My sister asked me to write down what I remember about Vatican II. (After her own reflection, she’d been asked for more by readers). I have just read what she wrote and it is very comprehensive. However, from my point of view I can add some things. See https://remnantdisciples.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/a-church-in-change-part-1-a-personal-reflection/ for her reflection.
Post WWII: Pre Vatican days
After we arrived in this country, late in 1949, I was 8 1/2 years old, and up until that time, I had not had the opportunity of becoming an altar boy. We were placed into a migrant camp, where a Polish German priest, looking after the spiritual welfare of the migrants asked me to become an altar boy. I am now 75 years old and am still privileged to be able to serve on the altar as an altar server, even though it is now hard for me to kneel at the altar without support due to weakness in my back as a result of a back operation many years ago.
As my sister pointed out in her reflection, most Catholic children went to Catholic schools where all the teachers were nuns or brothers who were very dedicated to their Faith. As a result we received a good foundation in our Faith. Every Friday the whole school would go to Benediction and a priest would come to our school once a month to hear our Confession and if the Church was next to the School, we would go to confession there. There were always a lot of hymns that we used to sing, so we all know all the old hymns, which we sang at Benediction or the English hymns during the Latin Mass*. The Mass, however, except for the singing was completely silent, the only time the congregation said anything was when the priest turned to face the congregation for Communion at the “Domine Non Sum Dignus” which was said in English** by all the congregation praying together : “Lord, I am not worthy…”.
(Comment by R.S:*It surprised us here in this country, that many Latin Mass priests do not like us to sing English hymns during the Latin Low Mass. I don’t know if it was different in other countries pre Vatican II – but why then are there so many old hymns which date back centuries – to be sung at the Offertory and Communion? This was also the case in Europe from where our family emigrated – hymns were sung in the vernacular during the Latin Mass. **The same applies to the “Lord I am not worthy..” When the priest says it the second time, facing the people, we said it in English. Perhaps this was just a custom or indult for this country. I don’t know. At the Latin Mass now, we say it in Latin.)
Mass on a Saturday night, if there was one, did not count for Sunday, and there was only one place in the city that I knew of, that had a Mass on Sunday night. Fasting before Holy Communion was from midnight or from midday if Mass was on a Sunday night.
If there were 2 priests at a parish, the 2nd priest was always there to help distribute Holy Communion (kneeling and on the tongue) which would always take some time, as the church was always full.
When boys reached the age of about 14, Brother would arrange for all the boys who were interested in becoming priests, to spend the day at the seminary and when we arrived we would find hundreds of boys there – all for the same reason.
My last full year at school was 1955. We were in a class where Brother taught 2 classes at the same time (Years 8 and 9) of about 50 children. At this time, the metropolitan area was just one archdiocese and Cardinal Gilroy was the man in charge and was a good Cardinal. I was talking to a priest one day and mentioned how friendly Cardinal Gilroy was, and the priest said ”Yes, but if a priest came before him who had done something wrong, he would, with the same smile on his face, tell him that he would go and serve at some unknown place out the “back of Bourke” or somewhere. I, too (as my sister) was confirmed by Cardinal Gilroy and everybody thought very highly of him.
In my last year of school in 1955, I remember thinking at the time, that of the 50 or so boys in our classroom, most of whom would leave school in the next 12 months, I estimated that, about 50% of these boys would never enter a church again except at Christmas or Easter. So this good grounding in the Faith that we received, was not received with faith in a lot of cases and fell on barren ground.
With the Latin Mass, every male was expected to be able to serve on the altar. However, when we left school, we left the altar service, to make way for the younger boys coming up.
At that point, on leaving school, we would join the parish CYO – i.e. the Catholic Youth Organisation. We would have a meeting one night a week, and make plans to go out somewhere – to the pictures (movies), or the beach or bushwalking. And sometimes we would do these things together with the CYO from another parish.
Every Saturday afternoon, from 2 to 4pm there would be confessions at the church and again after 6pm as well.
Death of Pius XII
I remember when Pius XII died, in 1958: the cardinals met at the conclave to elect a new pope and I remember white smoke coming out of the chimney to indicate a pope had been elected. At this time television had only recently become available, but not many people could afford to buy them, so we would go down to the shops and watch it in the shop window. However, shortly afterwards, black smoke came out of the chimney, indicating that the vote was not successful and eventually John XXIII was elected. This caused a stir because the cardinal first elected was denied the right to accept the position.
Vatican II and John XXIII: The Leonine prayers and the Third Secret
John XXIII said “let us open the windows and let some fresh air into the church” and he summoned the bishops for Vatican II. He also said that any priest or religious that wanted to leave their vocation could do so. As a result many thousands of priests and religious left their life’s vocation. This did not surprise me as I was aware that a lot of them had a faith that had become “lukewarm” (In 1962, I was 21 years old.)
