Articles

The Second Vatican Council--Third in a Three-Part Series

By John Houk

The Second Vatican Council--Second in a Three-Part Series

By John Houk

It may strike some as rather dry and uninteresting to plow through documents
written forty years ago. I can only add that they, along with the people
who have read them, are why I can still find a home in the Catholic Church.
At the age of 67 my formal education in Catholic teaching was pre-Vatican
II. It was a satisfying experience because at that time in my life I wanted
a closed system of thought. These are the questions and these are the answers
was the way Catholic thought was presented to me, and it gave me a sense
of completeness and intellectual security. That must have been what I needed,
and perhaps the Church understood that.

The Second Vatican Council swept away hard-core Catholic positions that had
been blessed by previous Councils and numerous popes. Catholics responded to
this newness in several ways. As my father enjoyed saying, there were those
who made things happen, those who watched things happen, and those who said, “What
happened?” It was my experience that most of us watched, and a lot of
wondered. If it had not been for my own questioning children and faith-filled
wife I probably would never have gotten past the wondering phase which would
inevitably have resulted in my drifting away.

The Council, as I now understand it, was an invitation to discipleship, and
the key to discipleship is that you will never understand your faith until
you try it out yourself. It is a do-to-learn system. How different from my
previous expectations of pre-determined questions and answers. Yes, there is
top-down teaching in the Council documents, but now I, and you, are included
in vastly new and important ways. At its most basic level the Council was an
invitation to participation.

The Second Vatican Council -- The first in a Three Part Series

By John Houk

Forty years ago in December the final document of the Second Vatican Council was published concluding the two-year process of publication. The whole Council was, and remains, unprecedented in its scope and tone with the final document having its own unique history.

Are You Pro-Life?

Are You Pro-Life?
by John Houk

How would you respond to the question, "Are you pro-life?" Think about it for a moment before reading on.

"Are you pro-life?" has become a sticky moral question, a contentious legal question and a hot-button political question. It is not even clear what this question really means unless you know who is asking. Often the context of this question tells us that what the asker really wants to know is, are we opposed to legal abortion. Looking more closely we can see that in this context (1) abortion is the most important, or even the only, "life issue", and (2) the way to deal with abortion is through the legal system. When faced with this question in this context I often feel like the man who was asked, "When did you stop beating your wife?" The "wife" question cannot be answered without incriminating yourself, and I, for one, cannot answer the first question either without a long explanation, which the asker would likely not find satisfying.

Reflection on the Pittsburgh Catholic Classified Advertisement Page

by John Houk

It is not my regular routine to read the classifieds in the diocesan paper. The whole paper usually occupies no more than five minutes as I flip through looking for familiar names, who has died, who has moved, who is celebrating, etc. The "news" is always terribly slanted and invariably stale. Yet here I was reading the classifieds. Do you want your walls washed? Two ads offered special senior citizen discounts and claimed 30 years of experience. How could someone have 30 years experience washing walls? Doesn’t that tell its own story? But two types of ad clearly dominated the page, and that is what caught my eye and really peaked my interest.

Advent Reflections

by Roberta M. Meehan

Rushing madly, trying to get to Chicago. Advent! Advent! Advent!
Hang on, Chicago! I'm coming! Really.

And as I wrote that ramble, I stopped and paused and thought about
the words before me. Advent, of course, is loosely translated as a
coming. And we all know the coming in question is the coming of the
Christ Child on Christmas Day. That part is relatively easy for us.

Did You Know - How We Change

Sixth in a series by John Houk

There are some things our Church believes that you will not find in our Catechism.

The October, 2005 Synod on the Eucharist has come to a close. Some 250 bishops from around the world gathered in Rome to deliberate on our central act of worship. One of the topics under discussion was the reception of Communion by remarried Catholics. The rules for those who have remarried without an annulment exclude them from Communion. After deliberation the world’s bishops have apparently retained this rule because remarried Catholics (to quote one bishop) find themselves in a situation that "objectively contrasts with God’s law". The God’s law that he is referencing is the indissolubility of marriage. This is where the fine print becomes interesting.

Did You Know - How we Change

Fifth in a series by John Houk

From defective and veiled to --- what???

Each age has its changes to work through. The role of women is one of ours. In recent years there have been numerous Church pronouncements on the role of women with some reversing the position of the previous one. For example in 1980 John Paul II said no -no to girl altar servers and in 1994 reversed that decision and said that local bishops had the choice. The USCCB tried for several years to write a pastoral letter on women and gave up because each new draft was less helpful than the one before. Yes, this is an issue for our time. Here is some history:

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