Monday, February 18, 2013

Vatican II, We've Only Just Begun, by M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.

Book Review -

On October 12, 1962, over 2,000 Bishops, the largest assembly of bishops the world has ever seen, entered the largest church in Christendom, convened by the elderly Vicar of Christ on Earth, to begin Vatican II, a Church Council during which God would send the Spirit to the Council Fathers-- to listen to what the Spirit had to say to the churches today. They were men of every tribe and nation --men of great learning and little learning, pastors, thinkers, pragmatists, forward thinking and traditionalists, men who had very different ideas as to what the Spirit would be telling them.

The author assumed everyone knew who the convener was. It was "the old man who had ended up on top of the heap" as Venerable John XXIII called himself. And they soon knew that it was he who would be not only the convener, but also the inspiration of the Council --even though he was to die within the first year. The 4th morning Cardinal Lienart of Lille, whom Fr. Pennington called "a true Council Father", got up and declared his conviction that the Council would be these men assembled, who would tell the Church what the Spirit of God told them to say.

They worked hard, long hours, for four years .. 1962 to 1965 … honestly trying to discern the voice of the Spirit. As Christ, their Head, had become Incarnate, so this body of the Council Founders, were men, incarnate, with differences, insecurities and weaknesses as were the apostles they represented. Many became well-known in the course of time, but Cardinal Lienart was the only Father mentioned by name, (except for Pope John Paul II and a small number of other popes.) One other, not a Council Father, Thomas Merton, was given special mention as the person, more than anyone else, who inspired the faithful to a higher life in the Spirit during those four years.

Of all the documents of Vatican II, Fr Pennington highlights the following as of particular significance: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was one of the first document promulgated, --the first self-conscious statement of the council fathers as to " what they saw themselves to be about." Of The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, along with the Dogmatic Constitution concerning Church is " one of the foundational pronouncements of Vatican II." He calls The Pastoral Constitution on Church in the Modern World "the document that most properly belongs to Vatican II." -- It "consummates and completes" the work of the Father s." --" a very explicit call of the work of the Council to go on."

In the 30 years since Vatican II, some have said "Vatican II is dead." Others say "Vatican II is alive," but perhaps the truest evaluation is that this magnificent Council is not yet finished. As Fr. Pennington says in the title of his book, "We've Only Just Begun."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ecological Footprints by Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, PhD.

Book Review – Ecological Footprints. An Essential Franciscan Guide for Faith and Sustainable Living, by Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, PhD., 2012 copyright,  St. John’s, Collegeville

This comprehensive book covers all aspects of Ecological study and it includes not only scientific data but also a vast number of writings from other sources, -- Sts. Francis and Clare, St. Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, Ilia Delio and other well known Franciscans; quotes from The Old and New Testament and from Church Documents concerning the Care of the Earth. Each section ends with Reflection and Discussion Questions, comments on Franciscan Ecotheology, and practical suggestions for action., plus a sizable Index. It could very well serve as a valuable tool for a Book Study.