Showing posts with label Church Documents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Church Documents. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Parousia?

There is a classic formula that is taught to kids and which is held as the truth by adults, too: Love God, be good, make sure you get your sins forgiven, and then you will go to heaven when you die. This formula finds its most well-known Catholic expression in the Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 150. Why did God make you?

A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
• Baltimore Catechism 3, Lesson 1

But the vision of the Baltimore Catechism lacks something essential:
With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:8b-10, NRSV)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also alludes to this plan to gather or "sum up" all things in Christ:
669 [...] "The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery," "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom."

670 Since the Ascension God's plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at "the last hour." "Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with sanctity that is real but imperfect." Christ's kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.

1108 In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form his Body. The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father's vine which bears fruit on its branches. The most intimate cooperation of the Holy Spirit and the Church is achieved in the liturgy. The Spirit, who is the Spirit of communion, abides indefectibly in the Church. For this reason the Church is the great sacrament of divine communion which gathers God's scattered children together. Communion with the Holy Trinity and fraternal communion are inseparably the fruit of the Spirit in the liturgy.

1130 The Church celebrates the mystery of her Lord "until he comes," when God will be "everything to everyone." [...]

This assertion, made quite forcibly in the CCC (written and completed during the pontificate of John Paul II), isn't present in the Baltimore Catechism at all (I have read it through, but if you'd like to see for yourself, here is a site where you can use a search engine to try to find what I'm missing). It does, however, resonate with the writings of Jean Cardinal Daniélou (example), as well as with those of Pope Benedict XVI, particularly in his Encyclical Spe Salvi:
His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us... In the modern era, the idea of the Last Judgement has faded into the background: Christian faith has been individualized and primarily oriented towards the salvation of the believer's own soul, [but] ...we should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse... In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too[40]. As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Father Carron's Intervention at the Synod on the Word of God

Rev. Julián CARRÓN, President of Communion and Liberation (from

Interpretation of the Bible is one of the most worrisome problems in the Church today. The essence of the challenge brought up by the problem of modern interpretation of Sacred Scriptures was identified years ago by the then Cardinal Ratzinger: “How can I come to a comprehension which is not based on the judgement of my suppositions, a comprehension that permits me to understand the text’s message, giving me back something that does not come from my person?”

Regarding this difficulty, today’s Magisterium of the Church offers us elements to avoid any possible reduction.

It was the Second Vatican Council’s merit to have recuperated a concept of revelation as the event of God in history. In effect, Dei Verbum permits understanding the revelation as the auto-communication’s event of the Trinity through the Son “the mediator and the fullness of all Revelation” (DV 2). It is Christ who “perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth” (DV 4).

This event does not belong only to the past, to a certain moment in time and space, but remains present in history, communicating itself through the totality of the Church’s life that receives it. In fact, “Christ’s contemporaneity to each human being of any time is realized through his body which is the Church” (VS 25; cf. FR 11).

The encyclical letter Fides et Ratio characterizes the impact, that the revealed truth provokes in each person that encounters it, with two folded impulse: a) it widens one’s mind to adapt it to the subject; b) it facilitates the comprehension of its deep sense. Instead of mortifying the person’s intellect and liberty, the revelation leads to developing both the highest level of their original condition.

The experience of the encounter with Christ present in the living tradition of the Church is an event and therefore becomes the determining factor of the interpretation of the biblical text. It is the only way to be in harmony with the experience witnessed by the Scripture’s text. In fact, “the right knowledge of the biblical text is therefore accessible only to whom has a lived affinity with what is stated in the text” (PcB 70). Saint Augustin summarizes it realistically: “In manibus nostris sunt codices, in oculis nostris facta”.

[Original text: Italian]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on the role of the bishop

• Vatican Council II, Constitutio dogmatica Lumen gentium, 21 Nov 1964, AAS 57 (1965) 5-71.5

