Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches
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As regards the ‘People of God’, it is a common and well understood liturgical and theological term which is much wider than I suspect you define. Forgive me for straying into theology for a moment but the People of God is not restricted to the ‘congregation’ as a gathering of human beings. People of God encompasses all aspects of ‘being’ and includes the priest and laiety – and has no meaning without Christ as the ‘head’. It also includes all that we are called to be and do as followers of Christ. It means we are a dynamic people relating to each other as well as our creator. It also means we can’t just relate to our creator, we must also relate to each other.
Dear Brian, Now you are suspecting me of holding a narrow theological understanding of People of God ! In this you are incorrect.
The notion of People of God goes back to the Old Testament, to the people of God or qahal YHWH which God called in the first place to worship him. It is in the first place God’s initiative, addressed to Israel as a whole. The Hebrew qahal comes over into Greek as ekklesia or assembly. Of course in the New Testament it comes to fulfilment and as you say under Christ as head. It is obvious that People of God embraces both priests and laity – I never said otherwise. This is also clear from the organisation of the chapters of Lumen Gentium: first the mystery of the Church, which originates in the Trinity, second the People of God as a whole, third the hierarchical organisation of the Church, fourth, the laity. The primary relationship though is to God the Creator, who takes the initiative, and flowing from that comes the relationship to each other.
I agree with “dynamic” in the sense that the Church as a whole is on the way to our heavenly home – this is the so-called eschatological dimension, which is dealt with in Lumen Gentium in chapter VII. The Eucharist, apart from uniting the individual Christian to Christ in this life and building up the unity of the Church through the effect of charity in the soul of the communicant, is also a foretaste of the definitive union with Christ, which takes place in heaven. One must not lose sight of the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist when speaking about what goes on in the Eucharistic celebration.
It is for this reason that one cannot give priority to unity over heaven, if unity is simply confined to this life. Obviously heaven is about unity: we will be united with each other because of our unity in Christ. Paragraph 2 of Sacrosanctum Concilium mentions both unity and the Church’s pilgrim journey to heaven, and explains that the liturgy is above all the work of our redemption and that what is earthly and visible is directed to what is heavenly and invisible. Hence, I don’t think that you can say that the sanctuary as image of heaven, or as the place where earth encounters heaven is subservient to unity, desirable and all as unity is. Rather the priority is the other way round: hope in eternal life and our sharing in it now through the Eucharist have unity as an effect.
It should be clear then that theology is not irrelevant to architecture, and that is why I have entered into a discussion of the fundamental theological understanding of the Church as essential to building churches which are genuinely Catholic.