Forming Our Conscience

We have recalled some major distinctive (but, let us insist once again, not necessarily unique) moral convictions and concerns of Catholic Christianity respect for all human life as sacred a sexual responsibility located between selfish licentiousness and anti-body rigorism a deep concern for truth and justice care for all our neighbours in need a defence of human dignity and rights. What is to be said when we move from moral principles to human decisions and actions We conclude this chapter by...

Three Qualities of Revelation

Vatican II's Constitution on Divine Revelation understands revelation to be essentially 'sacramental', in the sense of coming through something that is done (e.g. the immersion in water or the pouring of water in baptism) and something that is said (e.g. the formula 'I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'). Like the sacraments the divine self-revelation occurs through an interplay of deeds and words for instance, through the words of the prophets...

The Human Condition Created and Sinful

If someone wishes to see God, who is invisible in nature and in no way visible, he understands and knows him from his works .Through the incarnation of the Word, the universal providence and its leader and creator, the Word of God himself, have been made known. For he became man that we might become divine and he revealed himself through a body that we might receive an idea of the invisible Father and he endured insults from men that we might inherit incorruption. (St Athanasius, De...

Religious Foundations and Movements

The closing pages of Ch. 1 sketched the growth of monasticism initiated by Benedict and his sister Scholastica. By the time of Emperor Charlemagne (d. 814) the Rule of Benedict had spread across Europe and provided a visible link between autonomous abbeys. Boniface (d. 754), a British missionary monk, not only preached Christianity in Germany but also established or helped to establish Benedictine houses there, most notably the Abbey of Fulda. Convents of Benedictine nuns continued to be...

Human Dignity and Human Rights

The dignity conferred on all human beings by their being created in the divine image provides the grounds for typically Catholic teaching on 231 In 1288 Folco Portinari, whose beautiful daughter Beatrice captivated Dante forever, opened in Florence the still existing hospital Santa Maria Nuova, which brought together religious women serving the sick, the first such nursing staff on record. universal human rights and their correlative duties (e.g. Gaudium etSpes, 26). Pope John Paul II developed...

The Christian East and West

The Second Letter of Peter states that God's 'divine power has given us everything needed for life and piety and called us 'to his own glory and 121 See B. R. Rees, Pelagius Life and Letters (Woodbridge Boydell & Brewer, 1998). goodness'. These gifts constitute God's 'promises' to humankind a divine call to 'escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust' and to become 'participants of the divine nature (physiif (2 Pet. 1 3 4). This striking picture of grace as sharing in the...

Centred On Jesus And Mary

Any good anthology of spiritual writing witnesses to the way that Catholicism at its best and truest focuses its heart on Jesus, who came to live, die, and rise for our salvation.239 In his Epistle to the Romans, written in the early second century when being brought in chains by soldiers to face death in Rome, St Ignatius of Antioch (d. .107) showed his intense love for Christ. Being 'ground by the teeth of wild beasts' would make him 'God's wheat' and the 'pure bread of Christ' (4. 1). This...

Dialogue And Mission

A fourth challenge that we wish to mention is that of continuing the move beyond the Western mould of Catholicism and, indeed, of much Christianity. The Catholic message about Jesus Christ and the way of living it in practice have, to some extent, already been indigenized in various cultures around the world. But more needs to be done, so as to adapt the language and life of Catholic faith to African, Chinese, Indian, and other cultural and religious forms.257 Being Catholic means hearing all...

Medieval Theology The Image

Just as the Eastern and Western traditions developed distinct readings of the theology of grace, the High Middle Ages in the West construed in two ways human beings as images of God. The scholastic theologians explained the believer's life of faith as a spiritual movement through which the human image journeys to become a fully fledged likeness of God in Christ. Or else they borrowed from Augustine's trinitarian theology everything human and spiritual reflects the soul's triadic constitution....

Using the Bible

In distinguishing between revelation and biblical inspiration, we have so far been directing attention to the formation of the scriptures in the past. What does the relationship between revelation and inspiration look like, if we turn to the role of scriptures in the life of Catholics and other Christians today First of all, experience witnesses to the way biblical texts can communicate divine revelation. Inspired texts continually prove themselves to be 'inspiring', and bring people into...

The Canon of Scripture

Four paragraphs above we wrote of looking for biblical truth in 'the whole canon of scriptures' still a controversial Roman Catholic claim, even though such ecumenical translations as The Oxford Annotated Bible reflect the way the situation has changed since the sixteenth-century Reformation. Let us take up matters point by point. One can describe the biblical canon as a closed list of inspired books that provide in a fixed, written form an authoritative standard for Christian belief and...

