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Lumen Gentium. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Lumen Gentium. Why is it important we know what Church is? Understanding who are the Church & what is the Church influences how the Church understands itself and it’s relation with world Influences understanding of

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Lumen Gentium

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lumen gentium

Lumen Gentium

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church

lumen gentium1
Lumen Gentium

Why is it important we know what Church is?

  • Understanding who are the Church & what is the Church influences how the Church understands itself and it’s relation with world
  • Influences understanding of
        • nature of salvation outside the Church;
        • the approach towards other religions or ecumenicalism
        • the collegiate of bishops
        • the purpose of the liturgy
        • the role of the laity
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Lumen Gentium

Background to Vatican II Document Lumen Gentium

John XXIII in preparation for this topic received over 9000 documents on what the Church is

Major themes of the draft document on Church

  • Nature of Church Militant
  • Authority of Bishops & Obedience
  • Need of Church for salvation
  • Highest office of Church was ordinate (bishops)
  • Religious tolerance

This draft was rejected by the Council Fathers!

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Lumen Gentium

Draft rejected by majority of bishops

  • Lack organic unity & ignored living structure of Church
  • Bishops wanted emphasis on “communion” & not on hierarchy structure of Church
  • Focus on outward role of Church; rejected inward looking
  • Corporate Nature of Church as Light to the World
  • Rejection of clericalism & legalism approach
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Lumen Gentium

Lumen Gentiumkeystone of Vatican II Council

  • Deals with Nature & Purpose of Church
  • Communion, meaning fellowship is central & fundamental foundation of Church “I no longer call you servants, but friends” John 15:15
  • Communion with God through Scripture & Sacraments
  • Mystery of Church not fully comprehended by humans as founded by God & work of God’s grace (art 6 gives many images of Church)
themes of lumen gentuim
Themes of Lumen Gentuim

What is the Church?

  • Church is organic as it continues to grow
  • Church reflects the Light of Christ
  • Church exists to bring people into communion with God & each other
  • Church is source of union & rallying point for humanity
  • All are called to belong to Church
  • Art 6 gives different images of Church – field, vineyard to give different insights to traits of Church
themes of lumen gentium
Themes of Lumen Gentium

What is the Church?

  • Sign and instrument of communion with God & unity of all – Church is Sacrament
  • Makes visible the invisible & visible structure communicates the Truth
  • Visible & Invisible elements show Divine & human nature of Church
  • Church is People of God, chosen by God, called to salvation & to proclaim Gospel for salvation of World
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Lumen Gentium

Chapter 1 – Mystery of the Church

  • Art 2: Church found in Old Testament (present in figure) in the history of Israel and old Alliance (covenant)
  • Art 3: Jesus to carry out Will of the Father inaugurated Kingdom of God on earth; the Church!
  • Origin & Growth of Church symbolized by blood & water that flowed from Jesus side John 19:34
  • Art 4: Father sends Holy Spirit on Pentecost to continue to sanctify Church; guiding Church to all Truth

Nature of Church Reflects Trinity

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Lumen Gentium

Chapter 2 – The People of God

Church exists for Salvation:

Is Salvation possible outside the Church?

Reformation & Council of Trent

  • Protestant idea of Church was invisible union of for members of Church were God’s elect
  • Catholic response in Trent was on visible membership of Church for Salvation with bishops, laws & creeds
  • No salvation outside the Church

Yet many elements of Church found outside Church – Scripture, acts of Charity

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Lumen Gentium

Time of Council:

Tension between Church as source of Salvation & no salvation outside the Church

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”. 1Peter 9

Art 14: Catholic Church a “pilgrim” church & Christ necessary for salvation; those fully incorporated into Church access to all means of Salvation

Art 14: Fully incorporation without charity – not saved (rejection of “faith” alone); sacraments not automatic path to Heaven

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Lumen Gentium

Is Salvation possible outside the Church?

