Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life. (John 6:27)
We kept the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council a few years ago, between 2012 and 2015. But maybe some of Pope Francis’ more-recent teachings lead us back to the Second Vatican Council again.*
Here’s one question: Was Vatican II overly optimistic in focusing on what Protestants and Catholics have in common?
One side would say: Yes, Vatican II was wrong there. It was a betrayal of sacred Catholic Tradition and the Council of Trent to affirm that Protestants and Catholics share the same faith in Christ.
–But isn’t that’s going too far? There’s only one Jesus. And we all personally know Protestants who truly and sincerely believe in Him. So Vatican II was not altogether wrong to emphasize what we have in common.
On the other hand, the other extreme would say: No, Vatican II had no misplaced optimism whatsoever. Christian re-unification is right around the corner, if only we could get over ourselves!
–But that’s going too far, too. No reasonable observer can deny that, in spite of a lot of common enterprises, and a lot of good intentions, the last fifty years have not seen a whole lot of real ecumenical headway. Quite the contrary.
During the third week of Easter we read from John 6 at Holy Mass. Seems to me like we Catholics could lay down this marker, and live at peace with it:
We believe that Jesus rose from the dead. And we believe that He makes Himself present on the altar at Mass to be our food unto eternal life.
It seems to us that these two aspects of the faith—namely the Resurrection and the Real Presence—are really one aspect. It makes absolutely no sense to separate them. And why would anyone want to?
*I have been reading Ross Douthat’s To Change the Church. Douthat illuminates things enormously, I think, by outlining the two alternative understandings of the past 55 years of Catholic history, “liberal” and “conservative.” But there’s more to the story, I think. And I want to try to bring it to light, as the opportunity allows.