Vatican II on discerning the signs of the times

As a sort of addendum to my post of yesterday evening, I thought I would add this excerpt from Gaudium et Spes, as it states clearly and with a great air of pastoral concern the task of the Church in preserving truth during times of great cultural upheaval. Given the innumerable distractions and temptations of modern life, not to mention the churches trying to ape those very same cultural currents under a veil of pretended authenticity, we can be thankful that the Church provides this function for us, and will always guide us into all truth. Here is the excerpt:

‘The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds. Hence this Second Vatican Council… now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity…

To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come… We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics… Influenced by such a variety of complexities, many of our contemporaries are kept from accurately identifying permanent values and adjusting them properly to fresh discoveries. As a result, buffeted between hope and anxiety and pressing one another with questions about the present course of events, they are burdened down with uneasiness. This same course of events leads men to look for answers; indeed, it forces them to do so…

The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all,(2) can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny… She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man.’ 

from Gaudium et Spes, 1-2, 4, 10.

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