Monday, December 2, 2013

The Relevance and Future of the Second Vatican Council (Ignatius Press)

The Church Calendar has just rolled over into a new year, which means a new season of waiting and anticipation for many Christians. For me, Advent also means a fresh start and a time for reflection on the previous year. While this year was an amazing year for my family, as it brought the birth of our first child, it was also an amazing year for the Church. We had a pope retire, a new pope elected, and we even got to have the first pope's bones on display to end the Year of Faith. This Year of Faith, which Pope Benedict XVI declared on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II, actually encouraged me to learn more about Vatican II, and the book The Relevance and Future of the Second Vatican Council helped accomplish this task.

The Relevance and Future of the Second Vatican Council is a series of interviews conducted by Fr. Geoffroy de la Tousche with Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The book starts off with a brief biography of Cardinal Ouellet. It discusses very little of his childhood, which I would have been very interested in reading, but instead focuses on his adult life. For example, he entered the major seminary at age 19, which is very young and impressive to say the very least. It then discusses his time as a professor, a bishop, and his relationship and interaction with both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

The rest of the book is the meaty part of the text. Cardinal Ouellet discusses both generalities and specifics of Vatican II. Such topics covered include the Church, vocations, marriage, evangelization, and council constitutions like Dei Verbum and Gaudium et spes. I'm not really sure what to classify as my favorite part as it felt like each discussion was more interesting than the last. For example, when discussing vocations, Cardinal Ouellet focuses on both priests and the laity. He refers to Vatican II as a new Pentecost. Laity now have a defined role in the Church, and a great deal have accepted that role with great zeal and enthusiasm.

Vatican II is a council that still upsets some of the more conservative people today. Perhaps it is due to poor explanation following the council; perhaps it is due to the changes that followed it. I have learned in my time as a convert, though, that there is no middle ground on your feelings toward it. So if you lean negative towards Vatican II, I encourage you to read this book. It might just change your mind. However, this book isn't just for the negative crowd. This book is for ALL Catholics - young or old, single or married, laity or religious. The format is also very inviting. Since it is laid out in interview format, you can read as many sections as you want; in any order. I cannot recommend this book enough.

This book was provided to me for free by Ignatius Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click the link and hit Yes!