SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
XI. The Perfection of Love
OUR religion in its simplicity and its crystal-clear purity aims at transforming our beings to the likeness of Christ by the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Church. Everything comes from God (exitus) and returns to Him (redditus) : « Everything proceeds from the Father in the Holy Trinity, and from it everything issues forth into creation according to the hierarchy of beings, to come back to it finally according to the supernatural order and the perfection of Love. This great design takes the form of a string of pearls : the gracious curve of a descent and an ascent to the very source of the movement. »
At the Second Vatican Council, the string of the necklace broke, the pearls fell off, and were scattered on the floor, before becoming bogged down in the mire of the world or in the sands of the great modern Babylon under construction. « In the new theology, everything comes from God as well, but everything, in the final analysis, leads to man ; everything is spread out for good on the earth and turns into human values. » Since then, we have witnessed the collapse of the ancient and admirable edifice of Catholic holiness, struck full-force by the conciliar project of “ updating ” and the opening up to the world.
When one rereads the texts of the Council relating to holiness and Christian perfection, one observes a duality, an indecision, as though the Church was seeking its path between the cult of God and the cult of Man, endeavouring to associate them. The decree “ Perfectæ caritatis ” on the Religious Life and the last four chapters of “ Lumen Gentium ” are very revealing of this agonising struggle.
« To this question : what is the personal and collective aim of human life, according to Christ ? the Council was unable to reply clearly. Either it hedged : it is the construction of the modern world and the conquest of Heaven. Or it hesitated even concerning the subject of the ultimate end and brought it back to the other one, immediate and earthly : it is holiness but adapted, it is winning Heaven but in a temporal commitment, it is the vision of God but in every man. When it was necessary to choose between two masters, the Council refused to choose. In doing so it changed masters and irresistibly led crowds to betray the first one, the only True one, in order to serve the other, the new one, Man. » (CCR no 32, p. 4)
Let us take, for example, Chapter V of “ Lumen Gentium ”, entitled “ The universal call to holiness in the Church ”. This chapter comes after the one on the laity, which the Council promoted, as we have seen, in an ill-considered manner. It is in the revolutionary perspective of a People of God reunited democratically by the Spirit, existing before any hierarchy, that the call to holiness resounds. The novelty consists in saying that every member can acquire it as well, whatever their condition, and that, to the contrary, secular life is not an obstacle to this. Formerly, the Church gave more importance to certain “ states of life ”, more propitious for the pursuit of perfection. Today there are no longer privileges, holiness is offered to everyone. Gratuitously ?
If this is the case, then the Council gave way to demagogy, instead of recalling « the essential duties of religious practice, of the commandments of God and of the Church, of the elementary virtues and of the indispensable moral asceticism… The cowardice of this Council places a halo on all heads without referring to the obstacles to holiness, which are the world, the flesh, and Satan. »
Second example : in a surprising manner, after having opened wide the paths of holiness to the laity, even preaching to them the generosity of martyrdom ! the Council forbids it to the religious, or at least made it so difficult that it became almost impossible. This is the subject of Chapter VI of “ Lumen Gentium ”, which develops an admirable doctrine on the holiness of the religious state, but compels it to a « renewal adapted » to the requirements of present-day society :
Thus, celibacy must be « undertaken in a way which will benefit the entire personality », poverty must be « a quasi-collective witness », obedience « far from lessening the dignity of the human person leads to maturity » ! And here are some demands that must be met : adapt the habit and community life to the modern world, that henceforth young religious have a say in the Chapter, that the right to instruction be recognised for them, that the distinction between choir Fathers and lay brothers be suppressed with a view to egalitarianism, etc.
« The adaptation and renewal of the religious life includes both the constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time. This renewal must be accomplished under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Church. »
It would be as well to do the splits between a desirable return to the limpid source of the spirit of the founders, and the detestable opening to an extremely corrupted and secularised world. The results were not long in making themselves felt. In 1972, Fr. de Nantes already noticed that « this fabulous reform produced the slowing down, the decline and the death of numerous religious institutes, disorder, division and panic of those that survived ».
HEAVENLY THINGS FADE AWAY
Chapter VII of “ Lumen Gentium ” speaks at last of Heaven, in dealing with the « eschatological nature of the pilgrim Church and its union with the Church in Heaven ». Take note that the Church is no longer said to be “ militant ” but “ pilgrim ”, since she no longer recognises any enemies.
Well, all things considered, this reference to the life of Heaven does not incite souls to desire it. Why ? Because it seems that since they are all called to it, not a single one of them will be excluded at the end of time, at the Parousia. Fr. de Nantes remarked the major omission :
« Hell, and all that leads to it, all those who rush there, this frightening darkness that gives to the light of Heaven all its significance and its worth, are only mentioned in passing “ to avoid any verbosity ”, specifies the commentator. » It is not surprising then that the desire of Heaven fades away, and that the resulting impetus for holiness be stopped, so as to lead there as many souls as possible, « all mankind, if this were possible », as Father de Foucauld said.
