Friday 3 January 2014

A Note From My Father

My father died a long time ago, back in 1978.  

This afternoon, I was looking unsuccessfully for a book by Knox (Mons Ronald, of course!), and found instead, squeezed between A Creed in Slow Motion and A Retreat for Lay People, a small notebook.  Only a few pages have been written in, all in my late father's handwriting. The following is the first note he made.

This note is dated September 1972. Here is what he had to say:

Two views:

1 There was a Council, certain changes were made; it went to the heads of some people, others were distressed by the changes. Things are now settling down.

2 a) The above is what might have been expected to happen; it is not what did happen. In fact, (using the Council as its occasion, and the fact that people were prepared for changes as its opportunity) a heretical clique has seized power and is bent on the destruction of the Church from within - what the Pope has called 'auto demolition' - and the introduction of a new religion.  The situation is more serious than the Reformation not because there are heretics about, but because of the complicity, or at least silence, of the authorities, and because the heretics have acquired the semblance of legality.

b) The root of the heretical movement is the idea of secular progress (most characteristically Marxist). The natural progress of the world from the atom to the fully socialised community is the great reality, and the Church is just one factor in this (at best).

c) The strategy is to destroy distinctions: the Pope is not much different from other bishops ("collegiality"); bishops are not much different from priests; priests are not much different from laymen ("democratisation"); Catholics are not much different from other Christians; Christians are not much different from the rest of men.

d) The means of achieving all this are (amongst others):

  1. The monopoly of the 'Catholic' press
  2. The catechetical movement
  3. The ecumenical movement
  4. The destruction of the whole web of authentic devotional life, and especially the new rite of the "coena domenica sine missa."

Two more views

1) Provided the essence of the Mass remains, all else - rubrics, language, music etc - is relatively unimportant. Tastes may differ.

2) a) But it can be argued that the new rite, while not necessarily invalid, is designed to obscure the Sacrifice and the Real Presence.  It is used at Taizé, and indeed 'Prex' 2 could be used by anyone. It fits the new ecumenical religion.

b) Are the 'inessentials' really so inessential? The Roman rite was doctrinally unassailable; the Latin was a powerful bond and manifestation of unity.

c) The new rite does not follow the lines of the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.


And there the note ends.  There are other notes in the book, which I may transcribe in due course.

I found this very interesting, not least given its date. In particular I was struck by his reflections on the strategy and means (2 c and d above).  

I notice that, while presenting two views (and then two more), he does not come down in favour of one or the other - but I think his thinking is clear, nonetheless…

On writing that, I realise that I am assuming that this was his own thinking: it may, of course, have been notes taken from a talk given by someone else, but I have some reasons for doubting that (for a start, I think he would have noted that fact, were it the case.)

It was his anniversary the other day: please spare a prayer for him.

Requiescat in pace.


Lazarus said...

I shall certainly pray for him.

Were you aware of his views at the time? I wonder in particular as I struggle to get over the details of my understanding of Catholicism to my older children. It's easy enough to engage at the level of 'Catholicism good, atheism bad', but far more difficult to find a way of discussing finer points.

Did you discuss Vatican II round the kitchen table?!

Ttony said...

"The monopoly of the 'Catholic' press" means that it is unlikely that we could easily find out what was going on in September 1972 to provoke these comments.

It interests me that he perceived the monolithic nature of what he was facing, even as it portrayed itself as 'democratic' - I'm not sure we (for a value of "we" that you and I can take as read) have taken adequately on board just how determined those pushing this agenda were and therefore still are, those today feeding off the victory of those then.

All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well, but imagine if your father saw his son at a not dissimilar age (I guess) embarked on the same fight: proud and daunted at the same time, I imagine.

The report of the 1980 Liverpool Pastoral Congress is leering at me from an adjacent bookshelf: I put it next to a Frank Sheed handbook to try to draw its poison, but it continues to leer. Imagine how awful a time this was!

Ben Trovato said...


I was 11 at the time this was written, so it is hard to remember precisely. However as my inadequate 'Catholic' education progressed, my awareness of my Father's views increased as he did battle with the school… But he was careful to inculcate Catholicism first. It is a long story, which I think may need a post to itself to do it justice.

Ben Trovato said...


I hadn't thought that, but this year I will be just a year younger than my Father was when he wrote this. Lots to reflect on here...

Jack Tollers said...


I was 17, and finishing my High School, here some 20 miles from Buenos Aires. I was seriously thinking of becoming a priest.

In September of that very year, went to Mass where a well known priest in Bs. As. preached on what Paul VI had said on June 29th, remember? That Satan's smoke had filtred through... remember?

My father, my friends, a couple of priests and monks, we all thought more or less just like your father.

Still do.

But, no. Bergoglio didn't, not by a long way.


Ben Trovato said...


Thanks! That is very valuable context. I know the quotation about the smoke of Satan entering the Church, but had not known (or remembered) the year: very interesting indeed!