GDC 42-45: “The transmission of Revelation by the Church, the work of the Holy Spirit”

This is a long title and post, but I thought it better to oversee the whole line of thinking in these sections:

42. The Revelation of God, culminating in Jesus Christ, is destined for all mankind: “He (God) desires all (people) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2,4) (Dei Verbum 7) In virtue of his universal salvific will, God has ordained that Revelation should be transmitted to all peoples and to all generations and should remain always in its entirety.

God’s plan for human salvation is universal. How is this Revelation to be transmitted? By human activity, of course: the evangelical outreach of believers. Hence the Church:

43. To fulfill this divine plan, Jesus Christ founded the Church, built on the Apostles. He gave them the Holy Spirit from the Father and sent them to preach the Gospel to the whole world. The Apostles, by words, deeds and writings, faithfully discharged this task.(Dei Verbum 7a)

The Church exists not for itself, but to achieve the mission of Christ. That would be the faithful transmission of the message of God’s love for all people.

Note that we are all charged with this mission, laity and clergy alike:

This Apostolic Tradition is perpetuated in the Church by means of the Church herself. The entire Church, pastors and faithful, is responsible for its conservation and transmission. The Gospel is conserved whole and entire in the Church: the disciples of Jesus Christ contemplate it and meditate upon it unceasingly; they live it out in their everyday lives; they proclaim it in their missionary activity. As the Church lives the Gospel she is continually made fruitful by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit causes her to grow constantly in her understanding of the Gospel, prompts her and sustains the task of proclaiming the Gospel in every corner of the world.(Dei Verbum 8 & CCC 75-79)

This is an enormous responsibility. Yet do believers take it seriously? Are they even told this is the whole point of the Christian life? To contemplate the Gospel and proclaim it by word and deed?

44. The integral conservation of Revelation, the word of God contained in Tradition and Scripture, as well as its continuous transmission, are guaranteed in their authenticity. The Magisterium of the Church, sustained by the Holy Spirit and endowed with “the sure charism of truth”,(Dei Verbum 10b; cf CCC 85-87) exercises the function of “authentically interpreting the word of God”.(Lumen Gentium 44, Ad Gentes 1, Gaudium et Spes 45; cf. CCC 774-776)

45. The Church, “universal sacrament of salvation”, born of the Holy Spirit, transmits Revelation through evangelization; she announces the Good News of the salvific plan of the Father and in the sacraments, communicates his Diving gifts.

To God who reveals himself is due this obedience of faith by which (people) adheres to the “Gospel of the grace of God”. (Acts 20,24) with full assent of the intellect and of the will. Guided by faith, by means of the gift of the Spirit, (humankind) succeeds in attaining to contemplate and to delight in the God of love, who in Christ has revealed the riches of his glory.(cf. Col 1:26)

This is worth taking slowly.

The Church’s quality of apostolicity is one of leadership–on one level. But it is also a quality in evidence in ordinary believers. When we give good example, when we preach, we continue the apostolic tradition. The Holy Spirit guides. But the laity are the tools. Or one might say the icons of apostolicity, at least when we are living the Christian life in such a convincing way that others are drawn to Christ.

How do we best take upon ourselves this mantle? GDC 42 suggests we remain aware of the intent of God to save all people. All are welcome to encounter Christ. GDC 43 charts out the ordinary course of the Christian life: not only are we to learn the Gospel, but we are to live it. The Holy Spirit ensures people watch, notice, and are nudged toward conversion. GDC 44 affirms the role of the bishops and theologians. That is a huge responsibility, one for which I’m glad I only have to worry about giving good example.

And finally, GDC 45 reminds us of the sacramental nature of evangelization. In a sacrament, we encounter Christ. We become aware of his presence. We are soaked more deeply in the opportunity of grace,

Thoughts on any of this?

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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.
This entry was posted in General Directory for Catechesis, post-conciliar catechetical documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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