becomes frustrated, depressed, discouraged and dishearted?

    Is this the end?

    I don’t know, but I do know that we live in a sick society, in a sick world.

    Just one example:

    Our modern or post-modern or whatever society claims to love children and promote their welfare above all else.

    However, there are millions of babies aborted each year, thousands of children are being sexually and psychologically abused by their elders every day. Millions of children are locked away from their parents in nurseries and later in warehouses called “schools”. There these children develop personality disorders. Later these “sick” children are medicated and turned into “junior junkies” to control their attention deficits and their hyperactivity. Millions of children are left at home alone to fend for themselves. We turn our children into television, computer and internet addicts. Knowledge is not important. All they need to know is how to find information on the internet. Unfortunately, they do not know what to search for. Millions of sickly obese children are stuffed with nothing but junk food and hundreds of thousands of children have been locked up in jails, prisons, and reform schools for behaving no differently than the drug and alcohol addicted adults who locked them up.


    Because we don’t love our children! We don’t talk to our children! We don’t educate our children! We don’t teach them to love life! We don’t teach our children to look for God!

    Our society and our world are sick.

    The Catholic faith is the only medicine that can heal this sick world! Ultimately, there is just no alternative!

    [OK… no one will object to the sentiment here, but it is largely irrelevant to the topic of the entry, except insofar as me must overcome the effects of original sin in order to do what he is talking about. ]

  25. I have often wondered about just how much virtue there was in the pre-conciliar times. I was born after 1970, so I can’t given any firsthand experiences, so I’m just throwing out a theory. But I get the impression that there was a “fear” that kept many people more in line but it sometimes lacked the virtue that should go along with it. That when more “freedom” was given, not just in the Church (say removing the mortal sinfulness of not abstaining on Fridays), but also in culture and society (the sexual revolution, the feminist revolution, etc), that people just sort of started doing whatever they wanted.

    I use the abstaining from meat on Fridays as an example. Rather than people taking it upon themselves to abstain from meat on Fridays … or do some other penance, out of love for Christ’s passion, many, many people just up and abandoned the practice all together. That seems like there was more fear than virtue.
    I just remember a story a friend of mine told me who went though the Cuban revolution. How he was shocked to see Catholics who went to daily Mass the day before, going after priests when the revolution broke out. Is that a fair comparison of the post-conciliar times? I don’t know.

    I’ve certainly heard of liturgical abuses before the council, like priests racing through Masses (although that is still done in many places today in the Ordinary Form too).
    I just wonder if the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire the council to help inspire virtue.

    Was the “me” generation just repressed, or did it come in at a time of confusing “changes” in the Church?

    Not sure if I was very clear there. [If you read the top entry, you will get closer to the reason.]

  26. CK says:

    Getting back to the questioning of the supposedly implied “silver bullet” solution by many trads, I think perhaps the real culprit here could just be unconsciously overlooked. All throughout the ages it has been said that what we’re really fighting against are the powers and principalities. [And man’s own nature, good but wounded.] So much of this was many times warned of by heaven’s mystics, prophets, God’s own mother. We were given the tools and told to “stay awake”, yet how many responded in obedience and faith? JPII spoke of a crisis…not in liturgical forms…but a sort of catastrophic battle between good and evil now more clearly defining itself; times now expected of tribulation, persecution of the Church, and even to be prepared for necessary martyrs for the Faith. Not the end…but an apocalyptic type of end of these times before this new and expected era of peace…that time of the figurative 1000 years of chaining evil. Priests against priests, bishops against bishops, a real time of disobedience…for a while. Yes, there will be no “silver bullet” but as Fr. Z says, there has to be a pointing to our real relationship to God through our rituals; His place and our place – as reminders during such a confusing and evil time. It’s a real anchor offered to us by a wise Holy Father.

  27. CPKS says:

    I think Roman Sacristan is right. Liturgy is not a magic charm against evil, and perhaps in some ways the very uniformity of pre-conciliar liturgy allowed familiarity to breed contempt. I’m sure that cold formalism – “going through the motions” – was a greater danger in those days than it is now. The new liturgy has different strengths, while offering different opportunities to err in different ways. Indeed, I wonder if our best hope should lie in the cross-fertilization of the old and new rites. Greater familiarity with the old will certainly cast out the undeniably protestantizing spirit infecting some aspects of the new.

    The availability of both new and old liturgies (I pray, in every humble parish church!) would, I think, challenge Catholics to think more deeply about the Mass and help to point to the fact that while the central mystery transcends language and culture, it is nevertheless demands that we hear it as intimate and familiar.

