An excellent analysis from Catholic Culture.
“Pope Francis had some strong words to say today about those who resist, twist, or ignore the impetus of the Second Vatican Council, which he described as “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit”. What does this mean for us?
“The first thing to note is that the Pope’s remarks apply to all of us. We all tend to resist the work of the Holy Spirit; we all tend to try to remain within our comfort zones. Pope Francis was preaching on St. Stephen’s words before his martyrdom: “You stiff-necked people…you always resist the Holy Spirit.” One way or another, we are all guilty of such resistance.
“The second thing to note is the Pope’s references to two of Our Lord’s own criticisms, which seem to identify two levels of resistance to the Holy Spirit. Our Lord rebuked his disciples on the road to Emmaus: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Lk 24:25). And he rebuked the scribes and Pharisees generally, saying:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Mt 23:29-33)
“We can guess from these references that Pope Francis sees in the Church two levels of obstruction of the action of the Holy Spirit in our own day, just as Our Lord did in His day. At the first level, again, are essentially all of those who seek to follow Christ, for we are ever slower than we should be to grasp and respond wholeheartedly to the will of God. And to take the Pope’s particular example, this slowness includes a failure to respond as promptly and energetically as we should to the work of the Holy Spirit as manifested through the Second Vatican Council. We are dulled by our attachments, we fail to trust Christ completely, we do not wish to be moved by the Holy Spirit in new and surprising ways. Yet we are all obliged to make spiritual progress as rapidly as possible, and so to take the Council’s message for the Church in our times to heart.
“Those at the second level, as the harshness of Our Lord’s language attests, are in a far more serious sort of opposition. Once again taking the Pope’s central example, on this level we have all those who positively set themselves against the Holy Spirit’s work through the acts of the Council. This can only refer to those who actually impede authentic Catholic renewal by denying the validity or appropriateness of the Conciliar texts.
“On the one hand, we have all those who claim the Catholic name but prefer to alter its meaning to fit into the dominant secular culture. These assert that the Council was a wonderful revolutionary affair which changed Catholic teachings in light of mature modern insights, even though the alleged changes are contrary to what the documents actually say. In theological terms, these are the Modernists, aided and abetted by the lukewarm, who always use theology for their own convenience. For a time, they actually hijacked the legacy of the Council throughout much of the Church, making it very difficult for the renewal which Pope John XXIII envisioned to gather steam. Their power, praise God, is rapidly dwindling now.
“On the other hand, we have those who claim to be more Catholic than pope or council. They agree that the Council was indeed a revolution, but a calamitous and ultimately illegitimate one. They argue that the Conciliar acts are replete with a combination of error, imprudence and vagueness which makes them positively harmful, and not at all a fitting inspiration for legitimate Catholic development. Often calling themselves Traditionalists, these almost literally stand on ceremony, ossifying the Church’s pre-Vatican II culture in accordance with their own comfortable piety.”