PODCAzT 136: John XXIII opens Vatican II – ‘Gaudet Mater Ecclesia’ – optimism and naïveté, error and continuity

I have wanted to do this for some time.

Today we have as our guest, Pope John XXIII. I read for you the whole of John’s address to the opening of the Second Vatican Council, a speech called Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, of 11 October 1962. We hear a little of the Latin too!

The whole speech is imbued with a sense of hope and optimism. John describes the situation of the Church in the modern world as he saw it the. He spoke about how the Council was announced. He describes in poetic terms what it felt like to be there in that moment, in the Vatican Basilica. The most important thing he said, however, was

The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.

Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries. [...]
… But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.

He goes on to speak about how in dealing with errors in the past, the Church had often issued severe condemnations.  Now, however, “the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.”

Decide for yourselves how well that has worked.

Also, I found noteworthy for consideration in our own time:

She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations Not, certainly, that there is a lack of fallacious teaching, opinions, and dangerous concepts to be guarded against an dissipated. But these are so obviously in contrast with the right norm of honesty, and have produced such lethal fruits that by now it would seem that men of themselves are inclined to condemn them, particularly those ways of life which despise God and His law or place excessive confidence in technical progress and a well-being based exclusively on the comforts of life. They are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them.

John’s speech rings with optimism about human nature.

If you have troubles listening through the imbeded player, which is a little twitchy, you can download it here or from iTunes.

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32 Responses to PODCAzT 136: John XXIII opens Vatican II – ‘Gaudet Mater Ecclesia’ – optimism and naïveté, error and continuity

  1. dans0622 says:

    Regarding the “medicine of mercy rather than that of severity”–no, I don’t suppose it has worked that well. That’s just based on my own observation of the modern world. I am not a historian and wonder–how well did the “medicine of severity” work when it was used? Can a legitimate comparison be made between the effectiveness of the two approaches? [You listen fast! You posted this 10 minutes after I posted the entry and the PODCAzT is 43 minutes long!]

  2. The optimism about human nature seems pretty incredible in a world that had just emerged from not one, but two global, fratricidal slaughters, and was still in large part enslaved under Communism.

  3. discerningguy says:

    “She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations Not, certainly, that there is a lack of fallacious teaching, opinions, and dangerous concepts to be guarded against an dissipated. But these are so obviously in contrast with the right norm of honesty, and have produced such lethal fruits that by now it would seem that men of themselves are inclined to condemn them, particularly those ways of life which despise God and His law or place excessive confidence in technical progress and a well-being based exclusively on the comforts of life. They are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them.”

    I find so much blindingly naive about that paragraph that I don’t even understand how to understand it.

    I’m 19 years old and, of course, I wasn’t around in the 1960s. Did ecclesiastics really think that the horrors of the previous few decades would somehow magically make everybody righteous and not want to do that anymore? Did ecclesiastics really think that “experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others. . . are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them?”

    Did people ACTUALLY think that people thought that, “Gee, since we’ve seen so much bad stuff, we’re not going to do any more bad stuff; we see how bad it is?”

    I really don’t understand why ecclesiastics were so blind and optimistic at that time. I understand the psychological desire to think that, sort of as a way to preserve one’s sanity in the face of the destruction of previous decades, but I don’t think that I would have allowed myself to actually entertain that desire, because it seems so dishonest and head-stuck-in-the-sand to me. Or maybe I should just shut up because that time in world history was just so special or whatever. . . .

  4. iPadre says:

    I love John XXIII. The cooks [kooks?] in the Church always try to make him look like a liberal lunatic. If he lived in the years following the Council, I think things would have taken a much different road, especially in the Liturgy.

  5. Sandy says:

    The 2 words “predominantly pastoral” should stop some liberals from arguing that VII was the opposite. You can never shut some people up, however. Wow, what a difference 40 or 50 yrs make. The optimism was definitely inappropriate. I say this as someone who has lived through the “before and after”. Even though I was very young at the time “before”, reverence and a sense of the supernatural were such an obvious part of Catholic life for me, and those I knew. It is deeply painful to see it missing now (but returning slowly in some quarters, maybe?).

