Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 13, 2009
Vatican II called all to holiness – theologian
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
LAC STE. ANNE - The teachings of the Second Vatican Council are still important to the Church today, says an American theologian.
Vatican II says we have to read the signs of the times but interpret them in light of the Gospel, says Dr. Alan Schreck, theology prof at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
"So I think the proper understanding of Vatican II is to be in touch with the world, in dialogue with the world in order to proclaim Christ," Schreck said at the Catholic Family Life Conference July 4.
"We are open to the world not to accept the world's values but to proclaim Christ to the world in a way that the world can understand. We have to be in dialogue but our job in the world is both to affirm the good and to carry out our mission to be Christians."
A specialist in Church history and a prolific author, Schreck also has a particular expertise in the Second Vatican Council and has taught courses on understanding it.
"Certainly the council did teach that we need to be open to the world but that doesn't mean we should just accept secular values," he said in an interview.
DIALOGUE WITH THE WORLD
"Being open to the world is more like being in dialogue with the world and discerning what in the world is good and what we can accept and affirm but also judging what in the world might be against the Gospel, or dangerous."
Important as the council is, in some ways Vatican II hasn't been carried out yet, Schreck pointed out.
"Either it has been distorted or people don't even know what the council taught," he observed. "We haven't even begun to implement some things of Vatican II because people have just forgotten or they are unaware of it."
Schreck said the council's 16 documents are among the great unread documents of modern times. "They are not that long but they scare people off because they think they can't understand these documents."
Vatican II calls us to seek holiness, Schreck pointed out.
"That was a core teaching of the central document. And it says that holiness is achieved not by leaving the world but by carrying out our vocation. It is important to be in the world really living a Christ-like life."
Schreck agrees with the late Pope John Paul II that the Second Vatican Council is a sure compass for the new millennium.
Pope Benedict affirmed this belief in his first homily, vowing to continue the work of John Paul II and implement fully and faithfully what the council taught.
Schreck also gave a talk on the role of the Holy Spirit at the July 2-5 conference, urging his audience to be open and to pray for the Holy Spirit to be more active in their own lives and in the Church.
"Open yourself to the Holy Spirit," he advised. "Be aware of the need for the power of God in your life because we can't be Christian families without the power of God to enable us to live as Jesus taught us."
The Holy Spirit leads us in prayer, directs our mind with truth and makes us holy.
"The Holy Spirit purifies us from sin and enables us to live the life or virtue that the Lord teaches us," Schreck said in an interview. "If a family prays, they are already opening themselves to God and to the Holy Spirit. If you close God out of your family, the family can't be all that God intended."
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