The Formation of the Biblical Record

The Bible should not and cannot be simply identified with revelation. As a living, interpersonal event, revelation takes place or happens. God initiates, at particular times and places and to particular persons, some form of self-communication. The divine initiative achieves its goal and revelation occurs when human beings respond in faith to the divine self-communication they experience. As such, the scriptures are not a living, interpersonal event. They are written records which, after the...

After Pentecost

In the post-Pentecost situation, the first Christians expected the risen Christ's glorious second coming, and formed a messianic, millennial group within Judaism. They fashioned their proclamation and interpretation of Jesus by putting together two elements on the one hand, their experience of the events in which Jesus was the central protagonist and, on the other, the images, concepts, expectations, and practices that they found to be relevant and illuminating within the Jewish scriptures. To...

The Pelagian Crisis

From NT times Christian believers understood grace as a totally gratuitous gift of God, the unmerited favour of being saved in Christ through faith. As St Paul put it, 'since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith' (Rom. 3 23 5). The divine initiative of love stood behind the whole process 'God, who is...

Sinners in the Early Centuries

Towards the end of the first century Clement of Rome was shocked at divisions and 'sedition against the presbyters' among the Christians of Corinth. He begged them 'Let us then quickly put an end to this state of affairs and let us fall down before the Master and beseech him with tears that he may have mercy on us, be reconciled to us, and restore us to our seemly and holy practice of brotherly love' Epistle to the Corinthians, 47 8 . Around the same time another Christian writer exhorted the...

Penance from the Sixth Century

The sacrament of penance underwent a dramatic change from the end of the sixth century Irish and Anglo-Saxon monk-missionaries, who had not known the older system of public penance, began fanning out across Europe, founding or refounding Christian communities, and introducing the 'monastic' practice of penance. This involved private confession to a spiritual father or mother , reception of an appropriate penance which was aimed more at restoring the balance of the moral universe than at...

God the Father

From the outset Christian believers have tried to explore faithfully the unity, diversity, and relationships between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. St Augustine of Hippo played a key role in this development. He has often been contrasted with the Cappadocians St Basil, St Gregory of Nazianzus, and St Gregory of Nyssa on the grounds that whereas they started their trinitarian theology with the three persons and then moved to the one shared essence , he began with the unity of the divine being in...

The Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults

Since the Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults RCIA was introduced in 1972, Catholics have been blessed by a retrieval of the ancient process for a conscious, grace-filled entry into the life of the Church. Formally elected and welcomed by the local community on the First Sunday of Lent, the catechumens, who have already been formed by the assembly in the ways of worship, justice, and personal prayer, begin their final period of preparation to receive the three sacraments of Christian...

Foundational and Dependent Revelation

Furthermore, we should recall here how Dei Verbum also portrays revelation as an ongoing reality which is ever being actualized and constantly invites human faith 'The obedience of faith Rom. 16 26 .must be given to the God who reveals' no. 5 . People are called, in one generation after another, to accept in faith the divine self-manifestation that was completed with Jesus and his first disciples. Dei Verbum associates revelation as it happened then with revelation as it happens now in the...

Picture Credits

The authors and publishers wish to thank the following for their kind permission to reproduce the illustrations Abbas Magnum Photos Abegg-Stiftung Riggisberg Bridgeman Art Library The Art Archive Missions Etrang res Paris Dagli Orti Biblioth que des Arts Decoratifs, Paris Bridgeman-Charmet Collection Catholic News Service Sonia Halliday Photographs Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston Bridgeman Art Library The National Gallery, London Popperphoto Carlos Reyes-Manzo Andes Press Agency Topham...

From Justin to Cyprian

To complete this account of elements from pre-Constantinian times that retain their importance for those who appreciate Catholic Christianity, we wish to retrieve some items from the witness of five writers. We begin with Justin. Among the distinctive features of his writings, two have shown their face in twentieth-century Catholicism. First of all, his Dialogue with Trypho illustrated how Catholic thinking should flow naturally towards Judaism. Justin shared the Hebrew scriptures with the Jew...

Early Leadership and Life

Dura Europos Murales

In concluding his Letter to the Romans, Paul begins with 'our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church', speaks of those who 'work' to spread the good news, and greets twenty-six people, twenty-four of them by name. As much as any passage in the NT, the final chapter of Romans raises the question was the Church meant to be a completely egalitarian community, free of any kind of subordination to office-holders and hierarchical authorities Did the vision of Jesus and the spontaneous direction of the...