  6. UncleBlobb says:

    Father Z.: Thank you so very much this podcast, and for your hard work for us!

  7. iPadre says:

    Fr Z: Yes, kooks is what I meant. Just read this after a power nap in the heat. I would say many of the cooks in the Church are very good, esp. in the Holy City.

  8. HighMass says:

    iPadre,

    I agree with you about the Liturgy……My feeling is that the N.O. would have never gotten off the ground….Bugnini was not looked upon favorably By B. John XXIII…Then of course Paul VI is elected and Bugnini is asked to write a new “Mass”. When I was a child my pastor said Pope John XXIII opened the Pandora’s Box when he Opened the Council…..I attend Mass Regularly but to be Honest like a lot of folks who have lived through this say…..”the fruits of the council soured” and not only did they sour….they have left an bad taste in our mouths……

    I do Believe the Holy Spirit inspired B. J XXII to call the council….but as we have all said millions of times the way it was implemented was horrid………and to this day…even a modern day Bishop has said that the Council Spirit needs and exorcism!

    My God Forgive me for feeling this way but all continue to pray for the “reform of the reform” of the Sacred Liturgy……………..That our Dear Pope Benedict started……

    If he lived in the years following the Council, I think things would have taken a much different road, especially in the Liturgy.

  9. HighMass says:

    P.S.

    Bring back the Mass in The E.F. as Fr. Z says….reason number XXXXXXXX for S.P.!

  10. pjthom81 says:

    I’ve thought about the optimism and have a theory:

    From the 1870′s, at least, onward the Vatican had watched governments hostile to Catholicism gain greatly in power and hostility, culminating in the neo-pagan regime of Nazi Germany. Then…after a time when it looked like all of Europe would be either occupied by the Nazis or the Communists, the British and the United States actually guaranteed freedom of religion and encouraged the Catholic-based Christian Democrats toward power in Germany and in Italy. Republics on the continent had previously looked like France of 1792 or 1870, or Rome of 1848, and yet, for twenty years (1945-65) the Republics in Europe were led by some very Catholic figures..and indeed even in France the 4th and 5th Republics were far more hospitable to Catholicism than the 3rd had been. To top it off, the ideas of Nietzsche were discredited by the Nazi regime and there was a general feeling that, if Christianity were abandoned, totalitarianism was the result.

    The problem of course was that while the West developed a healthy aversion to letting the inhibitions go with regards to physical violence, the same cannot be said for sexuality..and that issue coincidently came to crisis just as Vatican II was ending. I am no theologian but it seems to me that the years from 1792 to 1945 were a period of a heresy of violence, whereas from 1965 to now we are facing a heresy regarding sexuality. It also seems, as many on this blog have alluded to repeatedly, that were we not in a confused state after Vatican II we could have responded far more definitively.

  11. Father, I don’t understand. Where does naïveté give way to error? If one acts or speaks as though original sin no longer exists and the devil does not thereby have a certain dominion over the world, both of which are infallible dogmas of the Catholic Faith, how can that be understand as orthodox? Don’t get me wrong, I love most of what Bl. John XXIII taught (viz. Veterum Sapientia, Grata Recordatio, Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, Aeterna Dei Sapientia, etc.) but what he said immediately prior to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council strikes me as exactly the same ‘pious pelagianism’ that is woven throughout the documents, particularly Gaudium et Spes as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out to us. At what point does ‘pious pelagianism’ become pelegianism proper? How can we distinguish between the act of being naïve and the act of material heresy in denying original sin and its effects, including the existence and dominion of the devil and his angels in sowing error and vile filth throughout the fallen world and her false religions? I’m just baffled by this attitude and how far from Catholic thought one would have to be to even entertain it.

