Category: Learn something

Vatican II: Religious Freedom

Hello! Welcome to the fourth section of a debriefing on the Second Council of Vatican.

There are documents available on the Vatican website for all of this. That’s where I found the first-hand resources.

I thought I would read and write about Dignitatis humanae because of all the chaos surrounding the HHS mandate for insurance covering abortion and “birth control.”

There are pieces in this document, the Declaration on religious freedom, that are so relevant to today, it’s scary.

First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spread it abroad among all men.”

The way it starts, you’re kind of thinking… OK, so we’re all for religious freedom for fellow Catholics? That’s not even close to the case. Read more.

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom … that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly.”

Yeah, that’s what I was waiting for, too.

The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.”

I wanted to keep this quote around… this dignity is known by reason itself. It’s one of those things that we just know, deep in our hearts, that it’s true.

In all his activity a man is bound to flow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.”

The social nature of man, however, itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion.”

So, even if the majority of a place, a country, is against a religion, it is our duty to practice our religion in the public sphere.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t hide it. Share it, show it.

This document also states the Church believes religious groups have the right to establish educational, cultural, charitable and social organizations regarding religion.

The bishops went so far as to say, “Government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life.”

Wow, right? It doesn’t seem the the U.S. government is super stressed about fostering religious life. At all.

The declaration of this Vatican Council on the right of man to religious freedom has its foundation in the dignity of the person.”

Which is what the Church bases on its teaching on… the dignity of the person. That’s why women and men are still different, why parents have certain things they need to do, why contraception is wrong. It all relates to the dignity of the person.

Pope Paul VI wrote that no one can be forced into the Christian faith. It must be an act of free will for it to be true… which is also why we have to have a conversion of our hearts when we choose Catholicism again when we’re adults. It can’t just be something we continue to do.

My favorite part is toward the end:

The Church claims freedom for herself in her character as a spiritual authority, established by Christ the Lord, upon which there rests, by divine mandate, the duty of going out into the whole world and preaching the Gospel to every creature.”

I think I take religious freedom for granted, I know I did before the HHS Mandate about contraceptives.

The best way to describe it is to use the example of making Orthodox Jews, or those who keep the dietary laws, to buy pork. You wouldn’t dream of making them do that because they’re following their religious teaching. Yet Catholics are being forced to buy contraceptive coverage. I hope that makes sense.

For Freedom!

God bless.

Find out more about Vatican II here:

Nostra Aetate


Dei Verbum


Vatican II: Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordinis

Hello! Welcome to the third section of a debriefing on the Second Council of Vatican.

There are documents available on the Vatican website for all of this. That’s where I found the first-hand resources.

I took a week off on what I hoped to be a month long, every Wednesday type series. My apologies for previewing it too soon. Sometimes I just need a break, and apparently the blog is the first thing that gets tossed off the list.

Anyway, last week’s posts were so well read, I love that. I’m so glad people are finding my 5 ways posts so helpful. I specifically went with five instead of 10 for two reasons: they’re easy to write! and they’re easy to read. You’re welcome.. to you and myself. Haha.

learn something

Today’s post includes two decrees from Vatican II: Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordinis

Priestly training and ministry and the life of priests

Optatam Totius, on priestly training, was a quick read. It was also the first document since starting this series that I didn’t really find that relevant to me. There are a lot of great things in it, though.

The principal contributors to this are the families which, animated by the spirit of faith and love and by the sense of duty, become a kind of initial seminary, and the parishes in whose rich life the young people take part.”

Pope Paul VI was talking about fostering vocations at home, in the home. It starts with the parents and family life.

This is key, and it’s important to remember that you might have a priest in one of your sons. (Or a nun in your daughters!)

About the task men are at seminary for:

They are therefore to be prepared for the ministry of the word: that they might understand ever more perfectly the revealed word of God; that, meditating on it they might possess it more firmly, and that they might express it in words and in example… having become the servants of all, they might win over all the more.”

Pope Paul VI also said that all candidates have to be throughly examined so that we have priests that can be priests and take on the full responsibilities.

