A couple days later, I went to the National Shrine, across town from Georgetown, for the Mass for Life and Liberty. I go to mass at the shrine and have seen many, many pilgrimages and even the pope there. This was the most joyful, exuberant, young and orthodox crowd I have seen at the National Shrine since Pope Benedict visited in 2008. There were musicians with acoustic guitars and drums, platoons of kids, the Knights of Columbus and lots of smiling people. It was a party. Of course, there was no media.
The irony of all this is that the Mass for Life and Liberty was a shining example of the fruits of Vatican II. These are people, including myself, who happily accept and practice what the council preached. We constantly dialogue with — and even date and marry — people from other faiths. We believe in listening to the conscience — provided that it is a rightly formed conscience: the conscience of a person who listens to the wisdom of the saints and the pope. We are engaged with pop culture and love rock and roll. And most of all, we believe in the council’s defense of religious liberty. Indeed, the guidelines laid out by Vatican II are some of the very reasons we oppose President Obama’s attempt to force us to provide services that violate the conscience, liberty and the Catholic Church.
Seeing thousands of joyful Catholics clapping, smiling, hugging and dancing, I could only feel sorry for the Woodstock contingent back at Georgetown, who were probably still sitting around insulting the pope. Thinking about them shuffling around moaning about “the spirit of the council,” it was just hard to get worked up. Their revolution never materialized, and the next step for them is God.
Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.