  12. Johnno says:

    John XXIII was warned against this naieve errorneous optimism by God Himself through Our Lady of Fatima & the 3rd secret. Instead of making it public in 1960 as God ordered His Church to & perhaps making the contents of the secret the focus of his council, he instead censured it, dismissed the children of Fatima as “Prophets of doom” and tied the hands of his predeccesors with regard to the secret & the Consecration of Russa.

    The biggest threath to the world were the errors of Communism whose agents were still infiltrating the Church, the U.S., the U.K. alongside many academics and learned men, including ex-Nazi eugenicists and behavioral psychologists who with backing from powerful famalies continued their work at dismantiling & reshaping the world. The sexual revolution & many other evil things are not just the by-product of an immoral generation, but also a deliberate design by powerful forces who wanted these outcomes to enslave humanity through its sinful desires.

    The Church & Popes were warned. God told them what to do about it a looooooong time ago, and authenticated it via one of the greatest public miracles of the 20th Century! So what’s our excuse?

  13. Andrew says:

    “Through the methods of research and trough the literary forms of modern thought.” Say what?? The translators of this allocution took huuuuge liberties. At times it is hard to tell what part of the original text the translation refers to. Methods of research? Literary forms? Modern thought?
    It would take some time to show how the translation takes on a life of its own, but here is a sample:

    English:
    But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought.

    Latin original:
    Verumtamen in praesenti oportet ut universa doctrina christiana, nulla parte inde detracta, his temporibus nostris ab omnibus accipiatur novo studio, mentibus serenis atque pacatis, tradita accurata illa ratione verba concipiendi et in formam redigendi, quae ex actis Concilii Tridentini et Vaticani Primi praesertim elucet; oportet ut, quemadmodum cuncti sinceri rei christianae, catholicae, apostolicae fautores vehementer exoptant, eadem doctrina amplius et altius cognoscatur eaque plenius animi imbuantur atque formentur; oportet ut haec doctrina certa et immutabilis, cui fidele obsequium est praestandum, ea ratione pervestigetur et exponatur, quam tempora postulant nostra.

  14. Andrew: Work up another translation to your liking and share it! Maybe I’ll even record it.

  15. Andrew says:

    Fr. Z:

    I would say something like this:

    Nevertheless, presently the christian doctrine in its entirety with nothing left out, should be received by all with new zeal, with a serene and peaceful mindset, passed on by that diligent method of forming concepts that shines forth foremost from the acts of the Tridentine and the First Vatican Councils; the same doctrine ought – just as every sincere patron of all things christian, catholic and apostolic strongly desires – to be better known so as to be intellectually steeped and formed by it: this certain and immutable doctrine to which everyone should yield in faith, ought to be thoroughly examined and expounded by a method appropriate to our age.

  16. C’mon. Do the whole thing.

  17. Priam1184 says:

    @pjthom81 Sexual mores were loosened during the entire period following the French Revolution, but it took longer because the bonds of family were so tight in that era. The first thing that happened was the Industrial Revolution and the massive urbanization that came from that. Urbanization and city life diminish the hold the extended family has upon a person, and the concept of family life began to refer almost entirely to the nuclear family. With that isolation and further urbanization divorce began to rear its ugly head in the era before 1914. These changes seem quaint to us now living in the world of the ‘hook up’ culture where men marry men and women marry women, but they were incredibly significant in their era and did so much much to loosen societal bonds before that massive wave of violence broke over Europe between 1914 and 1945. And don’t underestimate our capacity for violence today. Everyone of those abortions is a murder and the number of murders we have committed by this method far exceeds anything the Nazis ever did.

  18. SegoLily says:

    I don’t understand how this monumental gesture, based on purportedly naive thinking and resulting in such breathtaking desacralizing of the liturgy results in impending sainthood. If one truly believes Save the Liturgy, Save the World, what had John XXIII wrought?

  19. Clinton R. says:

    “It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.”

    I guess now “men” would have to been replaced by the inclusive “people”.