Finally, our Father observed, « not one word about death and resurrection, of the crucifying discontinuity from this life to the other, from temporal goods to eternal ones. In “ Lumen gentium ” Heaven seems to be the extension of the earth and its earthly activities. »
THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE LAST PLACE
Let us get to the heart of the mystery of iniquity, where the tail of the devil can be seen. The mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary should have in fact been the subject of a special schema. The “ minimalists ” were anxious to please the Protestant observers and blocked it. The Immaculate was relegated « to her place », as they said in an outrageous manner, that is to say, to the last place, since She is only spoken of in the last chapter of “ Lumen Gentium ”. Instead of proclaiming her beauty, her glory, her grace, they preferred to exalt her spirit of service, « to reintegrate her into humanity, deplored our Father, on the side of sinners, when Tradition and the devotion of centuries placed her preferably alongside Christ the Saviour as Coredemptrix, and alongside God as Mediatrix ».
It was precisely this beautiful title of “ Mediatrix of all graces ”, desired by millions of the faithful, called for by the Marian apparitions of the last two centuries, that they refused to give her. There was no mention of the Rosary, even though at Fatima she had expressly asked for it to be said ; even less was there mention of devotion to her Immaculate Heart, so dear to the Heart of God. Finally, there was « another deliberate deviation, and very current : the Council passed rapidly over Mary’s presence at the Foot of the Cross, and her active participation in the work of our Redemption through her admirable compassion. »
In conclusion, she is simply asked to participate, like anyone else, in the construction of a better world : « The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she may now intercede before her Son… until all families of people, whether they are honoured with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Saviour, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity. »
Will this be on earth or in Heaven, will it be an entirely human gathering or one of conversion and grace ? Therein lies the entire ambiguity of the Council. When the fog disperses, only the earth subsists and Heaven seems so far away…
HOLINESS RECOVERED BY VATICAN III
It is through Mary, through devotion to her Immaculate Heart and to the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son, that holiness will flourish tomorrow in the resurrected Church. « The string of pearls broken by Vatican II has scattered its treasures into the mire of the world. The result can be counted by those many thousands who have apostatised, by those who have been defrocked, by the number of souls who must have gone to their ruin. Vatican III will make a new necklace of holiness in view of Glory. »
« It is indeed a question of Counter-Reformation, our Father adds, since it is necessary to reverse the direction that now goes no longer from God to Man and from Man to the World, but from mankind to Christ, and from the Church of Christ to God. We must climb back up the slope, and draw the Christian people from the abyss into which the conciliar blunder made it fall. Love of God and His worship must be re-established, holiness must be restored to the religious state, all the paths to salvation must be reopened, Christians must once again be able to experience the attraction of Eternal Life by the grace of Jesus and the intercession of Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God and our Mother. »
This is the complete programme of Fatima that our Father likes to call “ the low road to perfection ”. So low, so low, one grovels in self-sacrifice and renunciation of the World, that he rises, so high, so high that he finally reaches the desired goal : « For this is the perfection of love, to leave one’s dwelling on an obscure night – o inestimable grace – to unite oneself to Him who is the Sovereign Good ! »
Everyone has to be saved. It would be good to recall this. In the race to holiness, wanting to escape the flames of Hell is a minimum objective : « At this point Vatican III must, in consonance with the great tradition of charity of the ancient Councils, pronounce a specific condemnation of the various forms of depravity and disorders that are rampant today, and lay down the necessary laws and measures for restoring the health of society, with the aim of saving the souls of the multitude. This is the customary reform in the Church “ in capite et in membris ” : a reform including the Pope and his Curia, as well as priests and the faithful.
The law of Salvation having first been defined, the Law of Perfection will follow, offered to those who are courageous and to the “ violent ” of whom the Gospel speaks. Vatican III will rehabilitate and restore the states of religious life, appropriate for the sound and integral practice of the evangelical counsels « It will declare that in consecrated life the supreme solution to all difficulties and the remedy to all spiritual maladies of the present time can be found. For the sovereign law of all perfection is to serve God first of all and to expect all that is necessary from Him. »
Religious Orders must necessarily adapt themselves to the world, but in a purely practical, material manner, and especially in being wary of its spirit and its passions. « They will weigh and consider the requirements and customs of the modern world in the light of the spirit of their Founders and of their Rule. » The contrary to what has been practiced for forty years and which has caused so much ruin, will be the restoration of everything. The faithful, in turn, will benefit from this restoration of religious live, whose fruit will be a hundredfold measure of spiritual goods in this world and eternal life for the faithful multitudes in the other.
« Since Vatican III will not have fixed its gaze on the World to be constructed nor sullied its hands in the cult of Man, it will thus be able to raise its sights and its hands to Heaven without any obstacle. The entire Church that will enter into its movement will no longer experience any estrangement ; on the contrary, she will feel very close to Heaven and the Elect. Withdrawn from the world and diverted by their Pastors from the foolish pride of raising altars to themselves, Christians will rediscover the general sentiment of the Church of all times felt since the first Easter morning, even to the great days of Lourdes and Fatima : Heaven is not far away, but close and accessible, provided we allow the Church to take us by the hand and guide us there. All that we are required to do is to put on the “ wedding garments ” of Charity and behold, we shall find that life everlasting has already begun ! Amen, Hosanna, Alleluia ! (CCR no 32, p. 10)
Taken from He is Risen ! no 11, July 2003, p. 6-8