The Dogmatic Constitution on
the Church
Lumen Gentium
Why is it important we know what Church is?
 Understanding who are the Church & what is the
Church influences how the Church understands
itself and it’s relation with world
 Influences understanding of
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
nature of salvation outside the Church;
the approach towards other religions or
ecumenicalism
the collegiate of bishops
the purpose of the liturgy
the role of the laity
Lumen Gentium
Background to Vatican II Document Lumen Gentium
John XXIII in preparation for this topic received over 9000
documents on what the Church is
Major themes of the draft document on Church
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Nature of Church Militant
Authority of Bishops & Obedience
Need of Church for salvation
Highest office of Church was ordinate (bishops)
Religious tolerance
This draft was rejected by the Council
Fathers!
Lumen Gentium
Draft rejected by majority of bishops
 Lack organic unity & ignored living structure of
Church
 Bishops wanted emphasis on “communion” & not on
hierarchy structure of Church
 Focus on outward role of Church; rejected inward
looking
 Corporate Nature of Church as Light to the World
 Rejection of clericalism & legalism approach
Lumen Gentium
Lumen Gentium keystone of Vatican II Council
 Deals with Nature & Purpose of Church
 Communion, meaning fellowship is central &
fundamental foundation of Church “I no longer call
you servants, but friends” John 15:15
 Communion with God through Scripture &
Sacraments
 Mystery of Church not fully comprehended by
humans as founded by God & work of God’s grace (art
6 gives many images of Church)
Themes of Lumen Gentuim
What is the Church?
 Church is organic as it continues to grow
 Church reflects the Light of Christ
 Church exists to bring people into communion
with God & each other
 Church is source of union & rallying point for
humanity
 All are called to belong to Church
 Art 6 gives different images of Church – field, vineyard
to give different insights to traits of Church
Themes of Lumen Gentium
What is the Church?
 Sign and instrument of communion with God &
unity of all – Church is Sacrament
 Makes visible the invisible & visible structure
communicates the Truth
 Visible & Invisible elements show Divine & human
nature of Church
 Church is People of God, chosen by God, called to
salvation & to proclaim Gospel for salvation of World
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Chapter 1 – Mystery of the Church
Art 2: Church found in Old Testament (present in
figure) in the history of Israel and old Alliance
(covenant)
Art 3: Jesus to carry out Will of the Father inaugurated
Kingdom of God on earth; the Church!
Origin & Growth of Church symbolized by blood &
water that flowed from Jesus side John 19:34
Art 4: Father sends Holy Spirit on Pentecost to
continue to sanctify Church; guiding Church to all
Truth
Nature of Church Reflects Trinity
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Chapter 2 – The People of God
Church exists for Salvation:
Is Salvation possible outside the Church?
Reformation & Council of Trent
 Protestant idea of Church was invisible union of for
members of Church were God’s elect
 Catholic response in Trent was on visible membership
of Church for Salvation with bishops, laws & creeds
 No salvation outside the Church
Yet many elements of Church found outside Church
– Scripture, acts of Charity
Lumen Gentium
Time of Council:
Tension between Church as source of Salvation & no salvation
outside the Church
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the
praises of him who called you out of darkness into his
wonderful light”. 1Peter 9
Art 14: Catholic Church a “pilgrim” church & Christ necessary
for salvation; those fully incorporated into Church access to
all means of Salvation
Art 14: Fully incorporation without charity – not saved
(rejection of “faith” alone); sacraments not automatic path to
Heaven
Lumen Gentium
Is Salvation possible outside the Church?
Art 15: Church joined to those who are baptized & hold
Sacred Scripture in honor as rule of Faith & Life,
celebrate the Eucharist & honor Mary are recognized
as part of the “invisible” Church
Art 16: “those who have not received the Gospel are
related to the People of God in various ways” – those of
the Jewish and Islamic traditions; those who seek
with a sincere heart, moved by grace and try in their
actions to do His will
Fullness of Christ resided in Church, but does not exclude
elements of Faith & Truth found outside Church
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Is there need then to evangelize?
