3 Books in 3 Years: Reclaiming Vatican II

John XXIII speaks during Second Vatican Council.
Between 2012 and 2015, Catholic worldwide will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. (For a quick catch-up on Vatican II read Critical Mass by Karen Sue Smith (Sojourners magazine, Jan. 2012).

In a recent review in UK-based The Tablet, history professor Hilmar Pabel puts a challenge to all Catholics to read three Vatican II-related books over the next three years — and he lists his suggestions:

1. The 16 Documents of the Council
2. What Happened at Vatican II by John O’Malley
3. Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning by Massimo Faggioli

It’s a tricky assignment – but you’ve got three years! It’s a lovely bit of leadership for book groups or prayer groups or Catholic activists or JustFaith groups or anyone who wants to ground themselves in the invigorating vision of the Second Vatican Council and its profound effect around the world. Here’s a short excerpt from Hilmar Pabel’s review:

“I shall go beyond the reviewer’s usual brief of assessment by beginning with a challenge. You have celebrated the holy Triduum of salvation. Now embark on a solemn triennium in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the renaissance of faith instigated by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Celebrate the anniversary of what Blessed John Paul II called “a great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 57) with a triple reading assignment, but not necessarily in the order that I give. Take three years if you need them. First, read the 16 documents of the council. If you have already read them, read them again, reflecting on the way in which they affect you today. Secondly, read a history of the ­council. I recommend the fascinating account, now in paperback, by John O’Malley: What Happened at Vatican II. Thirdly, read about the reception of the council or, in other words, the ongoing and disputed history of the council after it formally closed. This is what Massimo Faggioli calls “what happened after Vatican II”. His book serves as a comprehensive and accessible guide through the complex debates about the meaning of the council that will whet your appetite for more. Use the bibliography to find what else you can read… –from Hilmar Pabel‘s review of Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning by Massimo Faggioli

Read Hilmar Pabel’s full review.

Good Pope John and the Announcement that Shook the World

The National Catholic Reporter is running an “occasional series of articles about the Second Vatican Council” that will appear this year in NCR leading up to 50th anniversary of the council’s opening on Oct. 11, 2012. (You can read more about the Second Vatican Council anniversary issue here.)

Desmond Fisher, former editor of The Catholic Herald, London, wrote the first of these “viewpoint” articles, titled Curial horror greeted John XXIII’s announcement of ecumenical council. It gives great insight into just how surprising–and necessary–John XXIII’s council vision was. As we celebrate these three years of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, I hope we will immerse ourselves again in John XXIII’s original vision and spirit and let our faith be renewed.

Here’s an excerpt from Fisher’s engaging opening:

Wednesday, the Catholic church should have celebrated — but didn’t — an important anniversary, the day 53 years ago when Pope John XXIII invited 18 Curia cardinals to accompany him to a ceremony at St. Paul Outside the Walls. It was the feast day of St. Paul, who is believed to have been executed in Rome about 67 A.D. and buried where the basilica named after him now stands.

It was also the final day of the Octave for Christian Unity, an objective close to the pope’s heart. Presumably because of the attendance of so many Vatican higher-ups, the ceremony lasted longer than usual. The result was that the content of the carefully timed announcement the pope made to the cardinals had been released to the media before the cardinals were told.

Read the whole article.