“What is the purpose of Lumen Gentium, and how can it help us?”
We have reached the purpose statement of Lumen Gentium. For the first time in the life of the Church, the leadership has put in writing a description of the inner nature and universal mission of the Church, and did so without adding any additional teachings. That is what the Holy Spirit gave us through the Council Fathers in Lumen Gentium. Several call this document a self-examination of who we are as Church.
The purpose of this episode is to look under the hood of the Church to get an understand of what is its inner nature and universal mission.
Our episode quote comes from the Vatican II decree written specifically about the laity’s role in the Church.
After listening to this podcast, you will be able to:
- Explain the role of the laity in the Church.
- Define the purpose of Vatican II document Apostolicam Actuositatem.
- List the four major topics of the metaphors Jesus left us to explain the Kingdom from which we can get a grasp on the inner nature of the Church.
- Quote the universal mission of the Church from memory.
- Discern your role in the mission of the Church.
Lumen Gentium Text
This text from Vatican II document Lumen Gentium is the basis for the content of this episode:
“The Church desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. This it intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous councils.” §01 ¶01
|Apostolicam Actuositatem presents a method how you can live Lumen Gentium. It is a document worthy of your reading and study.|
Holy Assent of Faith
- The rules of the road are given to ensure all those in automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles arrive safely at their destinations. If we choose to ignore stop signs, someone is going to get hurt or die. The Church offers similar rules for the similar reasons.
- Those teachings which require a Holy Assent of Faith are given not because Church leadership (Magisterium) wants to control us but out of love for us. In the faith that the Holy Spirit is directing the Church, we are to first be willing to follow teachings from Apostolic Constitutions and then be willing to understand why the teaching is given.
- A good example is the teaching that Sunday Mass attendance is obligatory. We need to first be willing to get to Mass each week then in the graces we receive from receiving the Lord in the Word and in the Eucharist seeking understanding why this is important.
- Dissent from these teachings is considered sinful because it puts our own salvation at risk like ignoring traffic rules.
Ordinary Assent of Faith
- In the USA, we are asked on Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) to consider they blood that earned our freedom as we remember all soldiers who died protecting our country. None of us has to do this but it is highly recommended. The same is asked of us with Ordinary Magisterium teachings.
- A recent example of when we are asked to give ordinary assent of faith (some also call this a religious submission of will and of mind) is Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home). You are free to dismiss or reject this encyclical because it is part of the Ordinary Magisterium that could contain error and are subject to revision.
Lumen Gentium 25
- While we have the right to faithfully reject Ordinary Magisterium, Lumen Gentium §25 teaches “Religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra. That is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known chiefly either from the character of the documents, his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”
- Translation: when the pope speaks, we do well to at least prayerfully consider what he has to say.
Unfold More Fully To The Faithful
- Providentissimus Deus (God of all Providence) by Pope Leo XIII.
- Unlike what some fiction writers and those opposed to the Church want you to believe, there are no secret teachings of the Church. We are not like the cults that have hidden ceremonies are do not allow teachings to be spoken to the uninitiated.
- To better understand our calling, we need to better understand the One making the call. This is done through regular study of Scripture and Mass attendance.
Inner Nature Of The Church
- Lumen Gentium §6 organizes and explains the inner nature of the Church.
“In the old Testament the revelation of the Kingdom is often conveyed by means of metaphors. In the same way the inner nature of the Church is now made known to us in different images taken either from tending sheep or cultivating the land, from building or even from family life and betrothals, the images receive preparatory shaping in the books of the Prophets.” Lumen Gentium §06 ¶01
The Church is Like Sheep
- Sheep 101
- Sheep are herd animals that need a leader. Humans are similar. We are willing to follow a leader even when we are not clear where this person is taking us.
- We are designed to want to follow a leader. Jesus tells us to follow Him through His Church.
The Church is Like a Sheepfold
- Under the guidance of the Good Shepherd, we live happier, peaceful, and more purposeful lives when in Christ than try to make it on our own. (John 10:7-16)
The Church is Like Farming / Land
- Parable Of Sower (Matthew 13:1-23)
- Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
- Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32)
- Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
- Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46)
- Olive Trees
The Church is Like a Building
- Jesus is the cornerstone that the builders rejected. (Matthew 21:42 fulfilling Psalm 118:22, and preached on in Acts 4:11).
- What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)
- Jesus gives us the firm foundation (2 Timothy 2:19) on which to build the Church in the teaching of the apostles and the early Church fathers.
- Peter and his successors are the rock on which the Church is built.
The Church is Like a Bride
- Saint Paul teaches this in Ephesians 5:25-27. Also found in Revelations at 19:7-11, 21:2, and 21:9.
- Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-46).
- Teachings of John the Baptist (John 3:29).
- SEVERAL other Scripture passages.
- Saint John Paul II Theology of the Body. Also see Christopher West .
The Church is Like a Mother
- It follows that since the Church is like a bride, she is also like a mother caring for those entrusted to her, which is us.
- Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium summarizes the Church’s teachings on Mary.
Universal Mission Of The Church
- “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, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you, and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19-21
- If anything we are doing does not support this mission, it is a waste of our time and resources and needs to be eliminated.
- To live a life worthy of our calling we need to get beyond the 10-year old’s understanding of the Church.
- We are all called to be transformed by what we receive at the Mass and live as the One we receive.
- Each of us were born for a reason. God does not make any mistakes.
- Ask God to help you understand your reason — your calling — and get out there and fulfill God’s purpose in your life.
No New Teachings
- “This (the unfolding of the inner nature to the Church) intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous councils.” Lumen Gentium §1
- Your homework is to ask God what is your role in this mission and then wait on Him to unfold the answer for you.
- As a light to the nations, you need to know your purpose. Ask God to help you with developing a purpose statement.
- In your journal — always bring your journal to prayer because what God has to say is well worth writing down — write at the top of a page “The purpose of my life is to…” and then God finish the statement. This way take several days and weeks so do not get frustrated if it is not clear the first time.
- You were created for such a time as this for a purpose. You will find your greatest sense of joy when you are working on that purpose.
May you be open to receiving the blessings that the Father has for you.
May you be open to conforming yourself to the image of Christ, the light of nations.
May you be open to the boldness of the Holy Spirit guiding you to live a life worthy of your calling.
May you be seeking God’s will for your life and doing what brings Him greater glory.
And I for these blessing on you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
Saint George Preca, pray for us!