Food For Thought – This Messianic People

See, the days are coming, says the Lord………..

It was Christ who established this new covenant, the new testament in his blood, calling into being, from Jews and Gentiles……….

This messianic people has Christ as its head: Christ who was given up for our sins and rose again for our justification; bearing now the name that is above every name, he reigns in glory in heaven……….

“This messianic people, then, though it does not in fact embrace all mankind and often seems to be a tiny flock, is yet the enduring source of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race. It is established by Christ as a communion of life, of love and of truth; it is also used by him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent out into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth.”  

(From the dogmatic constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council:The Church as sacrament of unity and salvation)

 

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

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

Man’s deeper questionings

The world of today reveals itself as at once powerful and weak, capable of achieving the best or the worst. There lies open before it the way to freedom or slavery, progress or regression, brotherhood or hatred. In addition, man is becoming aware that it is for himself to give the right direction to forces that he himself has awakened, forces that can be his master or his servant. He therefore puts questions to himself.

The tensions disturbing the world of today are in fact related to a more fundamental tension rooted in the human heart. In man himself many elements are in conflict with each other. On one side, he has experience of his many limitations as a creature. On the other, he knows that there is no limit to his aspirations, and that he is called to a higher kind of life.

Many things compete for his attention, but he is always compelled to make a choice among them. and to renounce some. What is more, in his weakness and sinfulness he often does what he does not want to do, and fails to do what he would like to do. In consequence, he suffers from a conflict within himself, and this in turn gives rise to so many great tensions in society.

Very many people, infected as they are with a materialistic way of life, cannot see this dramatic state of affairs in all its clarity, or at least are prevented from giving thought to it because of the unhappiness that they themselves experience.

Many think that they can find peace in the different philosophies that are proposed.

Some look for complete and genuine liberation for man from man’s efforts alone. They are convinced that the coming kingdom of man on earth will satisfy all the desires of his heart.

There are those who despair of finding any meaning in life: they commend the boldness of those who deny all significance to human existence in itself, and seek to impose a total meaning on it only from within themselves.

But in the face of the way the world is developing today, there is an ever increasing number of people who are asking the most fundamental questions or are seeing them with a keener awareness: What is man? What is the meaning of pain, of evil, of death, which still persist in spite of such great progress? What is the use of those successes, achieved at such a cost? What can man contribute to society, what can he expect from society? What will come after this life on earth?

The Church believes that Christ died and rose for all, and can give man light and strength through his Spirit to fulfill his highest calling; his is the only name under heaven in which men can be saved.

So too the Church believes that the center and goal of all human history is found in her Lord and Master.

The Church also affirms that underlying all changes there are many things that do not change; they have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever.

 

The War of the Two Councils: The True and the False

by Sandro Magister

ROME, February 15, 3103 – To the priests of his diocese, with whom he met yesterday for the last time before leaving, Benedict XVI wanted to deliver “a little chat on Vatican Council II, as I have seen it.”

In reality, the “little chat” lasted for almost 40 minutes, with the audience very much attentive throughout.

Joseph Ratzinger spoke off the cuff, without ever looking at any notes.

He proceeded according to major chapter divisions, each of them dedicated to the main questions faced one after another by the Council: the liturgy, the Church, revelation, ecumenism, religious freedom, the relationship with Judaism and the other religions.

For each of these themes he said what was at stake and recounted how the conciliar fathers addressed it. With passages of great interest on the concept of the People of God and on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition.

But to everything he added an introduction and a conclusion that particularly impressed those present.

THE INTRODUCTION

Benedict XVI began with an anecdote, telling about when Cardinal Frings had invited him, a young theologian, to write him an outline for a conference that he would have to give in Genoa, at the request of Cardinal Siri, on the topic of “the Council and modern thought.”

The outline pleased the cardinal, who read it just as the young Ratzinger had written it for him. But the best part came afterward:

“A little while later Pope John called Frings, and he was full of trepidation that he may have said something incorrect, something false, and that he had been called upon for a rebuke, perhaps even to have the scarlet taken away.

