The Roncalli Center
Fifty years ago, a new pope, John XXIII followed the movement of the Spirit of God and called together the Second Vatican Council several months into his papacy. He called for a new way of being 'church', reflecting his own pastoral approach and invited inclusiveness, forgiveness, unity and reconciliation. Christian joy and hope underlined his message of the call to holiness through baptism in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Second Vatican Council changed the way Catholics celebrated the liturgy. People could now worship God in their own language. Altars turned around. The presider now faced the assembly to gather the prayer of the church in full, conscious and active participation in both spoken and sung prayer in their own native language rather than worship celebrated completely in Latin. Musicians created new compositions that encouraged the assembly's participation in sung prayer. Catholics could now receive Eucharist in a fuller expression in bread and cup. Interfaith conversations sprang up in an ecumenical spirit of prayer and effort for the common good. A well informed conscience became a freeing agent for individuals, a place between each person's heart and God, where no person can control or interfere. The people of God worked collaboratively within a scriptural, theological and liturgical based church. Regard for diversity raised religious liberty to new heights as awareness of the many paths to God were acknowledged. Community, culture and customs created a new way of being as the fresh air of the Spirit of God blew a refreshing wind of change through the prophetic documents and teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
With changes come questions. In the early 1960's, a young priest responded to the need of the people in his parish to understand the liturgical changes and the theology behind the Second Vatican Council. Fr. Roger Levesque formed faith formation groups called Living Room Dialogues at St. Anne's Parish in New Bedford. Fr. Roger met with groups of adults to explain the changes, their implications and answer their many questions of the thriving parish that also included a Catholic school. Just like the early Christians, families took turns hosting Father Roger and shared many evenings of prayer, vibrant dialogue and discussion. The parish became educated about liturgical practices while deepening their faith that rippled through many generations of St. Anne's parishioners. Because of Fr. Levesque's efforts, the parish fostered vocations to the religious life, ordained ministry and lay ecclesial ministry. The seeds of faith were planted through Fr. Roger's ministry and many other priests and faithful lay people who worked to labored in the Lord's vineyard in the years following the Council. Now is the time to harvest the fruit of that labor.
The Roncalli Center, named for Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli and otherwise known as Blessed Pope John XXIII began Living Room Dialogues on October 23, 2012. Together, we continue to build community and revisit what the Second Vatican Council envisioned. We look at how we pray, how we worship, preside, sing, preach and invite new dialogue that informs our Christian faith in this time and place.
Just as the members of the Council cried 'Adsumus' (We are present!) at the beginning of each session, the Roncalli Center invites you to be present to this new endeavor by joining your voice to the dialogue in the faith tradition of the early Christian church. This is a time of a new advent of enthusiasm, interest and involvement as the Spirit makes itself known, alive and active in a new zeal of energy to revitalize the people of God and set the world ablaze with God's love through the person of Jesus Christ. This is our church, our faith, our witness.
On the evening of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII appeared outside of his apartment window and spontaneously addressed the people gathered in St. Peter's Square. "When you return home you will find your children: Caress them and tell them: 'This is a caress from the Pope.' You will find some tears to dry. Speak words of comfort fo the affliected. Let the afflicted know that the Pope is with his sons and daughters, especially in hours of sadness and bitterness." History of Vatican II, Volume I, The Formation of the Council's Identity, eds. Giuseppe Albergio, Joseph A. Komonchak (NY, NY: Orbis, 1997), 20.
Click on the links below to read a few short, poignant pieces on The Second Vatican Council. Thanks to America Magazine for providing public blogs that keep us informed. Find them at http://americamagazine.org/ For further reading, click on the About and Links tab on our home page for some great resources.
What happened at Vatican II. Avery Dulles, John W. O'Malley. Article courtesy of America Magazine blog. http://americamagazine.org/issue/100/what-happened-vatican-ii
Vatican II: The Myth and the Reality by Avery Dulles. Article courtesy of America Magazine blog. http://americamagazine.org/node/146399
Misdirections by John W.O'Malley. Article courtesy of America Magazine blog. http://americamagazine.org/issue/article/misdirections
Inside Vatican II
On February 21, New Evangelization Television (NET) began a ten-part video series called Vatican II: Inside the Vatican Council. The series includes rarely-seen footage of the Council as it examins the history of the largest meeting in the history of the Church as well as the Council itself. How did the Second Vatican Council shape the Church as we know it today? Click the link and watch full episodes here Inside Vatican II.
"Preach the Gospel. Use words when necessary." Francis of Assisi
March 13, 2013: Habemus papam! The Roncalli Center extends its prayerful good wishes to our new Holy Father, Pope Francis I.Ad multos annos!
March 19, 2013 - Feast of Saint Joseph
Pope Francis I: Homily for inaugural Mass of Petrine Ministry [full text]
(Vatican Radio) Homily of the Holy Father at the Inauguration of his Papal Ministry 19 March 2013:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.
I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.
In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be thecustos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1).
How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.
How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!
Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.
Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!
Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!
Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf.Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!
In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.
To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!
I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.
Prayer for Pope Francis I
May God grant you eyes to see as Christ would see.
May God grant you the heart to act as Christ would act.
May God grant you the wisdom to guide the Church on behalf of the Gospel's priority to serve those sisters and brothers with the greatest human needs.
May God keep you safe from all harm in body, mind and soul.
May God grant you strength of body and soul to sustain a willing spirit as you seat in the chair of the Peter the Fisherman. Amen.