EG 116: Every Culture Is A Jewel

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneToday in Evangelii Gaudium we continue on the track of faith and religion as a community experience. Pope Francis cites peoples who have been converted to faith in God, and who express their faith differently. We have only to consider the celebrations of our Irish and Italian sisters and brothers this very week.

116. In these first two Christian millennia, countless peoples have received the grace of faith, brought it to flower in their daily lives and handed it on in the language of their own culture. Whenever a community receives the message of salvation, the Holy Spirit enriches its culture with the transforming power of the Gospel. The history of the Church shows that Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression, but rather, “remaining completely true to itself, with unswerving fidelity to the proclamation of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, it will also reflect the different faces of the cultures and peoples in which it is received and takes root”.[Novo Millennio Ineunte 40]

It extends beyond colors and foods, however:

In the diversity of peoples who experience the gift of God, each in accordance with its own culture, the Church expresses her genuine catholicity and shows forth the “beauty of her varied face”.[Novo Millennio Ineunte 40] In the Christian customs of an evangelized people, the Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face. Through inculturation, the Church “introduces peoples, together with their cultures, into her own community”,[JOHN PAUL II, Redemptoris Missio 52; cf. Catechesi Tradendae  53] for “every culture offers positive values and forms which can enrich the way the Gospel is preached, understood and lived”.[JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania (22 November 2001), 16]

Very Ignatian thinking endorsed by a prolific recent pope: every culture has something positive. Do Christians have this view of their brothers and sisters? It goes beyond being able to appreciate both anisette cookies and Irish soda bread in the same week.

Another quote from John Paul II:

In this way, the Church takes up the values of different cultures and becomes sponsa ornata monilibus suis, “the bride bedecked with her jewels” (cf. Is 61:10)”.[JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (14 September 1995), 61]

Human cultures as jewels decorating a bride: there’s a morsel for thought.

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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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