  28. Mark says:

    Dear reader who posed this question:

    Allow me to suggest that you look for the answers to your interesting question beyond the Catholic and Western sources, since as you yourself wrote, our current heading is “self-indulgence and willful blindness”. I guess it’s like asking a sick person to self-diagnose and then cure himself. I always thought that Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a trusted and friendly source of what we in the “Western World” don’t want to know about ourselves.

  29. JD Carriere says:

    Why are all these replies so long when the answer is so simple?

    It’s like “If Eden was so dandy, why’d Adam screw it up?”
    “if St. Paul was such a keen preacher, why’d he have to write Corinth to correct ’em so soon after he’d left?”

    Well, sin. Isn’t it obvious?

  30. Jason Keener says:

    Some here have made interesting comments about how the Church seemed more “legalistic” in the 1950’s. That is probably true and is perhaps an intentional part of Divine Providence.

    If we recall how God prepared His People through the Old Testament in stages for the eventual full Revelation of His Son, we might also see a parallel in how the Lord guides the Church to a deeper understanding of the Sacred Deposit of Faith as the years go by.

    In the 1950’s and earlier, for example, the sacrament of marriage was viewed primarily in terms of rights and duties. Pope John Paul II developed the Church’s teaching on marriage to a vision that reflects the very inner life of the Trinity. Amazing stuff!

    As Father Z said, “The Church is not Jurassic Park.” We should welcome many of the doctrinal developments that have come after the Second Vatican Council. When these developments are understood in the Light of Tradition, they can be seen, I think, as ways in which God is making Himself more fully known to us.

  31. A decent answer to the reader’s original inquiries would require at least a four volume set of scholarly articles dedicated to a critical history of the Catholic Church from the 16th to the 20th century. So let’s not go there on this blog space. I do think, however, that a few key points have been raised here about the pre-Vatican II Church, all of which can be said about the Church throughout Her history to some degree or another, and all of which make great starting points for the forthcoming four volume collection.

    1. The training, instruction and education (the three are not synonymous) of priests: Mr Hailey has astutely affirmed that seminary training often missed the mark in the 1940s and 1950s. I am old enough to remember priests who could speak Latin, who had attended theology lectures in seminary before World War II. The practice of lecturing in Latin was discontinued in U.S. seminaries in the 1940s, I believe. By 1980seminarians learned no Latin at all. Mr Hailey makes a good point that seminarians are “kept active” with the assumption that “doing stuff” is valuable learning. His comment that “True leisure is not being fostered” is exactly correct: We overvalue hard work and undervalue “free time,” that is, the time to be unencumbered by duties and demands so we might contemplate the ultimate reasons for our existence. I am not digressing here. Seminarians have not been taught the value of simple meditation, much less contemplation, for quite a long time.

    2. Maynardus’ comment, “It seems obvious to me that within those ten years (1959-1969) the average Catholic had his world turned upside-down,” understates the impact that the post-conciliar changes had on all Catholics, and pious Catholics in particular. The changes in the Church were a constant topic of discussion at our dinner table for 15 years (and in truth still continue). For those who were young and had some understanding of the Church’s teaching, the changes after Vatican II were swift, unrelenting and at times cruelly and ruthlessly implemented by a generation of clergy and laymen attuned to the cultural mantra “change is good.” This false and oversimplified philosophy of life – based on the arrogant assumption that there is always forward progress in human history – was and continues to be presented as the Q.E.D. of any argument for revising what came before. In fact, phrases like “It hasn’t changed in thirty years!” are very successfully used to silence those who oppose wanton destruction of those things that are both old and good. Part of ths “success” of the post-Conciliar revamping of the Church’s public look came from the secular world in which notions of “progress,” “change,” “renewal,” and “revolution” were in vogue and unquestioned by most. It is obviously dangerous to say that change is good simply because it is change, yet our fashion conscious, bling-oriented and fast-clip visual culture constantly reinforces the wrong idea that new is always better. It is unfortunate, but I think demonstrably true, that many if not most of the Catholic clergy and heirarchy came under the sway of this twentieth century, culturally impoverished phenomenon after the Council.

