“It is through the family that the Church bestows form to a world that otherwise risks losing its symbolism and, therefore, its ordered unity.”
In his book Sources of Renewal, written to implement Vatican II in the diocese of Krakow, Cardinal Karol Wojty»a left us his first interpretation of the council.2 Vatican II’s key point was not the dialogue between the Church and the world; nor the proposal of a definition of the Church that our modern society could understand. These aspects, while certainly important, were based upon a more foundational one: Vatican II was, in Karol Wojtyla’s understanding, a council about Christian faith; its key purpose was the enrichment of faith. The fact that the council was about the enrichment of faith, this faith “handed down once for all to the holy ones” (Jd 1:3), assures the continuity of the council’s effort with the rest of thetradition. The center of Vatican II is the constant center of the Church’s reflection throughout the centuries: her faith in the Risen Lord.
What was then its novelty? According to Wojtyla, at Vatican II the enrichment of faith did not refer mainly to the objective side of faith (the enrichment of the contents of the Creed or the declaration of new dogmas), but to its experiential dimension. In other words, it was a question of deploying the existential potential of faith; of enabling the Christian to see how faith enriches one’s life. What is crucial in this approach is that faith is not seen as an object placed before us, nor merely the isolated experience of the individual, but as an environment in which to enter, as a place to dwell in, in order to understand ourselves and the rest of the world.
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1. Paper given at the conference, “‘Keeping the World Awake to God’: The Challenge of Vatican II,” at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., 12–14 January 2012.
2. Cf. Karol Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of the Second Vatican Council (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980).