First of all, Lorna, if you're checking here wondering if I'll ever reply to your questions in the comments - I'm working on the answers. It has been a cathartic, interesting, complex journey for me. Dang, girl, you ask good questions!
In the meantime, my wanderings on the topic throughout the blog world have led me to this conclusion:
Some wanted to use Vatican II to destroy the Church. For a lot of years, it looked like they were winning. But, today, I can see they have lost, and Christ has won.
How do I know?
Because we are still talking about it. Arguing over it. Reading the encyclicals, canon law, the writings of the Church fathers - anything we can lay our hands on to buttress our point! We engage one another passionately - and yet, almost always, in charity.
We are Roman Catholics. We are brothers and sisters. And we are so passionate because we have faith - because we love our Church.
If the enemy had won, we would no longer care. Whether in despair or sheer indifference or exhaustion, we would throw down our books and wander away.
The very thing which keeps me at arm's length from the Church is the very thing which has brought me back to her: the give-and-take, the endless caring about doing it right.
Of course, the only problem is, it just consumes the hours. I want to take issue with Mark Shea, who muttered something in a post about people who natter about the liturgy but ignore the theology of the body (very rough casting of what he said - don't take it literally, I'm not going to go get the quote now). I am making notes for my responses to Lorna's good questions. I realize I have to go back and read the conciliar documents again (sigh), because I want to be fair in what I say.
And - because of that - I am involved in the Church. I care about how we worship Christ. It matters to me whether or not our liturgy teaches us well. I care passionately about whether it's more effective to attract new fish into Peter's net by watering down the liturgy, or tightening it up and making it into true art.
As I travel through the 'net, reading what others are saying, marveling at the intense conversations among people of all ages who are wrestling with one another over the issues in the wake of Vatican II, I meet people I love. Just, quite simply, love. Appealing, intelligent, truthful personalities. I don't always agree with the points they make, but I know a sibling when I read one. ;)
So long as we care - so long as we're willing to research and pray and type and argue to preserve God's Church - she will survive.
And if it took Vatican II, with its ambiguous documents, ham-fisted implementation, the spectacular bungle of the handling of Humanae Vitae, and the apparent triumph of the deconstructionists over tradition to wake up the Roman Catholic laity enough to care - then it was just the Holy Spirit doing His thing again, inscrutable and mysterious as it is.