    3. The education of the Catholic layman was – I would put forth in the four-volume collection – better before Vatican II because of the emphasis on catechesis in Catholic schools. This was true for both the U.S. – where the Baltimore Catechism was part of the desire to have solid, theologically correct texts for school children to learn from – and internationaly where “national” Catholic Catechisms had been devised, printed and disseminated, where possible, throughout schools since the 19th century. Alas, as TJM notes, “We were all taught the basics from the Baltimore Catechism which is an excellent initial tool because it gaves us all a common religious vocabulary. The problem was, much of the teaching stopped at that level, so many Catholics did not have a real grounding in the Faith at a deeper intellectual and spiritual level.” There were, particularly before World War II, follow up classes to the Baltimore Catechism. In the 1930s my parents were both taught “Apologetics” and “Theology” in Catholic high school; both courses were based on the assumption that they had learned the basic facts of their faith from the Baltimore Catechism. The most telling tragedy here is the failure and collapse of the Catholic school system in America after Vatican II. [I recall reading in the mid 1960s a book in which it was stated that one of the gravest crises facing the Church in America was the anticipated crushing blow to Catholic finances that the demographically proven flood of students in to Catholic schools would have on the Church’s finances in the approaching 1970s! My own Catholic high school built a fancy and expensive addition in anticipation of a two-fold increase to 2500 students by 1975. In ten years, however, the student population decreased from 1100 to 400.] Standing before us was the perfect opportunity to educate, teach and instruct a new generation of Catholic youth in the timeless Faith, in the sacred language of the Church [the Latin requirement and then Latin instruction were dropped at my High School], in the rituals and prayers and in the teachings of their Holy Mother – all of these opportunites were wasted.

    4. The issue of dignity and norm could take up the entire fourth volume of our set. I believe it was Petrarch who first defined the questions of the “dignity” and “norm” of vernacular languages for use in artistic literature. The same general consideration applies to the liturgical and sensu lato the cultural composition of the Church in the twentieth century. It is clear that the dignity (read “worthiness”) of vernacular langauges for celebration of the Mysteries has always been upheld by the Church. It is the norm or standard of that language that often comes into question and most particularly in the aftermath of the allowance of vernacular Eucharistic celebrations in the 1970s. The norm for both liturgical language and types of litrugical action has yet to be settled. I have long thought that the question “What norms shall we use in making our our new liturgy” was never specifically asked and certainly never answered. Thus, when the pre-Conciliar Church allowed the “Dialogue Mass,” there were discussion of norms of pronunciation (Roman-Italian? Central European?) even in parishes within the U.S. (the Polish parishes in particuular had a problem with the Roman standard). Such minor problems became major in the mid-1960s. With the “allowance” of hymn singing during Mass in 1965, the question of the repertoire (what would the “norm” be for choosing hymns) was raised and decided – in the U.S. – in favor of the most accessible model, i.e., the Protestant hymnal. Suddenly, The Nicea, The Old Hundredth and even Luther’s defiant A Mighty Fortress were part of the acceptable liturgical norm in American Catholic Churches. I submit that these moves, which pre-dated official changes in the liturgy, were part of a growing sentiment among the 1950s ecumenists to sway public Catholic opinion toward forced “understanding” of Protestantism. Changing the norm could change the “dignity” so that eventually – as one very optimistic priest told me in the 1970s – there would be such communication between the Protestants and the Catholics that there would be shared ministries. The quesiton of dignity and norm in the liturgy and in Church teaching at large has not been fully discussed and needs to be. The norms for liturgy have been taken largely from twentieth century media [clapping at Mass (“let’s have a big hand for…”), the introduction of the celebrant and the reading of the “list of players,” (“rolling the credits”), the introduction of multi-media and stage performance characters (big, ugly puppets!), etc., etc.], which reflects a desacralizatin of the Mystery and a reduction to the lowest common denominators of pop culture.

    All of these considerations indicate that – while the liturgy was not perfect before the mid 1960s – it was better because it correctly assumed that the established norms preserved its dignity. The Church of the Council of Trent knew well that a relaxation of norms could mean a dangerous slide in the dignity of the celebration and that, ultimately, such loss of dignity would open the celebrations to abuse.

  32. Strengthened by all these things, the bulk of the flock still embraced the sexual revolution with abandon and jettisoned years of this very foundation that your readers propose to be the answer.

    Well-intentioned as this reader’s query obviously is, an incorrect premise underlies it.

    During the mid-1960s right after the Council, I lived in successive years in three different dioceses in three different regions of the country. I know that — in the U.S., at least — the liturgy was the first thing to “go”. Despite the fact that the Novus Ordo was not officially implemented until 1970, by 1966 the TLM was in reality a thing of the past, never (we were told) to be seen again.

