What's this all about?
Welcome to Trust Walk. Close your eyes, join hands and let’s get started.
As a child of Vatican II, born in 1960, and as a person interested in history, I’ve been thinking and writing about the Council and its aftermath…forever. In fact, my very first column in a Catholic publication, in the Florida Catholic back in the mid-80’s, was called something like “Musings of a Vatican II Baby.” My theme was: you old dudes who are constantly framing everything in terms of Vatican II This and Vatican II That – get over it! The younger generation of Catholics has moved beyond all that and lives in a different paradigm!
Yes, here we are, still stuck. It’s frustrating, tragic and not exactly conducive to an evangelizing spirit.
So why this space and what is it, exactly?
As I’ve read fiction and history about 20th and 21st century Catholic life, I’ve noticed a gap. We have loads of stories about pre-Vatican II Catholic life in all forms. We have plenty of narratives about, say, the 90’s on.
But what about the mess in between? What about those years from right after to the Council to the first few years of John Paul II’s pontificate? Those years in which, as someone who graduate from a Catholic high school in 1968 recently told me, “One day the nuns were in full habit teaching us Aquinas, and the next they were in regular clothes playing us the Vatican Rag.”
(For the record, as the offspring of 1960’s-era academics, I am obliged to be a Tom Lehrer fan…and I don’t fight it.)
I think it’s quite important to tell that story, and I’ve wanted to do so on my own, either in fiction or non-fiction, but have struggled to find the right framework. My vision was to do for us – this generation – what David Lodge had done for the young adults of the previous generation in The British Museum is Falling Down and Souls and Bodies.
Then it struck me: there are a lot of these stories. I don’t just want to tell mine. I want to hear yours.
So let’s tell them. Let’s listen to them.
I’m just concerned that in the smoke bellowing from current intra-Church battles, this slice of the past isn’t appreciated for the impact it’s had on the present.
Doing so might help various generations and ideological partisans understand each other a bit more beyond labels and judgment, beyond mythologies of either smoldering ruins or the New Jerusalem.
Years ago, on my Open Book blog, I had a regular feature called “What Did You See and Hear?” I ran it many Mondays, inviting people to share what they’d experienced at Mass the previous weekend. It was not intended to be a gripe session, and most readers bought into that. I was genuinely curious about the ways Mass was celebrated and experienced, and wanted to create a space where those could be shared without judgment or argument.
I don’t anticipate this going on forever, and of course it’s not a substitute for my regular blog. I’ll commit to a new post every two weeks, on a Friday. Some of my posts will be repeats from the blog, others will be new. Most will be story-sharing, as a way to get you started, but once in a while I’ll post an essay as well, which might or might not have comments enabled.
I’m using Substack so it stands out from my other blog and not – I assure you – to earn money. I will never do a paid subscription here, even as an option.
Oh, and the title? The “trust walk” was (and probably is) a common feature of youth retreats. Which will undoubtedly be the subject of a future post…
I’m new to Substack and it will take time to figure it out, so bear with me.
Comments won’t be enabled on this post. But come back on November 4th - or subscribe and get an email notification - for the first post, and let’s talk.