America’s Favorite Catholic?

I had so much fun being interviewed by that ace interviewer (that is, me) that I wanted to have another go-around. So I contacted her, and we chatted again.

Interviewer (me): Thanks for speaking to me once more. After our last conversation, I polled your readers to find out where they stand about your becoming a Catholic. A small number were excited as can be. A larger group, unfortunately, were aghast and considering arranging an intervention. And then another group was bored to tears. The latter group wants you to stop writing sad poetry and talking about going to church. How do you respond to all of this feedback?

Me: Well, given my attempt to become “America’s Favorite Catholic,” I’d like to pander to all three groups.

Interviewer: Okay, where to start? Perhaps we should try to placate your long-suffering secular fans who just want you to write about Berkeley, trash, and barking dogs?

Me: Agreed.

Interviewer: So how are things in Bezerkely these days?

Me: Worse than ever. The trash is sky high; there are vagabonds living under the freeway, in parks, on street corners. It’s a madhouse. Crime is through the roof, and the traffic problems are obscene. All in all, a pretty hideous place to live.

Interviewer: Are you making plans to move?

Me: No.

Interviewer: In other words, you’re one of those annoying types who complain bitterly about your plight but do nothing to change it?

Me: Exactly.

Interviewer: Can you help your readers understand why Berkeley is so bad? I, for one, live in a lovely, pristine, and civilized part of the country. [In my fantasies, that is.] I’m sure many other fans are squirreled away in bucolic settings where the loudest noise comes from the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds. So tell us what it’s like in Berkeley?

Me: You have to see it to believe it. I’ve never seen so many troubled souls wandering the streets aimlessly and living under the freeway. It’s like Night of the Living Dead. Hordes of people, mostly young white people, are coming here from elsewhere.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Me: There are several distinct groups. One are the psychotic/drug addicts who can’t hold a job or live with their family. There are also the lost souls from broken families who come looking for some cool, hippie town that doesn’t exist. Then we have the antisocial types — the worst ones. In their towns, they are social pariahs because of their meanness and, maybe, violence. So they come here knowing that Berkeley standards are so loose that they can get away with their noxious behavior.

Interviewer: They sounds awful. Do you have any examples?

Me: Yes. I was in a fast food restaurant in Berkeley the other day. This straggly young man with matted hair walked in with a girl looking similarly. The supervisor immediately kicked them out. I spoke to the supervisor later. She said that the pair live on the sidewalk outside the restaurant and have threatened to kill the manager. The guy broke the front window and spray painted expletives on the restaurant.

Interviewer: That’s horrible. And the police did. . . ?

Me: Nothing. Their hands are tied by the incredibly permissive laws around here. So the poor, suffering restaurant staff have to deal with this daily abuse. Again, Berkeley allows behavior that’s not tolerated in other places.

Interviewer: It sounds like an awful place to live. How do you deal with it?

Me: It’s hard, and some days are better than others. But mostly I pray and ask for God’s guidance and help.

Interviewer: (rolling her eyes) Of course you have to get God in there.

Me: All roads lead back to Him.

Interviewer: Okay, since you’re pressing the topic, let’s talk more about your faith. Have you found a good community of like-minded Catholics?

Me: Sadly, no.

Interviewer: (surprised) No? I figured that you finally found your friend group.

Me: Actually, I’ve never felt so out of place in my life.

Interviewer: Why is this?

Me: It’s because I’m a Catholic who believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Interviewer: How strange! Here are all these people going to church and calling themselves Catholic but not believing what the Church teaches!

Me: Yes, it’s true. Catholics have become very liberal since Vatican II, which, by the way, I think was the worst thing that ever happened to the Catholic Church.

Interviewer: What I’ve heard is that Vatican II was fine — it’s how it’s been interpreted.

Me: I’ve heard that many times too. There’s truth to it. But I think that Vatican II itself was the problem.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Me: Because there was a small, but tenacious, group of priests and theologians in the early 20th century who preached “modernism.” Saint Pope Pius X understood the threat. He did everything in his power to squash the modernists. He expelled them from seminaries, banned their books, and even sent some of them packing. His efforts were highly successful at the time.

The two Popes after him (Pius XI and Pius XII) were excellent Popes but they started loosening things up a bit — bad move. The modernists were ferocious, and I think that the other two Popes didn’t understand the danger as did Pius X. Once Pope Pius XII died, Pope John XXIII was elected Pope and was sympathetic to the modernist cause. He initiated Vatican II, where he suppressed the conservatives and gave free reign to the modernists. Even in his opening speech, Pope John XXIII said that the Council would open the Church doors to the world. It did — and unfortunately, the world won.

Interviewer: So all of those modernists who were banished from the Church by Pope Pius X controlled Vatican II?

Me: Yes, and Pope John XXIII listened to them. Many Council documents reflect the modernistic spirit.

Interviewer: What is modernism?

