Pope Pius XII
March 2, 1939 -October 9, 1958
In 1958 Pope Pius XII retired into eternity from leading Christ’s mystical body on planet earth. He had led the church during World War II. He fought against Nazi’s and helped save Jewish people from wholesale slaughter by them. He fought against Communists and declared that Catholics who profess Communist doctrine are to be excommunicated as apostates from the Christian faith. In the Eastern Bloc he had to deal with severe persecution and mass deportations of Catholic clergy. He also leveled the playing field for future papal elections as he eliminated the Italian majority in the College of Cardinals in 1946. In the years to come a pope was elected from Poland, Germany and South America.
He invoked his ex cathedra papal infallibility powers by declaring the 5th mystery of the rosary a dogma, which is the Assumption of Mary in his Apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus. During his time as the Bishop of Rome he penned forty-one encyclicals include Mystici corporis, on the Church as the Body of Christ written during World War II. He gave us the first encyclical devoted entirely to the liturgy; Mediator Dei. He also gave us the ground breaking Humani generis where he weighed in on the theory of Evolution saying it could be compatible with Catholic faith.
But he didn’t leave office without composing one last encyclical about praying for the persecuted church. He also canonized and beatified one more Saint and Blessed.
He elevated Teresa Jornet Ibars (January 9, 1843 – August 26,1897 )to a blessed. She is also known as Teresa of Jesus and was a Spanish Catholic professed religious and the founder of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly. I currently work in a nursing home giving food to the elderly. Teresa of Jesus was later canonized by St. Paul VI on January 27 (my birthday) 1974 (the year my wife Kristin was born). Kristin’s birthday is a day before her death day on August 25. He also made Premonstratensian canon regular and mystic Hermann Joseph (c. 1150 – April 7,1241) a saint.
Pope John XXIII
October 28, 1958 –June 3, 1963
The peaceful transfer of papal power occurred when Pope John XXIII took the reins and began his short tenure as pontiff. How do you top a papacy with such challenges and accomplishments? The church found out around 3 months after he was elected to the Chair of Peter, when he made this announcement to the world on January 25, 1959.
“Venerable brothers and our beloved sons! We announce to you, indeed trembling a little with emotion, but at the same time with humble resolution of intention, the name and the proposal of a twofold celebration: a diocesan synod for the city, and an ecumenical council for the Universal Church.”
Pope John Announces the Second Vatican Council (vatican2voice.org)
Pope John XXIII said that we were gonna have this huge church changing, life changing 21st ecumenical council where the windows of the Church were going to be opened to let in some fresh air circulated by the Holy Spirit. On October 11, 1962 the first session of the Second Vatican Council occured. All most 60 years before and two days after this date the Miracle of the Sun occurred at Fatima on October 13, While the Holy Spirit penetrated the hearts and minds of the council fathers what else was going on in the wider world? I think it is fascinating to see what multiple events were going on at the same time during other life changing events were happening. Things both historical and cultural. It gives you an overall unique perspective on life to look at everything going on in life.
While This Happen, This also Happen.
In the years after the council was announced to be coming to a ecumenical council in Rome, The world continued to produce new people and also took them away. The world and the church continued to give us books, movies, TV shows and music. The catholic influence on culture can be clearly seen scattered throughout the years before, during and after the council. Just to name a few…
1959– Ben-Hur the Movie starring Charlton Heston is released and wins 11 Academy Awards and 4 Golden Globes.
1959-The song The Village of St. Bernadette sung by Andy Williams reached #7 on the Billboard chart.
1960-The Violent Bear It Away by Catholic author Flannery O’Connor is published.
1962– To Know Christ Jesus by Frank Sheed is published.
1962- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book by J.R.R. Tolkien is published.
1965-The Greatest Story Ever Told, directed by George Stevens, starring Max von Sydow, Charlton Heston, Dorothy McGuire, David McCallum, Martin Landau, Telly Savalas is released.
1967-The Flying Nun (1967–70) is released on ABC.
While the sanctified air was was about to be released in the church and then hopefully from the church to the world at large, both the church and the world continued making history around the globe and perhaps around the whole universe. After all, two Americans named Barney and Betty Hill claimed they were abducted by extraterrestrials from September 19 to 20, 1961 in a rural portion of the state of New Hampshire. It is possible the aliens were coming to spy on the upcoming council. The idea of aliens and Catholics coming together were expressed in a hugo award winning science fiction book from year Pope John XXIII ascended to the throne of St. Peter in 1958 called ‘A Case of Conscience“. A Jesuit missionary on another planet investigates a conundrum. An alien race is discovered to have a innate sense of morality despite having no religion. The Second Vatican Council’s decree on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae (Of the Dignity of the Human Person) was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965.
While the Pope and his fellow bishops prepared the world for the greatest meeting of all time the United States gained its first Catholic president. In the following years during the council the world was almost destroyed by a potential nuclear war. And by the end of the decade after the council was finished and all the bishops of the world left the Vatican and went home, some men left this world and landed on the moon.
While the bishops in union with the bishop of Rome prayed and pondered how God wanted them to run His church, there was the day the music died in 1959 as three rock music legends (Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper) lost their lives in a plane crash and later in 1962 British Beatlemania was born as 4 young men rose to superstardom. One of them eventually claimed they were more popular than Jesus.
While the way Catholics would worship in the liturgy was approved in the final text of Sacrosanctum Concilium on November 22, 1963, over in the United States the first Catholic president was assassinated on the same day. Two prominent authors, one who created Narnia (C.S. Lewis) and a Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) also joined him in the afterlife. Delayed by a day, the BBC launched on the day after all these events one of the longest running TV shows and prominent geek franchises of all time, Doctor Who.
While St. Paul VI penned an encyclical about how Catholics still couldn’t use birth control in the post-councilary era, molecular biologist, geneticist, and zoologist James D. Watson wrote a whole book about the discovery of human DNA called Double Helix.
While the church rethought and restructured the way their church was run Americans fought against communism in Vietnam and Castro ( a Catholic excommunicated by Pope John XXIII) established a communist government in Cuba.
While the way the church would relate to the modern world (as outlined in Gaudium et spes) was about the to change, the modern world offered us a movie about a woman teaching children to sing about their favorite things while fleeing Nazi’s in The acadamy award winning Sound of Music.
While the church was attempting to share God’s love in a new way, the traditional cultural walls of love came down in the free love movement. And the stone walls separating Germany was erected as the Berlin Wall.
While Bishop Fulton Sheen , who did attend the council, was on the air in the US giving catechetical lessons to people via his television show, St. Padre Pio was ministering and performing miracles over in Italy.
While the church recognized the freedom of all people to worship where they found the light of God in Dignitatis humanae, Martin Luther King Jr. and others marched for a dream of black men and women to have equal rights in the eyes of men and in the law.
While Vatican 2 gave birth to 16 documents in the new mysterious church world, during the same time period in 1965 the future host of the Mysterious World podcast, Jimmy Akin was born.
While the second Vatican Council ended in 1965 the world had changed. This is best expressed by the biblical text translated into a popular rock song by the Byrds.
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven
As the world continues to turn
The Season of Vatican 2 continues to affect the world
And the Purpose of the Holy Spirit continues to renew the world
Through the pontificate of Pope Francis.