Pope John XXIII’s feast day is today, as opposed to the day of his death, which was June 3, 1958. This special feast day was intentionally established to commemorate the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.
Today has the ranking of an optional – not obligatory – memorial.
Watch a three-minute video from Salt and Light TV, recalling the speech John XXIII gave on the night of Oct. 11, 1962, and see the transcript of his address, which included these words, here:
When you go back home, you will find your children: and give them a hug and say,“This is a hug from the Pope. You will find some tears that need to be dried: speak a good word:“The Pope is with us, especially in times of sadness and bitterness.” And then all together let us encourage one another: singing, breathing, weeping, but always full of faith in Christ who helps us and who listens to us, let us continue on our journey.
John XXIII, called “Good Pope,” rejected the opinions of those around him who were “always forecasting disaster.” He referred to them as “prophets of gloom” who lacked a sense of history, which is “the teacher of life.” Divine Providence, he declared, was leading the world into a new and better order of human relations. “And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church.”
His stirring words of the Opening Address at the Second Vatican Council on the morning of October 11, 1962 continue to reverberate through the Church today:
In the very day exercise of our pastoral ministry, greatly to our sorrow we sometimes have to listen to those who, although consumed with zeal, do not have very much judgment or balance. To them the modern world is nothing but betrayal and ruination. They claim that this age is far worse than previous ages and they go on as though they had learned nothing from history– and yet history is the great teacher of life. They behave as though the first five centuries saw a complete vindication of the Christian idea and the Christian cause, and as though religious liberty was never put in jeopardy in the past. We feel bound to disagree with these prophets of misfortune who are forever forecasting calamity– as though the end of the world is imminent. Our task is not merely to hoard this precious treasure of doctrine, as though obsessed with the past, but to give ourselves eagerly and without fear to the task that this present age demands of us– and in doing so we will be faithful to what the Church has done in the past 20 centuries.