Let’s explore over the next four posts, “A people of many faces.” Culture is defined very broadly. And appropriately, I think. Culture is merely the particular way in which people relate to one another in certain social contexts.
115. The People of God is incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture. The concept of culture is valuable for grasping the various expressions of the Christian life present in God’s people. It has to do with the lifestyle of a given society, the specific way in which its members relate to one another, to other creatures and to God. Understood in this way, culture embraces the totality of a people’s life.[Puebla Document 386-387] Each people in the course of its history develops its culture with legitimate autonomy.[Gaudium et Spes 36] This is due to the fact that the human person, “by nature stands completely in need of life in society”[Gaudium et Spes 25] and always exists in reference to society, finding there a concrete way of relating to reality. The human person is always situated in a culture: “nature and culture are intimately linked”.[Gaudium et Spes 53] Grace supposes culture, and God’s gift becomes flesh in the culture of those who receive it.
This is pretty straight-forward. Humans are created as social beings. As such, God can and does work through social structures, the Church as well as associations outside of it, to provide grace. The lesson? Look everywhere and always for it. It’s not confined to ecclesial surroundings.
Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium is online here.