In a post at Catholicae Testudines on the generation gap.
One odd thing is when older people, when they see that I take an interest in Catholic tradition throughout the ages, from the beginning to now, including the part between the early Church and the modern era, accuse me of being nostalgic for the days before the Council, assuming that I want to make things like they were in their parish back when they were children, as if I even knew what that was like, which I don’t.
It is interesting how too many people divide the Church into pre and post Vatican II. As if this was some dividing line where everything was changed. Some people seem to have an etch-a-sketch mentality on Vatican II as if the Council shook up the Church and erased everthing that occured before it. This pre and post view is something that both progressives and rad trads share. The reality is that the councils of the Church are more like tree rings than dividing lines. Tree rings grow from the center and are only larger because they build upon what has gone before it. Intepreting the writings of the Council without putting it into context of doctrinal development that went before it is to misread it.
I was thinking the other day about the story of Zacchaeus the short-in-stature tax collector who had to climb a tree to be able to see Jesus. We are all like Zacchaeus in that we too must be elevated to see Christ. Scripture. Apostolic Tradition, and further development of doctrine is what we can climb up to more clearly see Christ. If we remove or minimize any of them we lower ourselves closer to the the ground and our glimses of Jesus are obscured. What happens is that we might see the crowd around Jesus and not Jesus himself. This might explain why too much theology that went down this road emphasizes more the communal dinner at the Last Supper and minimizes the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. That the presense of Christ in his followers is of equal footing with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. While the one shouldn’t be minimized or ignorned, it should be put in the proper ordering of how Christ makes himself present. When we are elevated to the proper height we can truly see both God and neighbor.
We truly "stand on the shoulders of giants" when it comes to seeing Christ. We don’t have to rehash the Christology affirmed by the Council of Nicaea or argue about whether the Pope can teach infallibly in certain circumstances as what was taught by Vatican I. Our theology can become deeper and richer as time passes and the Doctors of the Church did not come up with their insights out of whole cloth but by understanding the truths before them. Studying the history of the Church and the progress of doctrine does not makes us nonstalgic, but informed. Better able to read the documents of subsequent councils without falling into error.