One has to question why Pope John XXIII called for Vatican II? Many critics of Vatican II say that there was no need for it. The Church had no pressing doctrinal questions, no heresies to concider, no need for a Couoncil.
According to the NCR, Call to Action, etc, it was to save the Church from the "prophets of gloom" in the Vatican and ring in a new era of democracy in the Church. That the 'people of God' would 'open the windows and let the wind of the Holy Spirit blow throughout the Church.' Or as Fox put it, "(Pope John XXIII) was open and wanted a Church engaged with the modern world. He saw the Holy Spirit active in the world. It was to be 'our' task to find 'Her' by understanding the signs of the times." The problem is, the first person who would have a hard time with Fox's interpretation of Pope John is Pope John himself.
Consider the times when he came to the 'Chair of Peter'. Technology was just beginning to explode in a manner never seen before in the history of mankind. Science was becoming the new god. The 'theory' of evolution was being held up as fact and that God had no hand in it whatsoever. Mankind was no longer a unique creature of God, but simply a clever, and dangerous animal. With this mind set, we harnessed the power of the atom, to destroy, heal, provide electricity, etc. We were entering into space, where the notion of the skies raining nuclear missiles was a very real possibility.
Europe was still rebuilding from a terrible war, with the Soviet Union poised to 'liberate' Western Europe. In short, the world was close to self annihilation. This is the world Pope John XXIII saw as he came to the papacy. "Today the Church is witnessing a crisis under way within society. While humanity is on the edge of a new era, tasks of immense gravity await the Church..." (John XXIII; in his message convoking Vatican II) The Church wasn't in crisis, humanity was. He saw the world being swallowed by a "grave spiritual poverty." What the world needed, was the Church. To teach it the love of God, to give it His light, to give it hope.
"It is a question of bringing the modern world into contact with the vivifying energies of the Gospel, a world which exalts itself with its conquests in the technical and scientific fields, but which "...some of have wished to reorganize excluding God." (Ibid) Many in the Curia saw the world going to hell in a hand basket. He didn't share this pessimism, but saw the Catholic Church, "vibrant with vitality" (as it was when he was Pope)to bring the message of hope to a world despairing in the 'spirit of the times.' Drawing on her rich traditions, he saw the Church as a bulwark against pessimism, against 'the signs of the times,' and that the Council's greatest concern would be that "the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously." It may be that, after reading the Third Secret of Fatima, he hoped the Council would be a catalyst to change the world's course toward self destruction, and redirect it toward God. Instead, the 'prophets of gloom' have used him and his Council to try to remake the Church into the world's image.
One cannot look to only one part, or document, of Vatican II. Like the Scriptures, one has to see it as a whole. And not just by itself, but with the other Councils and teachings of the Church. Vatican II never revoked the Council of Trent in regards to the Mass or the Eucharist. Nor did it, or could it, revoke the teachings of the Church against artificial birth control, which is even found as early as the Didache, the teachings of the Apostles. It could not, and did not, revoke centuries of Church teaching, papal authority, or Magisterial teachings. In short, Vatican II was NOT what Fox, the NCR, Call To Action, nor any other 'progressive' Catholic group, say it was. They refer to only one document of Vatican II, "Gaudium et Spes" (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) [and a badly distorted reference at that] and reject other documents of the Council which need to be included. "Lumen Gentium" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church) and "Dei Verbum" (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation). Without these two, "Gaudium et Spes" means nothing. It shows what the Church believes, how it worships, how it's organized and why, and how THAT Church can be a leaven for the world. Drawing the world away from the 'prophets of gloom' in the culture of death with their notion of relativism, and self centeredness.
Yes, Pope John XXIII should be considered for sainthood. He was the right man in the right place at the right time. He saw the need for the Church stand firm in her faith and traditions and be a voice for the objective truth of God, in a world hurtling toward self destruction by rejecting God and replacing Him with man.
Pope John XXIII, and the Second Vatican Council, echoed the words of our Lady of Fatima. "Return to God, or worse things will occur." And they have.
Rather than patting Fox and his friends on the back, Pope John XXIII may well cry out, "What have you done to me and my Council?"
