Pope Francis is beginning to rekindle the importance of Vatican II. That means different things to different people. This is my story of how I rejected Vatican II as a child as many still do today. To be clear, I now reject Sedevacantism and I firmly believe that Vatican II is a valid, Catholic, Holy Spirit filled Ecumenical Council. Every Catholic Council since the first one (recorded in the book of Acts) experienced at least a generation of confusion following it. That is certainly true of Vatican II. I pray that Pope Francis will usher in the full fruition that his beloved two predecessors so yearned for. I am putting this out here to get it over with. Maybe like touching a hot plate at a restaurant. The mission of Adoration Servants is to help grow Eucharistic Adoration and in order to do that I will give what I got in the hope that it helps.
This document was originally written in 2005 so I did a few [bracket] comments but pretty much it is how I wrote it. I think it was for a forum at Envoy Magazine.
We live in the generation following an Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) as history shows that the generation following a Council is filled with confusion, dissent, and turmoil.
I am not going to refute the ideologies here. I am sure others will do so. Plus Envoy has a number of articles on the subject. I am also not going to question sincerity or true love of God.
I will give you the perspective of a person who at the age of 11 (1972) was brought face to face with this whole controversy. I was attending a Catholic school at the time but was not really devout. My cousins (primarily my cousin “M” who was 14 at the time) moved back to my home city after having moved away for I think about one year. M and all his siblings were fanatically Catholic when they returned. And without a lot of effort M lit the fire of piety in me. We prayed the rosary. We studied the writings of St Louis de Montfort. We tried to live by Thomas Kempis’ Imitation of Christ. I loved my Catholic religion.
At the age of 12 I very carefully followed the method of Consecration to Mary as St Louis de Montfort describes in his book, True Devotion to Mary. This picture to the left is the Holy Slavery chain I made back then around my wrist in 2011 touching the Pillar of the Scourging in Jerusalem. I was confirmed the next year and took St Louis de Montfort as my patron saint.
It was at this time that M dropped the bomb on me. He told me that I was not in the :”True” Catholic Church. I learned that since the death of Pope Pius XII all the popes were invalid. I learned about this false council called Vatican II that tricked the entire world (except for a few like my cousins) into belonging to a Church that was really just a ProtestantChurch. They gave me some pretty cool sounding proofs of this: The absence of white smoke when John XXIII was elected, the changing of the words of Consecration at the Mass from “will be shed for you and for MANY” to “will be shed for you and for ALL” thus invalidating the consecration and depriving our Lord in the Eucharist to millions of duped Catholics, the pending 3 days of darkness that would surely come in 1984, and on and on. Vatican II brought about changes to the Mass which is called “Novus Ordo”.
But probably the most convincing were the warnings of our Lady of Fatima (1917) predicting various evils especially sins of the flesh and immodest fashions. And then I was shown how in my own parish and my own CatholicSchool the teaching was watered down. How ex-nuns were teaching, how Vatican II recommended removal of statues, discouraged devotion to Mary, and on and on.
All these evils because of Vatican II and the “false” popes. Wow! Was I a lucky 12 year old or what???? I knew the truth!!!!! As a famous anti-Vatican II bookcover depicts, Holy Bishops went into the Council Conclave and immodest fashions, rock music, and moderinists came out. Yeah, right.
Those who to this day follow the reasoning just stated are known as “Sedevacantists”. They believe the chair of Peter is vacant and that the Catholic Church is not really the Catholic Church. For a more formal definition read Patrick Madrid’s book “Pope Fiction”. He quotes from a major world-wide Sedevacantist group of which my cousin, M, is now the bishop. The book to read is “The Pope, the Council, and the Mass” by Likoudis and Whitehead. Also read the documents of Vatican II “with loving attention” as Pope John Paul II asked us to do.
One way to look at it is that the Sedevacantists “protest” the Second Vatican Council. So they can be called “Protesters” of Vatican II. There is no doubt that the Protestant sects of Sedevacantism are in Schism with Rome. They would have it no other way.
