The Second Vatican Council Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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The Second Vatican Council began in 1962 and ended in 1965. For the first year Pope John XXIII opened the council, he unfortunately died in 1963. Pope Paul VI then took over and closed the council in 1965. A combined total of 2,865 bishops and prelates attended the council, which issued sixteen formal documents (John and Hardon, 2000). The second Vatican promulgated some of the most important documents present in the Catholic religion.

They also changed the way the Laity were involved in the church. A Lay apostle is someone who has committed to God (through baptism and confirmation) and strives to deliver the divine message of salvation to others throughout the world. The need for the apostolate is shown by the manifest action of the Holy Spirit moving laymen today to a deeper and deeper awareness of their responsibility and urging them on everywhere to the service of Christ and the Church. (Jackson, 2010).

Therefore the statement suggests that the Holy Spirit is the one to give us a deeper understanding of what we as Catholics must do to become a good lay apostle, and that our responsibilities are within the church and our beliefs in Christ. Nazzaro (2010) states A Lay apostle walks closely with Jesus throughout each day¦ We serve Jesus through service to others. In order to become a good lay apostle we must be close to the Lord daily whether saying prayers or attending church, and in order to serve him we must spread the word of God to everyone that would be interested in following Christ.

The Second Vatican Council made the dogmatic constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium). This was a set of rules in which Catholic must abide by. The constitution of the church states that everyone is part of the church and therefore everyone has a responsibility for its growth and the spread of the kingdom of God throughout the world. Due to this responsibility the council recognised the need for the role of the laity to cease from being passive and instead become active.

The role is stated by Paul VI (1964) they may make Christ known to others The Vatican II council was one of the most significant events to have happened in the Catholic Church. This was because the council made many changes, its purpose was to bring the church up to date by opening it to dialogue with the modern world in terms of other Christian traditions, other faiths, the cultural, the political and the technical milieu in which we all live. (Doyle, 2006. Bishop Butler, 1967). The church felt that they were behind times therefore their goal was to modernise themselves so that they kept up with its people.

This meant that the church allowed the freedom of speech to all catholic people. The council wanted a wider input from the community therefore they allowed the laity to have an active role in the church. Other changes included allowing women on the sanctuary, before the second Vatican only males could be alter servers. Churches were not encouraged to study the bible, but rather the catechism, however nowadays churches can study both. Catholics had little to do with Protestants and they werent allowed to enter protestant churches, this has also been changed.

For most Catholics, the biggest changes the Council made was the priest and altar turned toward the people and the Liturgy of the Word and the Canon of the Mass in the vernacular (McInerny, 2001). This implies that the mass is now read in a language the people understood. Before the Vatican II, mass was read in Latin, which the Laity saw unsuitable as they did not follow or understand the ceremonies attended. The Laity played little part within the church before the second Vatican council was formed.

The laity attended mass to listen to the word of God, which was delivered and preached by the clergy. However the insight of Vatican II now means that, the laity have a full and active role to play both in the church and in the world. (Kinast, 1979:384). This implies that the people of the church not only have to take part within the church but they must do their own duty outside of the church. This means getting involved within church events such as fundraising or helping out with the offerings within the sermons.

The council felt there was many reasons for changing the role of the laity. One important reason was to enable the Church to adapt with current changes of the modern world. A quote from Pope John XXIII as on his deathbed (24 May 1963) (cited in Bishop Butler, 1967) was Those who have lived as long as I have ¦ were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.

He recognised that the Church was at an important stage and that in order to seize opportunities and bring others into the faith, there needed to be a role for the laity. Bishop Butler (1967) supported this in stating; Catholics were not meant to be museum keepers, but rather gardeners whose responsibility it was to prepare a beautiful harvest for a glorious future. In other words, the laity are there to serve the Lord in as many ways possible, it would be an opportunity wasted if Gods children (the laity) were not sent out to spread the message.

Lay Christians are dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit as aforementioned. They are called to be heralds of faith and through them the Church can become the salt of the earth. This is why the council felt it was important to change the role of the laity as they realised the Holy Spirit acted through them. There have been many developments within the church since the Vatican II. This includes the involvement of other helpers within the church. The Lay people due to the changes were able to do a lot more within the church services.

These include readings and Eucharistic ministers. They also have female alter servers, which before the Vatican II would never have been allowed. Some felt that the Vatican II did little for the Church today; Although the Second Vatican Council had enormous impact, it cannot be isolated from prior and parallel liturgical, theological, biblical, and social developments (Mcbrien, 1997), however I disagree. Without the Vatican IIs introduction of the Constitution on the Church, the role of the Laity would not have been transformed to the state that we know today.

Because of the Vatican II, the church today has many different roles for people. These include Church Church cleaners, flower arrangers, prayer groups, liturgy groups, pilgrimage groups (including taking the sick to Lourdes), bereavement care centres, parish teams, school chaplains and many more. In creating these jobs not only decreases the work load for the Clergy but it allows the community to get involved within the church and spreads the word of God. There are many developments that may happen in the future.

Some have already been discussed but still have yet to be decided. One thing that may develop in the future is the decision on birth control. Although the Catholic Church has still banned contraception there may be good reason for the introduction of it for example the discussion of the prevention of HIV. Another development that could be changed is the marriage of priests. There will always be a place in the church for a celibate priesthood, but there should also be a place for a married priesthood in the church, stated by Daly (2011) (cited in McDonald, 2011).

The statement provides challenges to the Catholic religion and that one-day the ban may be shifted. Another issue is that Homosexual marriage may occur in the future. Many religions including Christianity are still against this decision however, todays society is beginning to accept it and thus the Church may also come to the same agreement. A final development for the future would be female ministers. Although there has been much dispute about this topic, the church may alter its decision and adapt to the ever-changing society.

Now that there is the Laity, the church must do its duty and continue to listen to the requests and suggestions made by the Laity. The church and the Laity can be said to be a family or a community and without the Laity or the Clergy present, the Catholic religion may not survive. Therefore the second Vaticans decision on apostolate of Laity was very important as they help the survival of the religion and the message to be spread throughout the world.

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