I came across this over on Celledoor Miscellany.
A priest-friend of Paul VI, as quoted in Life magazine, March 20, 1970:
"After the turmoil following the Vatican Council, it will take two or three generations to reconstruct Catholicism."
Well, here we are folks, and we have a lot of work to do. In the context of religious life, I would prefer a different term than reconstruction. Retrieval, maybe.
Nevertheless, the more I converse with folks who seem to regard themselves as part of this project or retrieval, and I include myself, the more I think we need to be careful about our spiritual attitude toward those who have preceded us.
Our spiritual mothers and fathers in religious life are the ones who stayed when many others left. They stayed because they believed in our vocation, and found in their liberation from former oppressive structures a spirituality that sustained them. This can be hard to appreciate for us who converted or reverted the faith in flight from the vertigo of the relativism and aimlessness of the world; our spiritual parents were liberated from structure and thick notions of absolute truth, while we were liberated to these things.
But this does not, and should not prevent us from appreciating the spiritual energy that must have been felt by what is now the older generation, and from acknowledging that Holy Spirit was in it for them. Yes, they dismantled a religious culture perhaps without realizing how destabilizing it would be to put nothing in particular in its place, but we too one day will leave our own particular shortsightedness as a thorn in the side of our spiritual children and the work of our historical moment incomplete in some way.
A while back a youngish traddy was telling me about how he had approached and made fun of an older religious sister who was protesting for some liberal cause or other, as if he wanted me to approve of such a thing. I should have scolded him.
Yes, we have a lot to recover, a lot to retrieve, even a culture to rebuild. But the rightness of our historical task does not invalidate that of our parents, the fruits of whose liberation even the most ardent traddies enjoy in many ways.
For example, anyone who has gone to his pastor or even his bishop, trying to enforce his right to the Extraordinary Form as declared in Summorum pontificum, has the 'Spirit of Vatican II' to thank that he can even imagine doing such a thing.