From Catholic Piety to Ecumenical Spirituality: The Canadian Messenger in the 1960s

By Fay, Terence J. | Historical Studies, Annual 2002 | Go to article overview

From Catholic Piety to Ecumenical Spirituality: The Canadian Messenger in the 1960s


Fay, Terence J., Historical Studies


The 1960s proved to be a pivotal period of Catholic evolutionary transformation. This was the time of the Second Vatican Council when the assembled fathers connected with the roots of the early Church. The pages of the Messenger of the Sacred Heart reflect the changing attitudes of Canadian Catholics toward interdenominational participation and shared social involvements. The magazine looked to the bishops, theologians, and observers at the Council to renew Canadian Catholic spirituality to pave the way for reunion with separated brothers and sisters, and to extend social justice to the world community. The articles of the Messenger and the responses of its readers during this pivotal period revealed Canadian Catholics in transition. The magazine elaborated the Council's emphasis on Christian commitment in justice issues, such as, caring for the needy, respect for minority groups, concern for developing nations, and the promotion of nuclear disarmament. Focussed on the love of Christ and mirroring Canadian Ca tholics in the mainstream, the Messenger in the 1960s hoped that, by supporting human rights and encouraging responsibility, it would shape a better society.

Periode-cle dans l'evolution du catholicisme, les annees 1960 furent marquees par le concile Vatican II, ou les peres conciliaires rassembles renouerebt avec les racines de l'Eglise. Dans ce contexte, les articles et le courrier des lecteurs parus dans le Messenger of the Sacred Heart, revele un catholicisme canadien en transition: ils refletent les attitudes changeantes des catholiques canadiens envers la participation interconfessionelle et les engagements sociaux oecumeniques. Le Messenger comptait en effet sur les eveques, les theologiens et les observateurs de Vatican II pour le renouveau de la spiritualite catholique canadienne, pour une ouverture de conciliation avec les soeurs et les freres separes, et pour la promotion de la justice sociale dans la communaute mondiale. De plus, ce magazine donna un accent conciliaire a un engagement se traduisant par l'attention aux demunis, le respect des minorites, l'interet porte aux nations en voie de developpement et la promotion du desarmement nucleaire. Centre sur l'amour du Christ, le Messenger des annees 1960 esperait en somme promouvoir une societe meilleure en supportant les droits de la personne et en encourageant une prise de conscience sociale. Il exprimait a cet egard la pensee d'une majorite de catholiques canadiens.

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The 1960s proved to be a pivotal period of Catholic evolutionary transformation. This was the time of the Second Vatican Council when the assembled fathers connected with the roots of the early Church. They reestablished Christian authenticity and discarded barnacles which had accumulated during fifteen hundred years. This study of the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart looks for the tell tail signs of changing religious culture among Canadian Catholics. The Council initiated a paradigm shift in Catholic devotional attitudes, intensified interest toward ecumenism, and extended enthusiasm for social justice. The pages of the Messenger reflect the changing attitudes of Canadian Catholics toward interdenominational participation and shared social involvements.

Published around the world, The Messengers of the Sacred Heart have striven to promote quintessential papal devotion by circulating the Holy Father's personal spirituality through the monthly prayer intentions. Every year the Roman office of the Apostleship of Prayer formulated eighteen general intentions, and these were submitted to the pope a year ahead of time. The pope selected twelve from the eighteen intentions and, often in his own hand, edited them to reflect more fully the needs of the Church.1 The Jesuit Fathers in various countries around the world published more than forty-five Messengers in thirty-five different languages. …

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