Vatican II – The Second Vatican Council called by Pope John XXIII

For those of us who were alive and able to hear, see, and feel the Vatican Council – we must not let it be something that happened 50 years ago, but rather something that opened this Church to the world in which it exists. The Council rejected monarchy as our way of functioning. It welcomed the languages of the people of the world and rejected Latin for the Church Liturgy.

The underlying principle of the created world assumes change.  Change or die!  We, as Church, no longer wall off change; change is not the enemy.  “Today Providence is guiding us toward a new order of human relationships.”  Pope John’s positive voice “infused the deliberations and conclusions of Vatican II and that in itself defined the Council’s  truest revolution.”

The Church’s relation to Scripture changed.  When I entered Religious Life in 1947, we did not even have a Bible.  I was familiar with the Bible because my grandmother had one at home and quoted from it, and my paternal grandparents were Jewish.  The Council through its documents invited us to the study of the Bible and our Missals were revised to center the Sacraments in Scripture. Our preachers returned to the Word of God and most important – Jesus was once more the Center for Christian Life; He  had not been for centuries. To many our life in the Church radically changed as a result of 2400 Bishops of the world having the courage of the Spirit to move us to a deeper connection and experience of God in our life and worship.

During these coming months in preparation for our 2013 General Chapter, should we not review these documents:

Constitution on Sacred Liturgy
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes)
Declaration on Religious Freedom

Do not let the dust settle on the works that changed our lives. I know it may be hard for some who have never known the Church of the earlier part of the 20th Century. However, if we are not alert and aware there is a tendency for some in the Church toward the restoration of intellectually sterile, liturgically lifeless Masses where the laity are passive spectators and clergy are cut off from the laity, with Jesus himself on the margins of piety. What began at the Second Vatican Council must continue, its changes must be acknowledged. Attempts to roll back must not be allowed to happen. 

The Council made a deep impression on the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor.  Our Chapter of Renewal was called by Mother Innocenta Donnelly for September of 1968.  During 1967 there was exciting activity among us in the U.S.  We had for the first time an election for Delegates to the General Chapter, two from each Province:  Sister Mary Frances (no longer among us) and Sister Grace Frances Strauber from St. Anthony Province and Sister Rose Margaret Delaney from St. Clare Province. 

Many wonderful and exciting things were approved by this Renewal Chapter.  Mother Innocenta was re-elected and courageously moved to Brooklyn, NY with five younger women – Sister Rose Margaret (General Councilor), Sister Mary James (now Rita K. Kerr, Councilor), the former Sister Nancy Daniel (Councilor), Sister Mary Virginia Schreiner (Secretary), and Sister Grace Frances Strauber (Treasurer). Most Reverend Francis J. Mugavero, Bishop of Brooklyn, gave us a house on Middagh Street in Assumption Parish.

 Gradually we moved toward becoming more deeply aware of our Sisters living and ministering in Italy and Brazil.  We must never forget the courage of Sisters Cristina Di Nocco, Maria Atorino, and Annunciata Marino.

At our 2011 Healing Conference Sister Antonietta Potente, O.P., began her wonderful talk with strong references to memories and how much they mean to our lives: the memories of beginnings and of the powerful role which women have always played in “keeping alive the development of human societies.”  She wonders now “. . . if religious life can rediscover alternate journeys!”  That is the question we should ponder and pray with as we move forward recalling our past journeys and learnings to create a rediscovery of our 21st century journey. 

Sister Grace Frances Strauber

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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