‘The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the (men) of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. (Gaudium et Spes – Flannery Translation)
In Southern Africa, we’ve taken the coming 50th Anniversary of the calling of the Second Vatican Council as an opportunity to look at the ‘reception’ of the Council and how we need to get to grips with the enormity of the moment that was and is this Council.
For most older Catholics, Vatican II arrived on a sunday morning with little warning and certainly not much preparation.
South Africa had missed much of the fecundity of the Liturgical movement in Europe. We were (and still are) missionary territory, a rough-and-tumble church with far too many more pressing issues than the liturgy. The predominantly Irish priests who ministered to the community that I was born into had little regard for Liturgy – save that is was done correctly and quickly – the ‘mass stone idea’ lived long in these parts.
So for my grandparents and parents, Vatican II was distant until it hit, harshly, with the Parish church being re-orientated and father now facing them… and watching. It’s a trauma my father never got over.
But – I know nothing of this. I arrived in 1972. It was all done and I’ve grown up in the post vatican II church. I’ve grown up in a church of folk-masses (without ever knowing which folks were being referred to.. maybe it was my folks as in my parents…). I’ve grown up in a Church of experiential catechesis and a liturgy that I didn’t get to know or love until I studied it.
Now, I’m a convert of the worst type. No, I’m not extraordinary form. But the noble genius of the Roman Rite is a deep love in my life. A love easily offended.
But Vatican II was not about the Liturgy. Starting of with the quotation from Gaudium & Spes brings Vatican II back to what I genuinely believe is the core of what this council was about – the genuinely Human.
I can’t wait to celebrate Vatican II all over again – just a bit late!