I grew up in the pre-Vatican II church of the 1960s and felt the first pull toward a church vocation in its embrace. As a young novice and seminarian, I experienced the energy and exhilaration the council unleashed among many, as well as the confusion and pain of others who believed that the council betrayed everything they loved and held true as Catholics.
The council that Good Pope John called has impacted my life and ministry in every imaginable way. I count it a blessing to serve the Catholic Church at this particular moment in its long and illustrious history. As the late scripture scholar Father Raymond Brown once remarked at the start of a lecture he was giving, “What interesting times we live in as Catholics!”
“Ecumenical councils, whenever they are assembled, are a solemn celebration of the union of Christ and his church and hence lead to the universal radiation of truth, to the proper guidance of individuals in domestic and social life, to the strengthening of spiritual energies for a perennial uplift toward real and everlasting goodness.”
These words come from the address of John XXIII to the assembled bishops and invited guests at the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the close of the council and the promulgation of its decrees, Emmanuel has invited a number of authors from various backgrounds to examine seven of its major documents. Our request was “simple”: touch on the principal teachings and themes of the document; speak to things that might have been said and weren’t; and explore its implications for a church that places the Eucharist at the center of its life and mission.
In the process, we hope to see how the work of the council has promoted “the union of Christ and his church,” radiated “universal truth” to the world around us, offered guidance to the people of our age, and strengthened “spiritual energies . . . toward real and everlasting goodness.”
In this Issue
I suggest you begin by reading Father John Kamas’ fine retrospective on Vatican II and then turn to Father Paul Bernier’s incisive article on the first of the “magnificent seven” ― Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. LG defines who and what the church is, as articulated by the bishops of Vatican II under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And enjoy Bishop Robert Morneau’s brief yet powerful reflection on Lumen Gentium.
When we think of the church, all of us are aware of and humbled by the divisions that have set Christians at odds with each other and blunted the church’s mission effectiveness. Deacon Owen Cummings introduces us to the efforts of the late Jesuit ecumenist Michael Hurley to bring healing and hope amid the sectarian violence and mistrust of his native Ireland and beyond.
January 31st is the centennial of the birth of Thomas Merton, the beloved Trappist monk, writer, and activist who died prematurely in 1968 at the age of 53. Reverend Victor Parachin offers a wonderful overview of Merton’s life, his interior journey, and his passion for holiness and truth, complete with quotes from his writings.
And there is much more: Father Anthony Marshall’s exegetical and homiletic reflections on the Sunday scripture readings, a new Pastoral Liturgy series by Father John Thomas Lane on the sacraments, and the multifaceted Eucharist & Culture section.
With this issue, I announce the formation of a new Editorial Board for Emmanuel and thank the outgoing board members for their very generous service over many years. We look forward to and invite their continued collaboration.
Father Donald Cozzens
Father Ernest Falardeau, SSS
Father Edward Foley, OFM Cap
Bishop Robert F. Morneau
New Editorial Board
Sister Lisa Marie Belz, OSU
Father Thomas Dragga
Dr. James Menkhaus
Father Gilbert Ostdiek, OFM
A joyous and grace-filled 2015!
Anthony Schueller, SSS