Later in May I have a doctor's appointment set up with my diabetes doctor. I was reminded of that fact as I looked at my appointment book. It reminded me that I had better get back on track with my eating habits and my testing of blood sugars, which I sometimes fall slack with. Sometimes it is good to be reminded of our fundamental needs and our best practices procedures.
Today the Church celebrates the feast of Pope Saint Pius V who lived in the 1500's and served as pope from 1566 - 1572, during a most turbulent time in the Church. The Reformation had taken place and the Church was under attack from many sides. People were seeing her failures and abandoning ship. That which was held sacred was being negated. As a response to the Reformation, during the reign of Pius V the Council of Trent took place, beginning the Counter Reformation. It allowed the Church to do the necessary reform without losing face, by getting back to basics, by stating clearly our theological foundations and clarifying our practices. It was during this time that the basic but free flow style of the Roman liturgy was codified into the Roman Missal that served us for over 400 years until the Second Vatican Council changes in 1962. Pius V was instrumental in accomplishing a great deal within his short reign, and he served the Church well by bringing the ship of Peter through troubled waters.
The Church has often had Councils, usually at difficult moments within her history and at times of challenge from the outside. Those Councils often led to a clarification of what we believe with an explanation as to the why of the belief as well. Heresies were dealt with, faith clarified, and God's people continued renewed.
Vatican II was one of those rare Councils that did not codify and restrict our thinking, getting us in line, but rather, pastoral in nature, opened, as Pope John XXIII prayed, the windows of the Church, bringing in fresh air, new ideas, and a renewal of our Faith. There are those that feel that we have gone too far, but as Pope Francis stated recently, we need to give the Council a chance. We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, as the saying goes.
God truly guides his Church, and provides shepherds like Pius V who narrowed our vision and defined and confined our practices in a time of need as well as Francis who challenges us to broaden our vision and enflesh the Gospel message with new vigor and in fresh ways. God is indeed very kind to his people.