Art 15: Church joined to those who are baptized & hold Sacred Scripture in honor as rule of Faith & Life, celebrate the Eucharist & honor Mary are recognized as part of the “invisible” Church

Art 16: “those who have not received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways” – those of the Jewish and Islamic traditions; those who seek with a sincere heart, moved by grace and try in their actions to do His will

Fullness of Christ resided in Church, but does not exclude elements of Faith & Truth found outside Church

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Lumen Gentium

Is there need then to evangelize?

Art 17: the Son himself sent the apostles saying, “go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”John 20:21

Art 17: The Church is driven, to do her part to realize the plan of God in its fullness for the salvation of the world

Art 17: Each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of their ability

All elements – belief, desire and charity are considered by the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel

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Lumen Gentium

Chapter 5 The Call to Holiness

Art 39: Christ gave himself up for the Church; therefore all in the Church, whether they belong the hierarchy or cared for by it, are called to holiness.

Art 40: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48

Art 40: All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life

Art 41: “each one according to their own gifts & duties, must steadfastly advance along the way of a living faith

All are called to holiness, regardless of state or condition of life, not just ordained & religious

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Lumen Gentium

“God is loves, and he who abides in loves abides in God and God abides in him” 1John 4:16

Art 42: First & most necessary gift is Charity by which we show love to God & our neighbor; but if to grow necessary to hear Word of God; frequent participation in the Sacraments, prayer, service & self denial

Chapters 3, 4 & 6 deal with they Hierarchy, Laity & Religious as components of what make the Church

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Lumen Gentium

Chapter VIII – Our Lady

  • Initially at the Council, there was a call for a separate document on Mary, Mother of Gods
  • But recognized Mary, Mother of God as example for the Church, the People of God in her fellowship with us!
  • Biblical references of Lumen Gentium allows Mary to be understood in Scriptural terms
  • Lumen GentiumChapter VIII powerful treatment of Catholic understanding of Mary & essential reading for any Marian follower.
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Lumen Gentium

Chapter VIII – Our Lady

God sent His Son… born of a woman.. Gal 4:4

Art 52: “He, for us men and our salvation, came down from Heaven and was incarnated by the Holy Spirit for the Virgin Mary” – the faithful recognize Mary’s role

Art 53: Acknowledged & honored as Mother of God & of the Redeemer; & been of the family of Adam, she is united to all who are to be saved

Art 55: Articles of both Old & New Testament show role of Mary in the plan of Salvation – Gen 3:15; Is 7:14; Matt 1:22-23

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Lumen Gentium

Chapter VIII – Our Lady

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”1Tim2:5

Art 60: Mary’s function as mother in on way obscures or diminished this mediator role of Christ, but rather shows its power; Mary influence originates in the disposition of God & flows from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, depending on His role as mediator

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Lumen Gentium

Chapter VIII – Our Lady

Art 62: The Virgin Mary is given many titles such as Advocate and Helper but this “neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ as the one Mediator”

Art 62: “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer, but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by His ministers & the faithful….gives rise to a sharing in the one source

Church doe not hesitate to profess subordinate role of Mary

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Lumen Gentium

Work of the Holy Spirit

Council is Faith Event where Church is guided by the Holy Spirit

After first draft of Lumen Gentiumwhich gave attention to hierarchy & sacramental nature of Church, speech given by Cardinal Suenens highlighted the charismatic nature of Church

Art 12: “Allotting his gifts according as He will (Cor 12:11), He also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank… for the renewal & building up of the Church… “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit”

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Lumen Gentium

Work of the Holy Spirit & The Charismatic Movement

  • Nature of Church is charismatic Catholic Catechism 749
  • Charismatic movements recognized by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in 1998 – Year of the Holy Spirit; gave recognition to charismatic movements
  • Institution & Charismatic c0essential to Church’s nature
  • Since Vatican II, vast outpouring of grace with growth in lay & religious movements
  • Existence of Third Orders groups lay foundation for explosion of groups after Vatican II Council
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Lumen Gentium


  • Understanding what the Church is helps us understanding role & mission of Church
  • Church as sign & instrument of God
  • Fellowship or communion as Church reflects communion or fellowship found within the Trinity
  • ALL are called to holiness, with Mary as example of response to this call
  • Lumen Gentiumlays ground work for other documents & later encyclicals