The World of Grandpa Don

Part 1 The Faithful Revolution: Vatican II

On Nov.5, 2001 I went to the first of several video sessions about the Vatican II Council. This council signaled the outbreak of a revolution in the Catholic Church. In the time between the calling of the council by Pope John XXIII  and its start, the Roman Curia prepared an agenda.  The first indication of a revolution was that the bishops rejected the prepared agenda and threw it out. 

The following is a summary of the actions of the Council. It vividly point out the contrast between the old and new. 
It is quoted from Richard P. McBrian, Catholicism, New Addition, HarperSanFransisco, 1994.

1. The Second Vatican Council was the largest and most representative council in the Church's history, with its bishops drawn from every major continent and culture. With this council, the Church began its movement from a Church of cultural confinement to a genuine world Church.

2. Twentieth-century ecclesiology before Vatican II was of two kinds: textbook ecclesiology, which stressed the institutional, juridical, and hierarchical aspects of the Church, and "progressive" ecclesiology, which understood the Church as the whole People of God, always in need of renewal and reform. 

3. The single most influential personality associated with the event of Vatican II was Pope John XXIII, who convened the council and set its tone by the style he himself adopted as pope, namely, that of a servant-shepherd. The council, he insisted, was not for condemnations but for updating the Church for the sake of its own spiritual vitality, Christian unity, and world peace.

4. There were sixteen council documents of varying authority, content, and effects. The most authoritative in the juridical sense were the four constitutions: on the Church, on the Church in the modern world, on revelation, and on the sacred liturgy. The most authoritative in terms of their reception in and by the Church have been the four constitutions, plus the Decree on Ecumenism, the Declaration on Religious Freedom, and the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.

5. The major documents in summary form are

a. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: The Church is a mystery, or sacrament, the whole People of God, in whose service the hierarchy is placed. The authority of pope and bishops is to be exercised as a service and in a collegial mode. Bishops are not simply the vicars of the pope, and the laity participate fully and directly in the Church's mission.

b. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: The Church must read the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel. The Church does not exist alongside or apart from the world; the Church is part of the world, and its mission is to serve the whole human family.

c. Decree on Ecumenism: Christian unity is a matter of restoration, not of a return to Rome; other Christian communities are churches within the Body of Christ; and both sides were to blame for the divisions of the Church.

d. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: The Church proclaims the Gospel not only in word but also in sacrament, or by sacred signs. Since the whole People of God is involved in this worship, the signs must be intelligible.

e. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: The Word of God is communicated through Sacred Scripture, sacred tradition; and the teaching authority of the Church, all linked together and guided by the Holy Spirit. The sacred realities are always open in principle to a growth in understanding.

f. Declaration on Religious Freedom: No one is to be forced in any way to embrace the Christian or the Catholic faith. This principle is rooted in human dignity and the freedom of the act of faith.

g. Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: God speaks also through other religions, so we should engage in dialogue and other collaborative efforts with them. The Jews have a special relationship to the Church. They cannot be blamed as a people for the death of Jesus.

6. The other documents in summary form are

a. Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity: The Gospel is to be preached also and always to non-Christians, but not as a culturally alien reality. Evangelization is an obligation for every member of the Church.

b. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: The laity participates in the whole mission of the Church, but especially in the temporal order.

c. Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches: The Eastern Catholic churches can be a bridge to the Orthodox East. The integrity of Eastern traditions of liturgy, spirituality, and discipline is to be restored and respected.

d. Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church: Bishops are the pastors of their own local churches, collaborate with other bishops through episcopal conferences, and with the pope and all other bishops through the episcopal college. Authority is always for service.

e. Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests: Priests are members of a presbyterium in union with a bishop, and with him serve the building up of Christ's body.

f. Decree on Priestly Formation: There must be a closer connection between seminary training and the pastoral situation.

g. Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of the Religious Life: The renewal of religious life must be based on the Gospel, the original purposes of the community, and the changed conditions of the times.

h. Declaration on Christian Education: Education must be broadly humane and up-to-date, with a concern for personal maturity and social responsibility.

i. Decree on the Instruments of Social Communication: The Church must be vigilant toward the media because of the ever-present danger of their abuse, but must also use the media where opportune.

7. The distinctive ecclesiology of Vatican II is based on the following principles: 

a. The Church is a mystery, or sacrament, and not primarily an institution or organization.

b. The Church is the whole People of God, not just the hierarchy.

c. The whole People of God participates in the mission of Christ, and not just in the mission of the hierarchy.

d. The mission of the Church includes service to those in need, and not just the preaching of the Gospel or the celebration of the sacraments.

e. The Church is a communion of churches. It is truly present at the local level as well as at the universal level. A diocese or parish is not just an administrative division of the Church universal.

f. The Church includes Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, and Oriental Christians as well as Catholics. The Catholic Church includes the Eastern Catholic churches as well as Roman Catholics.

g. The mission of the Church includes the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments, the witnessing to the Gospel individually and institutionally, and the rendering of service to those in need.

h. All authority is for service, not domination.

i. Religious truth is to be found outside the Church as well. No one is to be coerced to embrace the Christian or the Catholic faith.

j. The Church is always for the sake of the Kingdom of God and is not itself the Kingdom.


My Church

This is not so much about St. Julie Billiart parish, but about the NEW Catholic Church. It may not seem new to my children and definitely not new to my grandchildren but it is no longer the same church that I grew up in and did not understand during that time. It is new and dedicated to Jesus as a result of the Vatican II council of bishops.

Part 1
The Faithful Revolution:
Vatican II

The World of Grandpa Don 

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