When John XXIII set up Vatican II, he also invited the Russians (I presume he meant the Orthodox Bishops). But the Russian Premier Nikita Kruschev, refused to let them out of Russia unless John XXIII gave orders that the prayer to St Michael, and the Leonine prayers, which were said after very Low Mass for the conversion of Russia, were stopped right throughout the world. John XXIII gave that order and from that point on, these prayers were no longer said.
Our Lady of Fatima requested that the 3rd secret of Fatima be revealed no later than 1960. Pius XII died in 1958, and when John XXIII became pope, he read the 3rd secret, but refused to tell the world what it contained. In reference to this he said: “No, this is not for our time”.
Vatican II and Paul VI: the New Mass and the Ottaviani Intervention
He died while Vatican II was still in progress and the next pope was Paul VI. Who instructed Bishop Bugnini to write a new Mass – the Novus Ordo. 5 protestants and one Jewish theologian were invited to Vatican II as observers for the writing of this new Mass. We knew that the reason for all this was to try to convert the protestants to Catholicism. I thought at the time that this was not a good idea because we cannot compromise any part of our Faith. I felt that they were there more than just observers. In fact, when the Novus Ordo was completed, they came out of the meeting and the protestant theologians were shaking each others’ hands and one was heard to say “Not in our wildest dreams did we think we’d achieve so much”.
In the Vatican at the time, there was an old cardinal of humble background – a holy man who had served a number of popes. His name was Ottaviani and he issued a document called “The Ottaviani Intervention” – a legal document that I understand can still be accessed today. I understand that it warned the Pope that if he authorised this new Novus Ordo Mass, that he would be a heretic. So Pope Paul VI had the N.O. changed slightly so that the Mass would not be heretical. We were left with a watered down version of the old Latin Mass that left a lot of good priests in a state of shock.
Masonic bishops and Fr. Malachi Martin
There was also another Bishop in the Vatican called Bea and he, the same as bishop Bugnini, were both Masons and this Bishop Bea had an Irish Jesuit priest as Secretary called Malachi Martin who went to Pope Paul VI and said that he also wanted to leave the priesthood because in good conscience he could not say this new Mass.
So Paul VI asked him not to leave, and that he would give him permission to say the Latin Mass wherever he might be in the world. What I did not realize was that when all the priests were leaving the priesthood, a lot of our best priests left as well because in conscience they could not say the new Mass. Eventually Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI regulated certain parts of this Mass so that there would be no doubt that the N.O. was an authentic Mass. (E.g the words of Consecration which had been changed were changed back into the original – “for all” was deleted and replaced by ”many”. The clergy excused it saying that it was just an error, – a bad translation – but that’s rubbish – It was deliberate. I never passed a Latin exam, but even I knew that “multis” meant “many’.
Changes gradually introduced into the Mass
So as a young man in the 1960’s and as Vatican II progressed, we wondered where all this was leading to. I remember the Mass changing from Latin to English, which was not really a problem, as Latin stayed the official language of the Church and instead of the priest saying the Mass in Latin, he was now saying the same Mass in English just as we were reading it in our missals. My wife said that even the English was introduced gradually and the first thing they changed was that we were now praying the Our Father out loud in English. So all the changes were very gradual until two years later, when suddenly without any warning or explanation, the old Latin Mass was gone, never to be seen again. And the new Mass was celebrated with the priest no longer facing the Tabernacle, but had turned around and was facing the congregation.
The changes in the church itself that had already taken place or were in the process of taking place were very drastic. The altar rails were gone, statues were taken away, a new table replaced the old high altar and was placed forward in the sanctuary to enable the priest and acolytes to stand behind it. Some churches took the new table/altar, and put it half way down the aisle which looked silly. But in other places it was a lot more drastic. For instance in Christchurch, NZ the Bishop vandalized the Cathedral. He not only removed the altar rails, he also took down the statues and traditional stations of the Cross. He took out all the pews and burnt them and replaced them with cheap chairs. He dismantled the marble high altar and had it dumped into the ocean.
For his efforts he received a personal letter from Bishop Bugnini thanking him for his achievements. I am sure that there were families in Christchurch who remembered that their parents had with donations, helped build the church and its furnishings of this once beautiful cathedral and I am sure they would not have been happy to see it all destroyed.
Women in the Sanctuary
After things settled down somewhat, our parish priest asked me and a few other men to become acolytes. As I trusted our priest, I thought that if something were not in order, he would tell us. So I agreed and after instructions, we were installed by the Bishop as Acolytes. However, the changes continued. Other women and men became Eucharistic Ministers, but they were not installed by the bishop.
With the old Mass, the only time a woman was allowed inside the altar rails during Mass, was when she was being married with a Nuptial mass, now it seems all this no longer mattered. No one gave out any information. There was only the priest or the local Catholic newspaper to keep us informed.