    I was active in parish affairs — a “liturgy leader” in those days, I regret to admit now — and knew lots of my fellow Catholics. It is plain to me (and surely to others who experienced these events and followed them closely first-hand) that it was the collapse of the liturgy that may not entirely have caused, but surely was a key to the collapses in all other areas of Church life.

    In short, the pervasive feeling among both lay and clerical Catholics was … If the Mass is no longer inviolate and subject to change and (in part) rejection, then surely everything is.

  33. Virgil says:

    I am half amused and half scandalized, that the reader seems to equate the supposed degeneration of the Church with “the sexual reviolution.”

    My amusement: Liturgy exists only to keep us chaste!

    My scandal: Those on the outside of the Church, especially in the media, perpetually accuse us Catholics (and other Christians) of being obsessed with sexual discussions. “Those who don’t do it talk about it a lot.” Let’s not add fuel to that fire!

  34. Borat says:

    Although the pre-Vatican II Catholic world had the TLM, it had also been subject, as many on this thread have said, to the depredations of modernity. There was a cognitive dissonance between the premodern theology of the TLM and what Catholics experienced outside the Mass, especially once they began leaving the “Catholic ghetto” for the suburbs, etc. The interpretation of Vatican II by those whom Benedict XVI has said engaged in the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” only furthered this, but did not start it.

    Much too often, modernity (and, now, postmodernity) is taken to mean “progress” in positive terms, rather than simply a philosophical hermeneutic whose foundations and assumptions are dubious at best. For example, there is no reason that scientific progress could not be made, while still acknowledging the primacy of God (as happened in the premodern world). But having accepted the assumptions of modernity, the society in which the Church was present often acted in a countervailing way, to cut the ground out from under the hermeneutic of the TLM. So, it’s really no wonder that once the Church itself signed on to an “engagement” rather than a critique of modernity, the whole structure was in danger.

  35. CPKS says:

    Henry Edwards: “the pervasive feeling among both lay and clerical Catholics was … If the Mass is no longer inviolate and subject to change and (in part) rejection, then surely everything is.”

    I remember this to be true. Catholic confidence, and sense of identity, was shattered at that time. Another thing that I recall from those years was the abrupt change from the separatist culture of pre-conciliar times. Before Vatican II, we were not allowed to attend non-Catholic religious services of any kind. Catholics were differentiated by these and many other practices. Afterwards, there seemed to be little externally to differentiate us. In a way, it felt like a humiliation: we had been made to strip off those things in which we had once taken a kind of pride (one hopes, a justifiable pride).

    This was a two-edged sword: some, going with the flow or even rather overtaking the flow, enthusiastically embraced a kind of quasi-protestant syncretism; others, deprived of the touchstones of their identity, sought to reconstruct an interior identity, by taking refuge in a nostalgic allegiance to the glories of the past. But for others, perhaps it made possible a humbler, but more profound and personal engagement in the life of faith.

  36. Clare says:

    I wonder how much of the decline in Mass attendance, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and adherence to Church doctrine was the result of mixed-faith marriages — Catholics marrying Protestants and also non-Christians. At some point the number of these marriages may have overwhelmed the Church and family structures that had accommodated mixed marriages in the past.

    There was a generation of Catholics — beginning in the 1950s and 1960s — for which marriage with a non-Catholic became much more common than in earlier years. Yet the parents of this generation had not faced this challenge and so did not know how to deal with it — how to teach their children how to approach marriage to a non-Catholic. Thus many Catholics stumbled because they had not been properly trained to answer the question (among others), “Why bother getting up to go to Mass?”

    There are a lot of other cultural factors — the assassination of President Kennedy, whatever you think of him as a president or a Catholic, appears to have been a cultural blow that weakened the Post-World War II generation and made it — including its Catholic members — susceptible to attacks by the Evil One.

  37. gsk says:

    I really like the analogy of the “perfect storm,” Floridiana. But Virgil, your comment about the liturgy came across as a little snarky. Two thousand years of Church history has offered a panorama of attacks on the truth. We happen to be living in the age of what could be called “the sexual utilitarian heresy” (due to two unique elements: reproductive technologies that didn’t exist before and abundant leisure time, which has heretofore been rare). Thus, the present lies take aim at: “male and female He made them,” and “be frutful and multiply.”

    Just as political chaos in the time of the early Church was countered with Benedictine order and material decadence later was countered by Franciscan detachment, living in today’s prurient world means seeking chastity — which is helped along through the witness spousal purity of faithful priests ministering to the singularly pure Bride. That’s God’s gift to this generation to make His will clear.

