Wherein Fr. Z recommends and then rants with frustration and sorrow

There is a good article today at Crisis by Fr. John Perricone about the widespread liturgical wreckovation perpetrated against the People of God by the pointy-headed “experts” who were – and still are – stoned on the vapors of the “spirit of Vatican II”.

Most people have no idea that most of the vandalism – nay, that term does disservice to Vandals – devastation wreaked in churches, and the malfeasance generated against new structures, was not mandated by the Fathers of the Council.   In fact, their mandates were quite limited in scope.

But look what we got.

The fact is that, of the two major teams on the playing field (threshing floor?), only one seems to be able to get organized, work together and carry out their goals.  The other mostly resembles a cross between a clown car and a bird cage, the inmates pecking at each other and squirting seltzer bottles.

Guess which are the sides I mean.

When will the pettiness end and the true cooperation begin?

What I see are various splintered factions who would rather die than leave the tiny wrinkle of ground they’ve claimed.  Like dogs on chaffing chains they will even snap and bite at those who offer aid.

I would ask them: How’s that working for you?  Better yet, how’s that working for all of us?



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    My hometown church was rebuilt in this manner. The structure originally was a neo gothic mansion on Main Street with while pillars from base to the pediment. Before it became the church in the early 1900’s, it had been remodeled into a theater. The nave had a slanted floor down to the sanctuary. It looked like a church with stations of the cross along the aisles, trumpeting angles on the presidium, etc. The mid 70’s remodeling painted EVERYTHING off white and the tabernacle was moved to the side, but still within the sanctuary. The interior was pretty much was left alone.
    When the 200 year old wooden structure was torn down in 1993, it was rebuilt in a semi-circle and DEVOID OF ANY “DECORATIONS”. The “worship space” was bare, except for a few wrought iron wall sconces and one ubiquitous seasonal felt and burlap banner. There was a big immersion pool for baptisms that gurgled and swirled like a jacuzzi.
    The kicker was the crucifix. Sans corpus, it ran from floor to ceiling with the cross piece down low. No! it wasn’t upside down! You don’t understand, the top of the cross is going UP to heaven! We were getting back to basic, simplistic Christianity like they worshiped in the catacombs.
    Yeah, it looked upside down.

  2. Stefan_Jetchick says:

    “When will the pettiness end and the true cooperation begin?”

    Yes, there is a lot of truth to that. We faithful Catholics are partly to blame. (I call it a form of “Heterostupidity”: http://www.jesus-eucharistie.org/en/serm/heterostupidite.htm#s3p3)

    That being said, we have to be careful not to compare apples with oranges. As the Latin saying goes: “Bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quolibet defectu”. In other words, destruction doesn’t require brains or collaboration. Wrecking is easy, building is hard. And building requires a good Leader who coordinates manifold efforts. And good Catholic Bishops are PRECISELY what we are currently short of. So the laity should not be blamed first, or foremost.

  3. tzabiega says:

    Father Z, you are absolutely correct. It seems like the devil always is able to unite the forces trying to destroy the Church and the family, while the people on the right are always bickering with each other over usually minor differences. One example is a wonderful nationwide pro-life organization I was very closely involved in over 10 years ago (I will not mention the name because it continues to be an amazing organization). At the time I was involved, the incoming president became involved in heated struggle with the board, with the episcopal adviser bishop taking the side of the board and the chaplain taking the side of the president. It ended up with the removal of the president and eventually in a secular court case. Every single person involved was 100% pro-life, anti-contraception, anti-euthanasia, pro-sound liturgy and they are all courageous people who would probably be ready to be martyred if religious persecution ever started in the United States. Yet a squabble over personal issues and, frankly, pride led to a fight that almost destroyed the organization. This is a stark example, but I see it all the time, with the devil winning the battles by uniting his forces and dividing our forces.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Count on your fellow human beings to gum it up. We’ve had six years of torment, but we’ve had a few benefits, maybe our faith was strengthened in the turmoil. One definite benefit is that in the 1980’s, we knew nothing except that things were wrong, very wrong, but we didn’t know much more than that. Now we know, and it is in large part because of bloggists and Catholic pundits that we do know. But out of frustration or impotence or lack of positive change or something happening that helps us in some tangible way, bloggists are turning on each other and it has devolved into a sort of cannibalistic pissing match that gets nastier by the day. It’s unfortunate, depressing, and 100% unproductive. It gives the enemy exactly what he wants, and cheers our opponents. Why do it. Because we come from Cain and Abel I guess, and we can’t imagine doing anything else. We’re staking claims and bickering about who’s the pope, who’s not the pope, who supports who’s the pope, canon law, and on and on. We’re out of our depth, and instead of acknowledging that and just proceeding on to trust God and just be faithful, disseminating actual news, we’re going to make our faithful brother the target of our frustration, condemning him and stirring up anger and more frustration, and to what end.
    We, the faithful, are the ones in the clown car right now.

