Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Year of Faith: Celebrating Fifty Years of Vatican II

By Philip John Catalanotto

“I am calling an ecumenical council so that the human sojourn may be less lonely.”
--Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII  (photo/Wikipedia)
In October 1962, Pope John XXIII announced that he was calling together an ecumenical council. This came as a surprise to many Catholics, considering the Pope’s age. The Pope, who was nearly 81, did not want to be seen as just as a “placeholder Pope.” All Catholics remember Pope John’s actions today. Pope John XXIII hoped to thrust the windows open and let some fresh air in. He wanted to modernize the Catholic Church, which he did. Because of Vatican II the Mass is in the vernacular, the Bible is in an approved English translation, and the priest faces the people during the consecration of the Eucharist.

Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year of Faith celebrating the fifty years of Vatican II. The Year of Faith would be from October 11, 2012 until November 2, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Second Vatican Council changed the way that many people have understood the Church. Vatican II changed the way people worshiped and promoted people to be active in the Church. These changes, many Catholics believe, came about because of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These changes were met with enthusiasm.

Pope Benedict XVI  (photo/Wikipedia)
As described by Pope Benedict XVI, “The Year of Faith will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to straighten our faith in Him, and to proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time.”

The first step is to understand what faith is. Faith is an extremely broad term that is open to interpretation. In its most simplistic terms, faith is believing and doing what is right even if you are the only one who knows it. It is trusting and believing. Faith is what Jesus and God has in all of us.

The Year of Faith is about thrusting open the window of our souls and letting the fresh air in. It is also about the deepening of faith in Jesus Christ. This is a time for Catholics to modernize, to bring their faith up to date.

According to Father Tom Haggerty, the pastor of St. Raphael’s Church in East Meadow, New York, “The Year of Faith is about putting our trust in God’s word which enlarges us, in God’s compassion which frees us, in God’s wisdom which guides us, and in God’s love which embraces us.”

The Year of Faith is a time when all are encouraged to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and to recognize that through God all things are possible.

Philip John Catalanotto is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He is majoring in Philosophy and Religious Studies, with a minor in Communication Arts. He is the editor of the Thomist yearbook. Philip hopes to use his education at St. Thomas as a springboard for graduate school and, eventually, the seminary.

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