Catholic Meme's on facebook has me chuckling on a daily basis and this morning was no exception when I refreshed my page and saw this:
You see, when I first converted to Catholicism, I was very confused about the whole Vatican II "thing." The problem was that I'd heard that the Church was "against" all of these things, like contraception and whatnot, back in the day, and then I went through our Engaged Encounter and RCIA and never heard them mentioned a single time and I'd heard that Vatican II had "changed things." So I figured, Vatican II had changed them. I mean, if it hadn't wouldn't I still be hearing something about them?
A wise, soon to be retired, priest that I knew, did tell me a few times when we were talking that the council really hadn't changed very much, but those words didn't match up with what I was seeing on a day to day basis. Of course it had changed things, otherwise, how could the present look the way that it did?
Still I pushed on, determined to find out more about my new faith than I'd absorbed pre-Confirmation. I was learning through my own studies, and learning by proofreading Paul's papers for his Master's of Theology program and talking with him about his classes, but the moment that stands out to me as a game changer in my understanding of the Council was on a long, winding drive into the city for our weekly shopping trip, when I offered to read to Paul from a giant stack of Vatican II documents that he needed to finish for a giant research paper that he was working on.
As I read out loud, I found myself shocked. These papers didn't say anything like what I expected them to say. I didn't disagree with what they said in the least. And I certainly didn't see how they could have been used, in the way that they've been used.
I found that certain documents had a bit more "spirit" than others, since they seemed to be sited to "prove" that the "spirit" had meant something that it clearly didn't mean if you actually read an entire paragraph in context, instead of picking a choosing the parts that fit a certain argument.
And I began to think of Pope Paul VI as a sort of council action hero, stopping nonsense before it could spiral too far out control when certain zany groups tried to insert the cultural kool-aid into Council documents (I was amazed that the man could use a footnote to smack down an errant group who seemed intent on leading the Church into a grave error).
No, I don't think that the documents from the second Vatican Council quite say what most people think they say. They do show that if we really, really want to see something somewhere, we can delude ourselves into finding it in the "spirit" of a council and then using that spirit for decades as a battering ram against tradition and beauty. But in the end, the secret is bound to get out, when people who know the truth, or who are searching for the truth, start flipping through pages, without an ulterior motive and realize that those same pages just don't say the things they've been used to prove over the decades.