"His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones, and I become weary of holding it in..." Jeremiah, 20:9.
There are many disagreements people have with the Documents of Vatican II. It is purposeless to begin here to number them. Rather, I have a single solid bone of contention with the passage marked today in the Liturgy of the Hours. First, allow me to quote the passage in question. I apologize for its length here and ask the reader’s patience as we come together to a common understanding how this passage is misleading:
From the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution "Gaudium et spes" on the Church in the modern world
We must re-educate our minds towards peace
Men must not be content simply to support the efforts of others in the work for peace; they must also scrutinise their own attitudes. Statesmen, responsible as they are for the common good of their own nation and at the same time for the well-being of the whole world, are very much dependent on the opinions and convictions of the general public. Their efforts to secure peace are of no avail as long as men are divided or set against each other by feelings of hostility, contempt and distrust, by racial hatred or by inflexible ideologies. There is then a very great and urgent need to re-educate men and to provide fresh inspiration in the field of public opinion.
Those engaged in education, especially among young people, and those who influence public opinion, should consider it a very serious responsibility to work for the re-education of mankind to a new attitude towards peace. We must all undergo a change of heart. We must look out on the whole world and see the tasks that we can all do together to promote the well-being of the family of man. We must not be misled by a false sense of hope. Unless antagonism and hatred are abandoned, unless binding and honest agreements are concluded, safeguarding universal peace in the future, mankind, already in grave peril, may well face in spite of its marvellous advance in knowledge that day of disaster when it knows no other peace than the awful peace of death.
In saying this, however, the Church of Christ, living as it does in the midst of these anxious times, continues unwaveringly in hope. Time and again, in season and out of season, it seeks to proclaim to our age the message of the Apostle: Now is the hour of God’s favour, the hour for a change of heart; now is the day of salvation.
To build peace, the causes of human discord which feed the fires of war must first be eliminated, and among these especially the violations of justice. Many of these causes are due to gross economic inequality and delay in providing necessary remedies. Others arise from a spirit of domination and from a contempt for others, and, among more fundamental causes, from human envy, distrust, pride and other forms of selfishness. Since man cannot bear so many violations of due order, the result is that, even where war does not rage, the world is constantly plagued by human conflict and acts of violence.
The same evils are also found in relations between nations. It is therefore absolutely necessary that international institutions should co-operate more effectively, more resolutely and with greater coordination of effort, in order to overcome or prevent these evils, and to check unbridled acts of violence. There must also be constant encouragement for the creation of organisations designed to promote peace.
First off, regarding discrepancies like misspellings in this transliteration, I used a copy from Universalis.com rather than type the text myself. On then to our discussion!
Quite simply, I have no problem with educating minds towards peace. My contention here is with the conclusions drawn by the authors of this pastoral constitution. These Church Fathers rightly discern the source of discord among peoples: it arises from the human heart. Consider what the gospel says about the human heart:
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander” (Mt 15:18-19).
The document is largely correct in stating: “To build peace, the causes of human discord which feed the fires of war must first be eliminated, and among these especially the violations of justice.” I might quibble that the causes of human discord can only diminished, not eliminated, and rather than focusing on violations of justice, it might be preferable to consider sources of grace, because who else can change the human heart but God? So far, mankind has proved somewhat inept at moderating one another’s heart. We can’t even agree on what is “just.”
I have no serious bone to pick with the mediate conclusion:
“Since man cannot bear so many violations of due order, the result is that, even where war does not rage, the world is constantly plagued by human conflict and acts of violence. The same evils are also found in relations between nations.”
But the culmination of reasoning then makes a leap of faith not even a seasoned gazelle would attempt (ha! Corny metaphor, but that’s all I could come up with at the moment).
“It is therefore absolutely necessary that international institutions should co-operate more effectively, more resolutely and with greater coordination of effort, in order to overcome or prevent these evils, and to check unbridled acts of violence.”
Stop the press! Did you catch that? While the causes of dissension rest on an internal and personal level, the authors here want to rely on external and intersubjective organizational forces to cooperate, or compel (as we see in the world today) an imposed order, whether it is "just" or not. I find everything wrong with this decision. The “absolute” necessity of wrangling peace through man-made institutions, rather than first and foremost turning to the sole source of grace found on earth, the Church instituted by Christ? If man singular can barely contain his disordered passions under the impulse of a darkened intellect and weakened will occasioned by Original Sin, how can an institutional approach help to repair what only grace can change? Of course I’m not disagreeing that men and women should cooperate in carrying out God’s will here on earth as best we can discern. But I do rail wholeheartedly against the notion that international institutions can do more effectively than you or I can accomplish on our own or together as a Church. We should be turning first to God, not to other men to solve our connatural, inborn problems of internal discord and strife. All the coordination in the world won’t bring about the harmony and peace that Christ alone can give, so why are we told to look in places that experience now shows just won’t work?
I recall Pope Francis not long ago assuring us that what mankind needs is to unite under one world order. I may be mistaken but I thought I read something to the effect of him saying "shut up and obey." Apart from my own personal fears of Big Brother, Government overreach and the many dark paths leaders have taken historically resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions of souls this past century alone, my heart harbors apprehension and doubt. How can the Church expect us to place hopes and dreams of brotherly camaraderie on organizations that are rooted in the world rather than on God and grace? Our confidences have been betrayed over and again by the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organization or even our separate governmental entities currently at war with one another. While liberty is evanescing with the growth of atheistic socialism, is the Church rightly encouraging us to “trust the system?” How’d that work for y'all with the Covid pandemic?
I can’t help but feel snarky and betrayed with this very unsound advice from a “pastoral council” that seeks true conciliation and concord. There are several points this document has entirely misunderstood:
1 The Holy Spirit does not always work through the signs of the times. Satan is pretty adept at this as well, confusing and misleading throughout human history.
2 The world rejects the gospel as it rejected Christ. When the sacred deposit of truths in the faith are often shortchanged for political gain, what reason should believers have for confiding in international organizations to foster the salvation of souls?
3 What was conceived as a “return to the sources of faith” has evolved into a mishandling of those sources, and even a reimaging of them in accord with mundane values. When the Church empties holy water fonts during Lent to mimic the feelings of entering the desert (as just one example of many liturgical abuses), shouldn’t we reevaluate the process and paradigms that got us here?
4 The Council wanted to achieve a more balanced ecclesiology, but it did so at the expense of truth for the sake of interreligious dialog and ecumenism. If you think I’m incorrect here, consider what the latest papal pro-life office is attempting with pro-abortion appointees, or what bishops will gain by distributing the Eucharist to all who ask as a way of smoothing out differences with our Protestant brethren.
5 The Council wanted to facilitate “active participation” in the liturgy. Holy smokes, if someone thinks that holding hands at the sign of peace or standing to receive the Eucharist would bring about an increase of reverence and holiness, it’s time to get them back on their meds!
These are but a few of concerns the faithful raise on an ongoing basis, largely to deaf ears on the part of our leaders. With many clamoring for the Church’s reassessment and even redirection, my voice is but one of a throng wanting to return to God with heart contrite and humbled that He might restore us for the sake of His name. I was once told that if you head straight for the moon, but leave one dime's diameter distance off point, your oversight will miss it 240,000 miles later.