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    In a certain sense, the barq of Peter has always been more clown car than a well oiled military ship. The infighting that has gone on over the centuries would be farcical if it was not over such deadly serious matters.

    When we look at the infighting referred to by Fr. Z, while there are serious issues that need to be resolved between, say that neo-Thomists (Traditionalists) and the Ressourcement Wing (JPII, BXVI, etc.), a lot of the snipping has to do with the spiritual abuse that they have endured. When animals are ill-fed and mistreated, they turn on each other. If the liturgy is to form us and feed us but it is not, the tendency of animals is to cling to and fight to the death over the last little bit of food that they can find.

    To be more than an animal is to share what little one has with one’s other companions, even if that means going hungry oneself. And that requires charity.

    It is a choice to be made — to see the pain of one’s starving brother and act in compassion or to nip at a fellow animal seen as competition and competitor for a moldy scrap of bread.


  6. majuscule says:

    I googled cathedral maytag and up popped articles about the cathedral pictured at the top of the article.

    I even tried Our Lady of the Maytag and the first article proclaimed that the cathedral had been named one of the nation’s prettiest churches.

    (For those in other parts of the world—Maytag is a washing machine brand…)

  7. Uxixu says:

    The worst part about McGucken’s Maytag, is that he was consecrated in a magnificent traditional way at beautiful old St. Vibiana’s in 1941 by Abp. John J Cantwell (who’s 1940s design for Our Lady of the Angels would have been a marvelous Neo Gothic basilica design with flying buttresses etc – bought the land, had the funding complete, gathered the Escarzay altar pieces (rail, retalbos, tabernacle, etc) from the church of St. Philip Neri destroyed in the Spanish civil war)…

    The same for Cardinal Manning, RIP may God forgive him when everything was destroyed under his watch in LA well before Mahony got his mits on it. All these prelates who destroyed everything in the 1960s and 70s were reared in the 30s and 40s and something was very wrong with them.

    Though I spend most of my time now in traditional churches of the FSSP and Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, with properly oriented altars with rails, etc my territorial parish from the 1950s is a beautiful if rather simple basilica structure huge (seats 1100) still has its twin side altars and shrines and confessionals which the pastor is just itching to destroy. He wants to convert the confessionals to Reconciliation aka Lawsuit Rooms. Wants to rip the beautiful marble altar rail but for the family that funded in the late 50s is still there and not keen on the idea. Gigantic choir loft in the proper place yet the pastor wants a “contemporary choir area.” And the very traditional octagonal baptistry correct to St. Charles Borromeo’s Instructions is used for storage while they carpeted the Italian marble in the sanctuary and put in a hot tub for immersion baptisms near the altar, against all the rubrics and theology even from the novus ordo (see “Built of Living Stones” by the USCCB)….

  8. Spinmamma says:

    I now realize how truly fortunate I was to come into the Church on the eve of Pope Benedict’s abdication–if only because I missed (and in fact was not aware of) the destruction of beautiful artwork and the sterilizing of church interiors in the aftermath of Vatican II. (Painting over beautiful decorated walls!!) The churches I have attended in central Northern California without exception still have their frescoes and paintings, statues of the saints, stained glass, clearly delineated sanctuaries, altars and beautiful tabernacles in their proper places. Even the more modern building of my parish has statues and crucifixes, including the very large beautiful stained glass depiction of Christ on the Cross which is displayed behind the sanctuary and the tabernacle. The beautiful depictions of stations of the cross are displayed on the walls of the nave as well as along the sidewalk from the back parking lot toward the church building. I am heartsick to read of the atrocities committed against beautiful interiors representing the sacrifices of countless parishioners and the beautiful traditions which in part were what attracted me to the Catholic Church in the first place. As for the disparate groups which could accomplish so much more together than divided–it seems to me this arises largely from the fact there is no hierarchical or umbrella structure for them. Unlike the others who are using the already established hierarchical structure of the Church to try to destroy her from within. Ironically, to me, not unlike the way the early Christians used the already established structure of the Roman Empire to spread Christianity Yet to try to establish an umbrella structure is in itself fraught with danger. Martin Luther comes to mind.

  9. Uxixu says:

    majuscule said:
    “I even tried Our Lady of the Maytag and the first article proclaimed that the cathedral had been named one of the nation’s prettiest churches.”

