Back-pedalling on Vatican II

As my recently deceased spiritual guide, Peter Steele, would never tire of saying: ‘There are only two conditions in the spiritual life — you’re either growing or you’re dying.’

What makes for spiritual growth? In my childhood and adolescence, it was all about going to Sunday Mass, confessing your sins once a month at least, going to Mass through the week or even attending Sunday benediction, an active interest in cultivating a devotional life fostered by the many movements that still thrived till the 1960s. These were the emblems of a thriving Catholic faith.

Mass attendance was four times what it is today, members of pious societies filling the pews at their designated Masses. Clerics in collars and soutanes and, when called on, bishops and ‘experts’ in particular devotions, fed the faithful with the treasures of these traditions of piety. There was always an ‘authority’ who could explain the mysteries and put anxious minds and hearts at rest. Authority was a big factor in Church and society. Read more


Fr Michael Kelly SJ was founding publisher of Eureka Street and is now executive director of the Bangkok-based UCAN Catholic news agency.

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News category: Analysis and Comment.

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