Sunday, December 23, 2012

On the Evolution of People and Churches

So I got into an argument with one of my friends at church today over Vatican II and whether it was a good council or not. Now, for all people reading this to know right now: I'm a Vatican II man. I say good riddance to Latin and scoff at the idea that Thomas Aquinas should be the go-to guy (especially in the Latin Church. You guys have other people who are just as insightful, even if not as prolific). I personally think that the changes that were begun at Vatican II are the most important changes for the entirety of the Church at large, and that it's truly a council for the ages.

Well, my friend disagreed, like a lot of young traddy Catholics.
I'm looking for the cymbals.

I asked him why, and his response was that Vatican II didn't actually fix anything. All the other councils had fixed things, and this council was a miserable failure at doing that, I mean, look at the chaos out there! People are pushing for women to be ordained (pft, that's so 5th century!), there's horrible liturgical confusion (what, scraping off the paint of icons into the sacred species too bland for you? Try clown masses), we've got heretical bishops (HA! That's definitely not new), and the list just went on and on and on. Oh, and don't forget about clergy not doing their job in propagating the true faith by bending over with skirts up for the politicians. I mean, heavens to betsy let's not forget about that. Now, most of my snarky-but-true remarks were my ready response for him, considering that he's not the first person I've debated that yearns for "the bad old days" of yore (I mean, back then people got things done, justice prevailed, and frauds like Obama were tortured and killed in the good old-fashioned Medieval style.)  But my father interjected, and inserted a comment that definitely made me think.

"It was all in-process, the documents were just left as signposts for later."

Well that bowled me over. I'd never thought of that. Maybe, just maybe, these people didn't write everything down to commemorate the event of their victory (as I always figured), but they recorded their thoughts so everyone down the line had a chance to renew the fight should they fail. I mean, there were at least two(!) robber councils on Iconoclasm which cancelled out Iconodule statements! Arianism went rampant for a long time after Nicea I and killed a lot of people; that heresy was a bloodbath. The 2nd Ecumenical Council (I can never remember where it happened, sorry!) was called to complete the Creed because such a poor job had been done on it beforehand! And Saint Cyril of Alexandria ran a voter fraud scam that would have done Obama and the Democrats proud in the Council of Ephesus. I mean, our doctrine of the Theotokos was obtained via voter fraud! And yet here we are, 1600 years later, proclaiming her to be the Theotokos, and Cyril, a politician cut from the same cloth as Chicago's politicians, is a saint. He's got his miracles which confirm that he's up in heaven, and more than enough apparitions by the blessed Mother herself to confirm the title of Theotokos.

So the right side did win, it just did it the way any of us triumph over evil: step-by-step, inch by inch, and with a healthy dose of corruption and back-handed deals. Now, I'm not saying that the ends justify the means: evil is evil. But, ultimately, the Fathers really weren't any different from us. They had good, they had bad, and they just had to make do with what they had, like us.  They just pointed into the darkness and took the best shot they could, hoping that it would work. Did they expect things to work out? I have no idea of knowing, but when Saint Nick himself punches Arius in the face cause he couldn't argue with him you get the feeling that things didn't look all that great (I pray for that level of courage, BTWS).

Yeah, the triumph of justice and right happens just like it does in Christian fairy tales (and in a certain way it does, but more on that some other time), except when it doesn't. Somehow we have this idea that everything that happened in the past was part of a golden era that shouldn't be badmouthed (in the case of the traddies) or that everything that happened in the past was terrible and you better not try to do what those poor bastards did (not that I could blame anyone for this after WWI).