Year of Faith - The Second Vatican Council

Journey in Faith

The Autumn 2012 Journey in Faith program at St. Augustine of Canterbury is looking at the documents of Vatican II in preparation of the Year of Faith. Where possible I'll be posting notes, comments and presentation by the speakers at these meetings.

Yesterday Deacon Mike opened the series of talks with an introduction to Vatican II. The journey in faith talks are free to all and held in St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6QR.

Notes from Deacon Michael Belt's Journey in Faith talk for the 20th September 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has proclaimed the coming year, beginning on 11th October 2012, and ending on the Feast of Christ the King, 24th November 2013, a “YEAR OF FAITH”.

This Year of  Faith marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, in Rome on 11th October 1962. It also, incidentally, coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a work that Pope Benedict has described as “an authentic fruit of the Second Vatican Council”.

It was Pope John XIII who, early in 1959, less than three months after his election as Pope, announced that the Council would take place. Vatican II was the twenty first general or ecumenical council of the Church. It was the only general Council to be convened in the 20th century, and only the second general Council since the 16th century Protestant Reformation. It is regarded by many as the most significant religious event since the Reformation, and it was certainly the most important religious event of the 20th century.

Pope John XXIII’s principal aim in calling the Council was to ensure that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be guarded and taught more effectively. In his opening homily at the Council, he encouraged the Council fathers to work out ways and means of proclaiming these truths in a manner more consistent with a pastoral view of the Church’s teaching office. In addition, he urged the Council fathers to work for the unity that Christ so desired.

The Second Vatican Council met at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for four separate sessions, which took place over four years. At the beginning, 2,540 council fathers — bishops from every corner of the world — met in the nave of the basilica, joined by 1,000 superiors of religious congregations, official observers, theologians and other experts.

One of the official observers was Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion of Mary.

Provisions were made for the media, governmental representatives and also 80 official attendants from other Christian churches. They, apparently, had the best seats in the Basilica!

In contrast, there were only 737 council fathers at the First Vatican Council in 1869-70. That was still significantly more than the 259 bishops who, at various stages, attended the Council of Trent (1545-63). Trent was the last general council before Vatican I and was enormously important for the Church.

The much greater attendance at Vatican II was, I am sure, due to the development of somewhat better means of transport since the time of Vatican I.   Vatican I was dominated by Europeans, many of them being European bishops who were pastors of dioceses in mission lands, such as those in the African continent. By the mid-20th century the bishops of most of these dioceses were natives of those lands.

Among the bishops eligible to attend Vatican II were 1089 from Europe, 489 from South America, 404 from North America, 374 from Asia, 296 from Africa, 84 from Central America, and 75 from the Pacific region.

All the speeches made at the Council were in Latin. A bishop from the USA, Cardinal Cushing, had offered to pay for a simultaneous translation system, similar to the one that was in use in the United Nations, but, for some reason, his offer had been declined!

The Council was, however, the first in history to have electric light, telephones, typewriters and other “modern” forms of communication (although it did not yet have access to the computers, satellite technology and other forms of electronic communication that are part of our everyday lives today). It was also the first Council to be covered by newspapers, magazines, radio and television from all over the world, although the news media were not allowed into St Peter’s during the sessions, but they had to rely on press hand-outs and on the reports of friendly bishops and observers.

The Council was unique in its stated purpose as well. Unlike many of the previous Councils, Vatican II had not been called as a matter of urgency in order to combat heresy or to deal with any serious threat to the unity of the Church. On the contrary, in his opening address, Pope John said that the Council’s goal was to eradicate the seeds of discord and to promote the peace and unity of all mankind, not to repeat traditional doctrinal formulations or to condemn errors.

The preparation of the agendas for the four Council sessions was the most extensive and democratic in the history of the Church. Some 9,300 proposals were submitted, and these were sifted by eleven preparatory commissions appointed by Pope John. These commissions, which were composed chiefly of “safe” Rome-based theologians, met between November 1960 and June 1962. Finally, in July 1962, seven comprehensive documents were issued to the bishops of the world in preparation for the opening of the Council in the October. These documents were concerned with the sources of revelation, the moral order, the deposit of faith, the family and chastity, liturgy, media, and unity.

The first Council session (in 1962) was a very dramatic, stormy and controversial one. It mainly concerned the refusal of the bishops to accept the Roman Curia’s organisation of conciliar commissions, the initial debate on the document  on the liturgy, and the initial debates on the document on the Church and the document on revelation.

