Is studying Vatican II documents useful for a laymen?

If so, what do you recommend I read? I want to expand my knowledge on it.

I’m a convert from 2014. So far I’ve mostly read writings from the saints or contemporary apologetic material, along with a few history books. I don’t know anything specific about Vatican II but it seems to come up frequently. Especially here, where I’ve seen a handful of protesters come and go.

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Arguably, Vatican Two has had the most impact on the church today… I have not read the documents myself, but I know several people who have and say it was very insigntful, especially if you enjoy studying Catholic liturgy

I’m not very interested in reading about liturgy [I read a book by Scott Hahn that broke down each part of the Mass and its significance, and that was good enough for me]

Lumen Gentium is an interesting document from the Council concerning ecumenism and reaching out to other faiths that was a landmark document of the Council… you may like that

I highly recommend reading them.

Start with the 4 most important ones, the “Constitutions.”

One needs to understand that these are very complex documents. They do not just come right out and say what they want to say. They are very academic and very dense. It takes a very long time for the Church to make a point in those documents exactly because the process is to first lay the foundation and the reasoning behind the idea, and only articulate the idea itself at the very end.

For example, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes starts by talking about Creation. How’s that for starting at the beginning?!

These documents were meant for the centuries. They were not intended to be just read in a single sitting. That’s why many people start to read them, then get discouraged and stop. Understand that they take a long time to read and understand. Expect that. They’re supposed to be like that.

The biggest mistake is to read commentary about the documents instead of the documents themselves. Inevitably the reader will come away with the author’s own biases, and not the genuine intent of the Council Fathers. The earlier the writing, the more this is true.


I’ll start with Lumen Gentium.

I just ordered whole bean coffee and I think just eating the beans themselves is pretty tasty. Is that weird? Anyway, I’ve got the night to do it. I’ve watched 8 episodes of Star Trek Enterprise and need to do something else :crazy_face:


That’s great!

Keep us updated on your reading.

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Is studying Vatican II documents useful for a laymen?

Tremendously so. The conciliar documents should be at the top of the list of what the lay faithful should read and put into action in their own lives.

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While I do tend to think they are useful for the laity, so is the Catechism, the Bible, the Summa, and writings of the saints. All these are useful. Some appeal more to others. For me, it was a no-brainer. For my wife, what little we read out of the Liturgy of the Hours she finds very dry.

Since you asked, OP, I guessing you would get a lot out of the.

For me, I would say the order is,
Catechism (which is based on the Councilliar documents and quotes them heavily
Summa Summa (Peter Kreeft’s summary, but I am a former Baptist in the Bible belt, so this is a practical need.
Vatican II documents, starting with Lumen Gentium

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I’ve been making my way through them, actually at the recommendation of my pastor. I had questions about certain decisions that were being made in the diocese and in the wider church from an organizational perspective, and he suggested reading the Vatican II documents to get a better handle on what was being taught as opposed to what we were told the documents taught. He’s also been very patient in sitting down with me and helping to parse some of the more complex topics.

I find it is really helping me to better understand the mission of the church and how I can better help in that mission.

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Sure there is:

There is a book:

Well worth reading IMO,

God Bless

I wish more people had the interest. But do it slowly like a reflection.

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