    And that it claims was rated higher than the episcopal heretics Grace Cathedral. I looked that up and it’s a marvelous French Gothic design that is sadly so much more appropriate to Catholic worship than McGucken’s Maytag. Then I’m reminded when I look at the Yelp Reviews for the Taj Mahony in LA, that has great reviews, too even though I find it a barren and thoroughly uninspiring building especially from the arid courtyard to the pews and alternate between rage and sorrow when I read about Cantwell’s cathedral and think about what might have been instead.

  10. Charivari Rob says:

    “When will the pettiness end”?
    A big step would be people with opinions/disagreements (right or wrong) resolving to express them with a mind to some rational, thoughtful basis and without indulging contempt, vitriol, combox brickbats, etc..
    To say “pompous extravagant liturgical cosplay” is petty. So too is “clown car” or “clown Mass”… and there’s no shortage of “clowns” at any point on the spectrum, by the way.
    For me, this circles back close to why I chose this username* when Father Z went to registration several years ago. At that time it was prompted by someone’s snide comment about “clowns presenting themselves for Communion”.
    We are ALL clowns! Most of us clowns (especially the guy in my shaving mirror) – we approach God as imperfectly as we do anything else. Fallen world, remember?The earthly Church was instituted precisely because we clowns need it.
    Field hospital, lifeboat, rope ladder… Those aren’t the habitats of the healthy or the “approved”. So too, the Church.

  11. Charivari Rob says:

    * charivari in the particular context of the circus – the clown mob

  12. TonyO says:

    Field hospital, lifeboat, rope ladder… Those aren’t the habitats of the healthy or the “approved”. So too, the Church.

    If you are going to mention the old metaphor of “a field hospital”, I have a few more for you:

    The Church is a Field Army. Yeah, remember that good ol’ “Church Militant”? We are soldiers for Christ. The gates of hell shall not prevail against this Army.

    The Church is a field medic: even before you get the wounded soldier to the field hospital, you need a medic to slap a dressing on the wound and get him off the battle field.

    The Church is a regular hospital: field hospitals are for immediate, short term patching up of wounds, to stop the crisis. Then the patient is sent off to a regular hospital for ongoing maintenance. Morally, we need priests so we can confess our mortal sins, but even after confession we need more help than that. We need support in getting back to health.

    The Church is a Rehabilitation Hospital: even after the Church has fought off the infection, the soldier with a damaged leg still needs to rehabilitate, needs to recover the use of that leg and get back full use of it. The soldier who has repaired his basic relationship with God still needs to recover the use of prayers and other tools so he can get through a day intact.

    The Church is a Teaching Hospital: This is where the Church’s doctors (i.e. priests, etc) learn their trade. Even though doctors need hospitals too sometimes, in order to be effective they can’t be in need of Field Hospital services all the time.

    The Church is a Nutrition Specialist: it provides the Bread of Heaven, a sure support for spiritual help.

    The Church is a church: it provides the rightful worship of the true and transcendent God par excellence.

    The Church is NOT ONLY a field hospital. Focusing only on one aspect of the Church to the exclusion of its many different roles would be even worse than forgetting that it does, at times, serve as a Field Hospital.

    [Good. I would add that in all of those places and situations some people do not make it and those who do have to suffer.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  13. JonPatrick says:

    The one and only time I was at the San Francisco Cathedral I thought “Why is the tour bus taking us to a nuclear power plant? We are supposed to be going to a Cathedral?”.

    I saw an example the other day of what I think Fr. Z is talking about on a traddy Facebook group I frequent. Someone was complaining that they just started saying the St. Michael prayer after the Ordinary Form Mass that he attends and were using the “wrong” words in the prayer e.g. “thrust” instead of “cast”. I responded that this is Satan trying to distract you, just put this out of your mind and pray. We should be happy that the pastor is implementing this rather than trying to pick it apart because it isn’t the way we want it.

  14. GregB says:

    When a doctor issues a diagnosis it is their medical judgement as to the health of the patient. Sometimes the result of this medical judgement requires a course of treatment that in some cases can cause the patient pain and discomfort. A doctor with bad medical judgement engages in medical malpractice.
    To me the non-judgmental modern Church looks less like a field hospital for sinners and more like a bad hospice where people are permitted to bleed out and die spiritually, lest they be given a course of real spiritual health care that might demand something of them and the spiritual health care provider.

  15. GregB says: treatment that in some cases can cause the patient pain

    As I believe St Augustine wrote, limited to his knowledge of ancient medicine, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.

    And to think that was the 5th century and that same thing continued into the 19th. How far we’ve come in such a short time when it comes to pain. However, with the reduction of pain, we have also enervated our understanding of causes and consequences.

    The Church must not be even more of a comfy Lord of the World euthanasia resort for the soul than it already has become.

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