COMMEMORATION AND CELEBRATION OF Second VATICAN COUNCIL Begins Thursday October 11 Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, announced details of the opening ceremony for the Year of Faith, which will be presided by the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. on Thursday 11 October. "It is particularly significant", the archbishop explained, "that the beginning of the Year of Faith falls on the day of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. This is no coincidence. ... Rather, it is an opportunity to revisit that event which left such a deep mark on the life of the Church in the twentieth century, and to examine the influence its teachings have had during the intervening decades and will have over the coming years of Church commitment to new evangelisation.
In fact, Vatican Council II was itself intended as a special moment of new evangelisation".
Thus the anniversary of the Council "deserves to be not only commemorated but also celebrated by the Church". Part of that celebration is the Year of Faith, which "is a good opportunity to revive the faith of believers, animating them with a new and more convincing spirit of evangelisation". The Year will also be "dedicated to the study and examination of the conciliar teachings, that they may help in the formation of believers - particularly through catechesis - in the sacramental life of the Christian community and in its life witness".
In the light of these premises, Archbishop Fisichella went on to describe the inaugural ceremony of the Year of Faith which, he said, "will be deeply impregnated" with symbols evoking Vatican Council II. "Extracts from the four conciliar Constitutions will be read out as expressions of the Council's work and of renewal in the life of the Church. This will be followed by a long procession which which will lead the collective imagination back to 12 October 1962. The procession will be formed of all the bishops participating in the solemn concelebration with the Holy Father. Those taking part will include the Synod Fathers who are currently participating in the meeting on the new evangelisation, presidents of all the world's episcopal conferences, and fourteen Council Fathers who, despite their age, have managed to come to Rome. All seventy of the Council Fathers who are still alive had been invited to participate, but advanced years or health problems have prevented them from being among us".
The procession will be followed by the enthronement of the Word of God, a gesture "which evokes a significant moment in the work of the Council when, during the solemn sessions in St. Peter's Basilica, the Sacred Scripture was brought in in procession and placed at the centre of the gathering in order to remind everyone that they were at the service of the Word of God, which lies at the heart of the Church’s activities". The same lectern and the same copy of the Holy Scriptures as those of the Council will be used.
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, there will be another sign "to indicate that the teachings of the Council retain all their validity and deserve to be be better known and studied".
This sign, the archbishop explained, will mirror "Paul VI's consignment of Messages to the People of God at the end of the Council. Those same Messages will be consigned by Pope Benedict XVI to various categories of people": political leaders, representatives of the world of science and thought, artists, women, workers, the poor, sick and suffering, and to young people.
"Finally, since this year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Father will consign a special edition of the Catechism, published for the Year of Faith, to two representatives of catechists".
"The years pass", said Archbishop Fisichella concluding his presentation, "but the power of Vatican II remains, with all its cargo of hope that the entire world may come to know the Gospel of Christ. Our intention is to offer Christians a further reason to feel that they are part of one Church, which knows no frontiers and which daily renews her faith in the Lord through the commitment of her life".