Friday, February 12, 2010

A sign of grace

I read, in the new website, run by a group of Italian theologians, the following strange statements:

that the Council's constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, declare her to be something like a sacrament, veluti sacramentum, because "without that veluti anybody could have suspected that the Council wanted to impose the Church to the world in her divine transcendence, rather than humbly proposing her as a 'sign' of God's grace revealed in Jesus Christ and to promote her industriousness amidst men as an unassuming 'instrument', aimed to the realization 'of the intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind'".

What's so strange in this statement? you could ask.

Well, the fact is that I don't see the difference, in conceptual terms, between the Church presenting herself (why call it "imposing"?) to the world in her divine transcendence, and her being a sign of God's grace in Jesus Christ (and why this wouldn't be "imposing"?).

Well, I could be asked, don't you see that the author gave to the two things different connotations?

Of course I do, and it is precisely this that makes the statement strange: that to the same thing can be given, according to its verbal expression, a negative or a positive ring.

But it is the same nevertheless. So the difference is only in the author's head. In a way that makes him sound humble and unassuming toward the world, presumptuous and assuming toward the Church's past.

What else has ever wanted the Church to be, I repeat, except a sign to the world of God's grace in Jesus Christ? And the world, doesn't it stand because of it under judgment?

I thought that this is what Saint John's Gospel said.

By way of a hint. I think that all the trouble stemming in particular from the much famed Gaudium et spes (the pastoral constitution on the Church and the modern world) is in that word: world. We have been made to take it as referring to a neutral state of things, about which we don't need to exert our discernment and be judgmental. And we have been made to take it wrong: never, in human experience, there was, is or will be any such neutral state of things.


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