“There goes my life!” and Vatican II

At the end of the Call to Holiness Conference, I spoke at the dinner. I led with a reference to popular culture, a song by Kenny Chesney.  In the country-music song, a young man learns that his girlfriend is with child. He sings, “There goes my life.”. His little girl grows up to be the light of his life. As she leaves home he sings, “There goes my life.”

Sometimes mistakes result from alcohol. The Church experienced some inebriation during and after Vatican II. We see there were mistakes made. When we sober up and let time pass, and see how God was working, we find that some mistakes can be blessings. Lots of people after the Council felt, “There goes my life”. But, “There goes my life”, often ends in graces.

Pope Benedict, in his critique of the Council and in his talks at the 50th Anniversary and the Opening of the Year of Faith has offered some sober and sobering views of where we are now and of the Council. Mistakes have been made, but that is not where it ends.

And now we have serious work to do… in the desert.

That is how I started. For there rest… you’ll have to get it elsewhere. I set my notes aside at a certain point and just let it rip.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    And I thought it was excellent. I noticed you weren’t looking at the paper after a while.

    What I liked was that you gave us substantive things to do, yet ordinary. Witnessing the faith by corporal and spiritual works of mercy is truly how we win hearts for Christ. Since we have a free will, God does not force us to accept the faith. Rather, he persistently proposes and invites us to enter into faith. Instructing the ignorant by proposing in the same way is a part of that. And, so is having a cup of coffee with the lonely old lady next door and looking for an opening to bring her home in her final years.

    It sure got me thinking about a lot of things I could be doing. Our Catholic identity is marked also by these ordinary things. That’s how Catholic hospitals and schools were started and how they will blossom again going forward.

  2. Phil_NL says:

    The Church experienced some inebriation during and after Vatican II.

    I like this way of phrasing it. But it wasn’t limited to the Church, the ‘alcohol’ in question was, as I read history, more one of boundless optimism that the nature of man would not matter anymore. Inspired on the one hand by the enormous technological advances that seemed to promise an end to countless earthly sufferings (often blamed as a cause for further misery) on the one hand, and the ‘never again’ spirit after WWII (which had to be believed, lets people lost their sanity) on the other, it’s in a way logical – and oh so understandable, even for one born decades later.

    But if there’s anything the 20th century has thaught us, it’s that for all its ingenuitity and undeniable advances, mankind remains fallable, sinful mankind. A sobering thought indeed, but one that with the grace of God can be handled. The one problem is that the Church always takes decades to process these things – leaving every generation to fix the issues left by those before it (or even before that).

  3. LisaP. says:

    There’s a Toby Keith song where the main character drives by his old home and sings,

    That’s my house and that’s my car.
    That’s my dog in my back yard.
    There’s a window to the room
    Where she lays her pretty head.
    I planted that tree out by the fence
    Not long after we moved in.
    There’s my kids and that’s my wife
    Who’s that man running my life.

    When I saw your song reference, I thought it was to that one!


    It seems like the point of the Chesney song is to take the long view. I guess that’s appropriate for the Church.

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    I have also enjoyed the wonderful pro-life message of the Kenny Chesney song and shared it with the local 40 DAYS FOR LIFE list.

    I wish all expectant moms and dads could watch that little video and consider the words of the song before opening the doors to the abortion mill. They think killing the child will solve the present situation but it won’t, rather they will live with the consequences forever even when they do come to healing and peace and forgiveness they will never forget the child they never knew.

  5. Sissy says:

    What a brilliant insight, and so comforting! For many years, I looked back in grief and sorrow at all the stupid things I did. I used to say “Even God can’t change the past”. His Church taught me how wrong I was! Our merciful Lord takes even our mistakes and transforms them into a useful life in Him. Sometimes our worst mistakes turn into our greatest gifts, or they become something we can use to share the Gospel. Thanks for the reminder, Fr. Z.

  6. robtbrown says:

    The Church experienced some inebriation during and after Vatican II.

    And since then, extended hangover.

  7. xsosdid says:

    When my wife and I began having children we were inundated with negativity from all directions. In many ways it was well intended concern for our ability to take care of them.We even lost friends who could never congratulate us when we would be expecting, but would just treat us like we were insane. But we managed by living in a small apartment for years and we both worked, handing off the kids to one another and working around each other’s schedules. For a time I shoveled snow all night long (on occasion vomiting from the exertion) and delivered pizzas in the daytime!
    Anyway, if I had to do it over again I would take on every struggle gladly because it is truly my children, and strange to say my poverty, that gave me my life as I turned in my needs ever more toward Christ. It turned me into a man as well.
    As I watch my children grow I frequently am reminded of the psalm that says “your children will be as olive chutes around your table”.
    Thanks for the video Fr Z!

  8. VexillaRegis says:

    Beautiful! Friends of friends of mine, both 21 years old, met as freshmen in August and found out in October that they she was pregnant – with triplets!!! People just assumed they were going to abort the babies, but they kept their little ones. Of course they struggled financially and practically, but got their MA’s and now, some 20 years later, they are still married and have three lovely children.

  9. JacobWall says:

    Wonderful message – and what a beautiful way of showing the hope and joy yet to come – and, most of all, work. When you find out the girlfriend is pregnant, you work hard, do everything you can to make it work and to “make it right.” The joy of having a child motivates you, and the joy of knowing that the child is going to grow up and become a beautiful part of your life as a family. (Personal experience. Not terribly proud of it, but it’s how it happened. God has brought me so much joy and blessings, and even brought them out of the mistakes I made, as Fr. Z says here.)

    Two things you DON’T do: 1) sit back and pretend that it’s OK the way it is; 2) sit around and feel sorry for yourselves for the mess you got yourself into. No, you work, work and work. And then come blessings and a good deal of joy (still more work, but always with blessings and joy).

    I wish I had heard this talk. Looking at the stuff that happened around Vatican II in this way points to a good deal of joy and blessings in future …

  10. lizaanne says:

    My favorite points from your talk:

    The “biological solution” – I nearly hurt myself trying not to laugh out loud.

    You asking to answer the rogue cell phone that rang in the middle of you trying to make some salient point.

    But seriously – it was an excellent talk! A certain friend of mine gets a lot of heat for being hard hitting and telling it like it is. I’m glad that you also don’t pull any punches. Combined with the Roman collar, it’s a fantastic combination.

    Thank you again!

  11. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Father, can we have a transcript, or a recording link? I’d really like to hear your address.

  12. AnnAsher says:

    I’d really like to hear the rest too :)

  13. I think my talk was recorded and will be available. I didn’t make my own copy this time (because the trust the organizers).

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    This is an interesting analogy. I’m no “spirit of vatican II” type, and I’m not sure I go along with it totally, but it’s an interesting analogy. I have to think about it for a while.

  15. lizaanne says:

    I *think* the video of Father’s talk (and all the other talks from the conference) will be available for order through the Call to Holiness website once the video has been edited. There is no ordering link there now, but you can probably contact them for details if you are interested in purchasing the talks.


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