The Rise and Fall of My Faith, Part 2: Will the Real Catholic Church Please Stand Up?

I was really serious about RCIA and took my new found obligations to the Catholic church very seriously; I went to mass every Sunday, I studied everything I could about theology and church history, and even tried to learn how to decipher the meanings of the stained glass windows. However, I soon found that the best place to self-educate oneself about the church was the internet itself. The Catholic blogosphere was like a thousand little conservations all going on at the same time, discussing all of the issues that I was so desperate to be educated about. Something that I learned quite quickly was that the way things were done now (circa 2005) in the church were not how things had been done in the near past. I learned about the collapse of the women’s orders, the ripping out of the high altars after Vatican II, the felt banners, and all of the usual traditionalist horror stories. As nice as the people at my new parish were, it was hard not to feel like something precious had been torn away from me, before I was even aware it existed.

The spiritual high that I had felt after being confirmed in the Catholic church soon faded away and all I could see where the faded reminders of how things “ought to be.” Across the street from the parish itself was the husk of the old school where the parish school used to be. Now, it was used a general storage room. I would listen to masses of Palestrina, Allegri, and de Victoria and wonder if I would ever be able to hear such melodies again (this assumes, of course, that such complicated music had ever been a regular part of parish life in the first place). Old pictures from the parish’s past were a vivid reminder that the way things were done now were now how they had been done as recently as forty years ago. If the Church of Rome supposedly never changed, why had there been so many changes in such a short period of time? Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), the conservotrad Catholic blog world was not only full of answers as to how we got to this sorry state, but provided information about what to do if you have had the misfortune to be in a “heterodox” parish, not to mention beautiful pictures of “the good old days” when men wore lacy albs, saddle back chasubles, and crew cuts so sharp you could cut bread off them.

Something I wasn’t thinking about at the time was that none of the pictures of the pre-Vatican II Catholic world contained anyone who looked like me (e.g., not white). This oversight would later play a large role in the angst that was to come.