The Catholic Bishops in England and Wales are recommending that all Catholics make a special effort during the Year of Faith (2012-2013) to study the four Constitutions which they describe as the Pillars of the Council
Their website gives the following introduction and invitation
The 'Year of Faith' will begin on 11 October 2012, the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. The documents of the Council offer very important teaching in support of the Church’s ongoing mission.
It is suggested that you read and study four Constitutions described as the ‘pillars of the Council’.
These Constitutions are:
I. Lumen Gentium - on the Church
II. Sacrosanctum Concilium - on the Sacred liturgy
III. Dei Verbum - on Divine Revelation
IV. Gaudium et Spes - on the Church in the Modern World
One of the repeated themes of Pope Benedict’s writings has been the importance of reading and interpreting the documents of Vatican II in the right way, using what he describes as the ‘right hermeneutic’, or interpretation.
The use of a correct interpretive approach is essential to reaching a proper understanding of the Truth in Scripture and in the teaching documents of the Church. This correct approach is sometimes called a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’. This may sound a little complicated, but in simplicity it affirms that a Catholic can only properly understand a Christian teaching if he or she takes into account what both Scripture and the Magisterium have said on a subject. Any understanding which fastens on what Scripture says to the exclusion of the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church) or which fastens on this or that statement of the Magisterium in preference to others may be incorrect.
The Magisterium of the Church (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."47 This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.
86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."48