Encountering Vatican II: Living into the Council with Francis

The parish of St Ignatius Loyola in San Francisco is sponsoring a series on Vatican II, focusing on its contemporary relevance and future promise.

From the advance information:

When Pope Francis called for a Synod on Synodality, late in 2021, he was continuing a process begun in the Second Vatican Council—that revolutionary meeting of bishops from around the world, which turned the altar towards the people and the Church towards the world. This fall, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the convening of Vatican II, St. Ignatius Parish will host a six-part series inviting all of us to encounter this Council and its continuing effects for the Catholic community. 

To Francis, who has proclaimed “the Council is the Magisterium of the Church,” the call of Vatican II is a mandate to the whole People of God to engage the world and the Church with a new heart: a heart filled with hope and promise, a heart that can embrace the world with the mercy of God. In this series, scholars from across the country will come to St. Ignatius Church, inviting us to encounter the principal documents of the Council (i.e., the four major “Constitutions” below) in a new way, and calling us to see how these documents point us towards the Church that we, as God’s People, can create.

The sessions will be livestreamed as well as in-person, and all are welcome. Each session will be followed by dialogue and time for questions.

I will be giving the presentation on Sacrosanctum Concilium on October 13, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm Pacific Time. Because the Pope’s recent apostolic letter, Desiderio desideravi, is a profound invitation to appropriate the Council’s liturgical renewal, my presentation will invite participants to delve into the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy by using the “prompts and cues” that Francis has given us in that letter.

I am calling my presentation: “On Retreat with Pope Francis: How the Liturgical Reform of Vatican II Can Revitalize Your Faith.”

Here is the description of the talk:

Pope Francis’s recent letter on liturgical formation, Desiderio desideravi, is like a retreat—it invites us into an encounter with the Risen Jesus, who is alive and present through the Liturgy. We will use the timely “prompts” of Pope Francis to draw out the meaning and relevance of the Vatican II liturgical reform for us today. Renew your faith by revisiting the wonder of the Paschal Mystery — the dying and rising of Jesus — seen through the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and echoed in the prophetic voices of the Council. Come ready to discover your own role in the miracle of Christ’s presence for the twenty-first century.

The organizers have helpfully put together some reflection questions to consider in advance of the meeting:

How We Encounter God in Prayer & Liturgy:

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) was the first document approved at the Second Vatican Council (22 November 1963) and presented reforms that changed the Mass in key ways, all aimed at encouraging “full conscious and active participation” of all the faithful.

  1. Why is liturgy, especially Mass, important for me as an individual and for us as a community; what does it matter to God or to me?
  2. Why is there so much disagreement about liturgical practices—e.g., whether the priest faces the people or has his back to us; whether we should pray in Latin or our local language? Why does it matter?
  3. Why is Mass supposed to be participatory? Why are we an assembly and not just an audience?

There is also a set of suggested readings for each of the topics that the speakers will address.

The schedule for the series is as follows:

October 6:   Michael Sean Winters

October 13:   Rita Ferrone (Sacrosanctum Concilium)

November 3:   Gina Hens-Piazza (Dei Verbum)

November 17:   Jeannette Rodriguez (Gaudium et Spes)

December 1:   Bradford Hinze (Lumen Gentium)

December 8:   Massimo Faggioli

To see full descriptions and speaker biographies, and to register, visit their website here. 

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