On Nature

30 06 2009


Were one to ask Nature why it produces, it might- if willing- thus reply: “You should never have put the question. Silently, as I am silent and little given to talk, you should have tried to understand. Understand what? That what comes to be is the object of my silent contemplation- its natural object. I am myself born of contemplation; mine is a contemplative nature. The contemplative in me produces the object contemplated much as geometricians draw their figures while contemplating….. Within me I preserve traces and principles of my source and of the principles that brought me into being. They too were born of contemplation and without action on their own part gave me birth. But they are greater than I: they contemplated themselves and thus I was born.”

On consigning Vatican II to the dustbin of history

30 06 2009


From Fr. Anthony Chadwick:

The good priest of St. Mary Magdalene’s comments on the idea behind Vatican II as it was back in the post-war period I knew as a small child. The idea then was that civilisation had defeated barbary, and this was necessarily a sign of man’s inherent goodness. On the other side, they were anxious times as it was the Cold War and the threat of nuclear armageddon, the spread of Communism and the libertine cultural revolution in the west. Therefore, it was time to bring the Church into the modern age. The Church of the early 21st century faces a different situation – a post-Christian world. The Church is no longer welcome in any form. We need a new ecclesiology, or perhaps the oldest one – the way the Church dealt with Nero and Diocletian – dig in deep and weather the storm, and be prepared to offer your life if the chips are down. The Church simply retreats to the Catacombs to await better days, and emerges all the stronger for the purgation she has suffered.

The writing on the wall is that Vatican II will be relegated to the history books as something no longer relevant, and a new era is coming. The Church is not about politics or social causes, but about Christian identity, the priesthood, the Mass and the other Sacraments, prayer and devotion, a personal relationship with Christ. Naturally, good works flow from faith and the life of grace. It would seem that Pope Benedict XVI is looking at pre-concilar theology and the experience of the Church under persecution.

As much as I don’t like talk of the “catacombs”, and as skeptical as I am that the present Pontiff does not have an irrational attachment to the Council, I think Fr. Chadwick’s analysis is right on point. Less than a decade after the documents of Vatican II were signed, modern society went into a phase that the Marxist theorist Ernest Mandel called “late capitalism”; the general economic and political shift that is at the heart of the postmodern malaise in the developed world. Such is the hazard of trying to read the “signs of the times”, or trying to re-package perennial dogmas to suit the fancies of a particular age. Those left trying to do so are attempting to fit square pegs into round holes. Those still trying to defend the relevance of Vatican II in the face of naysayers are akin to those who defend bell-bottoms or disco music as the latest fashion. We have all moved passed it… except them.

In the decrees of Chalcedon, Trent, or Vatican I, one has to be an expert in history to know that they are addressing the “signs of the times”. No doubt they have the mark of their historical period; they were councils held by men, not angels. But the most “current”, “relevant” way to address the “signs of the times” is to proclaim perennial truth to a society enamoured with change. It remains to be seen if the Catholic hierarchy has learned its lesson, or if will continue to be obsessed with innovations.