Joy and Hope: Celebrating Vatican II

Today, January 25, is the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Vatican II by Blessed John XXIII. The Council didn’t happen until a few years after this date–imagine the excitement and trepidation Catholics around the world must have felt as they anticipated a gathering of decisionmakers of unprecedented scope. While we all know the resounding significance of the Council to our Church’s policy and relationship with the world, it’s still arresting to view footage from the event:
So many miters moving in one direction!

If papal pronouncements ever get me down, I like to reread the documents of Vatican II, produced by the most democratic process in the church’s history. The joyful and open tone of these documents, with their encyclopedic attention to modern concerns (media! sports!) make me feel like a vital part of the Church as a laywoman, as a worker, a member of a family and a participant in the modern world. It’s a sustaining thing to remember that these welcoming, affirming works are a signal part of our theological heritage.

Call to Action groups around the country are celebrating the leadership of John XXIII and the bold vision of Vatican II today. What does Vatican II mean to you? How would your life be different without it?

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