Today is the liturgical memorial of Blessed Pope John XXIII. It is an optional memorial on the liturgical calendar and so the memorial is left up to the discretion of the celebrant. But that today is Sunday, the prayers for his Mass are not prayed because Sunday takes precedence because it is a “Little Easter.” Today also marks the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Everyone remembers the image of Pope John’s smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church’s history Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the “signs” of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity. In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: “What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness.” (Pope John Paul II)