Among the bishops of the whole world, those who had the most definite intentions from the start were the episcopates of France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, what was called the “Rhenish alliance.” In the first part of the Council “they were therefore the ones who pointed out the way, but the activity was quickly widened and everyone participated more and more in the creativity of the assembly.”” read more…

 

 

THE CONCLUSION

 

 

At the conclusion of the conversation, Benedict XVI instead subjected to criticism the relationship that has been established between the “true Council” and the “Council of the media,” between the real Council and the virtual one.

 

Here it is best to consult the literal and complete transcription of his words:

 

“I would now like to add another point: there was the Council of the fathers – the true Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council unto itself, and the world perceived the Council through these, through the media.

 

“Therefore the Council that immediately and efficiently arrived to the people was that of the media, not that of the fathers. And while the Council of the fathers was realized within the faith, and was a Council of the faith that seeks ‘intellectus,’ that seeks to understand itself and seeks to understand the signs of God at that moment, that seeks to respond to the challenge of God at that moment and to find in the word of God the word for today and tomorrow, while the whole Council – as I have said – was moving within the faith, as ”fides quaerens intellectum,’ the Council of the journalists was not realized, naturally, within the faith, but within the categories of today’s media, meaning outside of the faith, with a different hermeneutic.

 

“It was a political hermeneutic. For the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different currents in the Church. It was obvious that the media were taking sides with that part which seemed to them to have the most in common with their world. There were those who were seeking the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression “people of God,” the power of the people, of the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and to the power of all, popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them this was the side to approve of, to promulgate, to favor.

 

“And so also for the liturgy: the liturgy was not of interest as an act of faith, but as a matter where understandable things are done, a matter of community activity, a profane matter. And we know that there was a tendency, that was also founded historically, to say: sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps even in the Old Testament, but in the New all that matters is that Christ died outside: that is, outside of the gates, meaning in the profane world. A sacrality therefore to be brought to an end, profanity of worship as well: worship is not worship but an act of the whole, of common participation, and thus also participation as activity.

 

“These translations, trivializations of the idea of the Council were virulent in the praxis of the application of liturgical reform; they were born in a vision of the Council outside of its proper key, that of faith. And thus also in the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to be treated historically and nothing else, and so on.

 

“We know how this Council of the media was accessible to all. Therefore, this was the dominant, more efficient one, and has created so much calamity, so many problems, really so much misery: seminaries closed, convents closed, liturgy trivialized. . . . And the true Council had difficulty in becoming concrete, in realizing itself; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council.

 

“But the real power of the Council was present and, little by little, is realizing itself more and more and becomes the true power that then is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, fifty years after the Council, we see how this virtual Council is breaking up, is becoming lost, and the true Council is appearing with all of its spiritual power. And it is our task, precisely in this Year of Faith, beginning from this Year of Faith, to work in order that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, may be realized and that the Church may really be renewed. Let us hope that the Lord may help us. I, retired with my prayer, will always be with you, and together we will go forward with the Lord. In the certainty: the Lord triumphs!”

. . . Yes, when his secretary was dressing him for the audience with the pope he said: ‘Perhaps now I am wearing this robe for the last time.’ Then he went in. Pope John came to meet him, embraced him and said: ‘Thank you, Your Eminence, you have said the things that I wanted to say, but could not find the words.’ In this way the cardinal knew that he was on the right path, and he invited me to go with him to the Council, first as his personal expert and then also as an official peritus.”

Benedict XVI then continued:

“We went to the Council not only with joy, but with enthusiasm. The anticipation was incredible. We were hoping that everything would be renewed, that a new Pentecost would come, a new era of the Church, because the Church was still robust enough at that time, but it seemed more a reality of the past than of the future. And so we were hoping that this would change, that the Church would once again be strength for tomorrow and strength for today.” read more…

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.