Not so with SSPX. The first time I heard of Archbishop Lefebvre (founder of SSPX) was also from my cousin M who told me of this bishop and his followers also knew the truth, ie that Vatican II was heretical, etc, etc. But the problem with SSPX from M’s point of view was that they still think the popes are valid popes, they just teach heresy and/or allow heretical practices to flourish in the Catholic Church. According to M, the members of SSPX just could not bring themselves to admit the truth ie popes can’t teach errors so since the recent popes are teaching errors they must be false popes.
So that is the background as seen through the eyes of a 44 year old [now 52] reminiscing back to the days of his pre-teens and trying to explain it as he understood it at the time.
A little followup from my current perspective. Vatican II was surely highjacked and there have been many abuses. Those who abused Vatican II through misinterpretation (intentional; or unintentional) can be blamed for many abuses. These abuses are often labeled “liberal” abuses. The Sedevacantists and SSPX-types basically misinterpret Vatican II the same way as the liberals do, but they reject it. As Pope Paul VI told Archbishop Lefebvre in a letter, they wrongly attribute abuse to the Council itself.
SSPX surely gets the most press and arguments swirl to this day about whether they are in schism, whether Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated or not. SSPX gets around this by quoting Canon Law a lot. A LOT! Canon lawyers (as long as they agree with SSPX) are much more reliable source of truth for SSPX than the popes since Pius XII. The best quick source of SSPX beliefs are their flyer explaining why they are not in schism and there other flyer stating 62 reasons why you should not go to the Novus Ordo Mass.
There are so many problems in the Church today. I would like to state the pros and cons, truths and errors but it can be found. SSPX say they are perfectly fine but they also say the Novus Ordo Mass celebrated and supported by our recent Popes is evil. You can listen to the Canon Lawyers and the propaganda or you can listen to the popes. Below is a link to Pope Paul VI’s letter to Archbishop Lefebvre. IT IS A MUST READ.
I will close with some quotes
John Henry Cardinal Newman endorses the opinion of St. Robert Bellarmine when he wrote:
“I say with Cardinal Bellarmine whether the Pope be infallible or not in any pronouncement, anyhow he is to be obeyed. No good can come from disobedience. His facts and his warnings may be all wrong; his deliberations may have been biased. He may have been misled. Imperiousness and craft, tyranny and cruelty, may be patent in the conduct of his advisers and instruments. But when he speaks formally and authoritatively he speaks as our Lord would have him speak, and all those imperfections and sins of individuals are overruled for that result which our Lord intends (just as the action of the wicked and of enemies to the Church are overruled) and therefore the Pope’s word stands, and a blessing goes with obedience to it, and no blessing with disobedience.”
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that the specific object of obedience “is a command tacit or express; because the superior’s will, however it becomes known, is a tacit precept” In other words, provided he makes known what he wants in a fashion that is unmistakable, the superior’s command does bind those subject to his authority; the superior is not obliged to follow any particular form or to use any particular words in issuing his orders. (Summa Th II-II Q 104 A2)
St. Thomas’ also tells us, that we should be bound by the decisions of the Church not by the opinions of any theologian whatsoever, He said: “We must abide rather by the Pope’s judgment than by the opinion of any of the theologians, however well-versed he may be in divine Scripture.” (Quodlibetum IX,Q.8, Quaest. Quodlibetales)
Even before Vatican I, Pope Gregory XVI had made it clear that the Pope’s primacy over the Church is more than faith and morals.
“Can private individuals lay claim to power which is proper to the Roman Pontiffs alone? Even if it were question of points of discipline which are in vigor in the universal Church but are susceptible of change because they are of ecclesiastical institution, it nevertheless belongs to the Roman Pontiff alone, because Christ has put him at the head of his whole Church, to weigh the necessity of a change brought about by a new state of affairs.” (Qou Graviora)
I could go on forever, and almost have.
My family moved to California when I was 13. I threatened to run away if my parents made me go to the Novus Ordo Mass. Rest assured that, based on the turmoil Sedevacantism had caused in my family, running away was no empty threat. Tridentine Masses were nearly impossible to participate in at the time (1974). So I conducted my own Sunday devotions while my family went to the Novus Ordo. In 1976 at the age of 16 I fell into a “Sex and drugs and Rock and Roll” lifestyle. Needless to say when my parents found out I was back going to Novus Ordo Mass but did not go to Communion or Confession. I always knew what big trouble I was in with God and how I was letting our Blessed Mother down. After all, I was her consecrated slave!
