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Tumultuous Times: Twenty General Councils of the Catholic Church and Vatican II and its Aftermath Kindle Edition
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If you could only find time to read one book on the history of the Catholic Church, and are content to learn that history by focusing on the Church's councils, this is your book. This book is easy to read and a pleasure to read. It's very much a reference book as there is so much information. And, if you could only read one book on the current spectacular heresies of the post-Vatican II "church", this is your book also. In addition to a lively and clear discussion of the twenty (legitimate) councils of the Church before Vatican II, there is provided sufficient information on Catholic dogma to make it clear that, like the thirty (illegitimate) robber councils before it, Vatican II was a false robber council promulgating error that has brought the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church into eclipse. Why? Because its "teachings" contradict prior Catholic teaching - despite the fact the Catholic Church always has taught that Catholic dogmas do not change, because truth cannot change.
"The apostasy of the city of Rome from the vicar of Christ and its destruction by Antichrist may be thoughts so new to many Catholics that I think it well to recite the texts of theologians of greatest repute. First Malvenda, who writes expressly on the subject, states as the opinion of Ribera, Gaspar, Melus, Biegas, Suarez, Bellarmine, and Bosius that Rome shall apostatize from the faith, drive away the Vicar of Christ, and return to its ancient paganism. Then the Church shall be scattered, driven into the wilderness, and shall be, for a time, as it was in the beginning: invisible, hidden in catacombs, in dens, in mountains, in lurking places. For a time it shall be swept, as it were, from the face of the earth. Such is the universal testimony of the Fathers of the early Church." - Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, The Present Crisis of the Holy See, 1861
Unlike Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, which provides vignettes of key players during the Protestant Reformation of 1517-1715, this book describes two millennia of the Roman Catholic Church's "tumultuous times" in combat against heresy and apostasy, against enemies within and without. The great strength of this book is it places the current crisis in its proper setting of macro-history rather than in a misleading setting of myopic Orwellian "breaking news" sound bites. See also on this topic:
1. Our Lady of Good Success History, Miracles & Prophecies (DVD)
2. Popes Against Modern Errors: 16 Famous Papal Documents
3. The Destruction of the Christian Tradition, Updated and Revised
Actually, most everyone who considers themselves Catholic should be able to learn a couple things from this book. The book is especially good at explaining why and how certain dogmas of the Catholic Church came into being.
Just about every infallible pronouncement made, and every council was brought together because of a certain Heresy being spread. Compare the historic councils and dogmas of the last 1900 years of the Church and what they combatted, vs. the 2nd Vatican council, which is elaborated on in the 2nd half of the book. Night and day difference.
Like others have said, this is really two books in one. The first book has a chapter for each of the general councils in the history of the church. The chapters on the Council of Trent and the 1st Vatican Council alone are worth the price of admission. I will admit that I will never remember all of the details of all 20 of these councils. I even struggle to remember what each heresy was about. Still, I took away quite a lot from this book:
1) It is miraculous that the church has lasted through all of these centuries of turmoil.
2) We can take comfort in the fact that trouble in the church is not unique to our age. Things were never perfect.
The second book will convince you that the Vatican II church is a true break from Catholicism of old. Of special interest is the discussion of the backgrounds and beliefs of John XXIII, Paul VI, and JP II. I cannot begin to grasp how many hours were spent on research for this book. The bibliography alone is 44 pages.
Read this book. You will not regret it.
If you can cope with that, you will find that the first half of the book is a fascinating history of the Church, full of historical detail that is hard to find elsewhere. The second half of the book, dealing with Vatican II and the years since, is also fascinating, revealing a great deal that has been kept from ordinary folk. It is possible to read it without necessarily agreeing with all the opinions and conclusions of the authors.
I liked the beautiful production of the book, which made it a pleasure to the eye, even while some of the contents (for instance about changes in the Church) were quite disturbing to the mind and heart.