Fifty Years Ago Today at the Second Vatican Council

Do you know about Conciliaria? It is a wonderful a blog that follows the preparations and, eventually, proceedings of the Second Vatican Council on any given day exactly 50 years ago.

Conciliaria has much archival content from America, Commonweal, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (content from the Council Daybook). They are also providing translations of original documents, some of which have never been presented in English before.

Conciliaria invites writers to provide coverage of various Council and Council-related events as though they are there 50 years ago. They tell me that their first will be a report on the August 1962 North American Liturgical Week in Seattle by Fr. Michael Ryan of the Seattle cathedral.

There are already some great reports at Conciliaria.

Here’s Pope John XXIII to Cardinal Cicognani about the backward, literalistic views of the Biblical Commission and its attacks against Cardinal Agustin Bea, rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where progressive approaches to biblical scholarship were favored:

The time has come to put an end to this nonsense. Either the Biblical Commission will bestir itself, do some proper work and by its suggestions to the Holy Father make a useful contribution to the needs of the present time, or it would be better to abolish it and let the Supreme Authority replace it in the Lord by something else.

(BTW, don’t miss our featured post, Vince Smiles’ defense of the historical critical method here.)

And here’s Good Pope John on one of the early drafts of a council document prepared by the curia:

Seven inches of condemnations and one of praise: is that the way to talk to the modern world?—John XXIII

I can’t wait for their report on the liturgical opening of the Council this October 11, which many liturgists of the time deplored.

Hats off to Deacon Eric Stoltz and his team: Deacon William T. Ditewig, Deacon Scott Dodge, and from America, Tim Reidy.

Do bookmark Conciliaria now.








6 responses to “Fifty Years Ago Today at the Second Vatican Council”

  1. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Thanks. This could be a very interesting blog.

    On this day 50 years ago I was a second year Jesuit Novice. We had access to America, and probably Commonweal. I knew that Vatican II was coming, but gave it little thought.

    What is clear is the strength of the Liturgical Movement during these two years before the Council. It expressed itself in many ways

    The Jesuit Rector of the house, a two year novitiate and two year juniorate (college, mainly classics), was a graduate of a Benedictine college, skilled in Gregorian Chant, and led the choir. We were more music oriented than most Jesuits; the Rector got away with this because of the Liturgical Movement.

    How chant oriented we were, I cannot remember since I was not a member of the Choir and they did most of the singing. Occasionally all of us, choir and non-choir would have Schola Cantus, e.g. everyone learned to the sing Handel’s Alleluia chorus. Did the choir do Propers? How much Gregorian chant vs. polyphonic, vs. English hymns (there were some) I don’t know. I can’t remember if we had a High Mass every Sunday.

    We had dialog Masses, i.e. at a Low Mass we would say the people’s parts, Gloria, Credo, etc.. Sometimes this included the Introit, Gradual, Offertory, and Communion . Sometimes because this was very variable when it came to serving the priests’ private Masses. Some wanted everything, some wanted just the standard altar boy parts.

    We had a Socius (assistant to Novice Master) as the house ultra progressive. He did things like outdoor Masses, etc.

    Priests agreed the liturgical movement was the future, e.g. more singing, more participation, more English. Each supported it in their own fashion without debating where it should go.

    So on the eve of the Council; the EF intact, considerable liturgical diversity is found within one Jesuit house, priests promoting things according to their interests and roles. Little apparent conflict.

  2. Brendan Kelleher svd Avatar
    Brendan Kelleher svd

    Thanks for this link. Looks like a great resource. I am currently preparing for a study group starting in the fall on the topic – Revisiting Vatican II. Just talking to some of our younger confreres I am very aware of how Vat II is “history” to them, and their understanding of it is rather scattered and sometimes rather shallow.
    And as I read some of the comments on Pray Tell, I find myself wondering whether we have more than one garbled version of the history of liturgical renewal out their, and that garbled history is seen on both sides of the divide.

  3. Peter Rehwaldt Avatar
    Peter Rehwaldt

    Wow — what a resource. Thanks for passing it along, Anthony.

    1. Dunstan Harding Avatar
      Dunstan Harding

      I join in your expression of gratitude. Thank you Father Anthony. I look forward to following the revelations from “Conciliaria”. Many of us will be celebrating the 50th anniversary with a Te Deum and rounds of good drinks to go following it. I can well imagine there will be many, cardinal Burke and Pell perhaps, who will be humming a “Dies irae”.

  4. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    That is simply splendid … absolutely required reading. Thank you!

  5. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Just in case others like myself might not have noticed it.

    Adsumus: The Council Prayer

    Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus, which has been historically used at councils, synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to St. Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636

    It is given in English, French, Spanish and Italian, as well as the original Latin.

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