The Council Daybook, October 11, 1962

Early this morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the shadows of those Council members who’d gathered there 60 years ago.  Today, October 11, 2022, celebrates the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the (optional) memorial of its convoking pope, St. John XXIII.

John XXIII chose this date to connect this modern Council to the Council of Ephesus in 431, whose decisions confirmed belief in the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of God, the Theotokos.  October 11 traditionally commemorated the Divine Maternity of Mary.  As the Council Daybook describes (a multi-volume work with texts, exchanges and announcements regarding the Council):

“In setting October 11 for the opening of the council, the Pontiff put major stress on the ancient doctrine that Mary is Mother of God rather than on more modern Marian definitions, which are viewed by some Christians as a stumbling block to unity.”

Even the date of the Council’s opening was chosen with respect to unity.  It is no wonder that Pope Francis celebrated Mass today with a plea for unity—and an end to polarization—among Catholics, let alone among Christians.

The first document of the Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, would likewise echo this plea for unity—so that all might be one (SC 1).

Pope Francis, along with St. John XXIII whom we remember today, invite us to unity, to renewed hearts and to newly-fired spirits.  We are invited to find unity within our Western Church, as sons and daughters of Peter, and with all Christians, as daughters and sons of Mary.

As John XXIII offered in his concluding prayer, in his bull convoking the Second Vatican Council for 1962:

“Renew Your wonders in our time, as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the Holy Church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of St. Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace.  Amen.”

Prayer together will help us.

Pope John XXIII, Pray for us!

—I consulted Vatican II Council Daybook, Vol. 1, ed. Floyd Anderson (National Catholic Welfare Conference: Washington DC, 1965).



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