    That’s why development of doctrine must continue to answer present challenges, founded on centuries of truth but offered in a way that this generation can understand. Your hint of sarcasm seemed to discount this.

  38. Ottaviani says:

    Fr. Z

    If you wouldn’t lump Rahner and Lubac into the “new theology” clan condemned by Pius XII in his encyclical Humanae Generis, then to which schools of thought would you ascribe them both to?

  39. Ottaviani: My point is that in what you wrote, you too closely associate the thought of the one with the other, which isn’t fair… certainly not fair to De Lubac. We can see how the fundamental differences manifested themselves quickly with the division of theologians of the ressourcement line in the Concilium camp and the Communio.

  40. Sylvia says:

    I really liked your analysis here, Fr. Z. I have often heard people speak of the Tridentine mass as the mass in which so many saints participated–but the flip side is that plenty of sinners participated (and continue to participate) in it also.

    It’s too easy to look at the liturgy/morality question, even implicitly or partially, as a case of simple causality; i.e., an individual, given Form of Liturgy A, will return State of Morality B. However, man, as the object in question, frustrates this equation because of one little thing that God happened to give him, namely his freedom.

    Moreover, leaving its liturgical form aside, the Mass cannot be treated like a cause in nature because of what it is: Our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificing His Body and Blood for us and for our salvation. Something wonderful and desperate takes place here. And that’s the point of liturgy, that is why it can touch man to the core, and why it is so vital that the truth shines forth in the sacred actions. If you can speak about a result of liturgy, it’s that mysterious something that goes on inside of man that is so hard to discuss or debate about, because it is not tangible, not measurable, sometimes not even conscious in him. You might call it prayer.

  41. Ottaviani says:

    Fr. Z – thanks for the clarification.

    Clare: I wonder how much of the decline in Mass attendance, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and adherence to Church doctrine was the result of mixed-faith marriages—Catholics marrying Protestants and also non-Christians. At some point the number of these marriages may have overwhelmed the Church and family structures that had accommodated mixed marriages in the past.

    It certainly doesn’t help that the church seems to have somewhat a more accommodating approach to mixed marriages. I simply cannot but the argument that times are changing and it is simply not possible to hold to old Catholic (and scriptural) position on mixed marriages. The rise of young Catholic women marrying Muslim men in Italy is rising and in over 80% of these marriages, the Catholic part always ends up apostatizing from the faith. What is more worrying is how John Paul II, for all his supposed greatness, could not see the inherent dangers of mixed marriges when he said in his document Familiaris Consortio:

    Marriages between Catholics and other baptized persons have their own particular nature, but they contain numerous elements that could well be made good use of and developed, both for their intrinsic value and for the contribution that they can make to the ecumenical movement. This is particularly true when both parties are faithful to their religious duties. Their common Baptism and the dynamism of grace provide the spouses in these marriages with the basis and motivation for expressing their unity in the sphere of moral and spiritual values.
    For this purpose, and also in order to highlight the ecumenical importance of mixed marriages which are fully lived in the faith of the two Christian spouses, an effort should be made to establish cordial cooperation between the Catholic and the non-Catholic ministers from the time that preparations begin for the marriage and the wedding ceremony, even though this does not always prove easy.

    I, for the life of me, cannot see how you can reconcile the above with say what Pius XI or Pius IX say. Tolerating mixed marriages and encourgaing the non-Catholic party to convert: yes. But “ecumenical importance”??!!!

    I hope I haven’t gone too far of the topic. Sorry if I have…

  42. Andy says:

    [OK… no one will object to the sentiment here, but it is largely irrelevant to the topic of the entry, except insofar as me must overcome the effects of original sin in order to do what he is talking about. ]

    Comment by Andy — 31 July 2008 @ 8:17 pm

    Dear Father Z,

    Thank you for your comment.

    However, it seems to me that many people here hoped that the derestriction of the TLM would bring about a new dynamic within the Church. The claim that the TLM is not a “silver bullet” seems to have dashed that hope. In most comments people seemed frustrated, depressed, discouraged and dishearted.

    But why should people feel dishearted? There is no alternative to the Catholic faith!

    Indeed, the derestriction of the TLM is not the “silver bullet”, but it is a sign of hope. After almost 40 years, the derestriction of the TLM expresses the will to reconnect with the Catholic Church of our fathers and mothers.

