It occured to me this morning (at 5:30am while lying in my youngest daughter’s bottom bunk after she had pushed me out of the matrimonial queen-size…), that Past Elder, who is “not a traditionalist or a member of the SSPX”, and those who are, have no case when they complain that the post-Vatican II Church is very different from the pre-Vatican II Church. Of course, it is very different. Ecumenical Councils–once they have been properly assimilated by the Church–tend to have this effect.
Compare, for instance, the ante-Nicene and post-Nicene Church. This division still marks our categorization of the Church Fathers, and is further enhanced by the stark differences of context between a persecuted sect and a state religion. It is not too much to say that the Christian religion as a whole was irrevocably transformed by this transition.
Or take pre-Tridentine and post-Tridentine Churches. The decrees of Trent, which addressed many of the abuses and laxities criticised by the Reformers, also introduced many “novelties”–a universal liturgy for one. It took decades–perhaps almost a century–to be properly received in the face of great opposition in some quarters, but the result afterwards was a very different kind of Church, so much so that someone (I think it was Pelikan in his earlier period) opined that Trent in fact created a separate “denomination” called “the Roman Catholic Church”.
So sure, the post-Vatican II Church is very different from what it was before the council. But throughout all the changes of their two thousand year history, Catholic Christians have remained faithful to their Church in the belief that Christ remains faithful to his promise, and that just as Christ is “the same yesterday, today and always” so also the Church, ever old and ever new, is built upon the unchanging foundation of the Word of God. And the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
And all the people said: “Amen”.