EUREKA: Discovering Catholic Treasury – through a Lenten lens! : “Lumen Gentium”

A. What is it?

>> “Lumen Gentium” is a Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on the Church

>> “Lumen Gentium” is the Latin phrase for “Light of the Nations”

>> It was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964

B. What does it speak of?

>> “Lumen Gentium” has a two-fold purpose:

(a) To explain the Church’s nature as “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all men”

(b) To clarify the Church’s universal mission as the sacrament of human salvation.

>> “Lumen Gentium” consists of 7 chapters

(i) Chapter 1: “The Mystery of the Church”

>> It provides a summary of the very nature of the Church – as both the visible and invisible reality – through which all persons are called to participate in the Trinitarian, Divine life of God through, with, and in Christ Jesus.

(ii) Chapter 2: “On the People of God”

>> It teaches that God wills to save people not just as individuals but as a people.

>> Because Christ’s love and mission are universal, so the Church’s missionary love extends to all people

>> In union with Him, the members of this people share in His anointing and thus in His mission. Baptism confers the dignity of being prophet, priest, and king in Christ.

(iii) Chapter 3: “On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in Particular on the Episcopate”

>> Christ entrusted the apostles with the mission of leading, assigning Peter as the head. Their successors, the bishops, are entrusted with the same mission until the end of the world.

>> The Bishop’s highest priorities are to lead the people towards order, harmony, and unity.

(iv) Chapter 4: “The Laity”

>> Christ continues His threefold messianic mission through the laity as well as the hierarchy.

>> The laity profoundly evangelize by how they live their everyday lives.

(v) Chapter 5: “The Call to Holiness”

>> The key to holiness rests in Love – Love of God.

>> This call to holiness is from Christ himself.

>> It is the Holy Spirit who moves us closer to God’s holiness.

>> All the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity

(vi) Chapter 6: “The Religious”

>> The religious state clearly manifests that the Kingdom of God and its needs, in a very special way, are raised above all earthly considerations.

>> It is considered a “deepening of the baptismal character”.

(vii) The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church and Its Union with the Church in Heaven

>> We are in a special way connected to all those who have attained Christ’s promise.

>> Our union in the Mystical Body of Christ is never more real than when we participate in the Sacred Liturgy/the Mass.

>> Celebrating the Eucharist closely unites us to the Church in heaven. We are together in communion with those in heaven and we worship God together, through Christ, in the Spirit.

(viii) “Our Lady”

>> The Church honors Mary because she is the beloved Mother of Jesus.

>> As the Mother of God and as the Mother of the Redeemer, She maintains a place of honor in both the earthly Church and in the Heavenly.

>> We honor and have piety toward Mary for no other reason than to better know Christ and to open the whole world up to receiving the graces of Christ.

>> It encouraged people to cultivate a loving devotion to Mary and strongly urged theologians and pastors to abstain from gross exaggerations and or neglectful omission in considering the dignity of Mary.

C. Pointers for Reflections

1. “Lumen Gentium” emphasizes on “the Call to Holiness and a Fully Human Life”

>> Christ instituted the Seven Sacraments and established the Apostles and their Successors to represent Him as Head of the Church. Through them Christ continues to teach, to sanctify, and to rule over the Church.

>> The Church, possesses the fullness of the means of sanctification.

2. It speaks of “a Church of the Poor and for the Poor”

>> In loving the poor, the Church practices the Lord’s admonition to love those who are unable to make kind of return (Lk 6:32-34)

>> To be poor like Christ means to rely entirely on God.

D. What virtues/points can we pick up from “Lumen Gentium” for this Season of Lent?

1. Focusing on the Primary Duty of our Christian vocation: To be Holy

2. Love the Church – Be proud to belong to the Church

E. Tips to practice these virtues

1. Everyday making an examination and ask: How much did I try to grow in holiness today?

2. Pray for the Church everyday – especially in these days of crisis and scandal…

… trusting that God will always protect the Church and keep Her safe.

May this Lent and the familiarity with the Encyclical “Lumen Gentium” help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”

(The Full Text of “Lumen Gentium” can be found at:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121

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