- Christian America dissenter.
- Anniversary du jour.
- Staged event du jour.
- Repetitive prayer vs. Extemporaneous prayer.
Politically America seems to me to be a farce. America talks a lot about democracy but it’s illegal in some states for a third party to run for office. America says it’s a Christian nation but it’s constantly starting new wars regardless of what party is in office. I was deeply disturbed as an Orthodox Christian about what happens to Christians when America goes to war; few are left in Iraq. The behavior of American troops during the war in Kosovo was upsetting; they paused their campaign for Islamic Ramadan, but dropped bombs with ‘Happy Easter’ written on them during Easter …
(“Georgy Georgiyevitch,” an American emigrant to Russia) Georgy’s views are pretty radical, but if you can’t recognize the kernel of truth in them, you haven’t been paying sufficient attention.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Roman Catholic Vatican II Council:
Vatican II was like no other ecumenical (sic) Council in history, in that it did not provide authoritative keys for its own interpretation: the Council Fathers wrote no creed, condemned no heresy, legislated no new canons, defined no dogmas. Thus the decade and a half after the Council ended on December 8, 1965, was a bit of a free-for-all, as varying interpretations of the Council (including appeals to an amorphous “spirit of Vatican II” that seems to have more in common with low-church Protestantism than with Catholicism) contended with each other in what amounted to an ecclesiastical civil war.
The Providence raised up two men of genius—John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both men of the Council—to give Vatican II an authoritative interpretation. Their teaching, carried throughout the world by an unprecedented series of papal pilgrimages, has given the Church the truth about the Council—although some Catholics seem a bit slow to get the message. Moreover, in summoning the world Church to the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II gave Catholicism the Pentecostal experience that John XXIII for which hoped, thus preparing the world Church to enter the third millennium with great missionary energy: to “put out into the deep,” as John Paul II put it, of the New Evangelization.
And that, finally, is Vatican II’s message to every Catholic. Vatican II did not displace the Church’s tradition. Vatican II did not create do-it-yourself-Catholicism. Vatican II, which accelerated the great historical evolution of Catholicism from a Church of institutional maintenance to a Church of evangelical mission in a genuine and Spirit-led development of self-understanding, taught Catholics that they enter mission territory every day. The degree to which each of us brings the Gospel to others is the degree to which we understand Vatican II at its golden anniversary.
(George Weigel) Yes, some Catholics seem a bit slow to get the message. Happy Anniversary anyway.
I don’t think I’d ever set foot in a Catholic Church before Vatican II. Years later, I leapfrogged Catholicism for Orthodoxy, where I hear that the Tridentine Mass was recognizably a Christian, and actually quite splendid, liturgy. My closest Catholic friends in my adult years mourn its loss.
So for me, Vatican II is a sort of two-dimensional impetus for Catholicism becoming one of the fairly liturgical Protestant denominations. I’m sure that’s unfair, but maybe if I get it out on the table, someone can point out its error. And even apart from that, maybe the message of Weigel’s two men of genius, both of whom I’ve admired, will percolate down and reform the liturgical abuses.
Today also, coincidentally, is Coming Out Day:
The new Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, said Thursday after his installation, that he was overjoyed to see that the city had such a devotion to God’s covenant with Noah. “Who knew there could be so many rainbows in one place?” he said, happily, to reporters that had gathered after Mass.
Just today, I was walking alone up the Boulevard Saint-Michel, and then through the back streets past the Odeon, heading to Saint-Germain, praying my prayer rope the whole time. Over and over again, I said the Jesus Prayer silently, and disengaged my mind. As I crested the hill just past the Senate building, it seemed to me that God was everywhere, and my heart was filled with thanksgiving for His presence, and the gift of this beautiful day in this most beautiful of all cities. Had I been trying to formulate a list of petitions in prayer, or my side of a dialogue, I would have been so caught up in the conversation, so to speak, that I wouldn’t have had this numinous experience — which is, if you think about it, the point of religion: to experience the presence of God, and to be changed by it.
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