A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Vatican II – A Woman’s Perspective

Dr Jill Gowdie

Dr Jill Gowdie

And With Your Spirit !

Vatican II gave us that marvellous metaphor of throwing open the windows to renew, refresh and engage with the outside world. My admiration goes to Pope John XXIII for convening the Council. Such an idea! And from a pope considered to be a caretaker, and within his first 100 days! He persisted, knowing how much could go wrong, but believing in how much could go right! There is in that unfolding decision the power, grace and humility of authentic servant leadership.

The Council was the largest gathering of bishops ever, with energy gathered which was more than the sum of its parts:  stronger, bigger, wiser. Dialogue characterised its processes, demanding bishops to stay the journey, to listen to each other, to debate. It gave witness too to the open edges of dialogue in terms of spiritual formation and a post-Vatican II theology which asks that we meet people where they are; not in some preordained place they ‘should’ be.

I’m very influenced by that loving respectfulness and humility about where God is to be found. The sense of being with and for others; of engaging with the world in a positive and hopeful and trusting way. The bedrock is us – all of us as the people of God, with a way of seeing the world that recognises its richness and beauty in all kinds of places because God is in the world, and because everything is sacred.

The messages of Vatican II that I daily take into the world include these:

Lean into the Spirit!  Trust that the Spirit is at work…. And do what you can.

Never turn from the opportunity to
. Remembering that “every-thing, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the church”. (from Inaugural address by Pope John XXIII)

Everything belongs! 

We laity are ‘the fifth gospel’ –the only one that some people will ever read! So we’d better attend to who we are and how we reflect the face of God. And we’d better be open to whoever and however we meet others ‘on the way.’

To look for the good – expect it – be a power for human solidarity.

We are the people of God – a holy people.

Dr Jill Gowdie is Leader of Evangelisation and Spiritual Formation for Brisbane Catholic Education


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