Lumen Gentium 51

The council does two things here. First, it affirms Catholic teaching on dead believers as elucidated in previous councils. And second, it urges perspective and an elimination of abuses which have been associated with Catholic expression for the dead. Nothing specific is mentioned, however.

This Sacred Council accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our (sisters and brothers) who are in heavenly glory or who having died are still being purified; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea,(Conc. Nicaenum II, Act. VII: Denz. 302 (600).) the Council of Florence (Conc. Florentinum, Decretum pro Graecis: Denz. 693 (1304).) and the Council of Trent.(Conc. Tridentinum Sess. 35, De invocatione, veneratione et reliquiis Sanctorum et sacris imaginibus: Denz. 984-988 (1821-1824); Sess. 25, Decretum de Purgatorio: Denz. 983 (1820); Sess. 6, Decretum de iustificatione, can. 30: Denz. 840 (1580).) And at the same time, in conformity with our own pastoral interests, we urge all concerned, if any abuses, excesses or defects have crept in here or there, to do what is in their power to remove or correct them, and to restore all things to a fuller praise of Christ and of God. Let them therefore teach the faithful that the authentic cult of the saints consists not so much in the multiplying of external acts, but rather in the greater intensity of our love, whereby, for our own greater good and that of the whole Church, we seek from the saints “example in their way of life, fellowship in their communion, and aid by their intercession.”(Ex Praefatione, aliquious dioecesibus concessa.) On the other hand, let them teach the faithful that our communion with those in heaven, provided that it is understood in the fuller light of faith according to its genuine nature, in no way weakens, but conversely, more thoroughly enriches the latreutic worship we give to God the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit.(Cfr. S. Petrus Canisius, Catechismus Maior seu Summa Doctrinae christianae, cap. III (ed. crit. F. Streicher) pas I, pp. 15-16, n. 44 et pp. 100-1O1, n. 49.)

For all of us, who are sons (and daughters) of God and constitute one family in Christ.(Cf. Heb. 3, 6.) as long as we remain in communion with one another in mutual charity and in one praise of the most holy Trinity, are corresponding with the intimate vocation of the Church and partaking in foretaste the liturgy of consummate glory.(Cfr. Conc. Vaticanum II Const. De Sacra Liturgia, cap. 1 n. 8.) For when Christ shall appear and the glorious resurrection of the dead will take place, the glory of God will light up the heavenly City and the Lamb will be the lamp thereof.( Cf. Apoc. 21, 24.) Then the whole Church of the saints in the supreme happiness of charity will adore God and “the Lamb who was slain”,(Apoc. 5, 12.) proclaiming with one voice: “To Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb blessing, and honor, and glory, and dominion forever and ever”.(Apoc. 5, 13-14.)

This concludes the main body of Lumen Gentium. Next we’ll devote some time and posts to the Blessed Mother and examine the council thinking on her role in the faith of the Church.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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