As we enter into the new millennium, let's rededicate ourselves to God through His Church. To be a light unto the world, a voice of reason in a world gone mad. A world where the question is often not whether we should do something, but how. His true hopes and prayers are just as important now as then. We can now clone animals, how long before people are cloned? With genetics, we are fast approaching what Hitler and others sought, the genetic engineering of a 'super' human. Rather than going WITH the world, let's follow Pope John's vision for the Church and be a voice to the world that WE are not God, or gods.
Pax Christi, Pat
Today the "good news" of Christmas rings out in the Church and in the world. It rings out in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, called the "evangelist" of the Old Testament, who speaks of the mystery of the redemption as if he saw the events of seven centuries later. Words inspired by God, surprising words which come down through history, and today, on the threshold of the Year 2000, re-echo all through the earth, proclaiming the great mystery of the Incarnation.
2. "To us a child is born."
These prophetic words are fulfilled in the narrative of the Evangelist Luke, who describes the "event", full of ever new wonder and hope. On that night in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to a Child, Whom she called Jesus. There was no room for them in the Inn; and so the Mother gave birth to the Son in a stable, and laid Him in a manger. The Evangelist John, in the Prologue of his Gospel, penetrates the "mystery" of this event. The One born in the stable is the eternal Son of God. He is the Word who was in the beginning, the Word who was with God, the Word Who was God. All things that were made were made through Him (cf. John 1:1-3). The eternal Word, the Son of God, took the nature of man. God the Father "so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16). When the Prophet Isaiah says: "to us a child is born", he reveals, in all its fulness, the mystery of Christmas: the eternal generation of the Word of the Father, his birth in time through the work of the Holy Spirit.
3. The circle of the mystery widens: the Evangelist John writes: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14); and he adds: "to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God" (1:12). The circle of the mystery widens: the birth of the Son of God is the sublime gift, the greatest grace for man's benefit that the human mind could ever have imagined. Remembering the birth of Christ on this holy Day, we live, together with this event, the "mystery of man's divine adoption" through the work of Christ Who comes into the world. For this reason, Christmas Night and Christmas Day are perceived as "sacred" by those who seek the truth. We Christians profess them to be "holy", because in them we recognize the unmistakable stamp of the One Who is Holy, full of mercy and goodness.
4. This year there is yet another reason which makes more holy this day of grace: it is the beginning of the Great Jubilee. Last night, before Holy Mass, I opened the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica. A symbolic act, which inaugurates the Jubilee Year, a gesture which highlights with singular eloquence something already present in the mystery of Christmas: Jesus, born of Mary in the poverty of Bethlehem, He, the Eternal Son given to us by the Father, is, for us and for everyone, the Door! The Door of our salvation, the Door of life, the Door of peace! This is the message of Christmas and the proclamation of the Great Jubilee.
5. We turn our gaze to You, O Christ, Door of our salvation, as we thank You for all the good of the years, centuries and millennia which have passed. We must however confess that humanity has sometimes sought the Truth elsewhere, invented false certainties, and chased after deceptive ideologies. At times people have refused to respect and love their brothers and sisters of a different race or faith; they have denied fundamental rights to individuals and nations. But You continue to offer to all the splendour of the Truth which saves. We look to You, O Christ, Door of Life, and we thank You for the wonders with which You have enriched every generation. At times this world neither respects nor loves life. But You never cease to love life; indeed, in the mystery of Christmas, You come to enlighten people's minds, so that legislators and political leaders, men and women of good will, may be committed to welcoming human life as a precious gift. You come to give us the Gospel of Life. We lift our eyes to You, O Christ, Door of peace, as, pilgrims in time, we visit all the places of grief and of war, the resting places of the victims of brutal conflicts and cruel slaughter. You, Prince of Peace, invite us to ban the senseless use of arms, and the recourse to violence and hatred which have doomed individuals, peoples and continents.
6. "To us a Son is given."
