Got your machete out? There’s a lot more thick material to cut our way through. I’m doing my best to make it a bit easier to swallow. Remember that if you want to read the actual text you can find it online at the Vatican website. Today we look at paragraph 8 of Lumen Gentium.
You know how we say that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God: in a similar way we say that the Church is both visible and mystical. So Christ leads us from heaven yet we have a pope (and a brand spanking new one at that.) We have structures and hierarchies but there is also the endless pool of grace with which we deal.
This (one, holy, catholic, apostolic) Church is given to us by Christ who handed on authority to present day leadership through the power of the keys given to St. Peter. They are handed down through the generations until being given to Pope Francis.
That does not mean that one will find no truth being preached going to that new storefront church that opened up in the old drugstore that closed down years ago or that took over the closed Catholic Church. The truth found there is part of the gifts of the “Church of Christ” and this truth drives us toward Catholic unity. (In other words, the fullness of truth resides in the One True Church and all truth leads to unity in it.)
Now, here’s a sticky part. It says that since Jesus emptied Himself of Godly glory, becoming poor to bring His message to the world, so should the Church. Recognizing that she needs resources with which to carry out her mission, she is none-the-less is to imitate her founder in order to minister to the poor, the sinner, and the sufferer.
“Now wait a minute,” you might be saying to yourself, “I just saw the papal election, there was very little impoverished or simple about that!” And I don’t want to get into a discussion about the Church saving art for the world. Can one be surrounded by beauty (even in a parish) and still live a simple life? That is a post for another day. But we do have a pope named Francis who seems to take simple living rather seriously. We may see lots of changes coming up. Stay tuned.
In any event, the Church, like a foreigner in a foreign land, is to keep proclaiming Christ crucified and the coming of the Kingdom both to her own and to the world until Christ comes again to bring the fulfillment of His kingdom.
And that was all packed in paragraph 8! I’m afraid I didn’t do it justice. Next week: The People of God.