At the end of the decree, Pope Paul VI writes:

The Fathers of this holy synod have pursued the word begun by the Council of Trent. While they confidently entrust to seminary administrators and teachers the task of forming the future priests of Christ in the spirit of renewal promoted by this sacred synod…”

Presbyterorum Ordinis is a much longer document and took me a lot longer to get through.

It’s not that it’s difficult to understand, it’s just dense. Full of things that take a lot of time to think about.

Here are my key take aways:

In (Christ) all the faithful are made a holy and royal priesthood…” but “… not all members have the same function.”

God gives priests a special grace to be ministers of Christ among the people.”

It’s God who chooses the priests who serve us, not the bishops, not the popes. It’s God. It’s something we should (I should) probably remember when we’re criticizing the priest who serves our parish.

The purpose, therefore, which priests pursue in their ministry and by their life is to procure the glory of God the Father in Christ.”

This is also something easy to forget. Priests have a purpose… glorifying God. They do that through ministering to others.

This decree is so wonderful! It’s something I’d love to talk to my priest about some time.

Their ministry itself, by a special title, forbids that they be conformed to this world; yet at the same time, it requires that they live in this world among men.”

There’s a huge emphasis in this decree on the Eucharist as “the source and apex of the whole work of preaching the Gospel.”

Pope Paul VI and the Council are adamant that priests celebrate Mass frequently and reverently.

The Most blessed Eucharist contains the entire spiritual boon of the Church.”

Priests, likewise, must instruct their people to participate in the celebrations off the sacred liturgy in such a way that they become proficient in genuine prayer… they must train the faithful to sing hymns and spiritual songs in their hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I could just pull about a million quotes from this decree all day long.

Priests therefore, as educators in the faith, must see to it either by themselves or through others that the faithful are led individually in the Holy Spirit to a development of their own vocation according to the Gospel, to a sincere and practical charity, and to that freedom with which Christ has made us free.”

Really, this decree goes into how priests are pulled in all directions, and they should turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary for intercession.

They should respect the bishops and the Church’s hierarchy.

They should continue to study, always.

They should respect the gifts of the laity.

They should remain faithful to their vows.

The daily celebration of Mass is strongly urged, since even if there cannot be present a number of the faithful, it is still an act of Christ and the Church.”

With enthusiasm and courage, let priests propose new projects and strive to satisfy the needs of their flocks.”

And continue to pray, always.

Priests should all the more humbly and steadfastly pray with the Church for that grace of fidelity, which is never denied those who seek it, and use all the supernatural and natural aids available.”

And while I am not a priest, you reading this are probably not a priest, I think it’s important for us laity to read things like this decree. It reminds us the pressures on priests, on their role in the Church, on the importance of their job and on fostering vocations in others.

I was once – always – discerning entering religious life. I had a male friend tell me that I shouldn’t “give up” on “traditional” life, that I’d be a good mom and wife.

Well I would like to agree with him about me being a good mom and wife, I don’t think entering a religious life is “giving up” anything. It’s taking on so much more! A life ABSOLUTELY FULL of prayer, of working for others constantly, of being with Christ in adoration constantly.

Yes, being a mom is full of these things too. Both paths are so important for the world. Neither is giving up anything.

God bless.

Check out these Vatican II posts:

Nostra Aetate

Dei Verbum

Introduction to Church Councils

Vatican II: Nostra Aetate

If you missed the first part of this five-part series on documents from the Second Vatican Council, go here.

If you want to see all five parts, go here.

Nostra Aetate: The relation of the Church to non-Christian religions

Oct. 28, 1965

learn something

It seems like I’m picking the short documents to study first… out of laziness or lack of time, I’m not sure.

Key takeaway:

As the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore THE BURDEN OF THE CHURCH’S preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.”

(emphasis mine)

It’s OUR BURDEN to proclaim the cross as the sign of God’s ALL-embracing love.”

Just like Christ carried his cross (thank you Simon!), we must carry this burden with love, sharing Christ’s love which is for all regardless of what religion a person practices (or doesn’t).

