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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Year of Faith

"Many are lost today.  To lead them you will need to take a compass reading.  Since Blessed Pope John Paul the Great said of the Second Vatican Council,
'a sure compass by which to take our bearings'
"you will need to read your compass.  READ THE DOCUMENTS!!  I find that many people in parishes and those whom we serve have never read the Vatican II documents and therefore they don't know where the Church is right now, and they sure don't know where we are going."

These were the words of SOLT Founder, Fr James Flanagan, when commenting on the Second Vatican Council.  He said that priests ought to interiorize the documents and know them backwards and forwards.

Rereading the documents of Vatican II will surely be an initiative within the Year of Faith that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has declared will open next year.  In his Apostolic Letter and motu proprio, "Porta Fidei," by which he decreed the year, he said that it will start on October 11th of 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the catechism of that council.

However, there still remains some confusion about the implementation of the Council, perhaps because the authentic intentions of the council fathers were not followed in favor of "the spirit of Vatican II," which meant that some could get away with all sorts of aberrations of faith, morals, ecclesiastical practice and to be frank, quite a bit of disorder.  This has left many of the faithful, who often simply want the full truth of the doctrine of Christ, with a sour taste in their mouth at the very mention of Vatican II.

For this reason, Fr Flanagan spoke about a principle that is very close to the heart of Pope Benedict XVI, "the hermeneutic of continuity."  He said, "Make sure you read the Council of Trent documents at the same time you read the Vatican II documents," and "read the Catechism of the Second Vatican Council in one hand while holding in the other hand the Catechism of the Council of Trent."

This is also a principle of Blessed Pope John Paul II, who wrote as a Cardinal in his book, Sources of Renewal, that in the Council of our age one can find all the other previous councils compenetrated and vice versa.  He said the principle of interpretation and implementation of Vatican II must be "the enrichment of faith" contrasted with "the crisis of faith as the documents of Vatican II themselves recognize."

If we follow this interpretive principle, the hermeneutic of continuity, we should not fear nor shrink from fully implementing the Council in its original initiatives, which seems to be the pastoral program of Pope Benedict, who is undertaking liturgically the reform of the reform.

In this year of faith, we ought to have a rereading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council Documents, and a great enthusiasm for knowing the holy and life-giving teachings of Jesus Christ, which are faithfully transmitted through the unity of Scripture, Tradition, and the Sacred Magisterium.

Reading List:
Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Vatican II Documents
Trent Council Documents
Catechism of the Council of Trent