Art 17: the Son himself sent the apostles saying, “go
therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Spirit” John 20:21
Art 17: The Church is driven, to do her part to realize the
plan of God in its fullness for the salvation of the world
Art 17: Each disciple of Christ has the obligation of
spreading the faith to the best of their ability
All elements – belief, desire and charity are considered by
the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel
Lumen Gentium
Chapter 5 The Call to Holiness
Art 39: Christ gave himself up for the Church; therefore
all in the Church, whether they belong the hierarchy
or cared for by it, are called to holiness.
Art 40: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly
Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48
Art 40: All Christians in any state or walk of life are
called to the fullness of Christian life
Art 41: “each one according to their own gifts & duties,
must steadfastly advance along the way of a living faith
All are called to holiness, regardless of state or condition
of life, not just ordained & religious
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“God is loves, and he who abides in loves abides in God
and God abides in him” 1John 4:16
Art 42: First & most necessary gift is Charity by which
we show love to God & our neighbor; but if to grow
necessary to hear Word of God; frequent participation
in the Sacraments, prayer, service & self denial
Chapters 3, 4 & 6 deal with they Hierarchy, Laity &
Religious as components of what make the Church
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Chapter VIII – Our Lady
Initially at the Council, there was a call for a separate
document on Mary, Mother of Gods
But recognized Mary, Mother of God as example for
the Church, the People of God in her fellowship with
us!
Biblical references of Lumen Gentium allows Mary to
be understood in Scriptural terms
Lumen Gentium Chapter VIII powerful treatment of
Catholic understanding of Mary & essential reading
for any Marian follower.
Lumen Gentium
Chapter VIII – Our Lady
God sent His Son… born of a woman.. Gal 4:4
Art 52: “He, for us men and our salvation, came down
from Heaven and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit for
the Virgin Mary” – the faithful recognize Mary’s role
Art 53: Acknowledged & honored as Mother of God & of
the Redeemer; & been of the family of Adam, she is
united to all who are to be saved
Art 55: Articles of both Old & New Testament show role
of Mary in the plan of Salvation – Gen 3:15; Is 7:14;
Matt 1:22-23
Lumen Gentium
Chapter VIII – Our Lady
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus” 1Tim2:5
Art 60: Mary’s function as mother in on way obscures or
diminished this mediator role of Christ, but rather
shows its power; Mary influence originates in the
disposition of God & flows from the superabundance
of the merits of Christ, depending on His role as
mediator
Lumen Gentium
Chapter VIII – Our Lady
Art 62: The Virgin Mary is given many titles such as
Advocate and Helper but this “neither takes away
anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and
efficacy of Christ as the one Mediator”
Art 62: “No creature could ever be counted along with
the Incarnate Word and Redeemer, but just as the
priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by
His ministers & the faithful….gives rise to a sharing in
the one source
Church doe not hesitate to profess subordinate role
of Mary
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Work of the Holy Spirit
Council is Faith Event where Church is guided by the
Holy Spirit
After first draft of Lumen Gentium which gave
attention to hierarchy & sacramental nature of
Church, speech given by Cardinal Suenens highlighted
the charismatic nature of Church
Art 12: “Allotting his gifts according as He will (Cor 12:11),
He also distributes special graces among the faithful of
every rank… for the renewal & building up of the
Church… “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to
everyone for profit”
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Work of the Holy Spirit & The Charismatic Movement
• Nature of Church is charismatic Catholic Catechism 749
• Charismatic movements recognized by Pope John Paul II
in St. Peter’s Square in 1998 – Year of the Holy Spirit; gave
recognition to charismatic movements
• Institution & Charismatic c0essential to Church’s nature
• Since Vatican II, vast outpouring of grace with growth in
lay & religious movements
• Existence of Third Orders groups lay foundation for
explosion of groups after Vatican II Council
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Summary
 Understanding what the Church is helps us
understanding role & mission of Church
 Church as sign & instrument of God
 Fellowship or communion as Church reflects
communion or fellowship found within the Trinity
 ALL are called to holiness, with Mary as example of
response to this call
 Lumen Gentium lays ground work for other
documents & later encyclicals
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