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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.

Theology of the Church is a shorter version of that masterwork, specially created by Cardinal Journet for a popular readership. Some of Cardinal Journet’s 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 as follows:

"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 elements—where grace dominates, by which we are rendered participants of the divine nature—and the natural element—which 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 inhabitation).


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 Spirit—among the just especially, but even among the sinners—is found within an don the side of the Church and forms her being. And all that witnesses to sin—among sinners especially, but even among the just—is 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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