Remembering Pope John XXIII

Blessed Pope John XXIIIImage by John McNab Flickr
Today is the feast of Pope John XXIII,  Pope from 1958-1963, best known for convening the Second Vatican Council. 

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000. 

His feast is assigned to the day on which the first session of Vatican II opened in 1962. His feast is not on the General Roman Calendar, but can be celebrated locally.

Prior to opening the Council, Pope John XXIII made a pilgrimage to Assisi, where he placed the Council under Saint Francis' special patronage and prayed that he who was called "the father of the poor" in his own time would intercede for the Church so she would recognize herself once again as a Church "of the poor and for the poor".

On his first Christmas Day he went to celebrate Mass in one of Rome's prisons . He would turn up unannounced at hospitals , often visiting the children . 

He got the nickname Johnny Walker because of his habit of leaving the Vatican at night to walk around his diocese .

"When at the beginning of Vatican II, he denounced the "prophets of doom," everyone knew that he was speaking of those who had set the tone in his own Church for generations.  He was himself an alternative example of what the Church could now become. 

"As unforgettable as his person was;' Hans Kung wrote of Pope John, "what he achieved for the Catholic Church was unforgettable too.  In five years he renewed the Catholic Church more than his predecessors had in five hundred years . . .   Only with John did the Middle Ages come to an end in the Catholic Church.” 


"Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was just turning seventy-seven when he assumed the papacy in 1958, elected as a compromise candidate whose great age was expected to keep him from doing much as pope. 

But he came to the office from a particular experience.  For the previous six years, he had been the archbishop of Venice, but for the quarter of a century before that he had served as a Vatican diplomat in Bulgaria, Turkey, and France.  

The dominant experience he had as a priest was of the devastation of World War II.  He saw it not from the perspective of the sacristy, or for that matter of Vatican City, but of ruined cities, refugee centres and camps. 

Angelo Roncalli was one of the only Catholic prelates in Europe who, as a legate in Bulgaria and in Turkey provided counterfeit baptismal records to thousands of fugitive Jews, and had actively resisted the Holocaust." 

Great video that depicts the warm humanity and daring vision of this great Pope.........

The debate about what happened in Vatican II continues today.  

Jim Manney at Ignatian Spirituality asks :

"Was the Council a break with the past?  Or did it reaffirm ancient traditions and doctrines?" 

Both, says Jesuit historian John W. O’Malley in his new book What Happened at Vatican II, though O’Malley emphasizes the way the Council opened the church to innovation and new thinking.

  Reviews and commentators agree that the book is major contribution to discussion of the Council.  See these reviews in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Tablet.

Pope John's encyclical letter Pacem in Terris from 1963 here 

 People who read my blog regularly will know I am not a fan of many aspects of "the reform of the reform" retrenchment going on in my church now.

This article on Vatican 2 from America Magazine is a good one to elaborate on some of the reasons why I am dissatisfied with the present state of things.

It is written by Nicholas Lash was for 20 years the Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University. The article was adapted from his talk honouring the theological achievement of Michael Buckley, S.J., delivered at Boston College in 2009.

A Few Notable Quotes from Blessed Pope John XXIII

"It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope"

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. 
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do". -

"We are not on earth to guard a museum but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life." ( one of my favourites.)

"When you feel that your longing for something is too keen and is causing you pain, then give up all thought of it and abandon yourselves effortlessly to the will of God. We are all like wayfarers in this world: some arrive early and some late."

We often have to change our train or coach, or our traveling companions. We grieve over these partings, but the Lord blesses them and turns them to good account. What matters is that sooner or later we all arrive at our goal". 

"The feelings of my smallness and my nothingness always kept me good company."
"Men are like wine - some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age."

"See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little."

~ Blessed Pope John XXIII

"The essence of being"

You'll know the pain and grief of being with many, but empty.
You'll know of the loneliness of the night and day length.
You will know of the waiting without the peace and waiting with fear.
You will know the pride of those who wield power and subjugate
You will know the defection of the efforts of yours and of the impotence of goodbye.
You'll know it's late and almost always impossible.
You'll know it's you who always gives and you rarely feel it's your turn for you to receive.

Know that often you think differently and the world will not understand you.

But you know also the pain that redeems, and the loneliness that can cure;
that faith grows and maintains hope. Humility ennobles and perseverance tunes;-
That oblivion mitigates, forgiveness strengthens. 

May the memory of Christ be attracted to you - and His reason guide you, and His Love ennoble you ... because the only thing that really counts is what is inside you, and above all is God,only you do have to go and find him and thus find true peace."

Pope John XXIII .-
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