Varietates Legitimae 22: Three Characteristics

Three characteristics of the Church are revealed in the liturgy:

22. The nature of the liturgy is intimately linked up with the nature of the church; indeed, it is above all in the liturgy that the nature of the church is manifested. (cf. SC 2, Vicesimus Quintus Annus 9) Now the church has specific characteristics which distinguish it from every other assembly and community.

It is not gathered together by a human decision, but is called by God in the Holy Spirit and responds in faith to his gratuitous call (ekklesia derives from klesis, “call”). This singular characteristic of the church is revealed by its coming together as a priestly people, especially on the Lord’s day, by the word which God addresses to his people and by the ministry of the priest, who through the sacrament of orders acts in the person of Christ the head. (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2)

Because it is catholic, the church overcomes the barriers which divide humanity: By baptism all become children of God and form in Christ Jesus one people where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:28). Thus church is called to gather all peoples, to speak the languages, to penetrate all cultures.

Finally, the church is a pilgrim on the earth far from the Lord (cf. 2 Cor. 5:6): It bears the marks of the present time in the sacraments and in its institutions, but is waiting in joyful hope for the coming of Jesus Christ (cf. Ti. 2: 13). (cf. Lumen Gentium 48; SC 2 and 8) This is expressed in the prayers of petition: It shows that we are citizens of heaven (cf. Phil. 3:20), at the same time attentive to the needs of mankind and of society (cf. 1 Tm. 2: 1-4).

These three characteristics: God’s gracious call, the Church’s universality, and the nature of the Church as a pilgrim body not quite completely in the world–not only in inculturation are these worth considering. Preachers, musicians, catechists, and many others might find aspects of ministry in need of adjustment or reorientation in light of a serious consideration of these.

How would these principles, for example, affect the Church in discerning various controversies in which we find ourselves?

And in terms of inculturation, it should become a little clearer as we move through this chapter (VL21-32) where the discussion of that is heading.

Any discussion from the readers on this?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, Varietates Legitimae. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Varietates Legitimae 22: Three Characteristics

  1. Liam says:

    One wonders: should inculturation look different on weekdays versus the Lord’s Day?

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