3 July 2012
The Knights of the Southern Cross writing competition this year challenges students to examine the contribution the second Vatican Council has made to the life of the Church in the 50 years since it opened in October 1962.
When Pope John XXIII mooted the idea of a council, the cardinals and bishops in the Curia were said to be dismayed. They had elected this elderly pope in the hope of a quiet life after the tumult of Pope Pius XII’s reign.
Monsignor John Broadbent has written extensively and colourfully about Vatican II in Wel-com (also search the web for ‘Broadbent – Vatican II’) including on the subject of Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the World) which was the only document written by the bishops attending the council. All others were written before the council opened.
The opening words of Gaudium et Spes are familiar to most Catholics – ‘The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.’
In this way Pope John’s dream of the Church throwing open its windows and going out into the world was being realised.
‘Inspired by no earthly ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.’
The 2012 competition topic asks entrants to consider how they and their parish or college are carrying forward the work of Christ – giving witness, rescuing and serving. Also, as parishes and colleges can settle into a routine, the competition challenges entrants to come up with new ways for their parish or college to achieve the goal of the Church in their local area. Full details of the competition topic and rules have been sent to all parishes and colleges for display on their notice boards – they can also be found on Our Lady of Fatima website which also has reports of previous writing competitions.
The 2012 competition offers $1200 in prizes over four age categories and it is free to enter. Of the four age categories, three are aimed at college age students (ie under 18 years of age).
The competition closes on September 22, 2012. Even if you don’t intend to enter the competition it is still worth studying and reflecting on the documents of this important council – the only one of the 20th century – which you can find by searching the Web for ‘Vatican II documents’.
Patrick Horan belongs to the Wellington branch of the Knights of the Southern Cross.