    I digress. The whole thing is, with the nuttiness of the 1960′s, the world saw the 2nd Vatican Council as the Church ‘modernizing’ and thus changing her teachings. Liberals, both religious and the laity, were only too eager to cast off the sound theology and teachings pre Vatican II. And while the Council may have intended to “transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion”, the intentionally ambiguous documents gave the liberals/modernists the ammunition they craved to go crazy and start forming a church in their image. Without the clarity in Church theology and praxis, the “medicine of mercy” instead has given way to the poison modernists/heretics/apostates have been allowed to inject into the Church. And the effects of the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II are sadly still being felt. Perhaps a similarity can been seen in the First Book of Kings (Samuel 1), when the Jews demanded a king to rule over them like kings the surrounding nations had, despite God’s objection. In our time, we convened a Council (perhaps against God’s desire if the rumors about the 3rd secret are true) and ended up conforming to the world and now the Catholic religion is often seen as just one of many, false ecumenism is desired above the truth, confusion abounds, the rubics of the Mass ignored, tradition discarded, the papacy deconstructed, and so on and so forth. Domine, misere nobis. +JMJ+

  20. nanetteclaret says:

    Johnno -

    I agree completely with your statement. John XXIII **deliberately disobeyed** Our Lady. The hubris of that is breathtaking! In my little mind, that fact alone should permanently bar him from ever achieving sainthood. I would go so far as to lay the spread of communism throughout the world, up to and including the infestation in our White House, at his feet. The fruits of his disobedience have resulted in destruction and chaos worldwide. Anyone who has read the “Communist Goals” as read into the Congressional Record in 1963 will see that the communists have succeeded in achieving those goals, especially with regard to the U.S. That he could have done something to stop this and refused to do so is astounding. As far as I’m concerned, by this action alone, all his other actions can be called into question.

  21. Athelstan says:

    Hello Anita,

    The optimism about human nature seems pretty incredible in a world that had just emerged from not one, but two global, fratricidal slaughters, and was still in large part enslaved under Communism.

    It does seem incredible, doesn’t it?

    And yet that optimism was plainly there, and not just in the Church. The two decades after the Second World War constituted a kind of artificial lull in the West, one that gave many in the Church an undue optimism about what was possible for orthodox Christianity in a secularizing West, either in ecumenical efforts, or to the unchurched.

    I always harken back to comments made – of all people – by Lutheran theologian George Lindbeck, who was an observer at the Council. Lindbeck was struck at the time by the air of optimism, and how sanguine documents like Gaudium et Spes seemed:

    “At the time, I tended to agree with Edmund Schlink that the document’s reading of the world was too optimistic. He was a German theologian who had lived through the Hitler period and been deeply involved in the Confessing Church struggle against the pro-Nazi “German Christians,” and he was not at all sure that the rest of the West was immune from crises as severe as Germany had gone through. Moreover, and here we are on a different, although related, track, he formally rejected the legitimacy of what he regarded as Teilhard de Chardin’s “Christianizing” of evolution, both in itself and in its implications of an open-ended human progress.

    “If I remember my discussions with Schlink correctly, I defended Gaudium et Spes on the grounds that it was a necessary corrective in the Catholic context, and that looking at it from a Reformation perspective was unfair because the whole nature-grace schema in Catholic theology lent itself to these kinds of formulations much better than did Reformation evaluations.

    “So while Schlink had theological reservations, I had reservations about the document’s opportuneness. I was already pessimistic about the state of the world. The sixties were already upon us; you could see 1968 coming in 1965.

    “…The resurgence of historic faith that came in response to Nazism looked as if it were definitive. But now it seems as if this was a relatively temporary interval that was made possible precisely by the fact that it was the orthodox, so to speak, who had stood up against the Nazis. In sum, the de-Christianization of Western culture, the kind of de-Christianization that was also undermining the faith of the Church in its tradition, was not really interrupted.”

