Tuesday, 8 March 2016
Free thinking and the Second Vatican Council
Lent 2016: Day 28
The fourth week of Lent approaches its end, past the half-way mark and I'm beginning to feel a sense of sadness that this dear old friend of mine for 25 years, will soon be over. At Christmas, with its excesses of food and drink, I sense Lent looming, months away still, the first few days are hard but then I get back into the swing. And with each passing year it becomes less about the body and more about the spirit.
AdTheLad took me to task about my comments regarding the spiritual search, when, he says, the answer is 'right under my nose', meaning the Catholic Church. Searching for absolute truth is not something that can be accomplished by any one person in any one lifetime, I would argue, and Scriptures and their interpretation are but one starting point from which one can but begin the journey - and a journey that is unlikely to end in a satisfactory conclusion.
Are we right to search? The pre-Vatican church was against free thought or attempts to independently seek answers to spiritual questions. The Second Vatican Council introduced much change; some clearly visible (Mass in the vernacular, priest facing the congregation, no altar rails etc) and some - as I wrote about in my Lenten blog posts from three years ago (final part here) to do with the very heart of Catholic theology.
The Second Vatican Council has divided the Church. There's the Traditionalist wing, the most extreme of which (the Sedevactionists) claim that an Anti-Pope has been sitting in the Vatican these past 50 years, and the Liberal wing, who find their more open and accepting vision increasingly difficult to sell to those who want simple answers.
The Second Vatican Council opened the door to ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue while reducing the accent on pious ritual and the role of the priest as intermediary between God and Man.
Since the death of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church in Poland has tended to drift back towards a pre-Second Vatican Council form, albeit without the Latin or the altar rails. Communicants can still choose to receive the Host in their hands rather than having it placed on their tongue. But in terms of theology, the voice of openness, inclusivity and dialogue that I would hear at the Dominican Abbey in Służewiec is being drowned out by the less tolerant voice of Radio Maryja, which dangerously mixes nationalist politics into the Catholic faith.
Reading Fr Tischner or Fr Heller does give hope that the Polish church is still capable of producing excellent minds, capable to reaching out to all those who sincerely seek. Following Fr Tischner's commentaries on the post-Second Vatican Council catechism, I found that I learned much that was new and useful on my spiritual journey. It is easier to journey with such books at one's side than to make everything up on one's own.
This, I think, for me is crucial - not to wander off entirely on one's own, but to read deeply and broadly, watch your own opinions take form over time, become more sophisticated, able to answer ever tougher questions. But still, at the end of the course, we will be only a tiny way further along that great path from Zero to One. And here's my biggest gripe with selling of salvation - it's a one-shot solution, a three-score (now more commonly four-score) and ten attempt at doing right in exchange for an eternity in paradise. Would that it were so simple...
This time two years ago:
Getting ul. Karczunkowska ready for Biedronka opening
This time three years ago: God's own risk
This time four years ago:
A third of the way through Lent
This time five years ago:
Balancing surfeit and shortage
This time six years ago: