Even as the Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of Vatican Council II (1962-65), the people of God have not unfolded much of its meaning for Catholic pastoral practice and teaching. In the excitement of Council developments, many updates were implemented in the life of the church without proper catechesis, leaving many of the faithful – proponents and opponents of the Council - wholly uninformed about the continuity of Council reforms with Catholic tradition. The dialogue between the Church and contemporary society formally endorsed in Vatican II is ongoing. A review of the world’s situation in the 1950s and 60s provides perspective on the social unrest and cultural change that inspired Pope John XIII, with prompting from the Holy Ghost, to convene an ecumenical council. This essay will ground the Second Vatican Council in the context of the mid-twentieth century, with a particular focus on Black America and Black Catholic liturgical reform, to grasp a sense of its ongoing relevance for the faithful of today.


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