Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council?

As the days of the pontificate of Francis unfold, I am convinced he has been sent to help us to understand the treasures of the Church old and new, and to implement and appropriate the proper teaching of the Second Vatican Council. I believe he is a gift sent to lead an authentic Spirit Led Renewal of the Catholic Church because such a renewed Church can lead a new missionary age.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Hermeneutic of continuity, hermeneutic of rupture, Second Vatican Council, Holy Spirit, evangelical Catholic, Pope Francis, Deacon Keith Fournier


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On April 16, 2013, during his homily at Mass, Pope Francis spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit. Using the story of the martyrdom of Stephen from the first reading as an example, he warned of the danger of resisting the Holy Spirit, when we do not want to change. Vatican Radio reported on his homily.

He said that at times, 'the Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward.' He also said we sometimes want to 'calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong, because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, it's what gives us the strength to go forward'. He used as one example of resisting the Holy Spirit, some approaches to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council which he called "a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit."

He asked, 'have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council?' He said the answer is 'No. We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don't want it to upset us. We don't want to change and what's more there are those who wish to turn the clock back. This is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.'

The Pope said that the same thing can easily happen in our personal lives. 'The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.' Of course, he is right. He urged us not to resist the pull of the Holy Spirit but to 'Submit to the Holy Spirit, which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.'

This is a Pope who believes that the power of the Holy Spirit is available today for all believers just as it was in the early Church. He has a dynamic relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and is deeply committed to the New Evangelization. He was a major contributor to the Latin American bishops' 2007 "Aparecida Document" which called for placing the New Evangelization at the forefront of the mission of the Church.

So, what does this all mean for the direction of the Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis? Well, we are soon going to find out. Watch for the interpretations of his messages to be very different depending upon the perspective of the hearer.

There are those who are hoping that what this Pope is going to be what they call a 'progressive, a political term which has been applied by some in the Church to refer to breaking with the past in a kind of rupture. I do not agree with them. Let me give you a recent example of such an approach from my own experience.

Last year I attended a forum where a theology Professor gave an address on Vatican II. It was meant to be a tribute, in light of the Councils' fiftieth anniversary, to the importance of the Council. Some of his thoughts were insightful and well presented. However, in the question and answer session which followed his talk something emerged which points to a real challenge faced by the Catholic Church as she engages her mission. 

The phrase New Evangelization refers, among other things, to the evangelistic and catechetical work desperately needed within the Catholic Church. It acknowledges the fact that many people in the pews need to encounter the Risen Lord personally and make the faith their own. They need to hear the fullness of the Gospel - as taught authentically and authoritatively by the teaching office (the magisterium) of the Catholic Church, and embrace that teaching in a way which is reflected in a unity of life.

Sadly, we must acknowledge that there are sacramentalized Catholics who have not been fully evangelized. Further, there are many Catholics who do not really even know what their own Church teaches. Much of our catechesis - instruction in the faith- since the Second Vatican Council - has been inadequate. As pope Francis recently tweeted, "Being a Christian is not just about following commandments: it is about letting Christ take possession of our lives and transform them."

This is why the Catholic Church has committed its resources to reawakening the faithful through promoting this kind of life changing encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ. The New Evangelization seeks to re-evangelize and re-catechize the faithful so that that they can consciously choose to live their lives as Catholic Christians in the heart of the Church, for the sake of the world. As members of Christ's Body they have a mission.

The expression New Evangelization was coined by Blessed John Paul II, embraced as a foundation for the papacy of Benedict XVI and, I maintain, is clearly at the forefront of the mission of Pope Francis since he stepped out on the Loggia on the night he was announced as the successor of the Apostle Peter. I believe he is an evangelical Catholic Pope.

I now regularly use the phrase New Missionary Age to refer to the unchangeable task of the Catholic Church, through her members, to bring the whole world into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is meant to lead to incorporation into the Church, which is His Body.  The Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2000 and entitled "Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church"  stated this with simple clarity and no compromise.

Here is just one sentence: "It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God." 

The Prefect of that Congregation and author of this document was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. He went on to become Pope Benedict XVI. His continual reminder to the faithful of the missionary vocation of the Church ad extra was one of the hallmarks of his papal Magisterium. The theology professor and I had an interesting discussion concerning the importance of that letter and what it really said.

He used the term "aggiornamento" often when he referred the Second Vatican Council. The word was used by Blessed John XXIII as he charged the Council Fathers in their important work at the beginning of the Council. Loosely translated, the word means to bring something up to date. We would both agree on the interpretation of the word. 

However, as to what that term means as it relates to the teaching of that Council in the light of the two millennia of Church history - its relationship to the teachings of past Councils - and the future of the Catholic Church - now that is where my discussion with the professor revealed a major disagreement. 

It also led to a lively discussion and debate. He rejected the claim of Dominus Jesus as to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. In fact, he openly asserted that the Second Vatican Council represented a rupture with the past and presented an entirely new teaching on salvation. 

This leads me to an important theological term, hermeneutic. A hermeneutic is a lens through which we view or interpret something of importance. In discussing the Second Vatican Council much has been made about the difference between those who view that Council and its teaching through either a hermeneutic of continuity, seeing proper reform in light of that continuity, or a hermeneutic of rupture.

In other words, was the Second Vatican Council a break with past teaching, something entirely new in the sense of overturning the past, or was it a continuation, a freshening, of the trajectory of the truth as taught by the Church from its beginnings? Clearly, on many issues related to this hermeneutic, the speaker and I held very different positions.

It became even clearer as specific hot button issues were discussed in that forum that the professor and I saw the Council through a very different lens. Since that session I have thought a lot about that professor. I am sure he is among those who are interpreting Pope Francis and his comments on the Second Vatican Council as confirming his claim that the Council was a rupture with the past. I strongly disagree.

