Monday, January 18, 2016

Finding Francis in Ratzinger

The Church does not reflect on Herself

In the Constitution Lumen gentium the Church does not speak about herself in the final analysis, does not reflect on herself, as one might conclude from a superficial reading. The first sentence of the document reads: "Christ is the light of humanity." This light is reflected upon the face of the Church. She is--as the Fathers of the Church say--the moon that receives all of its light from the sun, from Christ. Correctly understood, the Church's essence is found, not in herself, but rather in her orientation [Verwiesensein] and her referring [Verweisen] to One beyond herself.

Father Heim shows this christological structure of the Council's teaching about the Church, which is necessarily a theo-logical structure: In Christ, man--human nature--is united with God. Through him, humanity has been taken up into the trinitarian dynamic: The Son leads to the Father in the Holy Spirit. It is about God, and only in this way do we treat the subject man directly.

...Through his Word and his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, [Christ] is always our contemporary. In the Eucharist the Church is constantly born again from the pierced heart of the Lord. And in the Eucharist we find also, in this place and at this hour, the nucleus of the Church's constitution, its meshing of unity and multiplicity, of universality and concrete moorings int he here and now.

...The Lord is here totally, the celebration of the Eucharist we always find as well the Church in her totality...

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger February 2, 2005 foreword to Maximilian Heinrich Heim's Joseph Ratzinger: Life in the Church and Living Theology, Fundamentals of Ecclesiology with Reference to Lumen Gentium, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2007, 1-2.

Those were the words of Pope Benedict two months before his 2005 election.
Now consider the very similar words of Pope Francis from his pre-conclave discourse, just weeks before his 2013 election.

When the Church does not get out of itself to evangelize it becomes self-referential and then gets sick (cf. The woman hunched over herself in the gospel). The evils that are found, over time, in the church institutions are self-referential, a kind of theological narcissism. In the book of Revelation Jesus says he is at the door and knocks. Obviously the text refers to hitting from outside the door to go in... But I think about the times when Jesus knocks from within to let him out. The self-referential Church presumes to have Jesus inside and does not let him out.

When the Church is self-referential it unwittingly thinks it has its own light, no longer the mysterium lunae and it gives way to that most grave evil which is spiritual worldliness (According to De Lubac, the worst evil that can befall the Church). This living to glorify one another. Put simply, there are two images of Church: the Church evangelizing getting out of herself, the Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidenter proclamans, and the worldly Church which lives in itself, of itself, for itself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms that must be undertake for the salvation of souls.
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