Tiber River gave me the opportunity to review the book, The Signs of the Times: Understanding The Church Since Vatican II, which contains the writings of the late Fr. Richard W. Gilsdorf. His writings have been edited and compiled by Patrick Beno in 2008. Fr. Gilsdorf was instrumental in navigating the tidal waves of confusion following Vatican II for he understood what was happening and sought to stay true to Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. He was a priest in the diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin from 1956-2005 during this time as he championed Catholic doctrine.
Get ready for a long read, this book is over 500 pages long, containing his earlier writings before Vatican II Council and then mainly focusing on the developments within the Church but also ends with some of his later works. Once you get to the meat of the book, he begins it with a disclaimer, alerting or almost warning the reader to his view "for those who dislike my position and are not at all curious as to why I hold to it can spare their eyes, minds and emotions the inevitable pain." Fr. Gilsdorf comes across as intelligent, witty, truth seeking, and humble all at the same time. After reading his work, I have no doubt that he loves the Triune God, Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Catholic Church as well as his own parish, Holy Trinity Church.
In my opinion, this is not an easy read. It's well thought out and researched with many footnotes in each chapter that makes the reader think about what he is saying. For me, there was a lot of time spent trying to understand those times. I was born after Vatican II and grew up unaware of any of the rumblings and dissension that occurred from this council. In fact, I'd only heard of the council and the crisis in the church, in adulthood and was blissfully unaware of the problems that resulted. It's not even something I remember overhearing my parents and other family members discussing.
Am I one of those directly affected by this Council? Could this explain why I was poorly catechized as a child? I'm one of those adults who grew up thinking they understood Catholic doctrine yet when confronted by a non-catholic, I realized I had no answers to the questions I was asked. So yes, I was poorly catechized as a child and have been doing catch up ever since. Was Vatican II to blame? I can't say that with any certainty but the fact remains, I was poorly catechized. Nor am I an authority to judge or evaluate the works of Fr. Gilsdorf but after reading his work, I do not believe he was a heretic nor sought to add to the dissension. In fact, he sought to set things straight, to be true to God's word, to avoid secularism and modernism. He seems like he was a lone voice of truth. I would have liked to have met Fr. Gilsdorf. I would imagine that he was a champion of the unborn!
Mr. Beno, the editor, who knew Fr. Gilsdorf personally and admired him greatly, believes this book is important to all Catholics. I believe Fr. Gilsdorf does an excellent job in bringing the reader back to those chaotic times all around the world. For those who want to understand the most recent history of the Catholic Church, then this book is for you. You can get it from Aquinas and More. No monetary compensation was given for my review.