Friday, October 12, 2012

Vatican II: The Essential Texts

Vatican II: The Essential Texts
Introductions from Pope Benedict XVI and James Carroll
Preparatory Material by Edward P. Hahnenberg
Documents edited by Norman Tanner, S.J.
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Image (September 4, 2012)

I am puzzled by this book. I am not sure of the intended audience, or whether it will find a wide audience. 


The introduction by Pope Benedict is from an address he gave to the Roman Curia 22 December 2005 and is where he enunciated his now familiar dichotomy between reference to the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" and the "hermeneutic of reform." Yet it may not be familiar to the average Catholic, but likely only to Church historians, Ecclesiastical journalists and theologians.


The title of Benedict's talk is: What Has Been the Result of the Council? and to be honest, I am not sure he answered the question, except for the fact that he points out that of the two movements stated above, there must be continued dialogue.


As for James Carroll's Introduction, it appears he represents "the hermeneutic of reform." 


The Preparatory Material by Edward P. Hahnenberg before each of the documents was worthwhile reading, yet pales in comparison to the more thorough, series entitled "Rediscovering Vatican II" published by Paulist Press in 2006.


As for the documents, they are new translations, as opposed to the familiar translations by Austin Flannery, O.P.


Yet there is a freshness in reading the documents with a different interpretation. 


By far the best part of the book was re-reading the documents. There is a spirit of enthusiasm that is kindled for Christ, the Liturgy, and the Sacraments, and the Church as one reads the documents again, as if for the very first time.


It would behoove every Catholic to actually read the documents for themselves, especially Sacrosanctum Concilium for those concerned about Liturgy and Dei Verbum for those advocating more bible-based homilies and faith formation. 


Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes should be mandatory reading for every conscious Catholic and anyone claiming to speak for the Church or claiming publicly to be a Catholic.


The last two document: Declaration on Religious Freedom and Declaration on the Church's relation to Non-Christian Religions are particularly poignant given the rise of Islamic extremism and the political rancor among conservatives and liberals and those who would wed the altar with certain political parties or platforms.


Though it has been fifty years since good Pope John convened the Second Vatican Council, and, yes, the world has changed, in many respects the world is in just as much turmoil or more in 2012 as it was in 1962.


Unfortunately history has seemingly taught us little to nothing regarding war and peace and the efforts to promote the human dignity of all human beings as persons created in the image of God.


May God have mercy on us all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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