Two days ago we celebrated the Memorial of Saint John XXIII, canonized in 2014. St. John was pope from 1958 until his death in 1963 during the Second Vatican Council which he call for in 1959 and convened in the fall of 1962. In his opening address to council, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, Pope John shared the words:
Mother Church rejoices that, by a singular gift of divine Providence, the longed-for day has finally dawned on which, under the protection of the Virgin Mother of God.
The council he set in motion would have a huge impact not so much on the doctrine of the church: Vatican II made no new dogmatic pronouncements on what we call the development of faith. Rather, Vatican II addressed the pastoral needs of the church in the modern world. One of the lasting effects of the council — something which we take for granted today — was the change of the mass from Latin to the vernacular.
Pope John XXIII acknowledged the principle of unity:
“The very serious matters and questions which need to be solved by the human race have not changed after almost twenty centuries. For Christ Jesus still stands at the center of history and life: people either embrace him and his Church and so enjoy the benefits of light, goodness, order, and peace or they live without him or act against him and deliberately remain outside the Church, so that confusion arises among them, their relationships are embittered, and the danger of bloody wars impends.”
In my current home, the Cathedral, we have mass with classical guitar; we have mass in Spanish with a folk choir and teclado (keyboard); we have a mass with full choir and organ; and we have the Latin mass. Different styles of liturgy, but one Lord. Some people at the Cathedral identify more with things after Vatican II, others with things pre Vatican II. Yet the goal is the same: to embrace Christ in faith and come to know his benefits, of light, goodness, order and peace.
The principal of unity in the church is this: one Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ. St. John XXIII reminds us that the call to embrace Christ and his Church in faith is the call to experience joy. The Good News of the Gospel is always a proclamation of hope.
The joy we know in Christ comes not necessarily in the absence of challenges, difficulty and suffering, but in the midst of them. It’s a joy that the world cannot give on its own. And it is the true hope which we offer as work in witness for Christ. And in his Church, we have the true foundry of Divine Love, from which any nation, any party, and to which people of all creeds are invited: Will you embrace Christ and His Church?
– Fr. Tim Nolt, YCP Austin Chaplain at the October Executive Speaker Series