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“In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.

We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.

In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men’s own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfillment of God’s superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.

It is easy to discern this reality if we consider attentively the world of today, which is so busy with politics and controversies in the economic order that it does not find time to attend to the care of spiritual reality, with which the Church’s magisterium is concerned. Such a way of acting is certainly not right, and must justly be disapproved.”

Do these words have a familiar ring today? I’m sure they do! We must not listen to the “prophets of gloom”. Yes, church attendance is falling, priestly vocations are down, parishes are closing or being amalgamated. But these are not central to our faith.

We need to spend time in prayer, adore the Blessed Sacrament, receive the sacraments often and have the zeal of missionaries spreading the Good News that Jesus Christ came to save each and everyone one of us and prepare a heavenly banquet in the next world.

By the way, the words re-printed above are those of Pope John XXIII during his address in the Basilica of St Peter, Rome at the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11th, 1959.

For the full text see http://www.vatican2voice.org/91docs/opening_speech.htm