A Beautiful Move of the Holy Spirit


 Vatican II can be properly understood only as being in continuity with the church’s millennial traditions, not as a radical break with the past. 

Man likes to be in control, even of God. Of course, most of us would deny trying to box in the Almighty because we realize how ridiculous this sounds.  Yet because we really do not like to change, we end up resisting even God.  We like our comfort zone. We especially don’t like the rug ripped from under us and that is usually how God must most often snag our attention.

God is not stagnant. He is not the God of the past, but God of the present,  alive, a dynamic powerhouse seeking to heal, transform and draw us ever closer to His heart.

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This week I was wondering why so many Traditionalists are against Vatican II, labelling all the popes which came after as illegitimate and even heretics, especially Pope Francis. When I researched the question, an insightful homily popped up by Pope Francis from May 29, 2013. He called our resistance to change “being stubborn; this is called wanting to tame the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming fools and slow of heart.” The pope points to Traditionalists who resist changes, but even worse, to Modernists who twist the teachings of Vatican II to suit their own purposes, entrenching  Traditionalists even further.

What a conundrum!

images (28)Throughout his pontificate, Pope Benedict also praised the council for its teachings on the interpretation of Scripture, religious freedom and relations with non-Christian religions. He lamented what he described as widespread distortions of the council’s teachings which upset Traditionalists, blaming the “council of the media” as being responsible for “many calamities, so many problems, so much misery.”  He explained further, “Vatican II can be properly understood only in continuity with the church’s millennial traditions, not as a radical break with the past.”

Preaching on St. Stephen’s words before his martyrdom, Pope Francis addressed those who resist, twist, or ignore the impetus of the Second Vatican Council, which he described as “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit”.  He applied St. Stephen’s words to those who resist change, “You stiff-necked people…you always resist the Holy Spirit.”  Again on the road to Emmaus, it was Christ who lamented, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!”  

“The followers of  Christ are slow to grasp and respond to the will of God, we fail to trust Christ completely, we do not wish to be moved by the Holy Spirit in new and surprising ways.

He also rebuked the scribes and Pharisees of today, those who  set themselves against the Holy Spirit’s work through the acts of the Council. Those who resist change impede authentic Catholic renewal by denying the validity or appropriateness of the Conciliar texts. The Traditionalist, those who claim to be more Catholic than the pope or council, call the council illegitimate  and stand on ceremony, fossilifying the Church’s pre-Vatican II culture in accordance with their own comfortable piety.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.(Mt 23:29-33)

Traditionalists ignore the contemporary Magisterium, replacing it with the spirit of some earlier age. However, Modernists are also to blame, because they use theology for their own convenience, twisting the legacy of the Council  and ignoring the Magisterium. The real Conciliar texts are a great gift of the Holy Spirit for authentic Catholic renewal. Pope Francis rebukes both groups, because the  Council was  a wholly legitimate and continuous growth or development of the Church, which everyone is bound to accept and act upon.The very same points were made by Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Every pope since the Council has insisted upon its faithful implementation.

Finally, I have an inkling of what Pope Francis….and the Holy Spirit…. are up against.

Father forgive us for trying to control you; grant us humble and contrite spirits so we may follow your lead.

 

11 thoughts on “A Beautiful Move of the Holy Spirit

  1. Melanie, ‘what a conundrum’ is right on. I read blog posts frequently that interpret Vat II as only a break with the past with little or no redeeming qualities. They say Vat II’s windows opened up the church to radical socialists who want to change the church from the inside. The complaints accuse pastors and bishops of being social workers and politicians instead of pastors of souls.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the sacredness of the Mass too, and in the age we are living in, I need to focus on the highest prayer in the world, in order to face the world again. That’s difficult to do when you have liturgy commissions who like to replace, delete sacred moments with their own innovations.

    so, I think it will take another 25 years or so for the Church to completely absorb Vatican II, and modernists and traditionalists will have closed the loopholes.

    So it’s a matter of perspective I guess, how we transform the world? It seems to me that you’re right; we need real, St Francis of Assisi types [with a touch of intellect of Aquinas] who love people and have the desire to restore them to sanity from Godlessness, secularism, moral relativism and the disconnect of faith from reason.

    blessings! Kassey

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  2. This is a very, very thought-proking post and I thank you. I was leaning towards the traditionalist camp but you have brought up very valid points. I’m going to make sure I research what Pope Francis said. A great article.

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  3. Melanie, the number of “Traditionalists” against Vatican II is actually quite small. Of course, I object to the label “traditionalist” because it smacks of ideology and not of being purely and simply Catholic which is what I am. What worries me is that everyone who loves the Extraordinary Form Mass and who practices traditional Catholic spirituality gets lumped in with people who have closed their minds and hearts to the possibility that the Church can teach her same doctrines in new approaches and does not have to say things exactly as they were said two, three, four hundred years ago. We would all do well to work on our relationship with God, hold to the truths Jesus entrusted to the Church to teach for all time, and not venture into theological areas without proper training. We Catholics should also get serious about understanding the Bible and make it a part of our everyday prayer life.

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