The three subsequent sessions (1963 to 1965) were, at times, less stormy.  Pope John died in June 1963 and was succeeded by the progressive Cardinal  Montini, who took the name Paul VI. His address at the opening of the second session, on 29th September 1963, listed four aims of the Council: the development of a clearer idea of the Church, its renewal, the unity of all Christians and dialogue between the Church and the world.

The results of Vatican II fit into one paperback volume. There are 16 documents in all, including four significant “Constitutions”. It is striking that the documents in their final form were passed with near-unanimity by the Council fathers. The scope of the subjects debated by the Council is also striking: from liturgy to ecumenism, and from priestly formation to religious freedom. These subjects have been explained and developed over the past 50 years under the guidance of successive Popes.

Some of the major works that have followed Vatican II are:
  • The revised Rite of the Mass
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • The revised Code of Canon Law
  • The revised version of the Divine Office.
There are numerous other revised rites and countless books.

Finally, in preparation for the coming Year of Faith, the Bishops of England and Wales have recommended that we revisit some of the major documents of Vatican II, and they have specifically asked that we study the four documents that we ourselves will be looking at in the coming months, namely, the Constitutions on the Church (Lumen Gentium), Divine Revelation (Dei verbum), the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium), and the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes).

Next week, we will begin with the Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), and hopefully discover something of the Mystery of the Church and its members – The People of God.

Post by Guest Author Deacon Michael Belt

More Posts about the Documents of the Second Vatican Council

The journey in faith talks are free to all and held in at 7:30pm on Thursday eveings at:
St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Downend, Bristol, BS16 6QR.
Tel: 0117 983 3939

Homily 25th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - Called to be selfless

Homily (Sermon) - Called to be selfless

The Readings for Sunday 23rd September 2012  or the twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
Psalm 53:3-6, 8
James 3:16-4:3
Mark 9:30-37
[These readings can be found at for the next few weeks.]

There is a lot of conflict in this world. I don't just mean wars, terrorism or violence although they often seem the worst and most extreme conflicts. I also include the daily conflicts we are part of at work, school, in our families and even in this Church. Small arguments, little disagreements, frustrations that other people don't quite see the world as we see it. Tiny fights we need to win each day to succeed in our work, play and faith.

There is something about being human that drives us to succeed, to want to achieve things. For some people they target greatness, look at our Olympic and paralypic athletes, for others maybe the ambition is smaller, getting the kids to eat breakfast and get to school on time is challenge enough.

Ambition, drive, success and winning are the themes of today. And our teaching from Christ today seems contradictory, "If anyone wants to be first, they must make themselves last of all." The message doesn't fit with the way we see the world work.

We are told that the disciples had been arguing over who was the greatest. I had to smile and see myself reflected in that line. I remember bad team meetings at work that dissolved into boasting of successes and putting down of others. Sometimes I took part, others I sat back and thought to myself, this is stupid why can't they see this gets us nowhere, I am a much better manager because I am not taking part. On reflection I see how wrong I was on both occasions, and the disciples knew they were wrong also, they were ashamed to tell Jesus what they had been arguing over.

Our society tells us that being right, being first, being the best is all important. But society is wrong. There is nothing good or important about being first, however there is only one thing bad about being right, or first or best, and that one thing is doing something just to be right or just to be the best or just to be the first.

So what are we supposed to do?

We are called to be gentle and are called to endure. We are called to bring peace to conflict. As James tells us the seeds of the peace maker will bear fruit in holiness. Jesus tells us to be the servant of all.

It's in our nature to put ourselves first. Christ tells us not to, he tells us to put others first. He shows us a small child as an example. Put them first, serve them and you are serving Him.

There is a huge difference between doing your best and being best. Being the best student, the best driver, the best mum, the best doctor, the best anything you can be is good, it's holy and it will bear fruit. Being better than anyone else is point less and will only lead to conflict.

Use your skills for others, welcome their needs, their vulnerabilities. Help them as you would help a child. Welcome them with open arms, you will be welcoming Christ.

Following our lord is not easy. He never promised it would be. Selflessness is not in our nature, pride and greed are. If you are to be a follower of Christ you needs put your human nature last to enable you to put your spiritual nature first. Work hard, but always for others, strive to do your best, but resist the urge just to be the best, if you are the best thank God that you are able to serve so well.

