The Great Wars

The Great War.

I was taught by the teachers who had served in the generations following the great wars. In my high school, I had seen the photographs, of teachers in military uniforms. Post-war, men returning afterward still wore their uniforms, as civilian teachers at a military school. At least for a while.

My father had graduated from the same high school. A generation later, I had many of the same teachers. And I was taught what my father had been taught here in the years when World War II broke out.

The world had been reshaped by the Great Wars.

I enrolled at a Catholic university in the fall of 1971. Students who had seen the face of a priest in worship. Young Catholics who had no barrier in place as Mass. The philosophy and theology courses were unaltered, unlike the students, in the early 1970s by Vatican II. And I was taught by priests who seemed unchanged by Vatican II. Young men now in long hair. Unveiled women. In church.

At Catholic universities, where all students were not Catholics. Men now in long hair. Women now on the pill. And the spiritual tension, challenging the system of God.

The Great War. There were the battles being fought, over implementing changes of Vatican II. Younger priests were sent in to replace older priests, with power, replacing the Kosher-like priests who would not implement change. When papal authority said, “Just Do IT.”

There was the day to day strife in rectories, between priests. Over change and how to implement change. There was day to day strife over what was happening in the church, over what had happened in the world. Other than as chaplains, these priests might have missed the great wars. Unaware of how the world had changed.

Vatican II. The Catholic world had been reshaped by the Great Wars. And then Vatican II, with the requirement for clear and coherent speech … in the native language. With the purpose of greater understanding, with the demand unchanged for appropriate mood and affect. In the churches. In the music. But always there was an underlying tension. With occasional apprehensions. With the disorganization in task execution. With a conscious that could be turned off and on. Over good and evil. And in the battle for power.

Were those older priests, after Vatican II, feeling not much different than Eve? Yeah, unappreciated Eve. Like all women, especially after the great wars. When women had no power. In the legal process. When Lincoln might have freed the slaves, but not the female slaves. When nothing really ever had changed. When the civil rights movement, at the time of Vatican II, called the question, when the law of the land was not synonymous with true justice. When there was only a pretense of belief in the order to the system.

Then the war of independence. Women at war with insensitive men. Over the relationship. Women in the insensitive world in search of soul mates … and the battle fatigue. In a church still led by the pre-Vatican II priests, as well as priests formed from behind the Iron Curtain or priests formed in the reign of Hitler. In the day when only men were called to war. Some voluntarily and others involuntarily. When there was so much denial, were was the truth-telling about suffering in this world … about the damage done in the dominant culture? In relationships. In something invisible.

And the repercussions. In all real wars there was Trauma and Recovery. Even in the war of independence. Since Joseph Ratzinger was elected, a debate had taken place over an attempt to change the way the Catholic world had been praying, since 1965. In a letter dated July 29, 2006, Bishop William Skylstad, then President of the Conference, informed Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that the Latin Church Bishops of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops approved the translation of the Ordo Missae at its plenary meeting on June 15, 2006. Before jumping through the hoops on the same issue in 2008 and 2009. For the English speaking world. (It is of note that Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, does not speak English.)

It was like the ‘turn-back-the-clock game where the professional sports team brought out vestments from one hundred years ago, in the clash of the modern world and the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, with their “slavishly literal” translation into English of the new Roman Missal from the original Latin. With new bishops in authority, appointed under the regimes of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, without the collegiality of the Holy See, the people in charge were ordered, not instructed, to follow the Nike model and “Just Do It.” These bishops who pledged loyalty every five years, to the pope. These bishops, those slavishly literal bishops, who had too often failed to show any true leadership — in Tucson, in Portland, in all the bankrupt dioceses and archdioceses in American – in the sexual abuse crisis until journalists exposed all of the cover ups. The old order, with too many shills, was to return. With the disorganization in task execution. With a silence, not telling the people in the pews about the plan. Those announcements were focused on the coming parish closings, not on the new way to pray.

In the age of divorce. Where even the Vatican was getting ready to divorce itself of the nuns — over their implemented changes — if not now maybe from the rest of the Catholic female world. Over issues of language. Ignoring all the issues of pain in relationship that the Vatican II tried to ignore. With a silence. Still keeping the reports and goings-on secret.

