Author: Nathaniel Slattery
Posted: Month of the Precious Blood, 3rd Day, Year of Our Lord 2023
The title of the article refers to a book I have recently finished, which is the first volume of a series of scholarly works related to that council.
I am in a somewhat awkward position for my choice of title. I do not know if the author would give me permission to write about him, because it seems he holds a very low opinion of me, which I richly deserve. Therefore, and because I feel constrained to write this, I shall say no more until I might discover his answer.
When I approached the True Church and eventually entered into it, I was tempted by a procession of various heresies and schismatical theories, including but not limited to: judiazerism, Russian schismatism, Greek schismatism, Armenian schismatism, Sedevacantism, and Modernism. The crux of all these opponents to the True Religion, and more of which I am still unsure— which descends to every possible particular of theology, morality, philosophy, and every other form of knowledge and wisdom—, is two things only: 1) the history of the Church from Pentecost to 1960, and 2) the particular event of Vatican Council II, which is the most significant occurrence within the Church since Pentecost.
My heart is constricted by number two. It is a very profound statement which I desire deeply to explore. Even ignoring this desire, the possibility of truth and its implications require all Catholics to exert all their effort to understand it. This was ably said in the conclusion of a certain book. That is what absolutely requires me, if I should write this article, to use the title I have. This ignoring every other jot and tittle of that book, as prudence behooves.
The first thing to understand is that these two things are in order of importance. All of Church history besides Vatican Council II— which is the most significant occurrence within it— is more important than it. Therefore, before studying the latter, one must understand the former, because by understanding the former, you know the True Religion and what it is. Very few people do this.
Additionally, and I hesitate to say this, but the occurrence of Vatican Council II contains a departure from the Catholic Tradition, understood by Church history up until it. I have already required this by saying it is the most significant occurrence in Church history. I speak now of the event— all of its particulars across a period of time, in which somewhere there is necessarily this departure—rather than documents or anything else.
A theologian recently said that there are two ways to attain notoriety in theology: advancement or novelty. Elaborated, this means that one can pursue complete understanding of all of accurate theology up until the point which they enter into it, and then try to take that entire body and advance it forward into some new application— the role of Saint Joseph in the end times perhaps— and have their name deservedly known for doing so. For instance, St. Louis de Montfort seems to have done this by making certain predictions about Our Lady and a special devotion to her for this age in which we are living. Now, this is a very rare thing to do, and the vast majority of theologians will never do it, but will be occupied with the humble duties of their profession— teaching the ignorant. This is not a problem if one has no thirst for notoriety. If one recognizes that at the Final Judgment, all shall see your name and every thought, word, and action, and the absolute truth of them, in perfect justice, far outstripping any conceivable kind of notoriety or recognition possible in the world, the perfection and destruction of all obscurity, then one should have no care for it. But if one neglects to do this, then the seductive desire for some sort of shadow of immortality may lead one to desire to be known. And the simplest way to do this as a theologian is to teach novelty.
In the same way, what I have said about Vatican II is a logical deduction. For, everyone can see how significant it has been in and outside the Church. I have never met anyone who is aware of it that does not see that it is important. Now, I say often to people that I am amazed (especially sedevacantists) how they think that this council is more significant than, for instance, Our Lady and the saints (this if you watch their actions and listen to their words). This is simply to say that all of Church history before this council is more significant than this council. But this council seems to be more significant than any other part of the history of the Church, simply because it has changed everything in a more thorough, more noticeable, more far-reaching, and more efficacious manner than any council or teaching ever has.
This does not necessarily mean that the documents promulgated, or the theologians involved, or any other particular element was what made the whole thing significant. What caused this incredible occurrence is open for investigation, and very many people have investigated it. What I am saying with this article is very simple: Once you have learned Church history, then you are obligated, no matter who you are in the world, to learn of this council. Because things have changed since then. If you do not understand how, why, and what to do, then you will lose your faith and your salvation.
I am sure that certain focuses for study are more important than others. I am also sure that some books are to be avoided and some others to be devoured. But that is not something I can talk about definitively, since I am only beginning. I can simply share this unhappy conclusion which I have reached: I am required to do my best to understand Vatican Council II.