Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Father Louis Jean Bouyer (1913 - 2004) (Part 5) Catholic Spirituality & Ecclesiology

This is a Part 5 of a multi-part series on Father Louis Jean Bouyer (1913 - 2004) and his book Introduction to Spirituality. Part 6 will post soon.

by James Lannan, Theology II - Saint Paul Seminary


Catholic vs. Protestant Spirituality: (continued)

Picking off from where the last blog left off, recall how important for Catholic theology and spirituality the community of faithful is. We, as believers, and, as members of the Catholic Church, see an equal "co-presence of our fellow believers with Christ and ourselves, in the Church," says Father Bouyer. He goes on to emphasize that this is not only a necessary condition of means, but also the essential goal of spiritual life.

This lends itself to the subject of Ecclesiology and its relationship and role to the spiritual life. Father Bouyer's teaching of Catholic Spirituality is very intentional about this. His focus is to find the basic fundamentals of Catholic beliefs, using Scripture and Tradition, and forming a spiritual picture within the Church. This is what distinguishes us from Protestantism. Father Bouyer teaches that in Protestantism, the spiritual conversation continues under the premise that the Incarnation had a end; that end being Pentacost and the Ascension of Christ. Father Bouyer highlights that this aspect of Protestant theology and spirituality is how individualism and subjectivity are able to spiral down their own path in Protestantism.

Father Bouyer states,

"The memory of the past incarnation preserved in the Gospels seems to furnish simply an occasion for the direct contact of each individual soul with the Word that has once for all set down its human expression in these books alone. In the Catholic vision (which, according to the opinion of a growing number of Protestant exegetes is simply the continuation of the vision of the apostolic Church), things are entirely different."

How are they different? Well, therein lies the core articulations of Christian faith that Catholicism's doctrines, based on good systems of reason, proclaims as truth; truth based a continuation of Scripture & Tradition going back to the apostles themselves.

Ecclesiology & Catholic Spirituality:

Remember that Christ's life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection are given to us through the Word of the Gospels. These Gospels were written by the 4 evangelists, approximately 30, 60, 75, and 90 years A.D. respectively. (there is a range of opinions on exactly when each was written)

But prior to forming a formal text in a scroll, the Word of God, the divine logos, remained constantly available to the world. It still remains present. Where it remains present is inside the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is founded on the apostles. Father Bouyer likes to explain this truth of the Incarnation's living presence throughout history and to today by placing things in order; what came first and what came next.

Father Bouyer points out how the apostles ministry is distinguishable even 'til today. The Webster Dictionary defines "apostles" as one who are sent on a mission. Well the continuation of that mission exists in the Church today. That continuation is real and present to us today in our spirituality; and Christ, who sent them, is always present with them in the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew's Gospel, Christ says, "He who hears you, hears Me…He who receives you, receives Me…Go, baptize all nations, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. I am with you all days, even to the end of the world…” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

So, as Father Bouyer teaches, the Church serves as the guardian of truth, which is the Divine Word given to us in the Gospels; and it is the divine Word itself, that remains as a living or acting reality in our lives. This acting reality exists in Christ. The actual words themselves, the Gospels, are inseparable from the Word. Father Bouyer says, one can never exist without the other.

Father Bouyer states,

"For the content of the definitive Word of the Gospel is Christ Himself. But Christ is the mystery of a living Person Who, even though He expresses Himself always in the same words, can only be truly communicated in His personal presence dwelling beneath these words. This is precisely what is meant by the apostolate as we have just defined it."

What a gift the Gospels are to us. They are so essential to the base foundation of our spiritual health. This is what makes the apostolic works so amazing. The apostles were inspired by the very Holy Spirit of Christ in a way that allowed them to gather communities, baptize entire nations, and begin the ministry of the Church. They gave us the written form of the Word in our Canon of Sacred Scripture. The living Word is a gift and we hold it so precious.

Now lets go back to the statement about forming communities just made. Recall that being one of the distinguishing aspects of Catholic spirituality from Protestant spirituality. One of the key things that makes the apostolic missions successful is the community of faithful they formed in Christ. With the help of the Holy Spirit, they caused the Church to enter into a authentic community - "a community of life so real, once again, that she would possess not only the memory of what He had said and done, but His perpetual presence, and all this now living in her [the Church] and for her."

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.