Today Pope Benedict opened the Year of Faith at an open air Mass at St Peter's in Rome. You can watch a recording of the Mass at Vatican's website.
In his homily Pope Benedict recalled that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
There is no doubt that Pope Benedict is setting the Council as a true landmark in the history of the Church and its long and continuous tradition. He said that if the new evangelization is not to remain an ideal or lack effectiveness due to confusion, it needs to be based on the documents of the Council. As he has insisted on many occasions, we must return to the letter of the Council if we are to find its authentic spirit. In other words, the "Spirit of the Council" can only be found in the letter, i.e. the documents.
How many people have you heard purporting to quote the Council when in fact they are only quoting what they think the Council said or perhaps wish it had said?
The Pope also recalled that, before the reform of the liturgy and calendar, this day was kept as the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In just over an hour's time I shall be celebrating this feast in the Extraordinary Form. How wonderful to know that Blessed John XXIII chose this Marian feast to inaugurate such a historic Council.
As Pope Benedict concluded his homily today:
May the Virgin Mary shine always like a star on the road of the new evangelization.