Jesus said that every scribe who is instructed in the kingdom brings forth from his storeroom both new things and old.
Since our church has cooled in her enthusiasm for Vatican II, it is opportune for us to use Our Lord's words for recalling that the triumph of Vatican II consisted in the Fathers of the Council bringing forth the best of the old and the new.
As regards the old, it was the great French bishops who insisted that as Christians we remain true to our roots. For insisting that we return to the New Testament and the Fathers of the Church they coined the term Ressourcement. It demanded that we be true to the practices of the first three centuries. In that, they staked a better claim to the title of Conservatives than the claim of today’s so-called Conservatives who want us to cling to the customs of these past three centuries.
Pope John XXIII was the wise scribe who brought forth new things. In his twenty-five years of serving the church far from the Vatican, he had been constantly bombarded with fresh concepts. As a fine historian he knew that the Fathers of the Council of Trent had pictured the heaven of the just as being fifty miles above their heads. For Pope John, the coming of such things as electricity, space travel, DNA, and the United Nations had altered what we know of the life God gives us. His ears were always ringing with Our Lord’s command to “Read the signs of the times.” As a twin pillar of Vatican II he partnered the French word Ressourcement with his Italian coinage of Aggiornamento. As “Scribes instructed in the Kingdom of heaven” they brought forth the best of the old and the new.