Wilful Destruction: Friday Penance.
The recently rediscovered attention towards meatless Friday is the occasion of a couple of sad reflections.
Once upon a time, there was obligatory penance on Friday, and it was obligatory that this penance had to be in the form of not eating meat.
In an immortal scene of the “Don Camillo” film series, said Don Camillo is surprised involuntary trespassing in the home of simple peasants, and with usual nerve says “today is Friday, have you eaten lean (meaning: no meat)?” “Yes, Reverendo”, answers the poor confused chap…
It was really important, and eating meat on a Friday a grave matter.
Then V II came and, as everything V II, it proceeded to sabotage everything that is Catholic without saying so. The friday penance was not officially killed, no it wasn’t… it was merely substituted with another penance of choice. No more Friday inconveniences, we are now in a new era…
Predictably, the “penance of choice” became “no penance”, then when those at the top start showing that they don’t care, it is rather seldom that those at the bottom do. But notice this: a Catholic practice was killed by the clergy, who saw it die without moving a finger.
Now, if the V II NuChurch had been not entirely interested in penance through meat, but still interested in Friday penance, then they would have reacted to the evident deterioration of the practice by constantly hammering the necessity of Friday penance. Did they do it? Did they? Why not?
They didn’t do it because they wanted the practice to die, that’s why. But – in pure Vatican II style – they wanted the practice to die without officially saying so. Protestantisation on the sly, whilst pretending to continue to follow Catholic customs: this is, in a nutshell, the description of 50 years of V II practice.
This course is pursued – though nowadays in a less brainless way – to this day. Here and there, there are slow signs of partial change, and traditional practices are recovered more and more in everyday life. It is not difficult to notice rosaries in church, vespers, quarant’ore etc. starting to spread again. But this is the result of a widespread popular desire for such practices which finds an echo in good and committed priests, rather than the result of a planned offensive from the Vatican. Alas, the Vatican is still such, that five years after Summorum Pontificum the Holy Father hasn’t found an occasion to publicly celebrate a Traditional Mass himself (“ah” – some say – “but apparently he does it in private”. “Apparently?””In Private?” Really? How useful! A true push toward the recovery of the Mass of the Ages!). He will do it one day, of course; and of course, it will be saluted as a huge event; but in reality it will be just another bit of fodder thrown to the conservative pigeons (like Summorum Pontificum, almost dead letter five years later; or Anglicanorum Coetibus, for which the “almost” seems rather generous), before things are carried on in the usual way; nay, so that things can be carried on in the usual way.
Isnt’ it ironic that the Church still pretends to celebrate the imaginary “achievements” of Vatican II in the year that saw the US Catholics – particularly Latinos – give a massive support to the
most anti-Catholic (and in general, most Nazi) President of the United States in living memory?
The mentality that gave us the “free penance Fridays” in order for the penance to be forgotten is the same that created the abortionist Catholics and the “conscience” heroes, focusing strongly on (convenient) social issues in order for the Church teaching in matters of abortion, contraception and sexual morality to be (conveniently) forgotten. This was not an unexpected result of the activity of the Western clergy; this was exactly what most of them wanted. Had it not be that way, the revolt would have started decades ago. But no, we were left with the almost complete death of Friday penance, under the pretence of the practice still being in place; and with two generations of contracepting, divorcing and aborting Catholics, under the pretence this is, erm, well, still an important issue, but you can vote for the killing machine anyway… .
How very Vatican II.