Second Vatican Council – Man and His Activity

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council

Man and his activity

Second Vatican Council Man and his activityThe activity of man, as it has its origin in man, has man also as its end. Man through his work not only introduces change into things and into society; he also perfects himself. He learns a great deal; he develops his powers; he advances above and beyond himself. This kind of gain, properly understood, is more valuable than any external possessions. Man’s worth is greater because of what he is than because of what he has.

In the same way, all that men do to secure greater justice, more widespread brotherhood and a more humane structure of social relationships has more value than advance in technology. Technological development may provide the raw material for human progress, but of itself it is totally unable to bring it into being.

The criterion, therefore, for assessing man’s activity is this: does it, in accordance with God’s plan, fit in with the true good of the human race and allow man, individually and corporately, to develop and fulfill his vocation in its entirety?

Many of our contemporaries, however, seem to be afraid that a closer relationship between religion and man’s activity will injure the autonomy of men or societies or the different sciences. If by the autonomy of earthly realities we mean that created beings and even societies have their own distinctive laws and values, which must be gradually identified, used and regulated by men, this kind of autonomy is rightly demanded. Not only is it insisted on by modern man, it is also in harmony with the design of the Creator. By the very fact of creation everything is provided with its own stability, its own truth and goodness, its own laws and orderly functioning. Man must respect these, acknowledging the methods proper to each science or art.

One should therefore deplore certain attitudes of mind which are sometimes found even among Christians because of a failure to recognize the legitimate autonomy of science. These mental attitudes have given rise to conflict and controversy and led many to assume that faith and science are mutually opposed.

If, on the other hand, the autonomy of the temporal order is understood to mean that created things do no depend on God, and that man may use them without reference to the Creator, all who believe in God will realize how false is this teaching. For creation without the Creator fades into nothingness.

Complete Fullness of Christ

From a homily by a spiritual writer of the fourth century
May you be filled to the complete fullness of Christ

Those who have been considered worthy to go forth as the sons of God and to be born again of the Holy Spirit from on high, and who hold within them the Christ who renews them and fills them with light, are directed by the Spirit in varied and different ways and in their spiritual repose they are led invisibly in their hearts by grace.

At times, they are like men who mourn and lament over their fellow men, and pouring forth prayers for the whole human race, they plunge into tears and lamentation, on fire with spiritual love for mankind.

At other times they are enkindled by the Spirit with love and exultation that, were it possible, they would clasp in their embrace all mankind, without discrimination, good and bad alike.

Sometimes they are cast down below all mankind in lowliness of spirit, so that they reckon theirs to be the lowest and most abject of conditions.

And sometimes they are held by the Spirit in ineffable joy.

At one time they are like a brave man who puts on the king’s full armor and goes down into battle; he fights bravely against the enemy and defeats them. In like manner, the spiritual man takes up the heavenly arms of the Spirit and marches against the enemy and engaging in battle tramples the foe beneath his feet.

At another time the soul is at rest in deepest silence, tranquility and peace, existing in sheer spiritual pleasure and in ineffable repose and a perfect state.

Again, the soul is instructed by grace in a certain understanding in the ineffable wisdom and the inscrutable knowledge of the Spirit on matters which neither tongue nor lips can utter.

Then again, the soul becomes like any ordinary man.

In such varied ways does grace work within them and many are the means by which it leads the soul, renewing it according to God’s will and training it in different ways so that it may be set before the heavenly Father pure and whole and blameless.

We, too, therefore must make our prayer to God and entreat in love and in great hope that he may bestow upon us the heavenly grace of the gift of the Spirit. We pray that we, too, may be guided by that Spirit and that he may lead us into the fullness of divine will and refresh us with the varied kinds of his repose, that by the help of this guidance, exercise of grace and spiritual advancement, we may be considered worthy to attain to the perfection of the fullness of Christ, as the Apostle says: that you may be filled to the complete fullness of Christ.