Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival

Blessed Paul VI
Welcome to “Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival”, a select gathering of distinguished Catholic bloggers sharing their posts for the past week.  This is just my little corner of the party: the big bash is happening here at This That and the Other Thing, home of our fearless leader in snippetdom, RAnn.  This is my first Sunday Snippets in a few weeks: bloggery has taken a back seat to other priorities lately.  I do have a couple of posts this past week, however, and I’d like to say a few more words about one of the principals in my last post, Blessed Paul VI.
     St. John Paul II occupied the Chair of Peter for more than half of my life, and is more than deserving (in my estimation, for what it’s worth) of the title “The Great”.   Nonetheless, Pope Paul was the only Pope I knew, up until a few weeks before my sixteenth birthday.  Consequently, his  kindly face with the sunken, sad looking eyes is the first image that comes to my mind when someone says “The Pope”.  When I read some of the unkind comments that have been made in reaction to his beatification, I feel almost as if someone is attacking the memory of my grandfather.
     Not that there isn’t cause for criticism.  His loose “management style”, as I remarked in the earlier post, led to a lot of confusion, much of which is still with us.  One doesn’t need to be a fan of the cranky  Malachi Martin to see at least some truth in his observation that “women wanted to be priests, priests wanted to get married, bishops became regional popes and theologians claimed absolute teaching authority.”   Also, the changes to the Mass wrought by liturgist-run-amok Annibale Bugnini, appointed by Pope Paul, went far beyond those outlined by Vatican II in Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Here, too, the clean-up is still in progress.
     There is a plus side, of course.  The disruptive forces that burst forth during Paul’s pontificate had been bubbling under the surface long before he came to the Throne of Peter.  They built up tremendous pressure during Vatican II (helped along in great part by the same sort of manipulation and skewed reporting we saw during the recent synod). They finally exploded when Pope Paul, in defiance of the Spirit of the Age and the so-called Spirit of Vatican II, issued what is arguably the most famous (although not, perhaps, the most read) papal encyclical in history: Humanae Vitae.
     Humanae Vitae is most well known for restating the Church's teaching that contraception is always immoral, but those who have read and studied the document know that it is much more: it is a brief but beautiful encapsulation of the Catholic understanding of marital love, grounded in human dignity.  It also contains a warning of the evils that will necessarily follow once that understanding is jettisoned, a prophecy which we have seen fulfilled in every particular in the forty-six years since. Blessed Paul never backed down from his defense of the traditional teaching on human sexuality, although he appeared to be deeply wounded by the venom of the revolt against it: Humanae Vitae was his last encyclical, even though he would remain Pope for another decade.
     It is because of Humanae Vitae, as much as his obvious sanctity and love of the Church, and despite his shortcomings in other areas, that Pope Paul VI is now beatified.  During his pontificate communism looked like the great threat to Christian civilization, but except for a few holdouts in places like North Korea and university faculty lounges communism has found its proper place on the dust heap of history.  The great domestic threat of the decline of morals and the destruction of the family has emerged as the real challenge: what better time to elevate the Pope who lovingly but firmly said "No" to the sexual revolution?
     Here are my other posts from the past week:

 The tale of a lovely young woman with Down's syndrome: “Amy or Dawkins?” [here]

Beethoven's "Gloria" is simply glorious: “Sir Gilbert Levine Conducts Beethoven Missa Solemnis, 2. Gloria” [here]

What does Pope Paul VI have to do with the recent Synod on the Family? “Blessed Paul VI, the Synod, and Pope Francis” [here]