This week please reflect on the today's teaching. It's a hard one, a call to be selfless. It's one we will all find difficult, and without prayer and a relationship with a loving God we may find impossible. But we have a loving God, one who is selfless, who died for us, who forgives us, and is ready to help us if just ask in prayer for help. Please pray about conflicts in your life, pray for help in bringing peace, pray that you maybe be a seed of the peacemakers and bring all huge harvest of holiness.

Homily Index

So it's turned into a Poetry Morning

My Friends, I started today leading morning prayer at St Augustine's of Canterbury. We typically start prayers with a hymn, but there are options to use poetry as well and one of my favourite poems for Monday morning prayers is 'St Patrick's Breastplate'. I love the words, the binding of myself to Christ, as if I were putting on armour. Armour forged from the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you don't know the poem then you can find it Here in a previous post I wrote during the Olympics.

I then spent a good hour updating this site with the latest batch of poems from Patrick Rigg. I felt blessed reading them, several really made me think and all can be found Here.

I was also sent a link to Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss a wonderful poem that made me smile and really consider my current job hunting situation in a new and positive light. I hadn't read or heard this poem before, and I am so glad I now have. I am looking forward, and even heading off to Oh, the places I'll go :-)

So it's turned into a Poetry Morning, and I have been reminded several time of one of my favourite poems, that I haven't heard or read in quite a while, so I dug out a copy and it still inspires me to live the life I want to lead, and not to let life dictate how I should live. So let finish Poetry Morning with Rudyard Kipling's master piece 'If'.


IF you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

A selection of new poems from Patrick Rigg

I have just had a wonderful hour adding these poems to the blog. Patrick has a real gift and several of these poems spoke directly to me as I read and published them.

'Gifts' struck a cord, it summed up the support not only Christ gives me, but the support my friends and family always provide just when I need it. 'I Am a Rich Man' is lovely as well, it made me smile to think someone could mistake Patrick for a man with money, he is well spoken, kind and gracious, but if your eyes are open you can see he carries all he owns with him, but as he tells himself he is definitely a rich man.

I hope you enjoy Patrick's latest batch of poems, and if you do the entire collection he has shared with me is published here. Poems by Patrick Rigg

New Poems
A Reason for Honesty
I Must Learn
Living Future
I: Superior Being
I Am a Rich Man
Fallen Hero
The Plateau

The Plateau

The Plateau.

This mountain is steep,
A long road,
And now today,
I have reached
A plateau,
It is time to relax,
Take refreshment,
Prepare for the climb,
Perhaps look back,
Enjoy victories claimed,
Lessons in my memory,
The occasional wrong,
Never seduced,
Victim of deceiver’s lie,
My tears,
The tears of joy and sorrow,
All that brings healing,
New life,
For I am a bond man,
Set free in Christ’s love,
To enjoy,
Enjoy living risen life,
Raised high on eagles’ wings,
Renewed anew; refreshed,
Full of hope,
The gift of God to men,
I press on
Ever praising,
Towards my goal
The high calling
Which is Dad’s prize
For me,
And all who by adoption
He calls sons.

Patrick R.
September 2012.

Fallen Hero


I paused by the Cathedral yesterday as a military funeral was taking
place; another young man home from Afghanistan. The rest of the world,
apart from a few old soldiers and those of my generation passed by
without a second thought or glance.

I do not seek to glorify war; no right minded person can ever do so. I
simply acknowledge that those of us who are left owe the fallen a debt
of gratitude; even just a moment of our valuable time to stand and to


Fallen Hero.

Old hearts cry out in their despair,
Another funeral,
Full military honours today,
Tribute to a young man who gave
His all
For you and I,
In the service of his country; proud
To wear the uniform,
To serve,
Determined to uphold freedom,
Our right to live
Speak; enjoy a life without fear,
Killed by cowards afraid to fight
As men; man to man,
Reliant on the bomb; hidden
An unseen device,
Ready to cause a lingering death
ravaged by pain,
Loss of limb; perhaps own dignity
Before merciful relief at last,
Dead too to the torment; hell
Of those nearest who wait; cry
Die as a loved one’s life slips away.
There are no words
None that this poet knows to tell
The debt of gratitude we all owe
This brave hero,
A youth robbed of a noble future,
Perhaps a family without a Dad,
A widow mourning,
Proud of her man yet inconsolable,
Commands just moments of our time
to pause,
We may not have known him,
But surely it is our duty to remember,
Without him
His sacrifice and of so many before,
We could not walk this way today,
Free men our heads held high.

