Author: Cardinal Charles Journet
Length: 505 pages | Edition: Hardcover | Your Price: $29.95
Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975), was a well-respected Swiss
theologian who was elevated to Cardinal in 1965. Among his great contributions
to Catholic theology was his massive two-volume work of ecclesiology, The
Church of the Word Incarnate, which examined the nature and meaning
of the Church according to the categories of Aristotelian causality: material,
formal, efficient, and final.
of the Church is a shorter version of that masterwork, specially created
by Cardinal Journet for a popular readership. Some of Cardinal Journets
other books included The Meaning of Grace, What Is Dogma?,
and The Meaning of Evil.
In his preface to the English edition of Theology of the Church,
P. George Cottier, O.P., Theologian of the Papal Household, wrote,
"In the present work the brevity of the text hints at a catechetical
style, so that the essentials can be easily understood and committed to
memory and provide food for meditation; for the theology of Charles Journet
naturally flowers into spirituality and prayer."
Later, Cottier summarizes the paradoxical truths that Journet presents with
characteristic lucidity and precision:
"He shows how the Church, holy and without sins, is disturbed by sin,
how she repents for it and converts and asks her members to be purified
and not to sin. Her vocation is to carry redemption into the midst of the
world. She meets sinners everywhere. She does not content herself with touching
them from afar; she places them in her heart to heal them by personal contact."
In the Foreword, Journet outlined the structure of Theology of the Church
"After an initial presentation (chapter 1), the Church is joined to
Christ (chapter 2) and to the Holy Spirit (chapter 3). She finds her supreme
realization in the Blessed Virgin (chapter 4). She issues forth from the
apostolic hierarchy, from which she receives her property and note of apostolicity
(chapter 5). In herself, she is composed of a created soul (chapter 6),
from which come her property and note of sanctity (chapter 7), and a body
(chapter 8). It was necessary to clarify the notion of membership in the
Church (chapter 9) before treating the property and note of Catholic unity
(chapter 10). From here, one can quite easily proceed to the definitions
of the Church (chapter 11)."
Excerpts from Theology
of the Church:
The Church is similar to Christ. It is fitting that the Church, intended
for men and
gathering them together, is, like man, at the same time invisible and visible,
composed of a spiritual soul and a visible body. However, the Church has
for her model, not man, but Christ; for, it is in Christ that divinity and
humanity are united. And if it is true that the Church resembles man, it
is because Christ himself, of whom the Church is but a prolongation in space
and time, has resembled man: all of tradition, in fact, has compared the
union of divinity and humanity in Christ to the union of soul and body in
man. As, therefore, Christ has become the point of conjunction for the divine
and human naures, so the Church has become the same for the divine supernatural
elementswhere grace dominates, by which we are rendered participants
of the divine natureand the natural elementwhich is the complete
man, body and soul. And so Christ the individual, in whom the divine nature
is united to an individual human nature (personal or hypostatic union),
is the principle and model of the "total Christ", in whom the
divine nature is united to the collection human nature (union of grace and
The unique mystery of the redemptive Incarnation. The Church begins
here below the mystery of the recapitulation of the world in Christ. God
responded to the Fall with the redemptive Incarnation, the foyer of a new
and better world. If we speak of the "redemptive Incarnation",
it is to unite in one expression the two movements of the one act by which
the Word saves the world: (1) by taking on human flesh, and (2) by making
peace through the blood of his Cross.
The city of God, the Church, is without sin but not without sinners. All
that witnesses in favor of the authentic gifts of the Spiritamong
the just especially, but even among the sinnersis found within an
don the side of the Church and forms her being. And all that witnesses to
sinamong sinners especially, but even among the justis placed
outside of and beyond the limits of the Church and remains foreign to her.
The desertion of the Christian faith is called heresy. When it is total,
one can give it the name of apostasy.
The missionary dynamism of the Church proceeds from the divine missions.
One cannot understand the Church, her essential catholicity, her missionary
dynamism, without having recourse to the lofty doctrine of the "missions
of the Divine Persons" [St. Thomas, ST 1, q. 43], which are like the
flowing forth of eternity into history, the eruption of the trinitarian
life into the fabric of time.
The entire Church is Marian. When we say that Mary is the supreme
realization of the Church, we mean that Mary is, in the Church, more a Mother
than the Church, more a Bride than the Church, more a Virgin than the Church.
We mean that she is Mother, Bride, Virgin, prior to the Church and
for the Church; that it is in her, above all, and by her that
the Church is Mother, Bride, and Virgin. It is by a mysterious excellence
that is diffused from Mary that the Church can truly be, in her turn, Mother,
Bride, and Virgin. In the order of the grandeurs of sanctity, which are
the supreme grandeurs, Mary is, around Christ, the first wave, as it were,
of the Church, the genetrix of all others, until the end of time.
Progress is being made in the Church. Not by surpassing the initial gift
of Pentecost. Rather, by a descent of this gift within her, as she makes
her way trough time (which is necessary to her as it is to all living things).
The rhythm of this descent of the Spirit escapes us. It is punctuated by
the great trials of the Church, the effusions of grace and the secret visitations
of the Divine Persons. It causes the angels to marvel. To the Church of
the early Christians, St. Peter writes that the prophets were ministers
of "the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached
the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into
which angels long to look" (1 Pet 1:12). And St. Paul speaks of the
mystery of salvation kept hidden for ages in God, and which, through the
Church, now makes known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly
places the infinitely manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:10).
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