By Frank Wessling
“It may be different in a higher world, but here below, to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.” This was a saying of Blessed John Henry Newman, the great English churchman of the 19th century. His lifetime passion was human development or growth toward fullness of spirit and truth.
His life also showed the courage of that conviction when he went through a deep change from Anglican to Catholic Church affiliation.
The first part of Newman’s comment is obvious to everyone. Of course change happens “here below.” We aren’t perfect. But there is change we like and change we resist; change that seems oriented toward perfection and other development that feels like corruption. The meaning is in the details, and the details aren’t seen exactly alike by everyone.
A struggle is going on today in Catholic circles over the meaning of the Second Vatican Council, which opened 50 years ago. Was there real change for the Church in that council or was it merely an adjustment of incidentals; changes that did not affect our mission of being the herald and sign of God’s presence on Earth.
It is, and has been, the position here that Vatican II was a council of reform and renewal with fundamental effect on the Church. Real change was both ratified and instituted by that council….
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