Catherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena

Don Brophy
304 pp, 6.25 x 9.25
160632 ● $29.95


All is Grace

All is Grace

Jim Forrest
352 pp, 7 x 9
169832 ● $27.95


The Other Face of God

The Other
Face of God

Mary Jo Leddy
150 pp, 5.375 x 8.25
170238 ● $20.00




Joan Chittister
248 pp, 9.25 x 6.25
180961 ● $22.95


St. Paul University Vatican II Conference


Living with Christ

On a Special Pilgrimage

In the Footsteps
of John XXIII
Trip Map

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II in Italy

October 4-13, 2012

in cooperation with Calabria Tours

Learn more…































Vativan II: Fifty Years On
Vatican II and Today's Catholic

An Exclusive Interview with
Author Meg Lavin

Meg LavinIn October the Catholic Church will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Leading scholar Meg Lavin invites us to consider the Council and its meaning for us today in her newest book Vatican II: Fifty Years of Evolution and Revolution in the Catholic Church. Lavin recently sat down with us and shared compelling insights about the momentous event in the life of the Church. Here’s what we discussed:

Vatican II took place in October, 1962. Describe the world at large and the world for Catholics at the time.
The world had witnessed two world wars, the Holocaust (what Jewish people call the Shoah), the birth of the Atomic Age, and the Cold War. The Church could not be a passive observer while the world struggled to come to terms with these events. No fewer than 55 states had declared their independence from European imperial powers. This forced the Church to move beyond an occidental perspective; the Catholic Church now found itself just one of many competing identities on the world stage. There was a shift in the social consciousness of communities and individuals that gave rise to an unprecedented search for personal freedom. This was evident in the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and articulated in the protest songs of popular music, as well as in literature. There was a tremendous sense of hope and a new vitality. If the people of the world could work together, then justice would reign, a justice that granted personal dignity and equality for all.

Catholics were not sheltered from this historical context and, like everyone else, had to deal with its complexities. Vatican II faced these issues head on by challenging the “signs of the times”. This was its revolutionary character.

However, one thing must be made absolutely clear: Vatican II was not a 1960’s social movement. It was not simply a sociological judgment of the Church in the mid-20th century. Vatican II was the 21st ecumenical council of the Catholic Church and, as such, was an act of faith in the Holy Spirit’s continued presence in the Church.

What was the genesis of Vatican II? Who attended,
and why?

The genesis of Vatican II was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and, led by this same Spirit, Pope John XXIII, called the Council on January 25, 1959, three months after being elected pope.

The pope and over 2600 bishops attended the Council together with theologians and other experts who advised the bishops. This brought the figure to almost 3000. Throughout the four sessions of the Council between 1962 and 1965, there were also 63 observers from other churches, invited because of the Council’s openness to unity and ecumenism. Added to this number were 52 lay observers, both men and women, a sign of the Church’s inclusion of all members of the faithful.

Did the Church’s theology and teaching change
at the Council?

Engaging the world’s historical context required a theology that would be able to complement historical experience and this demanded a shift in Catholic thought. The theology of Vatican II is more inclusive of early tradition, modern interpretation of scripture, liturgy, history and theological reflection on experience. This shift in our way of doing theology was happening prior to the Council, especially in the work of French theologians in the 1940s, and in a vigorous liturgical movement in Europe and the United States at the same time.

What were some of the most significant changes in
the Council?

Vatican II called for many changes, including a new understanding of church structure and how the Church relates to the world, a new way of celebrating liturgy and the sacraments, new developments regarding the collegiality of bishops, a new emphasis on the Church’s involvement in social justice, the central role of the Bible in Catholic faith, and a broader understanding of religious diversity and pluralism.

How did the Council impact the life of Canadian Catholics?
There is no doubt that Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) made the most immediate difference in Canadian parishes. There was also an increased activity in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, a new vitality for the role of the laity, development and peace projects and the establishment of parish councils. Canadian Catholics — especially members of female religious orders — as well as lay people, began to study theology and to move beyond being volunteers in church activities to preparing themselves for a variety of full-time church ministries.

Why is it important for contemporary Catholics to understand Vatican II, its outcomes, and its influences?
Vatican II forced Catholics to think differently about their church, themselves and how they live their faith. Catholics believe that when the Church gathers in ecumenical Council, we are assured of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The documents of the Council, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are the latest articulation of the Church’s understanding of itself and its mission in the world. As the outcome of an ecumenical council these documents are binding for all Catholics.

There is no doubt that the assimilation of the experience of the Council and the interpretation and implementation of the documents is a complex, long-term, challenging and even contentious process.


Living the Council Today


Vatican II

Vatican II: Fifty Years of Evolution and Revolution in the Catholic Church

Margaret Lavin
208 pp, PB, 6 x 9
182373 ● $18.95

Presenting the Council documents in an accessible and concise way, Lavin offers a straightforward commentary of Vatican II and how its teachings have shaped Catholic life and practices over the past 50 years.



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