Me: Pope Pius X called it the synthesis of all the heresies. It’s a combination of liberalism, New Age-ism, and moral relativism. It’s man-focused and not God-focused. We see the reflection of modernism now in our liturgies.

Interviewer: Do you think that the New Mass, created by Pope Paul VI in l970, has a modernistic tone?

Me: Absolutely. It’s very man-focused; it bears little resemblance to the Traditional Latin Mass. And, by the way, Paul VI had over a half dozen Protestant ministers advising him on how to reconfigure the New Mass.

In the old liturgy, the priest faces God. In the new one, he looks out on the people. He’s more of a motivational speaker, trying to inspire the parishioners. The focus of Mass is now on the Communion meal, rather than on Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. In some churches, the Tabernacle has been shoved off to the side, rather than front and center as it should be.

Interviewer: And the results of all this?

Me: Disastrous. If it’s just a meal, people can walk in late wearing jeans or not bother coming at all. They can receive Communion standing up and in the hand. It’s been a desacrilization of the Mass — that is, a removal of much of the sacred aspects of the Mass. I mean, right at the most important moment of the Mass — the Consecration — suddenly we’ve got the “Sign of Peace,” with people hugging and kissing and saying hi to each other. How in the world has that become acceptable?

We also have the supposed Extraordinary Ministers, a post-Vatican II novelty that was allowed by the Magisterium under very rare circumstances: for instance, if a priest passes out during the Mass and can’t distribute the Host himself. But of course, “the people” wanted to get involved and participate and now almost every parish has these so-called ministers. Consequently, the Sacramental role of the priest as the one to feed his sheep has been reduced and demeaned.

For all of these reasons, and so many more, the new liturgy has become a free-for-all, nothing like the Traditional Latin Mass, which was standardized by Saint Pope Pius V in l570. Given the casualness of the New Mass, most Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and most don’t bother to go to Church on Holy Days of Obligation.

Interviewer: What I had heard is that the mass exodus from the Church wasn’t because of Vatican II, but because of the 60s.

Me: But how did the 60s happen? It wasn’t just some sort of spontaneous outpouring of liberation, just like the so-called “Arab Spring” didn’t happen out of the blue. There were nefarious people lying in wait for the Catholic Church to become so weakened that they could unleash their madness of sex, drugs, and rock and roll onto the public.

You have to remember that by 1962, when the Council began, the Church was at his heyday. On Sunday, it was standing-room-only at church. Seminaries and convents were so packed that there were waiting lists to join. Catholic schools filled up so quickly that schools couldn’t be built fast enough. Catholics were having big, prayful families.

And the Catholic Church positively influenced not just Catholics, but the whole of society. Catholicism kept the moral fabric of the country together. As one example, have you heard of the Hays Code?

Interviewer: No. What’s that?

Me: The Catholic Church negotiated the Hays Code with the US Congress. The Church, along with the Congress, exerted pressure on Hollywood to produce only movies that communicated good, wholesome values. That’s why the movie, Casablanca, ended with Ingrid Bergman and Spencer Tracy doing the decent thing and breaking up, and why Marlon Brando, in, On the Waterfront, died rather than compromise his integrity. Because of the Code, movies had no sex, violence, drug use, obscenities, blasphemies, or anything else that could damage the morals of the public.

Vatican II started in l962, when the country and the Church were at its peak. The Council ended in l965. And do you know what happened as soon as it was done?

Interviewer: (wide-eyed surprise) In l965, the 60s revolutions began, and everything went down the tubes!!

Me: Exactly. Hollywood produced its first movie with nudity; drugs began saturating the young; and the music became salacious and drug-fueled.

Interviewer: Because the Catholic Church became weakened and divided after Vatican II, it could no longer provide a stabilizing influence on the culture.

Me: That’s right.

Interviewer: And the public became infected with the scourge of modernism and wanted to do whatever they wanted to do? And a good chunk of Catholics no longer respected the teachings of the Church?

Me: Exactly.

Interviewer: What you are telling me is really upsetting and hard to hear. It’s actually devastating. I can see why you aren’t exactly the most popular person in the room.

Me: Nor was Jesus — or St. Paul, et al. We aren’t here to be popular, but to speak the truth in love and charity.

Interviewer: And — I hate to admit this — how the country went into free-fall after Vatican II makes me wonder whether the Catholic Church is the true Church of God after all.

Me: I’m glad that you can see this now. The Episcopalian Church started loosening its moral teachings in the early part of the 20th century. And this had little impact on the world. Same with some of the changes in the Lutheran church, Presbyterian, etc. But when the teachings of the Catholic Church appeared to the world (rightly or wrongly) to be softening up, almost everything went downhill and people have gone off the rails.

Interviewer: Wow — I never understood the power of the Church before.

Me: Of course — because the Catholic Church is supernatural, not natural.

Interviewer: Well, I’m really blown away by all this information. I’ve got to take some time to digest it all. So let’s wrap it up for today. Peace be with you.

Me: And with your spirit.

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