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By Fr. Richard Cipolla, October 13, 2018
This evening I saw the future, the real Future of the Church, not the one being imagined by the crowd in Rome who mistake the future because of the mindless bureaucracy that thinks it has the Spirit imprisoned in the 1960s under the title of the “spirit of Vatican II.” When the present Pontiff was elected, I wrote an essay called “Back to the Future”, which predicted that the Church would have to relive the sixties but this time with a vengeance. All those prelates and their briefcase carrying followers who went underground during the pontificate of John Paul II would meet and talk with great nostalgia during those dark (for them) years under John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They talked about the “unfinished work” of the Council, that work that had little to do with Council documents but much more to do with their image of the New Church that would be updated to fit the needs and desires of Modern Man.
Poor things. They did not realize that Modern Man died in the sixties and that Post-Modern Man was emerging and was slouching towards Bethlehem. When you live in a sealed container that is the Vatican and its bureaucracy, there is little chance you will be conversant with what is really happening in the world and in the mind and hearts of people. But the 60s crowd are back and with a vengeance. The only 60s program that kept on going during their exile was the program of the moral corruption of the clergy. That continued to grow and flourish. The destruction of the liturgical life of the Church was for a time halted, and it seemed that there might be a possibility of questioning the basis of liturgical reform following the Council and of at least thinking that there was in fact a discontinuity in the liturgical life of the Church that resulted in the emptying out of our churches.
But a bureaucrat cannot possibly conceive of a discontinuity in the life of the Church, for the bureaucrat must believe that whatever happens is by definition the work of the Holy Spirit, and so the only thing that he must do is to rethink and change course according to what he hears and what he is told is the latest manifestation of the Spirit, be it in a synod, or a sermon, or an encyclical, or a press conference, or what is whispered in the hallways and the loggia.
It is the bureaucrats at all levels of the clergy who kept the apparatus alive for fifty years, so that when a Pope resigned, they only had to change the direction in which they faced when they woke up in the morning: from the East to the West. One need not wonder how the double coup of a resignation of a Pope and an election of a 60s bishop to the papacy did not result in confusion and chaos. For when those formerly in power and then underground for fifty years came into their own once again, back to the future, the supporting bureaucracy in all levels of the Church were ready and able to support them in their project of remaking the Church in their own 60s image. And part of the glue holding this together and making it possible was the damnable success of the moral corruption of the clergy at all levels, a corruption that enabled the bureaucracy to control by intimidation based on incriminating knowledge and to advance their agenda unimpeded, except for a few gadfly cardinals and bishops.
So it is precisely while the Synod for Youth is meeting in Rome in quasi-secrecy that I saw the Future this evening. I was invited to sit in choir during a Traditional Solemn Mass in a parish church of my diocese. The celebrant, the pastor of the parish, the deacon and the sub-deacon were each young priests of the diocese. The Mass was celebrated with no frills, no excesses, no sign of aestheticism. The Feast was the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, instituted by Pius XI to celebrate the anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, at which Mary was proclaimed as Theotokos, the bearer of God, affirming the full divinity of the person of Christ. The music of the Mass was all Gregorian chant, Mass IX. The servers were all young men, some new to this, some quite practiced in serving this Mass. It was the worship of God in its purest form, in its traditional form, a form whose liturgical modesty and reticence invites prayer and therefore worship. The sacred ministers gave themselves over to their roles in the Mass in a naturally self-effacing way. They knew the proper tones for the various chants and sang them well. The sermon was intelligent and truly Catholic. These three men made worship possible by getting themselves out of the way and letting the rite speak for itself.
Many of the young priests in my diocese have learnt the Traditional Roman Mass, aka the Extraordinary Form. They love this Mass in a sober way without any hint of “high church” prancing or panting. They love Christ and his Church. They are loyal to the teaching of the Magisterium. They are priests who are at home in any situation and who enjoy each other’s company. They enjoy the company of both men and women in their parishes. The bureaucrats who run the Church do not know that these priests exist. And that is good. For while the bureaucrats are running around at synods and conferences and trying to put out noxious fires without the water of moral purity and therefore failing every time: these young priests, not only in my diocese, but in most dioceses through the Catholic world, are just learning once again how to worship and are discovering the beauty of worship, and they are teaching this to their flock. And they, and the Traditional Mass they love,— they are the Future of the Church.