The treatment of Garabandal
In the early 60’s, the Catholic newspaper wrote about the wonderful things that were happening in Garabandal and then all of a sudden – nothing – as if Garabandal never existed. We were all in the dark, no-one to enlighten us, and I was becoming more and more concerned, and eventually traumatised by what was happening.
As I started to realize that the Church was heading down the path of Protestantism. I thought I was going mad as no-one else showed any concern. Then one day I picked up a magazine called ‘AD 2000” printed by Bob Santamaria, who had started a new branch of a political party this country, but later gave away politics to devote his time to religious matters. He was a protégé of Dr Mannix – Archbishop of another state, who by this time had already died. I discovered that this magazine was full of all the things I realized was now wrong with this new Mass and the path we were taking. So I realized that I was not going mad after all – that there were 1000’s of people all over the world who were concerned about what was happening.
One of the things that concerned me was the problem of the use of the big host (about 4”) to celebrate the Mass. (It was supposed to replace all the little hosts that they were trying to get rid of). The priest broke up this big host and small particles flew in every direction. After Mass because of my concern, I used to go around collecting these consecrated fragments: on the altar, in front of the altar where the priest stood, over on the side where the acolytes were given Communion and where the altar rails used to be where the congregation were receiving Communion. As all these pieces of the Host all had rough edges, pieces were falling everywhere and no-one took any notice. At the old Mass, of course, the small hosts were all perfectly formed and a Communion plate was used to catch any particles falling off. By this time I realized that Canon Law stated that only the consecrated hands of a priest or a deacon can touch the Eucharist.
Another big problem in my mind was that in my parish before Christmas and Easter we were invited to a communal confession where the priest gave absolution for venial sins and personal confession was available for serious sins. I thought this strange, but it was supposed to be for the huge numbers going to confession at these times of the year. This went on for a couple of years and then about the third year, I realized that this was different from the previous year and that in fact, that what Father was performing was the third Rite of Confession. I said to my wife that this was illegal under these circumstances.
This eventually became a concern of thoughtful Catholics all over the Western world and people were complaining about it but I seem to remember it took about 3 years before it was properly addressed and the Vatican put a stop to it.
In my mind it was this incident that did a tremendous lot of harm to the Faith of the congregation and the church. Because it seemed to me that from that time on, nearly everybody thought it was no longer necessary to go to Confession and from about that time, all the congregation started to come to Holy Communion and only about 20 people continued to regularly come to Confession.
Searching for another Mass
My sister and I decided we would have to leave our parishes to look for the old Latin Mass which was taught to us in our Catholic schools by our brothers and nuns. So in the end we left our parish of nearly 50 years and went to a Maronite Mass until we found the Latin Mass. We knew that there was one in the area but we had to find it. I was delivering some literature from the Pilgrims of St Michael (who were visiting our country at the time from Canada). This woman to whom I delivered this literature was going to do a letter box drop and give them to friends and she mentioned that she goes to the Latin Mass. So I found the Mass I was looking for. This was in 2002 which was about 33 years after the introduction of the N.O. A huge weight was lifted from our shoulders and practically from the first day, I was again serving on the altar and it seemed that it was only yesterday that I had last served the Latin Mass. We had “come home” to where there is no doubt and everything was as it should be.
I came to realize, because of Bob Santamaria and the AD200 magazine and the Jesuit priest Malachi Martin, that the modernist bishops were taking control of the church and had co-erced conservative bishops in letting them have their way by putting up a front of solidarity. The bishops, in turn, forced this new point of view onto their priests, because if a priest refused to do as a Bishop said, the Bishop would strip him of his faculties. In most cases the priest that remained did not have the courage to say to the Bishop that he refused to say this new Mass and to go along with the changes, and to say that he refused to resign. There were not many priests with that sort of courage.
More Effects of the Novus Ordo
When all this came to a conclusion, with the attempted excommunication of the Latin Mass, all the Sodalities were stopped, such as The Holy Name Society, the Legion of Mary, the Children of Mary,*** etc.
On the other hand, they introduced Parish councils which meant setting up committees of all types that were deemed to be needed. In other words, committees telling the priest how to do his job, which no good priest could tolerate. As if the priest was not already busy enough, now he had to contend with a bunch of lay people telling him how to do his job. However, in all this, the St Vincent de Paul society was left alone.
So from my point of view, all that had happened from Vatican II up to the present time was the first step to get us ready for what is happening now: that is, the attempt of the total destruction of Christ’s church on earth.
Reflection by Crusader J.
Comment by R.S. *** I remember that the children of Mary would wear their blue cloaks over their wedding gown when they walked down the aisle. Although, unlike the picture attached, the cloaks were usually beneath the knee or mid calf.