And so the timing to test, to measure, all the damage. In relationship. In relationships. In alienation. Between God and man. Between men and women. Measured in neuropsychological test findings, about true understanding.

There are those tests to report upon those very brief latencies of word-finding difficulties. Or confrontation naming. The Boston Naming test, dealing with expressive language. Measuring personal if not institutional intellectual capability. And all the occasional lapses of attentional deployment. All these things that happened during prayer.

The demand upon entry to the seminaries, for Visual Spatial Reasoning and Perceptual Organization, with high average perceptions. And the Bender-Gestalt to measure the perceptual motor skills, with good visual construction abilities.

The slowly forgotten Great Wars, which had changed the world. What humans perceived. The slowly forgotten perceptions of humanity. And inhumanity. The norms of the neuropsychological world. The Boston Naming test, like the city in New England, dealing with expressive language. In my own language. And the testing for confrontation naming.

The word-finding difficulties. In prayer. In a church that was abandoning the translations which have been used for 45 years. By my generation and the one behind me.

Binding orders. Teachers in military uniforms. Men returning afterward, who still wore their military uniforms in civilian times. At an all-boys high school. At least for a while. Dealing with authority, like Adam and the old world, before Eve. Adam living in all of the silence. And with the one commandment before she arrived, about the Tree of Knowledge. When in the story of Eve and Adam, Eve never really cared about the old rules –the one rule. Or the old commander and his war stories. I think Eve still did not care, as Adam tried to gain some control over the world before Eve.

That Old World Order which existed before the Great Wars. We were all gonna be praying, in a sense, in Latin again, in a way that Romans once dominated the world, with all the friendliness towards people under the domination of empire that Adolph Hitler tried to reproduce. In union with the church throughout the world. With an ensuing certain rigid thinking that might assist in a discipline to reach the highest thrones. In one piece. Unbroken. Slavishly, in union.

POST SCRIPT: In an August 20, 2010 letter, Francis Cardinal George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced receipt of a June 23rd letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with the provided guidelines for publication of the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition,as mandated by the Vatican. The document states, “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.  From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

There are, in the new translations, reportedly 12 new responses which will have to be learned by those who attend Mass, replacing the language used in the Mass since Vatican II.


The Deacon’s Bench

POST SCRIPT: The Catholic News Service reports an item from VATICAN CITY on November 23, 2011 that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has just issued a 41-page text on reforming the international financial system. Perhaps the Vatican was compelled with its own expertise after getting the Vatican Bank running so smoothly after accusations of money laundering in the 1980s, and then the subsequent investigation by Italian officials of the Vatican bank in the past two year.




POST SCRIPT: In November 2014, the magazine Commonweal writes: “It is extremely unusual to have a lengthy vacancy at the top rung of a major Vatican office, especially when it’s a Roman congregation. Normally when the pope accepts the resignation of a prefect or assigns him to another post, he appoints a successor within a matter of days. Usually he does it immediately. That hasn’t happened with the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS). Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, soon to be sixty-nine, had headed the office since late 2008. But on August 28, 2014, Pope Francis named him Archbishop of Valencia. That was almost five weeks ago. He still hasn’t been replaced. During his nearly six years in that office, Cardinal Cañizares helped to advance Benedict XVI’s liturgical preferences. Those sympathetic to his efforts claimed his appointment to Valencia was part of Francis’s purge of the former pope’s men. But that’s not quite right. The cardinal had actually asked Benedict to send him back to Spain. He had hoped to be named Archbishop of Madrid, head of the church in the nation’s capital. Instead, Francis sent him to Valencia, Cañizares’s fourth diocese, where he was ordained a priest in 1970. What is puzzling is why it has taken so long for Pope Francis to fill the vacancy he left at CDWDS. Perhaps the pope is waiting until Saturday, after the cardinal is officially installed in his new diocese. Or it may be that there is a tug of war in the curia over the appointment. In any case, the delay has people of varying liturgical leanings waiting with bated breath.”



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