"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

March 27, 2019

How the Church is one

Even if you do not yet understand, believe this: the Father is the one God, Christ is God, the Son of God. What are the two of them? One God. And how can the two be said to be one God? How? You wonder at this? In the Acts of the Apostles it says that the believers “had one soul and one heart” (Acts 4:32). They were many souls, but their faith made them one soul. There were so many thousands of souls; they loved one another, and the many are one. They were on fire with the love of God, and from being a crowd they achieved a beautiful unity. If love made so many souls one soul, what love must there be in God, where there is no diversity but total equality? If here on earth, and among human beings, there could be such great charity as to make so many souls one soul, where the Father and the Son are inseparable from one another, what could they be except one God? (Augustine, De symbolo, 52,4; PL 40, 629.)

See also his comparison of the Church to a group of people eagerly rushing toward a shrine:

They talk to one another, and, on fire individually, they make a single flame [incensi singillatim faciunt unam flammam], and the flame created by their conversation as they approach carries them on to the holy place, and their holy thoughts make them holy”; (Augustine, Enar. in Ps 121, 2-4; PL 37:1619.)

I love this second quote for the nice balance it achieves. I imagine a crowd of pilgrims walking up a hill toward a shrine, silhouetted against a dark sky, each person carrying a candle, all of them, from afar, making a single flame. A single flame but only because each of them is carrying a candle and because all of them are carrying candles, there is one flame.

Despite what many people have thought, I think that Augustine’s ecclesiology is very concrete. When he cites and emphasizes many of the most beautiful biblical designations of the Church, he does not leave them unexplained nor does he assume that they are true of some Church over and above its members, halfway between us and God. He explains them by pointing to the very specific, concrete thoughts or loves or actions that illustrate or embody what the lofty terms mean, that make them true of the people in front of him. Thus, here, the many believers after Pentecost had a single soul because they all believed and loved. The Church is one because of what is going on in the members of the Church. The Church is one because and to the degree that its members believe in the same God and because and to the degree that they love God and one another. To put it in fancy words: the Church is an event of subjectivity and inter-subjectivity.

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December 19, 2018

Performative Ecclesiology

I was asked to participate in a little symposium on Giuseppe Ruggieri’s book Chiesa sinodale; it has just been published in Cristianesimo nella Storia. The introduction by Silvia Scatena is in Italian, but my piece is in English.  What I mean by “performative ecclesiology” will be clear, I hope, from this little essay. Briefly it means that ecclesiology should never forget that the Church is not a “thing,” but is en-acted in and as the subjectivity and inter-subjectivity of its members.  Comments, questions, disagreements are all welcome.

JAK – Performative ecclesiology

June 26, 2014

The Synod of 1985

The extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops was convoked by Pope John Paul II to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. I attended the Synod and wrote a couple of pieces afterwards. One appeared in French as the Introduction to a volume that gathered a great deal of documentation about the event. The original English can be found here:  Introduction to Synode Extraordinaire

Another article appeared in Chicago Studies and can be found here: Notion of the Church at Synod 1985

Concepts of Communion

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 1:48 pm

Here is an essay on how the Church was conceived of as a communion in post-Reformation theology and at Vatican II.

JAK Concepts of Communion

November 22, 2013

Subsidiarity in the Church

Filed under: Essays — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 11:21 am

This essay reproduces the paper I delivered at the first Salamanca Conference, on the nature and future of episcopal conferences, held in Salamanca, Spain, January 3-8, 1988.  The interdisciplinary conference was convoked as a way of responding to the call made at the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 for a study of the theological and canonical status of episcopal conferences.

JAK – Subsidiarity in the Church

October 17, 2013

Ecclesiology of Vatican II

Filed under: Foundations in Ecclesiology, Vatican II — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 11:15 am

Below are two essays I published on Vatican II’s vision of the Church.  You will see that they somewhat overlap.

JAK Ecclesiology of Vatican II

JAK Ecclesiology of Vatican II – 2

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