The Way To Freedom

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council Man’s deeper questionings

The world of today reveals itself as at once powerful and weak, capable of achieving the best or the worst. There lies open before it the way to freedom or slavery, progress or regression, brotherhood or hatred. In addition, man is becoming aware that it is for himself to give the right direction to forces that he himself has awakened, forces that can be his master or his servant. He therefore puts questions to himself.
The tensions disturbing the world of today are in fact related to a more fundamental tension rooted in the human heart. In man himself many elements are in conflict with each other. On one side, he has experience of his many limitations as a creature. On the other, he knows that there is no limit to his aspirations, and that he is called to a higher kind of life.
Many things compete for his attention, but he is always compelled to make a choice among them. and to renounce some. What is more, in his weakness and sinfulness he often does what he does not want to do, and fails to do what he would like to do. In consequence, he suffers from a conflict within himself, and this in turn gives rise to so many great tensions in society.
Very many people, infected as they are with a materialistic way of life, cannot see this dramatic state of affairs in all its clarity, or at least are prevented from giving thought to it because of the unhappiness that they themselves experience.
Many think that they can find peace in the different philosophies that are proposed.
Some look for complete and genuine liberation for man from man’s efforts alone. They are convinced that the coming kingdom of man on earth will satisfy all the desires of his heart.
There are those who despair of finding any meaning in life: they commend the boldness of those who deny all significance to human existence in itself, and seek to impose a total meaning on it only from within themselves.
But in the face of the way the world is developing today, there is an ever increasing number of people who are asking the most fundamental questions or are seeing them with a keener awareness: What is man? What is the meaning of pain, of evil, of death, which still persist in spite of such great progress? What is the use of those successes, achieved at such a cost? What can man contribute to society, what can he expect from society? What will come after this life on earth?
The Church believes that Christ died and rose for all, and can give man light and strength through his Spirit to fulfil his highest calling; his is the only name under heaven in which men can be saved.
So too the Church believes that the centre and goal of all human history is found in her Lord and Master.
The Church also affirms that underlying all changes there are many things that do not change; they have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever.

Sent from my iPod

The Mystery of Death

From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et spes)
The Mystery of Death

In the face of death the enigma of human existence reaches its climax. Man is not only the victim of pain and the progressive deterioration of his body; he is also, and more deeply, tormented by the fear of final extinction. But the instinctive judgment of his heart is right when he shrinks from, and rejects, the idea of a total collapse and definitive end of his own person. He carries within him the seed of eternity, which cannot be reduced to matter alone, and so he rebels against death. All efforts of technology, however useful they may be, cannot calm his anxieties; the biological extension of his life-span cannot satisfy the desire inescapably present in his heart for a life beyond this life.

Imagination is completely helpless when confronted with death. Yet the Church, instructed by divine revelation, affirms that man has been created by God for a destiny of happiness beyond the reach of earthly trials. Moreover, the Christian faith teaches that bodily death, to which man would not have been subjected if he had not sinned, ywill be conquered; the almighty and merciful Savior will restore man to the wholeness that he had lost through his own fault. God has called man, and still calls him, to be united in his whole being in perpetual communion with himself in the immortality of the divine life. This victory has been gained for us by the risen Christ, who by his own death has freed man from death.
Faith, presented with solid arguments, offers every thinking person the answer to his questionings concerning his future destiny. At the same time, it enables him to be one in Christ with his loved ones who have been taken from him by death and gives him hope that they have entered into true life with God.

Certainly, the Christian is faced with the necessity, and the duty, of fighting against evil through many trials, and of undergoing death. But by entering into the paschal mystery and being made like Christ in death, he will look forward, strong in hope, to the resurrection.

This is true not only of Christians but also of all men of good will in whose heart grace is invisibly at work. Since Christ died for all men, and the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, that is, a divine vocation, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being united with this paschal mystery in a way known only to God.
Such is the great mystery of man, enlightening believers through the Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ light is thrown on the enigma of pain and death which overwhelms us without his Gospel to teach us. Christ has risen, destroying death by his own death; he has given us the free gift of life so that as sons in the Son we may cry out in the Spirit, saying: Abba, Father!

Sent from my iPod