Patrick R.
September 2012.

I Am a Rich Man!

Good morning John,


An unusual title! I had a "gentleman" who was being offensive and
insisting that I was a "Rich Man" playing at being on the streets the
other evening. I am grateful because he made me think and take stock
This poem is the result.

Every blessing,

I Am a Rich Man!

I do not own a property,
I have no roof tonight,
Not any wealth or shares.

I have no money at Bank,
Nothing hid in an old sock,
Away from prying eyes

Any cash; the change I have
Buys me my necessities,
Is there on loan to do good.

All I have I carry with me,
My treasures
A few things just to survive.

But I am a rich man; rich
Not by any worldly standard,
But in all that really matters.

How can this be you ask?

I have my health and sanity.
Power to think and to reason,
And am not slave to any.

There are people, who care,
Sometimes at a price I know,
But they are there for me.

I have my freedom to live
To come and go so freely,
Speak my mind within the law.

Is this what makes me rich?


These are gifts that God gives
Contentment; all that is good,
Is mine in His loving mercy.

Yet my friend there is far more,
More than we shall ever know,
God’s bounty and love for me.

I know that my redeemer lives,
Gave His life to set me free,
And walks beside me always.
It is God’s love that lives in me,
My purpose; yes my everything,
To share the risen life with all.

I am a privileged man: God’s
Adopted son,
My calling to bring praise to Him
Glorify His holy name
And evermore worship Him,
To treasure the peace He brings,
The sure certainty; the knowledge,
My God is mine and I am His
Never to be separated from Him
The love that never fails
And will not let me go.

Now that my friend is true riches,
The wealth that this world seeks
But only God can bring.

Patrick R.
September 2012.



Herald of our future,
Educating our minds,
Abandoned it destroys,
Revered it encourages,
Inspiring the mind
Nature’s beautiful gift
Gladdens every heart!

Patrick R.
July 2012.



Mutiny not against this holy silence,
Enter the Lord’s presence with joy,
Determine to set aside the world,
Immerse yourself in unfailing love,
Treasure precious tender moments,
Accept the blessings He has for you,
Transforming your days; bringing life,
Instructing your ways to follow Him,
Opening hearts and eyes to truth,
Newness of life; empowers your way.

Patrick R.
January 2012



Beauty. You tease and taunt but who are you?
Why beguile us to love some passing stranger?
To seek perfection, wondrous state that never is.
Beauty. Why do you never bring joy that’s true?
Every spot, each pound heralds some new danger,
And cautions that ‘tis surely folly to seek such bliss.

True beauty. So different, never deceiving the eye,
Elegant, pure, joyful, at one with self and oh so true,
Forgets the inches, pounds and is ignorant of fashion.
True beauty. You cannot tease, taunt or even ever lie,
You do not seek approval, we love you ‘cos you’re you,
Born deep within, undefiled bringing joy to the nation.

Loveliness. Pure spring water from our inner, deep self,
Personality that charms, warmth that pleases our heart,
You mirror our very soul, sweet essence of our true being.
Loveliness. Priceless gift, never to be found on any shelf,
Not bought in any shop, nor the beautician’s oft famed art,
Truth, and joy, nature’s treasure for eyes that are all seeing.

Take no care today: Forget fickle mirror’s glazed, critic view,
The outward appeal, all that tin tinsel that hides and wraps,
Mere flesh and blood, the urn created to simply hold our soul.
It is what shines and captivates, speaks deep within from you,
Firing our imagination’s flame, enraptures and our heart’s trap,
The truest beauty, the purest loveliness that is our perfect goal.

Patrick R.
January 2007



Encouraging; equipping all men,
Denouncing false superstition,
And uniting many foes,
Cautioning against war’s destruction
Activating inspiration; achievement
Tormenting those who rule by force,
Instinctive tyrants; loathsome
Outlaws who hate humanity; where
Naturally comes true understanding.

Patrick R.
August 2012.



Yes; you were there,
Just at that moment,
At the right time,
When I needed you,
You had the right word,
Shared as only you could,
With tenderness,
The love of a friend,
You comforted me,
Inspired for another day
To be strong,
Walk forward in faith,
Thanking God for you,
Your special talents
Gifts you used faithfully,
So naturally,
To Dad’s glory,
As the Holy Spirit led
In quiet simple obedience,
So always remember
You are special,
Dad has a unique place,
A place just for you,
Where no one else can serve,
Bring the joy and peace,
That was your gift to me.

