“Because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” (Fiddler on the Roof)
Like the Hebrews stretching back to the age of Moses, the Church is upheld by two great pillars: Scripture and Tradition. After the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), large chunks of the Church embraced a whole lot of squishy thinking and threw out a whole lot of its traditions.
Depending on whether you interpret the Council following a hermeneutic of rupture or a hermeneutic of continuity, it was either a “new Pentecost” and a complete break with the ancient Tradition or it was renewal, a way of presenting Tradition to the modern world.
Since the Council ended before I was born, I really don’t have the emotional or ego investment in answering that question, though I note that Pope Benedict XVI constantly preaches the hermeneutic of continuity, while the hermeneutic of rupture is embraced by both the most liberal and most traditionalist forces in the Church.
I can only give you my own experience. Coming from a non-churched family, I went to a Catholic high school at the very height of the try anything empty headed big-hearted post-Conciliar period. After four years of “Theology” courses, I really did think that the entire sum of Catholic intellectual development over 2,000 years was “Jesus loves you” and “be nice”.
While of course God loves us, there’s a lot more there than I was led to believe. I was fed a thin little gruel where my brain and my spirit were seeking after some real, substantial food.
Is it any wonder that when I went on my spiritual quest in my 20s, I never gave Christianity a thought?
The Church I learned about in my medieval history classes in no way resembled the Church to which I had been exposed in high school. That Church, with its great Romanesque monuments, with its contemplative plainchant and its Icons and altarpieces – that Church I might have joined.
This modern thing with its Brutalist architecture, guitars, and harmonicas, with its doe-eyed water-colour Jesus was just plain silly and not worth a second look.
Fortunately, God sent His saints and angels to grab me anyway. I thank Him every day that it only took twenty years.
The younger generation of priests and laity are bringing back what was lost.
This video (courtesy of the inestimable Father Z) is a very good reflection on the new traditionalism in the Church. It’s four minutes well worth your time.
While some Catholics of my generation refer to themselves as “Vatican II babies”, I prefer to think of myself as a “Lateran III baby”.