[Updated Nov. 29, 2023 with video link]
By Jon Perez
Sr. Mirasol Abala of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity provided an overview of the Second Vatican Council to open a five-part adult faith series on The Church of the New Evangelization Oct. 25 in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
The Awaken series will continue over the following four Wednesdays with presentations about documents written by four popes in the decades following what is popularly known as Vatican II.
Abala, who holds a degree in Sacred Theology from Verbum Dei’s St. Paul Institute of Theology, explained the history of the council and provided an overview of the four major documents promulgated as a result of Vatican II.
The Second Vatican Council met from 1962 to 1965 in four sessions, with four major constitutions among the documents produced in a process involving bishops from around the globe:
- Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Dec. 4, 1963.
- Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Nov.21, 1964.
- Dei Verbum, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Nov. 15, 1965.
- Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Dec. 7, 1965.
Pope St. John XXIII called Vatican II after discerning that the Church needed an update to better fulfill the mission of the Church, to read the “signs of the times,” and to serve the faithful. In speaking about the mission of the council, John XXIII used the Italian word “aggiornamento” – which translates as “bringing up to date.”
Describing Vatican II as a pivotal event in the life of the Church, Abala noted that it was the first time that Protestants, Orthodox and non-Catholic observers were invited to such a council.
Pope St. John XXIII opened Vatican II in October 1962, with Pope St. Paul VI taking over after the former died in June 1963.
“Unlike previous councils, it [Vatican II] was not called to combat threats to the Church or the heresies or the schisms at that time. Instead, it was to respond positively to the challenges facing the modern world,” said Abala.
“The world was progressively moving forward. How is the Church adapting to the modern world and updating those aspects to reach out to the Christians in the spirit of reconciliation?”
She stressed the importance of understanding the intent and the effect of Vatican II.
“The challenge is making the message [of Vatican II] reach the people. People may be open with their hearts and minds because we hold on to some way of thinking, mindsets, and traditions that we already know or that we thought that we already know. There’s an opening to some changes, and that it is not easy,” Abala said.
During a discussion session, participants shared what they had learned about Vatican II’s impact in the present, describing how the Liturgy became a personal experience for the faithful, with the Eucharist now celebrated in their languages or dialects instead of the traditional Latin, making it easier to fully participate, to evangelize and to preach.
Video of presentation:
The “Church of the New Evangelization” diocesan Awaken Adult Faith series held in fall 2023 is now available on the diocesan YouTube video channel:
- Part 1 – An overview of Vatican II, with Sr. Mirasol Abala: video / article
- Part 2 – Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), with Marilyn Jackson: video / article
- Part 3 – Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope) with Bishop Mark Hagemoen: video / article
- Part 4 – Christefideles Laici (The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful) with Sr. Malou Tibayan: video / article
- Part 5 – Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) with Fr. David Tumback – Video link / article coming soon.
Awaken adult faith programs in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon are supported by gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.
Reporter Jonathan Perez is a parishioner at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.