Monday, October 11, 2010

Two Blesseds at Vatican II

Just last night I was reading about our Founder's work in promoting the Liturgical Movement. (He deserves to be acknowledged as part of this century-long movement, given all he did and taught in the area of liturgy, but that is another topic.) At any rate, I was reading an extract of the doctoral thesis of one of our Pauline sisters, a Sister Disciple of the Divine Master. She included a copy of our Founder's input for the Council, dated 1959 and all in ecclesiastical Latin (except for a few clarifications in Italian). (As Founder and Superior General, he was invited to provide input and give his responses to the early outlines that were being prepared for the upcoming Council.) I was so excited by this find that I turned on the computer (as a rule I don't even use the computer on Sunday) just so I could feed the text through Google Translator's new Latin service. That meant typing it up first (and ignoring all the squiggly red underlining of my "spelling errors").

Maybe there are other Council Fathers who have been beatified already, I don't know. (If you know of some, please list them in the comments!) Anyway, today is the feast day of one of them, and in just a few weeks, we celebrate the feast day of the other. Today's Blessed is Pope John XXIII. Vatican II was his baby, announced just months after the former Patriarch of Venice was elected (as a "caretaker Pope"!). The other Blessed is our Founder, James Alberione.
Suffice it to say that Google Translator is not yet up to speed on ecclesiastical Latin. What I was able to garner, between Google and high school Latin II, was still very interesting. Many of our Founder's recommendations did make it into the Council documents; others were adopted later on. Just from the standpoint of the signs of the times, our Founder was right on target.

He urged:
  • specific pastoral experience as a part of priestly formation
  • an "updating" of the Catechism of the Council of Trent that would include the Church's social doctrine for a wider diffusion of truth
  • greater communication between Catholics and non-Catholics and non-Christians
  • that priests be obliged to preach an instructive homily on Sundays and Holy Days
  • that the Breviary be reformed (he seemed to indicate that the second reading for what we call the Office of Readings for the Saints needed to be reformed--perhaps there were too many over-the-top legends? I don't have a copy of that edition of the Breviary to consult)
  • encouraging everyone to read the Bible and assisting them with catechesis of the connections between the bible and doctrine, morality and liturgy (a big theme for him)
  • greater authority to be exercised by bishops and superiors general of religious congregations in issues related to the vows (here he put a summary in almost brutally frank Italian: "less bureaucracy, more decentralization of power")
  • support for the lay apostolate and for Canon Law to include the norms for Secular Institutes)
  • a Vatican dicastery to be entrusted with concern for evangelization with media both traditional and modern
  • guidelines for presenting basics of the faith through the Sunday Mass homily (Pope Benedict has hinted that something like this may be forthcoming)
  • permission for the use of the vernacular in some of the actions of the liturgy
  • under well-defined conditions, to permit televised Masses to supply for the Sunday obligation of people who are unable to go to the Church (he gave the specific example of the incarcerated)
  • the use of more modern methods in religious formation.
There was even a copy of the page from the original Contitution on the Sacred Liturgy where our Founder (who attended every session of the Council) had signed it (by then, Good Pope John had died).
Overall, I found this wonderful document to be a look at our Founder's deepest hopes for the Church when he was approaching the end of a long, devout life filled with impressive accomplishments. It gives me a greater sense of who he was and how he looked at things. Do you find anything especialy surprising or impressive in the list of Alberione's suggestions for the Council?

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