More complaints about the post-Vatican II Church

Why has the Church taken such a turn toward engagement with the world on the world’s own terms? The idea of opening the windows of the Church to the world is an odd one. You open your windows to life and reality. Which has life and reality, the Church or the world? When I compare mass to TV or even contemporary literature I’m not sure it’s the latter.

The job of the Church as a teaching institution, I would think, is to present the world with something the world lacks and desperately needs. It seems then that the Church, while accepting its intrinsic relation to the world, should be distinct in some visible way. Otherwise it does not look like what it is. The intention of updating things was to present eternal truths in a more accessible way. The evident effect though has been to make them invisible. They seem to blend into everything else.

The Church, it’s true, hasn’t always been visibly distinct. Paul became “all things to all men, that [he] might by all means save some.” I Corinthians 9:20-23. But what suits a man living on the edge and giving his all doesn’t suit a huge and well-established institution inevitably populated—we are talking about human beings—mostly by mediocrities and timeservers. Nor did Paul play down the scandalous aspects of Christianity. He preached “Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” I Corinthians 1:17-25. He was willing to be a fool for Christ. I Corinthians 4:8-13. Is that true of the average functionary in the present-day Church?

We cannot simply imitate the apostolic or patristic Church. When the Church came out of hiding and the living memory of the apostles, martyrs and fathers was lost, special observances became needed to remind people what the Church is. In concept they aren’t necessary but as a practical matter they are. Why has it been thought advisable to give them up?

6 thoughts on “More complaints about the post-Vatican II Church”

  1. Dear Mr. Kalb,

    Your article
    Dear Mr. Kalb,

    Your article on the Church’s emphasis on engaging the world brought to mind an observation of my own. Recently I completed a museum exhibit celebrating the sesquicentennial of a local women’s religous order. From researching their history, I learned that they went through a painful and relatively quick period of modernization during the late sixties. Overall, the sisters seem to be enthusiastic about the changes resulting from Vatican II, and only a handful of the older nuns still wear habits, and modified ones at that.

    All of the sisters I worked with were gracious and kind to a fault, and also genuinely devoted to God and committed to their mission. I have only nice things to say about these women. But I could not help noticing how different in appearance they were from their predecessors. Before the sixties, the nuns dressed in a distinctive habit that only permitted the face and hands to be seen. This of course has all changed and now the sisters are clothed in ordinary garb. They believe that this has helped make them more accessible and able to more efficiently fulfill their mission.

    I have no doubt that the sisters know their mission better than I do. But nevertheless the nuns in the traditional habits seemed to posses a certain dignity. By wearing this mode of dress, they were “distinct in some visible way”, having an air of authority. It was as if they were saying to the world, “we reject your ways because we have something greater to offer you”. It appears that the sisters of today “blend into everything else” and consequently lose some of this authority.

    On a more mundane level, the habit, I would think, served as a great recruiting tool. Just like a military uniform, it attracts attention and invests the wearer with a special duty and position. After viewing hundreds of old photos, I was surprized at how many young women were in this religious order years ago. This is in stark comparison to the order today, whose youngest member is in her fifties. (One other thing that was apparent was how attractive many of these women were. The myth that only the unmarriageable become nuns is untrue.)

    Well anyway, I thought that you might find these observations interesting, they seem to reflect the Church’s loss of distinctiveness that you wrote about.

    Best Wishes,
    Travis Zeik

  2. Thanks for the anecdote! It
    Thanks for the anecdote! It would be interesting to know more about the period of modernization—what was at stake, what was gained, what was lost, what the various parties were and so on. It seems that those who remained have found a new and satisfying equilibrium, but not one that inspires others to join.

  3. Saint Philomena/Filumena,
    Saint Philomena/Filumena, powerful with God, please pray for the enemies of the Church who are inside it pretending to be Catholics! Dear enemies of the Church: you do have the beautiful opportunity to repent. Now is the time!

  4. I would like to insist the
    I would like to insist the church looks
    at woman equally and put an injustice
    caused by Peter made right. Peter had
    a mind block against woman and it has influenced
    how the church rules against woman priests.
    How can I demand equal justice through the

  5. It seems the faithful cannot
    It seems the faithful cannot make demands on the Church for at least one reason: the faithful don’t own the Church, Jesus does. The faithful can respectfully petition the current Church leaders to allow women to become priests.

    The belief in equal rights assumes people are equal, which they are not. The belief, more specifically, assumes men and women are equal, which they are not.

    I don’t see how St. Peter can be criticized for following the example set by Jesus, who chose men as his disciples.

    Mr. Kalb, moreover, is trying to point out that Church members are in error when they try to make the Church look like many of the other Christian churches. Making women priests, it seems to me, is merely another mistaken attempt to compete for members as a populist politician tries to compete for votes.

    The Church it seems has far greater challenges than to debate whether it would be helpful to make women priests.


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