Infinite love… I was reading the Bible today (surprise), and it crossed my mind that God’s steadfast love is mentioned A LOT in there. His steadfast love endures forever, his steadfast love endures forever.

I’ve heard that “don’t worry” is in the Bible 365 times, and well I wonder if that’s one of those feel-good made-up things, I wonder how many times God’s steadfast love is mentioned.

His infinite, steadfast love. The kind of love we can only know through Jesus.

Paul VI really touched my heart with this declaration.

“Men expect from the various religions answers to the UNSOLVED RIDDLES of the human condition … what is man? what is the meaning, the aim of our life? what is moral good, what is sin? whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? …”

I guess I don’t think of these questions as riddles. And I don’t think of our deep thoughts as humans as a “condition.”

I know some things can get lost in translation, but unsolved riddles?

Riddles are for kids… and yet, did Jesus not say that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children? They may not have the answers to these “riddles,” but they certainly ask all the questions.

We kind of quit doing that when we grow up. The electric and water bills have to be paid, so the big… riddles get pushed aside for life.

It’s also startling that Paul VI still calls them “unsolved.” Doesn’t the Church have the answers?

Well, we have hope. Our hope is necessary for our salvation.

I know not even the Church knows everything, though she has a pretty good idea.

This is another document (like the first part of this series), that people should just read.

It’s easy to read, but still very profound.

“The Church regards with esteem also the (Muslims). The adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth …”

“God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or the calls He issues.”

It’s not a secret that the Church doesn’t have the best history with Muslims or Jews.

I think now, it’s getting better. When we really think about what Jesus asks us to do, love our neighbors, than it makes sense.

“This sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare.”

One last thought (and I should mention that my thoughts don’t reflect the order of the declaration):

“Other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing ‘ways,’ comprising teachings, rules of life and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.”

God bless, always.

(I apologize… I am having so many issues editing the way spacing looks on my blog when the posts are published… I don’t know what to do.)

Linus: our second Holy Father

Missed the first part of this series? Find St. Peter here.

Or find all the Pope series here.

Holy Fathers copy

Make haste, and come to me before winter. Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren send thee their greeting.[3] 22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you, Amen.” 2 Tim. 4:21

Is it right to say that a Pope “reigns”? I’m not sure. It seems… off putting to me.
Maybe I’m just over sensitive.

Anyway, according to Wikipedia, the official second Pope of the Catholic Church is disputed.

However, I thought it was St. Linus and that’s what New Advent states, so that’s what I’m going with.
I assume there are official documents that say the real truth of it, though I don’t think they were as concerned about record keeping as we are today… or they just didn’t have the means that we do now to keep information around (forever).

St. Linus… was not a saint when he reigned.

He became a saint when he went to Heaven, obviously.

He served directly after Peter and knew Peter. He was also mentioned in the New Testament.
He was one of the close friends of the apostles. It makes sense that he was elected pope.

According to Wikipedia and their plethora of sources, Linus “issued a decree that women should cover their heads in church.” But this is also disputed.
It seems there’s not a lot of absolutes involving St. Linus.

There are many women (and Catholic bloggers) who have written about head coverings in Church. I know when I was at a Byzantine Mass, every girl and woman had her head covered except me. I was also wearing the shortest shirt, just skimming the tops of my knees.

Here are some pieces that I’ve read and found thought-provoking about head coverings: Jen @ Conversion DiaryMichelle @ Catholic Answers and veils @ Fish Eaters.

Anyway, everything I thought I knew about Linus may or may not be true. It seems no one really know.

He was “in office” (again, these terms seem so political) for about 12 years or so.

That’s all I can really share about a man who some say was martyred like St. Peter. No one knows for sure where he was buried or much about his family history.

He’s one of the Popes that kind of fades into history, like some of our U.S. Presidents do (Rutherford B. Hayes anyone?).

St. Linus is celebrated on Sept. 23

God bless! Happy October.

Come back in November for Pope Anacletus.

Vatican II: Dei Verbum

Welcome to the first section of a five-part series on the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).