    Read the whole interview here: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/re-viewing-vatican-iian-interview-with-george-a-lindbeck-2

  22. jameeka says:

    OK, Father Z, I listened to the whole podcast and enjoyed your comments at the end. I am 55, so lived through all this. I clearly see the seeds, in John XXIII’s opening speech, of the problems that have permeated the Church—the Catholic priests of the post-VII era who preach that the Kingdom of heaven is attainable on earth, and the absence of the discussion on Satan, hell, etc. Very unfortunate.

  23. Andrew says:

    Raptim celeriterque:

    This being said, it is clear enough, Venerable Brethren, what role is required of the Ecumenical Council, as far as the doctrine is concerned. That is, the 21st Ec. Council – using the effective and highly praiseworthy aid of those who excel in the knowledge of sacred disciplines, in apostolic works and in organizational skills – wishes to convey the entire, undiminished, undistorted catholic doctrine, which, in spite of difficulties and contentions, became a common heritage of all. This is not, to be sure, welcome by everyone, but it is proposed as a wealth of abundant treasure to all who are of good will. However, we are not the mere guardians of this precious treasure, as if our concern was limited to the preservation of antiquities: we are to get busy, joyfully, without fear, in the work demanded by our age, continuing in the way followed by the Church for 20 centuries.
    Nevertheless, presently the christian doctrine in its entirety with nothing left out, should be received by all with new zeal, with a serene and peaceful mindset, passed on by that diligent method of forming concepts that shines forth foremost from the acts of the Tridentine and the First Vatican Councils; the same doctrine ought – just as every sincere patron of all things christian, catholic and apostolic strongly desires – to be better known so as to be intellectually steeped and formed by it: this certain and immutable doctrine to which everyone should yield in faith, ought to be thoroughly examined and expounded by a method appropriate to our age.
    One thing is the deposit of Faith in itself, or the truths, contained by our venerable teaching (doctrine), and another thing is the manner in which these truths are announced, without, however, a change of meaning or opinion. It will be necessary to dedicate more effort to this approach and, if needed, patient commitment, and doubtless, methods of exposure will need to be introduced that will be consistent above all with the pastoral nature of the magisterium. As far as the present age is concerned, the Spouse of Christ prefers to employ the medicine of mercy, rather than taking up the weapons of severity; instead of condemnation, she wants to rely on the more plentiful explanation of the force of her teaching in order to deal with the necessities of our day. Not that there is a shortage of deceptive teaching, or opinion, the need to watch for dangers that must be driven away; but because all of these so clearly contradict right principles of honesty, having produced such destructive fruit, that people seem to start condemning them on their own, and namely, that way of life that neglects God and His laws, putting an excessive confidence in the development of technology, as the only guarantee of prosperity. People appreciate, more and more, the dignity of the human person and the significance of her corresponding perfection and the difficulty of bringing it to full realization. And most importantly, people came to realize through experience, the insufficiency of imposing external force, the power of weapons, of political domination, for the satisfactory resolution of their most serious and pressing questions.

  24. Priam1184 says:

    Can severity not also be mercy?

  25. Traductora says:

    @discerningguy

    I lived through it. I grew up in NYC and I remember reading every detail in the Times and the (now deceased) Herald Tribune. The Times devoted the entire front page to it and my high school friends, virtually all of whom were Jewish, were really thrilled and asked me a lot about it.

    But nobody knew what was going to happen. The problem was that the Church in the US was really stuck in a strange ethnic bog: converts were not especially welcome, you were supposed to be Irish or Italian, or even German in some places, to be a Catholic. And “American” Catholics had no use for Hispanics, and apparently still don’t.

    The creation of the entirely Spanish or English mass parish sure hasn’t helped either. Latin was the non-ethnic bond of the Church and should have been retained.

    That said, I think many American Catholics saw VII as a release from ethnicism, from the Old World and really a chance for new evangelization – but everything went wrong.

    I don’t think this was the fault of JXXIII; he was well meaning but naive and weak. Paul VI was also weak; less naive, but completely overwhelmed and unable to stop the Devil, who like a roaring lion goes about seeking whom he may devour.