Patrick R.
August 2012.



Who am I if I do not bid you welcome?
What am I if I do not accept you friend?
What worth is mine I if I do not freely
and gladly share my abundance?
Acknowledge you are special ‘cos
you are you,
Encourage you to achieve your best,
Enjoy the rights; privileges I myself own,
No I am nothing without love; if my heart
does not accept you,
My words; actions make you at home,
May I show honest humility when we meet,
Despise hypocrisy; sham; self-importance,
Remember we both have much to share,
So very much to learn from one another,
For it is through joy of mutual understanding
respect and shared experience,
We will both grow; walk tall and proud, so
Our differences; diversity will be our treasure.

Patrick R.
July 2012.

I: Superior Being

I: Superior Being.

I am important,
A total bastard in my time.

Strutting; posturing; bullying
These are my talents,
Understanding only one thing,
My ability to be the overlord,
Establishing my rule,
Proving a no-one is someone,
Relishing the opportunity,
My total arrogance brings,
Instilling fear; terrifying you,
The human dross I despise,
Offending all society’s standards,
Right to live without fear,
Relishing every opportunity; coward
I live on damaging others.

Bugger all of life’s conventions,
The right of men to respect,
Everyone daring believe they are
They are entitled to life’s freedoms,
Inspire a future generation
To do what is right; just and best,
Note this; the world over,
No one is as important as little me,
God created me; blind dumb fool
Hated; despised by all good men.

Patrick R.
August 2012

Living Future

Living Future.

Never judge a book,
Pretend you know all,
When you only read
the cover,
The critics’ choice,
Their affinity with a winner,
Someone who conforms,
Is all men to all men,
Has lost true inspiration,
His ability
to influence decisions,
Decision to give birth
To all that’s fresh and good,
A new and living future!

Patrick R.
August 2012.

I Must Learn

I Must Learn.

(From Youth).

This is our today,
Dawn of opportunity.

I have a privilege,
Opportunity to learn.

Experience needs a lifetime,
Yet it ours from birth.

I may be arrogant; foolish,
Pretend youth has nothing to tell.

My folly is next generation’s loss,
If I destroy our inheritance.

Inheritance builds our future,
Inspiration that must never be lost.

Patrick R.
August 2012

A Reason for Honesty

A Reason for Honesty.

The lie is a powerful weapon,
It simply has one purpose,
The total destruction of truth,
It has no place in civilisation,
Culture where men are equal,
Entitled to live life without fear,
A lie unchecked will destroy
Murder everything that is good!
The death born of a lie is slow
First it attacks our enthusiasm,
Hope for a better tomorrow,
The victim’s right; ability to live
Except in some twilight world,
The place where fear is king,
And self-doubt stifles truth,
Creates desire to believe the lie
‘cos if the lie is never false,
It surely cannot cause pain!
Whatever opiate is used to soothe
Be it a drug; alcohol or other way,
It cannot protect from this cruelty,
Savagery committing perfect crime,
Until finally all hope has died,
And the only escape then is in death.
My friend would you be a killer,
Would your conscience live with you?
May I encourage you today; always
When you speak; speak only truth in love.

Patrick R.
August 2012.


Hello Everyone,

I would like to apologise for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks. I have been busy, confused and a little down. I am currently looking for work and because of my love for family and Church have no desire to leave Bristol to find it. I also have a valuable but specialised skill set that means not many roles come up, and while there are many other jobs I can do I first want to try and find work I really enjoy. I thought for a few weeks God was calling me to a certain role working for Him, but I was wrong and after lots of preparation and waiting I failed to get the role. That has left me confused as I said, not knowing quite what Gods plans for my future are. There is also some anger associated with the disappointment and I felt posting here while angry wasn't going to be good hence the small gap.

I am hoping to write a few thoughts next week about expectation, preparation and maybe disappointment. My personal experiences and those I have watched during the Olympics have started many ideas spinning round my head.

Patrick Rigg has sent me a load of Poems so I will also update his page and get those poems posted for you next week.

I'll also try and get back to the homilies after a weeks break. I love writing them and exploring Gods word and his scriptural guidance for us. I learn so much myself each time I prepare a homily.

Finally, as we prepare for the year of faith I'll be looking at some of the Vatican 2 documents and I hope to post some reflections on them over the next few months.

So in summary, sorry for the short quiet spell, please keep my and my confusion in your prayers, and normal service will be resumed soon.

God Bless,