Category: Church Teaching


Then and Now

Vatican_Inside_1.jpgVatican II and the People of God

This year the Church celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which began October 11, 1962, and concluded December 8, 1965. Those of us who remember the unfolding of this event knew we were witnessing a historic moment. 

In the 2,000-year history of the Church, there have only been twenty Church councils. The previous one, Vatican I, occurred in 1870; the one before that was the Council of Trent, which took place from 1545 to 1563. 

Every Church council has had an important impact  on the life journey of the Church, and certainly that can also be said of Vatican II. What would you expect? At times more than 2,300 bishops from all over the world took part. Compare that with Vatican I’s 730 mostly European bishops. The bishops who participated in Vatican II couldn’t help but realize that the power of the Holy Spirit was guiding them. 

Modeling Mary: Our Pilgrimage of Faith

The Church made an unexpected statement about the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Second Vatican Council. At this meeting of bishops, Church leaders referred to Mary’s life as a pilgrimage of faith, a theme Blessed John Paul II explored and further developed in his encyclical letter Mother of the Redeemer, as he spoke of the Church’s faith pilgrimage.

This reference to Mary’s faith journey was unexpected because pilgrimage implies movement toward a goal, and prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Church rarely thought of the Virgin Mary as progressing in her faith. This point is important because even the deepest faith does not bring clear knowledge of the ways in which God sustains and accompanies our lives and our world. Blessed John Paul II tells us that faith at times involves a perplexity, a heaviness of heart, such as that described by Saint John of the Cross as a dark night of faith in which our understanding is clouded or tested.