July 9, 2017

Friends,

I remember my days as a newly ordained priest and how excited I was to be able to serve in the
Catholic Church. I had just finished 8 years of studying (4 years college and 4 years theology). I was stationed at St Angela in Mattapan. I was in my glory. Most of the priests with whom I was friendly were around my age (late 20’s) and we socialized and used to travel together (e.g. NY City). I recall some of the conversations. We were all products of the Second Vatican Council so we had all sorts of new ideas and it was a very exciting time in the history of the Church. We used to think we were pretty liberal in our theological thinking and we talked about how traditional the older priests were, including most of the pastors in the Churches in which we served. It was like we were in 2 different worlds. We were passionate and animated and convinced that the “new theology” of the 1960’s and 70’s would transform the Church and the world. The seminary offered all priests the opportunity to go to “study weeks” to learn about the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. I loved it. Some of the older priests resisted it.

I remember in my conversations with my younger friends, we started to think that by the time we got older, the young priests would see us as traditional and outdated because they would be so much more progressive than we would be. Well, guess what? The years have gone by and the priests of my generation have gotten older--that part is true. But, what has happened is that the younger priests coming behind us have reversed the trend. So instead of becoming even more open to the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council, they have gone in reverse. They are so much more traditional that we ever imagined. They are not followers of the changes encouraged by that Council, instead they long for the pre-Vatican II days in which many of us grew up. This is very evident in the way most younger priests speak about our relationship with God, the liturgical style in which they celebrate Mass, a desire to reinstate the Tridentine Rite (Latin Mass), and the way they receive the Eucharist. Some people say, “What difference does it make?” I believe it indicates a very strong return to experiencing God as distant and demanding. I know some Catholics are thrilled to see this return to the “good old days.” I am not one of them.

Enjoy Life!
Fr. Ron Coyne

 

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