For this month’s general letter I want to return to an addition to the website’s homepage. The open letter to those discourage – Hope against Hope was meant to be a bridge between various ideas about what Vatican II was and will be for the future.
The whole point is that, if you like Vatican II or even if you don’t there should still be a basic core reaction that is the same between all groups. Why? Because an ecumenical council is not optional (Link Here). Although the majority of us are not religious monks we still owe obedience at some level to Church superiors. When the Popes have been telling us that Vatican II is a major part of their pontificates for the last 50 years there comes a point when disobedience is sinful. That is why even if you dislike Vatican II, the way forward is not by going your separate way but through following the Popes lead. (3 of the last 5 Popes all of whom have been pro-Vatican II are now saints so at least we can agree that even if you think Vatican II is bad it still is a path towards holiness)
It is not the best council that will change the world. It is the council given to us by God!
These quotes from St. Kolbe can help us direct our thoughts.
“not because what they order is reasonable or unreasonable, pleasant or unpleasant, but because it is God’s will, that is the reason we obey, and the only reason”.
“Obedience of the intellect and the will is the most difficult vow to put into practice; however, in order to observe it perfectly, it is helpful to: 1) see in the superior, God who commands, and 2) consider that man cannot do anything better than that which the superior has ordered.” (SK #962)
Hence, if you want holiness and truly want it at a great depth they only way to achieve this is through obedience. Right now to be obedient to the last 5 Popes means to at least at some level help spread some part of Vatican II in your life and the lives of others. Even if you don’t think Vatican II was all so great – you don’t have too – but you do have to enact it if you want holiness achieved through obedience. Going a separate way or back in time, will only get you pious spiritualism, not true holiness that can only come through obedience.
In fact, the claim of the letter for those discourage now posted on the website’s home page is that if you want Vatican II to go away, the only way to do this is to enact it as the Popes say. For by being holy, things change. Only by being holy will the Church change her ways. Thus, if you think Vatican II is great – go practice it. If you think it is horrible – still go practice it because it is not optional and part of the Pope’s plan. In your obedience to what you think is unjust, if Vatican II needs to be improved your actions will purify it for the Church.
In conclusion I will leave off repeating the letter to those discouraged.
Vatican II may look bad. It may smell bad. It may be ugly. (not saying it is but it may be to some) Yet, it is our ugliness. By being small, great things happen. Jesus sat with the sinners. He ate and drank with tax collectors. Jesus’ apostles betrayed him. But, they were his. Vatican II is our council -our generation. Where else are the words of eternal life? Will God grant victory to small Judas Maccabee if he plans his own war? Or will Judas win by charging full throttle forward without looking back – by hoping against hope? Risk the contradiction. It is not by having the best council that the goal will be achieved, but by moving forward with the council given to us by God. 5 Popes, 3 of them saints, more than 50 years, continuous implementation and promotion of Vatican II by the Popes and what do we have? God’s will. Yes, things may change in the future for a different direction. Yes, the past looked somewhat different. But, the same Spirit animates them all and it is the Present we are called to be faithful too. What is that present calling you to do from the mouth of the Popes? If you don’t like the Popes. Okay – you don’t have too. Yet, still do what they say. That will grant you holiness and your heart will be satisfied. If you think something has been taken away, you can only get it back through prayer and obedience. That will grant the conversion of hearts. If you think Vatican II looks bad – Hope against Hope. Be a father who thinks that sacrificing a son will grant him back again. Or a obedient son that allows himself to be sacrificed. If you think Vatican II is not all so great, trust in God – enact it and see that holiness and love will be given back even if you cannot see it. Be not afraid!