Why Does Vatican II Matter?

Bestselling and Award-Winning Book

Fr. Blake Britton discovered the truth and beauty of the Second Vatican Council while he was in seminary and he has witnessed firsthand the power of its teachings in the life of his own parish. In Reclaiming Vatican II Britton presses beyond the political narrative foisted upon the post-conciliar Church and contends that Vatican II was neither conservative nor liberal, but something much more beautiful and challenging.

 


 

Companion Study Guide

This guide is intended for individuals, small groups, or a year-long parish-wide study. It will allow you to go beyond the polarization surrounding the council and to dig deeper into what was really said and what really happened during Vatican II. Included in the study guide are a summary and outline of each chapter of the book, key terms, questions for discussion or reflection, and a journal prompt called “What can I do?”

 

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The 3 Questions We Need to Answer to Reclaim Vatican II

What Exactly Happened?

While Fr. Blake was studying this council, he started to notice something both perplexing and unsettling. There was a wide discrepancy between what was taught by the council fathers and what was presented afterward. He shows how misunderstandings that sprang from the paracouncil that followed Vatican II caused many Catholics to either accept or reject a poor caricature of what the council actually envisioned.

What Was the Council Trying to Do?

Once you can understand where the paths began to stray after the council, it is much easier to get back to its roots and see what a gift this council can be for the Church. Fr. Blake explores the deep theological richness that came from the council in the areas of liturgy, the role of the Church, Divine Revelation, and the Church in the modern world to rediscover the true spirit of Vatican II.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Many believers today long for a balanced, orthodox, and vibrant Catholicism. Vatican II is not only a route towards revitalizing the Church but the route. Fr. Blake shows you how to better implement the council's teachings by reaching out to your priests, realizing the power of small, intentional steps, and committing to learning, teaching, and evangelizing.

FAQs about the Second Vatican Council, Then and Now

The sixtieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II is October 11, 2022. Fr. Blake Britton, author of Reclaiming Vatican II and the Reclaiming Vatican II Study Guide, answered some frequently asked questions about the council and what it means today.

 

Q: Why is the sixtieth anniversary of Vatican II an important milestone?

A: On a purely historical level, Vatican II is significant for its rarity. There have only been some twenty Ecumenical Councils since the ascension of Jesus and the sacred Pentecost. In addition to its historical significance, an Ecumenical Council always represents a milestone as it marks a definitive moment when the Holy Spirit is saying something to the world and orienting the missionary activity of the Body of Christ. Vatican II is the Spirit’s message to the third millennium; it is what God has to say to the Church and how he desires to sanctify the world in our time.

Q: What are some of the key takeaways from Vatican II that affect Catholics today?

A: The first would be its emphasis on mission. The Second Vatican Council recognizes that Catholics in twenty-first century need to refocus on the fundamental truths of the faith. We exist in a post-Christian and neo-pagan civilization that is estranged from Christ on every level. This necessitates a different kind of evangelical model than what we have utilized in the past. The challenges of our current time are more akin to the struggles faced by first- and second-century Catholics in the streets of Rome. They were entrusted to bring the Gospel to a people wholly unacquainted and ignorant of Christ’s beauty and the freedom of salvation. The same is true now. Vatican II clearly articulates this fact throughout its proclamations and provides reforms needed to support disciples for this age.

Q: Why is Vatican II so polarizing?

A: As discussed in my book, the misinterpretation of Vatican II and its intentions is mainly due to the influences of the so-called Paracouncil—combined theological, mass media, and cultural movements that interfered with the proper implementation of the Council. As such, a number of people now disparage the Council, confusing its teachings with these misrepresentations fostered by paraconciliar thinkers. In reality, there is little in the actual documents of Vatican II that is disagreeable. That is why I work so tirelessly to encourage people to read the documents first hand instead of commentaries or social media commentators. Polarization is always the result of misunderstanding. It is not the natural state of things. Anytime a topic is polarized, you can be assured that people on both sides have room to grow and need better understanding. That is what I hope to begin accomplishing in this book.      

Q: What are the key differences between those who support the work of Vatican II and those who oppose the outcome? How can the divisions be repaired?

A: The key difference is the same on both sides: a lack of proper understanding. Most people who oppose Vatican II are fighting against the abuses, sacrilege, and mal-catechesis they witnessed in the post-conciliar years. They conflate their negative experience with the Council itself. On the other hand, many people who claim to support Vatican II are repeating narratives about the Council they have heard regularly repeated in the “Spirit of Vatican II” but are, in fact, contradictory to the Council’s texts. Moving forward, there needs to be education. The best thing to do is have as many people as possible read the four major documents of Vatican II and have conversations about the text themselves. Right now we have many people talking about the Council who have not studied it. That is always a problem in any topic, but especially when it comes to the faith. 

Q: Is it possible to find common ground moving forward? If so, how?

A: Most certainly. However, it is going to take a lot of humility and study. So many people are entrenched in their ideologies or theological paradigms that it makes any kind of dialogue impossible. Of course, there are some issues that are non-negotiable such as the dignity of the Eucharist, the role of the priesthood, and the missionary responsibility of the Church. That being said, when it comes to topics that directly deal with the Second Vatican Council, its teachings, and its implementation, I believe we need a fresh start to the conversation. This must be based on mutual respect and a general desire to do the Lord’s will. St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have provided a good way forward in their numerous talks, books, and other writings on the topic. That is a great place to start. 

Q: Why should parishes embark on a study of Vatican II with their parishioners? Why did you develop the study guide to go along with your book, Reclaiming Vatican II?

A: The Second Vatican Council is the task given to the Church of the third millennium. In its teachings, we find the guiding principle of the new evangelization founded upon a renewal of liturgical and ecclesial piety, which then goes out to the world to convert all nations to the Gospel. In the writings of the four major documents, the Council gives amazing resources and points of reflection that are necessary for every Catholic. Likewise, the Council exhorted all pastors of souls to educate their people on the teachings of Vatican II. To say it frankly, it is a pastoral responsibility to teach the laity about the writings of Vatican II. It will lead to an enthusiasm among parishioners for their faith, far beyond any other program or initiative. The study guide is my contribution and obedience to the teachings of Vatican II. It is my small way of furthering the Holy Spirit’s mission at the Council by getting as many people as possible to read the documents of Vatican II.

 

FACTS ABOUT VATICAN II

  • October 11, 2022, will be the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
  • The council lasted four sessions from 1962 through 1965.
  • The council approved sixteen documents, including four constitutions: Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and Guardium et Spes.
  • Vatican II did not address whether priests should face the altar or the people during Mass.
  • More than 2,600 bishops, cardinals, heads of religious orders, and theologians participated in the council. Pope John XXIII invited other Christian denominations to participate as observers.

Interviews with Fr. Blake

Spotify Playlist on Vatican II

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