Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To avoid any misunderstandings: About me, the stuff I think, and why I think it.

Considering that I’ve now received indications that folks may be taking me for a sedevacantist or an SSPX parishioner, I figure it’s time for me to add a few personal notes here.

I am a cradle Catholic, born to a Catholic mother (who was a convert) and a Southern Baptist father. My sister was also raised Catholic, and I think it significant that she, my mother, and I were the only Catholics in the entire family tree. The rest of the clan on both sides were Baptist, with very few exceptions. Our entire geography was also 99.9% Protestant, mostly Baptists and Pentecostals.

I grew up under the spiritual tutelage of an old Irish priest who these days would probably be labeled as “hardcore.” Though he was transferred out of our parish when I was in junior high, he remains a good friend and the holiest man I have ever known. He thoroughly catechized the youth of our parish, knowing that our Protestant friends would target us for conversion (which they did, of course). He was also a huge fan of St. Augustine and quoted from his works at every opportunity.

Being in the area where I was, it was not a shocking thing to be told by other kids that they couldn’t be your friend because you were Catholic or find your name on prayer petitions for “lost souls” circulated among your peers. That’s just how some idiots roll. This sort of environment either led you away from the Church or firmly established in your mind how beautiful She is and how She should be defended at every turn.

I went to college at Notre Dame, and yes, I am a huge football fan, and yes, Ann Arbor is the Seat of the Anti-Christ. It was kind of a shocking experience. For the first time, I was around folks who grew up Catholic in predominantly Catholic areas. I also realized that some of my professors were total whackjobs. No, I never had McBrien for any classes. Catholicism was a bit more lax there, with many less concerned with the actual Faith and more worried about being activists for causes that, quite frankly, made me nervous. Pax Christi immediately comes to mind. I was able to write off some of the less orthodox things I heard in class from students as the natural rebellion of college. I must defend my Catholic professors, as the ones I had, did seem quite orthodox. The non-Catholic ones spent most of their time trying to squash the Faith, which was very disconcerting.

Once I got out, I went to law school at LSU. I also got married to a lovely non-denominational Protestant girl. After passing through something of an anti-Catholic phase, she began inquiring about Eastern Orthodoxy. This was a grand experience for both of us really, as it drove home to me something the elders of my old home parish had always said about the marvels of the Traditional liturgy. Up to that point, I had never attended one. My wife was quite taken with the liturgy of the East (as was I), but the theological holes in Orthodoxy soon became evident as she began talking to the priest about conversion. She then looked to swim the Tiber and join the True Church.

The particular church we were attending was very large. We thought such a setting would be good for our children (we had 2 at the time; we now have 3). My wife began RCIA there with a couple of dozen other people. The RCIA was led by a team of laypersons and a deacon. The priest would occasionally present material. I should have known something was wrong at the first class, when he started dropping references to Teilhard de Chardin. For the folks who don’t know who Teilhard is, his work has been under condemnation since the 60s. I have friends who admire his work greatly, but it cannot be doubted that his stuff has led to a resurgence of many heretical views in the Church. For me, I think the Vatican's warning about his stuff is dead-on.

It was pretty much all downhill from there. Every week, it was a new heresy. That takes talent, especially when you consider how long we went to these classes. At some point, I’ll probably post them all here. Anyways, when I privately asked the teachers why they were saying these things, they informed me that their doctrines came from Vatican II. This was impossible, I responded. I had read all 16 documents from VII a couple of times, yet nowhere did I find, for example, that only certain parts of Scripture were inerrant. Imagine my surprise when they quoted the Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation back to me in support of their beliefs. Very disconcerting.

So I re-read VII. When I had initially done so, I had never detected anything that really raised red flags. Sure, there were some funny phrases like “subsists in,” but I just sort of breezed over those parts. This time around, though, I had been made aware of language that was being cited to mean something that the Church could not mean, as it would amount to the over-turning of established teachings. It was a weird experience. Suddenly, I was having to check the footnotes to be clear on what exactly given passages might mean, as it certainly was not what was being promoted in RCIA. I had heard for years that VII’s problems were in its implementation. For the first time, I saw that many problems were in the documents themselves. Note: I have said nothing about their being heretical.

