"15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth."The lovely thing about this passage is that it clearly indicates that all who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his body, the Church. There is one Church, and all Christians who are baptized belong to it. Some belong to it visibly, while others belong invisibly to the Church which visibly subsists in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not a super-denomination, not the top brand in an ecclesial supermarket. There is one Church to which all Christians belong through baptism. Christianity is a single experience that includes many gifts despite our divisions. The experience of Jonathan Edwards – though he detested Catholics – is valuable to me. The problems he and his congregation faced in the Christian life are the same problems we may face today. A test of Catholic faith is whether the pastoral leadership, sacraments, and teachings are more helpful in living this one Christian experience. One purpose of doctrinal definitions is to close off those dead ends of faith where people may get stuck: for example, double predestination which leads to despair or an 'assurance' which may include a presumption of salvation.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
My Favorite Passage from Vatican II
from Lumen Gentium