    “The derestriction of the TLM is not the cure-all for all the “ills” of the Church.” – However, it is not the Church that is ill, but many people within the Church.

    So, “we mustn’t be surprised if we find out that there are sinners in the Church.” – Indeed, that has always been the case.

    “Keep in mind that this question will keep popping up:

    If the TLM was so great, why did things fly apart so fast?

    If the Church was so great in the 50’s, why did the 60’s tear her apart so fast?

    If Catholics were so well formed, liturgically and otherwise, why did so many dissent and quit and lapse?”

    I think that these are the wrong why-questions.

    Not the introduction of the Novus Ordo mass, nor the Second Vatican Council are to blame for what went wrong.

    There exists beneath the surface of many why-questions about human behaviour a nest of assumptions which can preclude their ever being truly answered.

    A symptom of the presence of these underlying assumptions can be observed in an explanation-seeking dialogue in which the questioner persistently tries to discover why a certain human behaviour occurred.

    He repeats his why-question until he gets the type of answer he wants, but in the process he effectively reasons in a circle.

    If the repeated questioning with its implied circular reasoning becomes chronic, then the questioner will beg the question with regards to the answer he desires and consequently run the risk of missing the truth.

    What is to blame? 1. The Second Vatican Council, 2. The Novus Ordo Mass, 3. Ecumenism, 4. etc.

    No! These are all secondary explanations. [I explained the substance of it.]

    My example of how we raise our kids clearly illustrates what is going on. Just ask: Are these Catholic kids or are these non-Catholic kids? The answer? We don’t know. They could be Catholic, or maybe not…

    This is the problem: Catholic or not? We don’t know.

    Speaking from a Belgian perspective, where more than 70% of the children go to “Catholic” schools, it is clear that these so-called “Catholic” schools are not Catholic at all. They teach them stuff about Anna Frank, Martin Luther King, Ghandi etc. They don’t talk about Jesus. They don’t talk about our Catholic Saints.

    In state schools, the children take “moral classes”, not “religion”, but they talk about the same people.

    That is what is wrong: Catholic schools have lost their Catholic identity! In a broader sense: Catholics have lost their Catholic identity.

    The so-called “Spirit of Vatican II” and its aftermath was none other than: “We are ashamed of being Catholic”.

    “So, let’s hide our identity, let’s change everything, because we want to blend in and enjoy a secular lifestyle!”

    This is what is going on.

    The elite-level secularization of the 1960s and ’70s (in the intelligentsia) produced a form of mass-secularism in the 1980s and ’90s.

    European faith did not fade so much because of Darwin, Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud (because basically their theories were wrong!), but because ordinary Europeans did their own “thinking” about God and faith in the relatively good times marked by consumerism, materialism, hedonism, and a few other pop-“isms”.

    Polls suggest that more of the young are indifferent to or even disdainful of religion and religious institutions, which demand lifelong commitment. The real enemies of the faith are relativism, indifference, apathy and distraction.

    Now, after 40 years of mass-secularism, the West is in chaos! And people are NOT happy!

    As I observe what these 40 years of mass-secularism have wrought, I think of the words commemorating the architect Sir Christopher Wren in the floor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London: “si monumentum requiris, circumspice” – “If you seek his/a monument, look around you”.

    Is there anyone who seriously believes that this situation can go on for much longer?

    Yes, secularism and materialism in the West provided the possibility of physical well-being. However, in so doing it destroyed the lives of tens of millions of its citizens.

    As a result of its ferocious assaults on the Catholic Church, the only worldwide institution which provided for the spiritual and moral welfare of our societies, a collapsed family life, abortion, broken marriages, alcoholism and drug addiction are becoming the norm, rather than the exception.

    A despiritualised, de-ecclesified and egocentric mass was formed, deprived of basic concepts of moral responsibility. This caused the social epidemic of divorce and Mafia-led economic injustice.

    The only remedy: Catholics should not blend in!

    Catholics should not blend in with everyone else. Instead, they should stand out and affect others positively, just as seasoning brings out the best flavour in food. Catholics should be the Salt of the Earth!

    That is why we need the TLM. The mass should not blend in with the secular world but stand apart from it! We are seeking God instead of the world. Therefore, the priest and the faithful should not be staring at each other. Instead, they together should face Christ on the altar.

    When I go on holiday in Italy, I often visit small villages. There I can see what Catholicism really means. Catholics are faithful people. They are good people. They are honest people and they can be trusted. Catholic people will be there for you when you need them the most. Catholics love God and they love people!

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