You, Father, have given us Your Son. And you give Him to us again today, at the dawn of the new millennium. For us He is the Door. Through Him we enter a new dimension and we reach the fulness of the destiny of salvation which You have prepared for all. Precisely for this reason, Father, You gave us Your Son, so that humanity would know what it is that You wish to give us in eternity, so that human beings would have the strength to fulfill Your mysterious plan of love. Christ, Son of the ever Virgin Mother, light and hope of those who seek You even when they do not know You, and of those who, knowing You, seek You all the more. Christ, You are the Door! Through You, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we wish to enter the third millennium. You, O Christ, are the same yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Hebrews 13:8).
Though many non-inspired, or apocryphal, gospels eventually made their appearance from the earliest period of ecclesiastical history, only four Gospels were recognized as inspired and canonical. They contain the Gospel in four forms, or as the oldest titles express it, the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Saint Irenaeus, writing during the latter half of the second century, points out that the four Gospels were the only recognized ones: "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are." Origen tersely sums up the teaching of the Church for the first half of the third century when he says: "The Church has four Gospels, heretics have many more."
The four evangelists and their Gospels were believed to have been prefigured by the four living creatures mentioned in the vision of Ezechiel ( 1, 10). Explanations varied, but the opinion of Saint Jerome is now the prevailing one. St. Matthew is symbolized the "man," because he commences his Gospel with Christ's earthly ancestry and stresses His human and kingly character. St. Mark is represented as the "lion," because he starts his Gospel with St. John the Baptist, "the voice of one crying in the desert", and emphasizes the jiraculous powers of the Savior. St. Luke is typified by the "ox," the animal of sacrifice, because he begins with the history of Zachary, the priest, offering sacrifice to God, and accentuates the universal priethood of Christ. St. John is expressed by the "eagle," because from the very beginning of his Gospel he soars above the things of the earth and time and dwells upon the divine origin and nature of Jesus.
The titles prefixed to the four Gospels, though not original, are of early date. They are mentioned in the latter part of the second century in the churches of Lyons, Rome and Alexandria. Thus one can reasonably conclude that they were added to the Gospels during the first half of the second century. These titles indicate the human or ssecondary authors and not that the Gospels were written merely according to the preaching, mind or authority of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John.
Our present order of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John is chronological and sanctioned by tradition. The first three, though distince in many ways, show a striking resemblance in content and form. They adopt a simple and convenient plan for the life of Jesus, the arrangement of which appears summarily for the preaching of Saint Peter (Acts 10, 37-41): 1. His preparation for His ministry. 2. His preaching in Galilee; 3. His journey from Galilee to Jerusalem; 4. The Last week in Jerusalem, together with His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Hence they are called the "Synoptists" and their writings, the Synoptic Gospels," because, whenever they are placed in parallel columns or are otherwise compared they give us at a glance the same general view of our Lord's life. The fourth Gospel, on the contrary, written at the close of the first century, contains much new material, but in certain parts, either common or related to the Synoptic Gospels, St. John supplements them and thus prevents a false interpretation of their writings.
Tomorrow: The Gospel of Saint Matthew
In 1950 Pope Pius XII named him Bishop of Cesaropoli on July 4, 1950 and, because of the Soviet suppression, he was ordained and installed in secret by Archbishop Gerald P. O'Hara, the Holy See's representative to Romania. However the communists found out and in 1951 he was arrested and brought before a kangaroo court where he was sentenced to life imprisonment during a time when all clerics in Romania and Soviet satellite countries were being repressed and persecuted. Fortunately for him, thirteen years later in 1964 an amnesty was granted because of the two facts; first the Soviet forces had withdrawn from Romania and a new constitution was adopted which reduced ties with the U.S.S.R.; secondly, Romania established diplomatic relations with the United States and, to show good faith, the government agreed to release all religious prisoners. Free to once again practice he reentered pastoral work. During his time in prison he had been the glue to keep the Byzantine community together for many had been imprisoned together.
On March 14, 1990 he was installed as Archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Julia by Pope John Paul II. Because of age and the after-effects of injuries from prison, he retired on July 20, 1994 at the age of 82. His age did not prohibit the Holy Father from elevating him to the cardinalate during his consistory of June 28, 1991. At 79 Cardinal Todea became one of the oldest cardinals ever bestowed the red-hat. He received the titular church of St. Athanasius. Now 87, Cardinal Todea resides today at Str. P.P. Aron 2, RO-3175 in Blaj, A.B., Romania.