  26. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Earlier this summer, I was able to buy almost the entire run of Life magazines for the 1960s. (It cost me $10 for almost 500 issues). There were some very in-depth articles on VII “as it happened” including beautiful pictures. I’d scan the articles and post them where they could be viewed/downloaded if there was a large enough ( 4 or 5 people or more) interest. It’d probably take me the rest of the summer as I just randomly pull an issue out and read it. Any interest? Hopefully my post is close enough to the original post (Vatican II, anyway) to not offend Father Z.

  27. robtbrown says:

    1. JXXIII realized that things had changed. The Counter Reformation Church had been dominated by a negative anthropology, too pessimistic about human nature. Papa Roncalli realized that with the post WWII optimism coming from rebuilding Europe that the old By the Numbers Church of the previous 350 years was not going to be well received. In fact, it was not being well received. The West saw a boom in vocations after the war, then it abated. Further, life in the religious orders was being chosen over the diocesan priesthood. Young men preferred the more challenging, intense formation of, say, the Jesuits.

    2. JXXIII, however, was not a theologian. He had briefly taught Church history in a seminary before becoming a diplomat. He was not really aware of the theological battles that were being fought. In fact, Paul VI is said to have been surprised that Papa Roncalli had called a Council, saying that the old man doesn’t realize what a Hornet’s Nest he’s stirred up.

    3. JXXIII was no doubt too optimistic, but he was also too disorganized.

  28. Unwilling says:

    Andrew,
    The “however” poked me in the eye like a thorn of crowns. But “literary forms of modern thought” was the straw that suggested the translation site must have been hacked into by the spirit of Raymond Brown. Thanks for your very competent representation of the original.
    “however [i.e. let's not get stuck in all that traditional stuff], should be studied… through the literary forms of modern thought”

  29. Andrew says:

    Unwilling:

    The way I see it, there is a misdirection, when you strip the sentence to its essentials:

    The translator has it as:
    But from the adherence to the teaching of the Church the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness …

    The actual text says:
    Nevertheless, presently the christian doctrine ought to be better known so as to be intellectually steeped and formed by it.

    There is no call for a step forward towards something new. Instead, there is a call for a deeper understanding of the existing doctrine in order to be formed by it.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Also:

    My impression is that the Europe in general and the Vatican in particular was especially intimidated by Communism. Europe because Central Europe had dissolved, with much going to the USSR. The Vatican because of the Communist song of the people. IMHO, this situation affected Vat II, not only the decision to not mention Communism but also in doctrine, to look for a theological banner under which Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox could all live.

    I also had the impression during my years in Rome that the Vatican didn’t really think the US was up to the task of defeating Communism. In fact, we Americans lived prosperous lives while spending mightily to defend Europe and the world–and broke the Soviet bank. JPII and Reagan then pulled down the rotten structure.

  31. For some reason, I rarely listened to these podcasts, but now that I have replaced my car radio with a CD player that has an auxiliary input for my MP3 player, I have found a spot for them in my schedule– the two hour drive to Mass on Sunday morning. They fit in there very nicely!

    As for this podcast in particular, clearly Pope John XXIII was overly optimistic about things in general. I am sure, however, that he would be the first to admit how wrong he was about human nature if he were around today to observe the state of play in the world. The thought I had as I was listening was that the Church is like a tree– not merely something to be guarded as is, but also something to be allowed to grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Perhaps Pope John XXIII was also ambitious in the sense of wanting to allow the tree to grow instead of simply guarding it in a root-bound pot. Allowing things to grow is risky, but it is something that must be done. As we know from the parable of the talents, God is not too sympathetic toward those who bury what God has given them, so I guess John wanted to try to be like the servants who multiplied what they had instead of like the lazy servant. And as we know from St. Paul’s writings, what mattered was fighting the fight and finishing the race, not necessarily whether one wins the fight or where one finishes in the race.

  32. VexillaRegis says:

    Andrew Saucci: You drive two hours for Sunday Mass?! I’m impressed!