These discoveries began an ongoing project of researching the history and events of VII. It seems to me a concrete historical fact that the Council was plagued by a group of organized parties whose main goal at the Council was the overthrow of traditional Church teaching. This is not some sort of pondering about who was on the grassy knoll. Every book I have read on the subject confirms this as true. For those who want to learn more on the topic, check the following resources:

1. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber by Fr. Ralph Wiltgen
2. Iota Unum by Romano Amerio
3. What Happened in Rome? by Gary MacEoin
4. The Ecumenical Revolution by Robert McAffee Brown
5. Vatican Council II: The New Direction by Oscar Cullman
6. Paul Blanshard at Vatican II by Paul Blanshard

Only one of these books (Iota Unum) could be regarded as a “traditionalist” work. Numbers 3-6 are all quite enthusiastic and hopeful about the chances for Catholicism to reject its dogmas. MacEoin and Blanshard were lay reporters in Rome for the Council. Brown and Cullman were probably the most famous of the Protestant observers there. Fr. Wiltgen’s book is probably the most objective account and has been cited by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, a contributor for Catholic Answers and EWTN, as the best history of the Council. In other words, shooting the messengers here isn’t going to work. These works represent pretty much the entire spectrum of opinions on the Council, and they all agree that the Council was hijacked by a progressivist agenda. Some think this was a good thing, and others do not. All agree that it happened.

What was the result of this? The result was that the documents of VII have ambiguous phrases deliberately inserted into their texts for the purpose of being “re-interpreted” to suit the needs of the liberals after the Council had closed. Ever since these ambiguities were aired and exploited in the public, confusion has reigned.

I welcome any historical resource that denies the veracity of my synopsis.

My wife very nearly did not convert, thanks to these people. The priest was part of the problem. We contacted the bishop. He did nothing but suggest to the parish priest that we be quiet and stop causing trouble. The missus resolved to convert anyway, and we left the parish immediately after that.

So if you’re wondering about my views on things related to this, here they are:

1. I do not think that VII was heretical. I do think that the texts are riddled with problematic phrases that must be read carefully and in light of pre-conciliar teachings. This is due to the above-mentioned events at the Council itself. Both Blessed John XXIII and Paul VI said that VII contains no new teachings or dogmatic definitions. That means whatever was right before then, remains right today.

2. Just to be clear, Pope Benedict is the pope.

3. The Traditional Latin Mass and the Divine Liturgies of the East are objectively superior to the Pauline Mass. I attend a Pauline Mass every Sunday, but I think it’s ridiculous even to attempt a comparison between liturgies that have their origins with Apostles, Fathers of the Church, and great saints over centuries of organic development and a “fabricated liturgy” (Pope Benedict’s words, not mine) that was drawn up by a commission whose members admitted having the objective of stripping away from the Mass as much of its Catholic character as possible.

4. I wish to believe as the Church believes. If I say anything wrong, please let me know. To this point, I’m pretty sure I haven’t said anything that contradicts established doctrine (including VII).

5. I enjoy books of all sorts, especially comic books. I watch cartoons, Heroes, Lost, American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, Shark, Dexter (on CBS), and some stuff on EWTN. I love movies. Music has pretty much sucked since the 80s left town, so there’s not much to say there.

Hope that helps clear stuff up.


David said...

Just admit it. You're a nut job. I keed.

Throwback said...

"I've always been crazy." - Waylon Jennings

Haskovec said...

So at the point that you write a letter to the Bishop and don't get any results what is the next step. Do you write a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or did you just walk away from the whole deal?

Throwback said...

The CDF would have been the next step. We just walked away, though. The bishop in question actually held an office with the USCCB and on his way to retirement, so we figured we were probably out of luck either way.