As a post-Vatican II Catholic--I've only known the Church in its more recent manifestations--Vatican II and all its cast of characters are history to me. I don't have the memories of those heady days or the bitter loss of hopes dashed. By the time I started paying attention, things for the most part seemed to have been sorted out, although as I've become more engaged in theological and Church issues I'm realizing that the dust is indeed still settling from when John XXIII opened the windows of the Church to the "aggiornamento" of the modern world. One can look at many of the present day internal church struggles and see that we've still got some family debates about just how open the windows should be.
A few years ago, I had the blessed opportunity to study Pacem in Terris, the encyclical Pope John XXIII released a few months before his death, for a course I was taking. Many look to it as his last will and testament. Personally, this was forgotten history that has become a meaningful treasure and guide in my own ministry and prayer life. He saw the gift and challenge of the growing interconnectedness of the human family.
May Christ inflame the desires of all men to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through His power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them. (Pacem in Terris 171)
And so today, I pray for the intercession of Blessed John XXIII. For our Church and for our entire human family, that love may guide us, strengthen us, and bring us together for the sake of the Gospel. Recently, I discovered another quote from Blessed John XXIII that we all would do well to reflect on and seek to embody:
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations but about your unfufilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you have tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.
Thank you Blessed John XXIII for your continued vision and presence to God's people. Pray for us and journey with us on the path to peace.