Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 12: Other Means of Reconciliation, Part 3, Witness

Let’s finish writing about Other Means of Reconciliation. Vatican II has something to offer:

Finally there is the means of witness, which is almost always silent. This is born from a twofold awareness on the part of the church: that of being in herself “unfailingly holy,”(Lumen Gentium 39) but also the awareness of the need to go forward and “daily be further purified and renewed, against the day when Christ will present her to himself in all her glory without spot or wrinkle,” for, by reason of her sins, sometimes “the radiance of the church’s face shines less brightly” in the eyes of those who behold her. (Ibid., Unitatis Redintegratio 4)

Witness may be silent, but it must also be effective. It seems to require other factors, mostly silent as well: sincerity, discernment, being prepared for opportunities. And two aspects:

This witness cannot fail to assume two fundamental aspects.

  • This first aspect is that of being the sign of that universal charity which Jesus Christ left as an inheritance to his followers, as a proof of belonging to his kingdom.
  • The second aspect is translation into ever new manifestations of conversion and reconciliation both within the church and outside her, by the overcoming of tensions, by mutual forgiveness, by growth in the spirit of (communion) and peace which is to be spread throughout the world.

By this means the church will effectively be able to work for the creation of what my predecessor Paul VI called the “civilization of love.”

Many of these qualities are a challenge for the modern believer. Do today’s Christians prefer to create tension rather than defuse it? Do we have a sense of the universal family into which God calls us? Do we cultivate peace?

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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