There are documents available on the Vatican website for all of this. That’s where I found the first-hand resources.

learn something

I wanted to start with Dei Verbum because it was one of the shorter documents, and it’s one of those prennial, always relevant topics, especially if you have vocal protestant friends.

Dei Verbum, Latin for ‘Word of God,’ explains how the Catholic Church uses both Holy Scripture and tradition to practice the one true faith.

If I had to break down this document into one key point, here it is:

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”

But there is SO much more in this document.

Really, this is the one document that could probably fight all Protestant arguments.

All responses to the good-looking Protestant friend’s questions are pulled directly from Dei Verbum.

Imagine you’re talking nicely with your protestant friend:

He said, “Each person should discern the word of God himself. I read it and find my own interpretation of the Bible.

Tell your friend, “For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.”

Your friend may say, “Jesus didn’t say that.”

(You can answer here snidely that Jesus didn’t say not to watch porn either…)

Or you can say, if you’re a grown up, “The task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the church … This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it … guarding it scrupulously…”

Try to explain here, that the Church guards the scripture and tradition. The Church keeps it all safe because we stay against the gates of hell. We will not fall. The Catholic Church will continue, and thus, Christ’s teaching will with us.

Your nice, yet misguided, Protestant friend will say, “Of course Catholics would say Catholics are the only ones who can interpret the Bible. The Church didn’t even let you read it for yourself for a long time.”

Just respond calmly, “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament which is called the septuagint.” (which, remind me to write a learn something post on the septuagint.)

Again Protestant friend will say, “Catholics added books to the Bible.”

Refer your friend to the septuagint, the vulgate, the Council of Trent and the first copies of the Bible. Were protestants around when the Bible was first pulled together? Let me check… uh, no, they weren’t yet.

Remember to keep this conversation friendly, calm and polite. Protestants are still Christians. They just probably don’t know the kind of vast wealth the Catholic Church holds in her teaching and tradition. In fact, most Catholics don’t know about all of it, myself included.

I hope Protestants reading this are not offended. It’s not my intention. I just want to be clear on how to answer this often brought up arguments against being Catholic.

Getting back to tradition, your Protestant friend may throw around some “sola scriptura.”

Just answer, “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’ This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and News Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face.”

“What does that mean?” your good-looking Protestant friend will ask.

“Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all,” respond to him. You may want to leave the “therefore” out of that quote, unless you’re a college professor.

This may spiral out of control about whether Christ really established a “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” Church on earth.

Try to stay away from that conversation unless you have wine.

Instead, stay on track about tradition and Scripture.

Tell your friend, “Consequently, it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”

And that… “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and Christ’s body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles.”

In the end, you will probably only win over a Protestant with love and a lot of prayer.

That’s the only way you’ll win anyone over. Don’t just talk like a Catholic, be a Catholic. Live out what you speak and you’ll change hearts.

It’s not about preaching to someone when you aren’t living what you say.

Finally, part of Dei Verbum is that “We now await no further new public revelation.”

It’s all done. Everything is there, in the Bible and in tradition and the teaching of the Church.

Here’s my favorite part:

“God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from created reality by the light of human reasons (see Rom. :20); but teaches that it is through His revelation that those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by al men with ease, with solid certitude and with no trace of error, even in this present state of the human race.”

Do you ever look out your window or stop in your tracks on a hike or look out the window of an airplane or scan the Grand Canyon or a waterfall and just know that God was there?

I get it a lot. I mean, the world is beautiful. And it’s God-made!

Just look at the colors present in the sky at sunrise or sunset. God did that.

Or the leaves in the fall or the tulips in the spring or the layers of an onion or the pattern of your cat’s hair. God did that.

God planned that.



We can know him, just by being on earth. It doesn’t take the Bible, it doesn’t take the liturgy, it doesn’t take a proselytizer. It just takes God’s creation to know him.

Then, we have the Bible and the liturgy and our friends to get to know him better. Oh, thank you God.

There is more in Dei Verbum about the Gospels and the relationship between the two testaments of the Bible.

It’s en easy to read document, you should check it out.

God bless, always.

Vatican II Series:

Introductory Post on Church Councils