Since he assumed his office, Pope Francis has preached - by word and deed - the dynamically orthodox Catholic faith. He has done so in a way which shows a continuity which is enlivened by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit always calls the Church to authentic renewal. His comments in the homily with which I began this article point to his commitment to the need for such an authentic renewal in the Holy Spirit in our age.

Before they were called Christians in Antioch, the early followers of Jesus were referred to as the Way (Acts 19, 9, 23). Their living faith was expressed in the way they lived their real daily lives in the midst of the world of their age. They were missionaries. So are we - no matter what our state in life or specific vocation.

We cannot give away what we do not have. We need living faith. We can't pretend to have it. We need to know the Lord, and not just know about Him. We need the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Evangelical Pope Francis calls us to an encounter with the Risen Lord in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. He is challenging us to live the ancient but ever new Christian faith for the Third Millennium. 

There is one final word which came up in that encounter with the theology professor. This one is a French word, ressourcement. It means a return to the sources. I told my colleague that I believed that the Second Vatican Council, as properly understood, should also be seen as a return to the sources - the Scriptures, the Patristic writings and past Councils - in order to update the trajectory of truth.

I offered an opinion to the professor that the task of a contemporary Catholic theologian is beautifully explained in a passage from Matthew's Gospel, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."  (Matt. 13:52)

Well, my colleague who viewed himself as a progressive viewed me, his interlocutor, as what he called a traditionalist. I told him I prefer the noun 'Catholic' without any descriptive labels. I am not a traditionalist - though I do love the Tradition. I added that if he wanted to use adjectives, he could just call me a dynamically orthodox, happy to be Catholic, Christian.

As the days of the pontificate of Francis unfold, I am convinced he has been sent to help us to understand the treasures of the Church old and new, and to implement and appropriate the proper teaching of the Second Vatican Council. I believe he is a gift sent to lead an authentic Spirit Led Renewal of the Catholic Church because such a renewed Church can lead a new missionary age.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Europe

Discovery of purported 'Nazi gold train' taken seriously in Poland Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The declarations from a German man and Polish man of discovery a long-lost Nazi train filled with gold and other treasures is being taken seriously by Poland's deputy culture minister. He says he is "convinced" the train exists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Abandoned truck holds over 20 dead migrants in Austria Watch

Image of Truck found abandoned carrying the bodies of more than 20 dead migrants

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A police manhunt takes place after the discovery of an abandoned truck containing the bodies of migrants attempting to cross Austria's border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Austrian police report up to 50 migrants suffocated in the back of a refrigerated food ... continue reading


Vatican involvement in Ashley Madison Web site leak disproven Watch

Image of At first glance, the claim seems questionable - why would top Church officials sworn to celibacy sign up for a Web site for married people, and no less one that promotes adultery?

By CNA/EWTN News

Early this week, a leak of personal data from millions of users of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to arrange extramarital affairs, wreaked havoc on and off the internet. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - At least two suicides have been reported in conjunction ... continue reading


Four-star General reveals horrendous WWII scenes in never-before-seen photographs (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Four-star General Charles Day Palmer detailed the fights in Western Front during World War II by taking snapshots of the bombed-out cities and lifeless bodies. He kept personal photos of the battlefields in Germany and France and is now releasing them to the public for ... continue reading


Brainwashed teenage girl taken away from radical jihadi parents Watch

Image of Judge Anthony Hayden, pictured, today compared the radicalization of the 16-year-old girl, known as B as similar to that as child sex abuse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 16-year-old girl in East London has been removed from her home after a judge ruled that she was being radicalized by her parents with Islamic State propaganda. The straight-A student, known only as "B" was stopped last year when she tried to fly to Syria to ... continue reading


HEROISM - AND EXTREME COWARDICE: American service members disarm terrorist aboard train - as train's staff lock themselves in office, denying help Watch

Image of U.S. serviceman Spencer Stone answering reporters' questions at the U.S. embassy in Paris this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was an example of high heroism - undercut with a despicable act of cowardice and selfishness. As an Islamic militant from Morocco threatened life and limb a high-speed train bound for Paris with a Kalashnikov, American service members with a British man were ... continue reading


Afghan man rips up Koran sparking threatening riot in overcrowded German refugee camp Watch

Image of A riot sparked in a refugee camp in Germany, leaving 15 civilians injured.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A riot broke in an overcrowded German refugee camp shelter after an Afghan man damaged the Koran and threw pages of it in the toilet. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - One resident from an overcrowded German refugee camp tore up a Koran and dumped pages ... continue reading


Legendary lost Nazi train loaded with gold treasure found by two men Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A train commandeered by the Nazis - reportedly loaded with gold, gems and valuable art vanished into a system of secret tunnels in the Polish countryside as the Germans fled advancing Soviet forces at the end of World War II. That story has gone down in Polish ... continue reading


Stalking Prince George: William and Kate condemn paparazzi photographers inappropriately hanging around play area Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After finding paparazzi photographers hiding near the play area of the two-year-old prince, Kensington Palace has released a stern letter from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge condemning the inappropriate action harming the privacy of their toddler. William and Kate ... continue reading


Sudan and Afghanistan migrants share stories of misery from inside their 'jungle camps' Watch

Image of The Associated Press shares migrants settling in Calais expressing distraught with current situation.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Migrants that fled Sudan and Afghanistan are now expressing their misery as they gather at a camp site in Calais. The migrants have to endure the "jungle camp" in the northern French port city. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - A group of fleeing ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
1 'And now, Israel, listen to the laws and customs ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5
2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come ... Read More

Reading 2, James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27
17 all that is good, all that is perfect, is given us ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2015 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter