"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

50 Years Since Vatican II

As we move into 2012, Catholics--and many others--will begin to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of that landmark ecclesial and ecumenical event of our times, viz., the opening of the Second Vatican Council. (I am beginning to sketch out in my mind a public lecture I am to give in the fall on how much relations between Catholics and Orthodox have changed thanks to Vatican II.) I think any fair assessment of it must recognize that its legacy is very mixed indeed. (Tracey Rowland's book Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II rightly recognizes some of the problematic assumptions built into such conciliar documents as Gaudium et Spes. And I have long maintained that many of the problems implementing the council's liturgical reforms could have been mitigated or avoided by a close reading of Mary Douglas' important anthropological work, including especially Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology.) But for Eastern Christians, the legacy can surely be seen only as positive: Unitatis Redintegratio and Orientalium Ecclesiarum were wonderfully revolutionary documents from which Catholics (especially Eastern Catholics) and Orthodox alike continue to benefit. For that our continued response can and should be: Deo gratias. 

One recent book treating the legacy of the council will be reviewed in the spring 2012 issue of Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies: Ladislas Örsy, Receiving the Council: Theological and Canonical Insights and Debates (Liturgical Press, 2009), 161pp.

About this book, the publisher tells us:
Bearing in mind that Vatican II was the conclusion of one era and the opening of another, Ladislas Orsy insists that the task of the church is to continue--with both creative insights and critical debates. Receiving the Council is a gift from a highly renowned and deeply respected canon lawyer and theologian who was an eye witness to Vatican II. It is filled with well-articulated questions and intelligent insights as well as prudent proposals for good structures in the "house of God" that is the church.
Our reviewer, the canonist W.L. Daniel, notes that "this book is successful in continuing the...deeper reflection on the ratio iuris and the promotion of a more refined translation of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council into juridical terms in all areas of the Church’s life."

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