26. Moreover, every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is regulated by the bishop, to whom is confided the duty of presenting to the divine majesty the cult of the Christian religion and of ordering it in accordance with the Lord’s injunctions and the Church’s regulations, as further defined for the diocese by his particular decision.
• In reality, the ministerial and hierarchical priesthood, the priesthood of the bishops and the priests, and, at their side, the ministry of the deacons -- ministries which normally begin with the proclamation of the Gospel -- are in the closest relationship with the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the principal and central raison d'etre of the sacrament of the priesthood, which effectively came into being at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist, and together with it.[2] JPII letter to bishops (Dominicae Cenae, On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, Promulgated on February 24, 1980, To All the Bishops of the Church.)
• The Bishop is the high priest of his flock. "In a certain sense it is from him that the faithful who are under his care derive and maintain their life in Christ" (SC 41).
• The diocesan Bishop is the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church or diocese entrusted to him. He is the moderator, the promoter, and the guardian of the liturgical life of the Church in his diocese. It is he who offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice, or causes it to be offered, so that the Church continually lives and grows (see CD 15; SC 41; CIC can. 387; RS 19).
• Vatican Council II, Decretum Christus Dominus, 28 Oct 1965, AAS 58 (1966) 673-701.6

15. It is therefore bishops who are the principle dispensers of the mysteries of God, and it is their function to control, promote and protect the entire liturgical life of the Church entrusted to them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

To teach as Jesus did

Fra Angelico

From "To Teach as Jesus Did," A pastoral message on Christian education, 1972 (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops):

6. Proclaiming the Gospel is a perennial task and joy for the Church of Jesus Christ. Rarely if ever has it been more pressing a need, more urgent a duty, and more ennobling a vocation than in these times when mankind stands poised between unprecedented fulfillment and equally unprecedented calamity.

13. Education is one of the most important ways by which the Church fulfills its commitment to the dignity of the person and the building of community. Community is central to educational ministry both as a necessary condition and an ardently desired goal. The educational efforts of the Church must therefore be directed to forming persons-in-community; for the education of the individual Christian is important not only to his solitary destiny but also to the destinies of the many communities in which he lives.

14. The educational mission of the Church is an integrated ministry embracing three interlocking dimensions: the message revealed by God (didache) which the Church proclaims; fellowship in the life of the Holy Spirit (koinonia); service to the Christian community and the entire human community (diakonia). While these three essential elements can be separated for the sake of analysis, they are joined in the one educational ministry. Each educational program or institution under Church sponsorship is obliged to contribute in it own way to the realization of the threefold purpose within the total educational ministry...


16. Revelation is the act by which God unfolds to mankind the mystery of Himself and His plan for salvation. In Jesus, the Son of God, the message of the Old Law was fulfilled and the fullness of God's message was communicated. At the time of the Apostles the message of salvation was completed, and we therefore "await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Dei Verbum, 4). It is this message, this doctrine, which the Church is called to proclaim authentically and fully.


22. As God's plan unfolds in the life of an individual Christian, he grows in awareness that, as a child of God, he does not live in isolation from others. From the moment of Baptism he becomes a member of a new and larger family, the Christian community. Reborn in Baptism, he is joined to others in common faith, hope, and love. This community is based not on force or accident of geographic location or even on deeper ties of ethnic origin, but on the life of the Spirit which unites its members in a unique fellowship so intimate that Paul likens it to a body of which each individual is a part and Jesus Himself is the Head...


28. The experience of Christian community leads naturally to service. Christ gives His people different gifts not only for themselves but for others. Each must serve the other for the good of all. The Church is a servant community in which those who hunger are to be filled; the ignorant are to be taught; the homeless to receive shelter; the sick cared for; the distressed consoled; the oppressed set free -- all so that men may more fully realize their human potential and more readilty enjoy life with God now and eternally.

29. But the Christian community should not be concerned only for itself. Christ did not intend it to live walled off from the world any more than He intended each person to work out his destiny in isolation from others. Fidelity to the will of Christ joins His community with the total human community...

31. Beyond question the vision of the threefold educational ministry presented here is an ambitious one. Were it of human origin, one might well despair of its attainment. But since it represents God's plan, it must be energetically pursued...

Looking at this document, two things strike me -- the emphasis (which I have highlighted) on the Plan of God ("In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery 5 of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth" -- Ephesians 1:8c-10) and the central importance placed on community (which the document defines as: "fellowship in the life of the Holy Spirit"). To teach as Jesus did, then, is not a question of imparting information but of orienting hearts and minds and souls to the communital dimension of life and the plan of God for cosmic communion in Christ ("to sum up all things in Christ...").

These should be the measures we use to decide whether a catechetical method is "working" or is even worthy of being called "Catholic": How does it build, sustain, and encourage koinonia? How does it educate us to the Plan of God?


Van Gogh

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."