For a number of years I have struggled with resentments towards what is typically termed the “Vatican II generation.” Keep in mind that this phrase does not mean to generalize an entire bracket of people from one age to another. Rather, it summarizes a group of Catholics who have embraced an ambiguous, erroneous, and distorted vision of Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, and Liturgy. In effect, everything the Church teaches from the Natural Law to the Divine Law. The “Vatican II generation” is not really a generation that embraced the documents of Vatican II either. If it did, there would be Gregorian chant and Latin regularly practiced during mass…
Here is the problem. Resentment is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. First of all, it indicates a wound for which one has not forgiven his assailant. Forgiveness is not an acceptance of behaviour or even false-doctrine, but rather a sort of compassion and mercy offered towards those who have done you wrong. It is turning away from hatred, and returning to a servant role, most especially for those who have done you wrong. Step by step, I have chipped away at this resentment. But some days were more difficult than others.
Liberalism has infiltrated the Church to such a degree that it has essentially scattered the flock of Christ. I see so many shepherds trying to attract more people towards the Church, but doing it in all the wrong ways. We turn from a Christology to a Sociology, a Christian-humanism to a Secular-Humanism. We look for cornels of truth in other faiths while failing to teach the Substance of truth fully present in the Catholic faith. Ever seen one of those “Golden-Rule” posters?
I see it rather plainly, as Catholics we have weak leadership, in the home (parents), in schools (university, high-school, elementary), and in the Church (Bishops and Priests). Political correctness have led the Church to avoid excommunicating those who endorse and promote the slaughter of several thousands of innocent children within the womb, amongst other doctrinal blunders such as Same-Sex relationships being legalized. The ambiguity this imposes upon the Church is such that the vast majority of Catholics believe they are entitled to their own views apart from God’s, while maintaining communion in His Community of the Faithful.
This week’s Gospel is a further challenge to my own plight, as we read that we must “sometimes” grow alongside weeds. How incredibly frustrating it is that we grow alongside such insolent disobedience to God’s word, such greed and doctrine of the flesh. How can we not be filled with anxiety and frustration towards a Church leading so many astray through heresy, ambiguity and silence on these very real and important issues?
What is worse is that at a workshop for priests we needed to be reminded to use God’s name in a homily? Where has the Church gone, when we preach anything but Christ? We don’t use his name? What has happened to our Mission? None of the above issues matter at all if they are not grounded in the context of a relationship with God. And yet one goes to Church without hearing our Lord’s name evoked in a homily? This is sad.
But brothers and sisters, I have come to a deeper awareness as time has moved on. While there is a time to challenge and exhort, sometimes we do so without the proper temperament. Much of the woundedness in our generation is actually not directly born out of a desire to give glory and honour to God, but rather from the isolation that is caused by the multiplicity and ambiguity of doctrine within the Church.
Doctrine of the faith naturally fosters, when orthodox, a unity of mind and heart (if it is internalized). But with such a multiplicity of views, grounded in one’s preference rather than the virtue of obedience to the Magisterium and therefore God, we have fostered and created a Church of individuals, of islands onto themselves.
Many in my generation feel this isolation, and are incredibly weighed down by it. We search for external signs that present an ideology shared: faithfulness. When we see priests in cassocks, what we experience is a love for God, the priesthood, and the Church. Others (the Vatican II generation) see clericalism, for whatever reason.
Blessed Mother Teresa stated that there is no greater poverty than loneliness. And out of this poverty comes a spiritually hungry generation looking for genuine unity that can only be found in God, not sentimentality, not political correctness, not ambiguous respect without truth.
The decline of the faithful in the pews is our own fault. If we would repent, perhaps God would unleash his Holy Spirit once more upon the Church. But we will not. But this is no reason to fall into resentment, it is reason to reflect on scripture. The prophets spoke of an exile that takes place when we have dishonoured God. But so few ever admitted of their own fault. The leaders of the Jews justified themselves and blamed everyone else. Today we blame the culture. The culture is of our own making though.
What is the solution? I suppose there really is none for us to come up with. God has the plan, and He knows the solution. All that we need to do is be faithful in our own little corners of the Church. We do not need to stress out about what we cannot control, but rather to humbly accept our own responsibilities and fulfill them with courage and zeal. This will of course come at a cost, but consider it a sacrifice of praise to God.
Scripture speaks of those “destined for destruction.” These are the weeds amongst us who choose not to repent. We like God must respect their free-choice. It doesn’t mean we become apathetic to their blindness of the Gospel, nor do we cease to evangelize. However, we must come to grips with the fact that even God does not successfully convince everyone to follow Him.
God allows for the anti-Christ, the Judas, the wicked to walk the earth amongst us because all of their malice and unfaithfulness turns into a blazing fire that purifies our own holiness and virtue. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us, without the Tyrant there would be no virtue of the martyr.
And so when we look at a generation which will die, much of which without repentance for the destruction of the faith of so many, through clergy sexual abuse, it being hidden, unorthodox doctrine, liberal and weak leadership…we might take on a spirit of gratitude that all of this evil has born a new generation, albeit smaller, that will seek to zealously say yes to the Lord.
There is wisdom to God allowing for such ambiguity. Evil can bring about something greater in the end. Do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that we stop the culture war, but never become disheartened when the weeds continue to spring up. Your enemy gives you a chance to love an enemy, and there is nothing healthier for your soul or the Church than this.