... and prayer-cards being distributed after Mass, and a letter from the Archbishop read aloud. My mind went back fifty years, to the announcement of the Second Vatican Council, and prayer-cards with Pope John XXIII on them. It seemed exciting, back then, to be given something at church - this was in less prosperous times, and before photocopying and cheap printing - and I felt rather important walking home holding this. I stared at the picture: the Pope was plump and wore a fur-edged cape and looked comfortable and cheery. Inside was a long prayer, several paragraphs, asking God's blessing on the big Council that was planned. It was all obviously something that mattered to the grown-ups, but to me it was just something to put in my prayer-book as a sort of souvenir.
And this afternoon, settling down to some Maryvale study, the documents of Vatican II are core materials. The Catechism of the Catholic Church - its 20th anniversary is being celebrated as part of the Year of Faith too - is the central took for evangelisation. John XXXIII is honoured as Blessed, along with John Paul the Great, who was one of the Council Fathers and took a major part in its proceedings. And a young theologian who played an important role is now Pope and calling us to prayer as John XXIII did half a century ago. And I walked home from Mass with another prayer-card in another missal, and the Faith is the same in a changing world.