After getting married I began to go to Novus Ordo for a while. I lived right on the beach in California and the pastor of our Parish was very “fire & brimstone” about the California Party lifestyle that occurred around his beachfront parish. But a visit from my cousin M now a Sedevacantist priest rekindled my doubts and we stopped attending the Novus Ordo. We did not do anything else mind you, just stopped going. I found out years later that ironically the Parish I was going to, St Mary’s by the Sea, had an Indult Latin Mass and the Parish and its “fire & brimstone” pastor had a reputation throughout Southern California as one of the most conservative in the area. The pastor who had the indult would tell people “You cannot be more Catholic than the Catholic Church”. This pastor retired this past year and the indult has been revoked.
I had my first child in 1994 and my cousin baptized her as I told him I would get back to Sedevacantism. I didn’t. Four years later at the birth of my second child I knew my kids were growing up practically Godless. I was not about to ask my cousin to baptize another kid so I resolved to return to the Novus Ordo with the solid intention of being a “lukewarm” Catholic. But I did tell my wife I wanted to go back to St Mary’s by the Sea (10 minutes away) but she insisted we go to St Vincent de Paul (3 minutes away). Wife won.
We went to Mass without receiving the Sacraments and finally I decided it was time to go to Confession and Communion. I was sure that Confession would just be a bunch a people in a room where the priest would walk in, ask everyone if they were sorry, tells us en masse we were forgiven, and maybe tell us to say one or two Our Fathers. That was not the case. Fortunately I was ready with a very long documented list of 20-plus years of sins so I did make a good Confession (including the whole Sedevacantist story). My penance was to read and learn the Gospel of John. Five years later I am still trying to complete that penance. Once I received our Lord and God in Holy Communion my plan to be lukewarm failed. I began to read the Bible and research what went on in the Church the last twenty years. One interesting story was that as a child, I was pretty well educated in Catholicism. I knew it was not “Sola Scriptura”. I “knew” devotion to Mary was not in Scripture especially Holy Slavery as taught by St Louis de Montfort. Then I happened upon Tim Staples tapeset “All Generations Will Call Me Blessed” which explained how biblical devotion to Mary is. MARY IS THE ARK OF THE COVENENT!!!!! I cried like a baby and tears are in my eyes as I type this.
At that point I was pretty much hooked. I researched thoroughly the Sedevacantist/SSPX issue and found it in error. It causes me pain to see the disruption it has caused in the Church as pious Catholics are not in the common fold and not an example to the lukewarm.
So there are some bright sides. For one, the girl in junior high that I would say prompted me to abandon my devotions (mind you she did not say to do that) and caused me to start being a mainstream “cool” person is now my wife. Had I not met her I very well may have gotten locked into Sedevacantism as I reached the age of 18. My 20+ years of ignoring my faith were spent obsessed with my career as a computer professional. So now I have a business of my own that allows me the time and resources to develop Catholic websites and work as the front man to inquiring non-Catholics in our parish RCIA program.
My websites are http://www.conglomination.com which documents hundreds of Protestant sects and attempts to subtly show people that the Catholic Church is the one founded by Jesus. http://www.pjp2ea.org is the Eucharistic Adoration site for the Archdiocese of Chicago [woefully out of date] which led me to develop http://www.adorationservants.org that is a web-based set of tools for Eucharistic Adoration Chapels to better and more easily manage the scheduling of Perpetual Adoration with chapels in multiple dioceses at this time. And http://www.viglsociety.org is a ministry promoting all-night vigils to pray for Families, Pro-Life, Priest & Religious, and Vocations. I also host http://www.truedevotion.org though that site is stagnant [I gave the domain to the Montfort Fathers].
As a close, I have taken up the practice of praying to St Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases, for the reunification of Sedevacantists and Radical Traditionalists. [And it should be known I stopped doing that, I will take it up again. Just this week I purchased a St Jude statue as a Confirmation gift for the son a person I am helping start Perpetual Adoration. I think I will go buy another one for me[I did]]