Reclaiming the role of the Laity
“In the Spirit of Vatican II…” So, what is/was Vatican II, and why should I care? A quick and easy answer is found in the new edition of Richard P. McBrien’s Catholicism: New Edition. McBrien explains that the Vatican was “the site of the twenty-first ecumenical councils… Vatican II reformed the liturgy and broadened the Church’s understanding of its mission in the world, the role of the laity, and ecumenism.”
(1) The Council took place 1962-1965.
The Council, as a meeting of all the bishops in the world who were able to attend, was an opportunity for Church renewal; to determine what was essential, and what might be in need of reform. It sought to evaluate how the Church was responding to the Gospel mission of Jesus Christ, and determine how best to do this in the modern era. Joseph Cardinal Bernardin called it “the most important event in the life of the Church during the Twentieth Century.” (2)
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin called it “the most important event in the life of the Church during the Twentieth Century.”
The Council was convened by Pope John XXIII and produced 16 major documents addressing (in part) The Sacred Liturgy, (Mass) The Mission of the Church, The Sacraments, The role of the Laity, Ecumenism, (the Church’s relationship with other faiths), and perhaps most particularly, for our group, The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern World.
Most of the people who took part in the Second Vatican Council are no longer living, and eventually a movement took place to push back the advances made by that Council. The movement gained momentum during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, and continued during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Eventually even the Liturgy of the Mass reverted to language and customs that had not been part of regular worship since the 1960s. Liturgy again became more focused on the work of the priest and less so, that of the worshipping community.
Intentional Eucharist Communities are all different, but they have in common a desire to reclaim the role of the laity in both the worship, mission and governance of the their faith communities. Most retain the Mass in the form learned from the documents and declarations of the Vatican II. This is important to us, St.John XXIII, IEC. We express this in our governance: we are lay-led; in our liturgies that seek to b e gender neutral, and in our confession of faith. We pray a Creed that asserts the holiness of all creation and our response is gratitude for God’s work in our world.
We pray a Creed that asserts the holiness of all creation and our response is gratitude for God’s work in our world.
Further, we accept the call of Vatican II to be the Body of Christ in the world and to carry out the work of the Gospel to the best of our ability. As such, we are more responsive to affirming and working with others, than to prohibitions and sanctions. We affirm a Christ of the Beatitudes. We recognize the equality of women and men and are welcoming to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, those who have found love and re-married after divorce, and those who may not be able to affirm “all that the Holy Roman Catholic Church, believes, confesses and affirms.” We strive to be affirming and welcoming of all who may wish to join us in this effort.
1. McBrien, Richard P., Catholicism: New Edition. Harper Collins, NY, 1994. p. 1253.
2. Vatican Council II Vol I New Revised Edition, Austin Flannery, O.P., Gen. Ed., Costello Pub. Co., Northport, NY 1996. Foreward.