Saturday, December 15, 2012

Was there a new Pentecost after the Council?

Did Vatican II bring a "new springtime" in the Church, a "new outpouring of the Spirit," a "new civilization of love"? Some of us get a bit impatient with such language, not because we deny the active role of Providence in our lives and communities, but because we want some realism about what has been happening in the Church and in the world.

This graph was recently posted at Rorate Caeli (December 15, 2012) in juxtaposition with the second of the Advent sermons given in the presence of the Holy Father and members of the curia by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the pontifical household since 1980. You can read the entire sermon in English here: "Was there a new Pentecost after the Council? '-Yes, unreservedly yes! Just look at the Charismatics!'" (Rorate Caeli, December 15, 2012).

Fr. Cantalamessa, a charismatic, likes to contrast the "new Pentecost" with "Tradition wherein the Holy Spirit played no role at all." What is his argument? "When asked whether there was a new Pentecost [after the Council]," he says, "we should respond without hesitation: Yes! What is the most convincing sign of this? The renewal of the quality of Christian life wherever this Pentecost was received."

If what Fr. Cantalamessa means by "a renewal of the quality of Christian life wherever this Pentecost was received" is that the Gospel proclaimed by the Church is personally appropriated by the hearer, such that it is evidenced by growth in faith, hope, charity, holiness, a life of prayer and personal relationship with God and the saints, then we can say no more than that these are the virtues that Catholic Tradition has always sought to instill in the faithful.

If, on the other hand, this "renewal" is in any way uprooted and detached from the Sacred Tradition of the Church, in which alone it can find any enduring nourishment, there it can be little more than an ephemeral whim, or passing fancy. One cannot avoid recalling that Cardinal Suenens, a staunch supporter of the Catholic charismatic renewal, also championed the lifting of the Church's prohibition on contraceptives, going so far as to say that the Church needed to face reality and avoid another "Galileo case." (See Chicago Tribune obituary, May 6, 1996)

This is not the place and time for me to pursue the matter of the "new Pentecost" in any further detail. I have elsewhere offered some thoughts on the charismatic renewal and Catholic tradition (Musings, April 2, 2011). My only concern here is to reiterate the need for more realism in our language about what has happened in the Church since the 1960s.

Related: "The advent of Confessional Catholicism and the decline of Cultural Catholicism" (Musings, June 13, 2012).


Chris said...


Is the decline in priestly ordinations a CAUSE or a RESULT of the mess we currently see?

Pertinacious Papist said...

I would say that BOTH are symptoms of the cause, which was and is lack of catechetical clarity at all levels, a crisis of self-identity.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Insipidities flow from his mouth, giving the impression that Fr Cantalamesa is simply deluded. But underneath the layer of powdered sugar is the same CYA revisionism, the same numbing denial of reality, the same blighted SPIN, that we have been forced to ingest for five decades and counting. It only sounds deluded: in fact, it is dissembling. Or perhaps it is both at once. After all, the best salesman is one who believes his own dissemblance.

Why do people go on and on about the secret content of the final Fatima revelation? It is no secret: we are living it.