DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH LUMEN GENTIUM
SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS
POPE PAUL VI
ON NOVEMBER 21, 1964
48. The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus, and in which we acquire sanctity through the grace of God, will attain its full perfection only in the glory of heaven, when there will come the time of the restoration of all things.(237) At that time the human race as well as the entire world, which is intimately related to man and attains to its end through him, will be perfectly reestablished in Christ.(238)
Christ, having been lifted up from the earth has drawn all to Himself.(239) Rising from the dead(240) He sent His life-giving Spirit upon His disciples and through Him has established His Body which is the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. Sitting at the right hand of the Father, He is continually active in the world that He might lead men to the Church and through it join them to Himself and that He might make them partakers of His glorious life by nourishing them with His own Body and Blood. Therefore the promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ, is carried forward in the mission of the Holy Spirit and through Him continues in the Church in which we learn the meaning of our terrestrial life through our faith, while we perform with hope in the future the work committed to us in this world by the Father, and thus work out our salvation.(241)
Already the final age of the world has come upon us (242) and the renovation of the world is irrevocably decreed and is already anticipated in some kind of a real way; for the Church already on this earth is signed with a sanctity which is real although imperfect. However, until there shall be new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells,(243) the pilgrim Church in her sacraments and institutions, which pertain to this present time, has the appearance of this world which is passing and she herself dwells among creatures who groan and travail in pain until now and await the revelation of the sons of God.(244)
Joined with Christ in the Church and signed with the Holy Spirit “who is the pledge of our inheritance”,(245) truly we are called and we are sons of God(246) but we have not yet appeared with Christ in glory,(247) in which we shall be like to God, since we shall see Him as He is.(248) And therefore “while we are in the body, we are exiled from the Lord (249) and having the first-fruits of the Spirit we groan within ourselves(250) and we desire to be with Christ”‘.(251) By that same charity however, we are urged to live more for Him, who died for us and rose again.(252) We strive therefore to please God in all things(253) and we put on the armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and resist in the evil day.(254) Since however we know not the day nor the hour, on Our Lord’s advice we must be constantly vigilant so that, having finished the course of our earthly life,(255) we may merit to enter into the marriage feast with Him and to be numbered among the blessed(256) and that we may not be ordered to go into eternal fire(257) like the wicked and slothful servant,(258) into the exterior darkness where “there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth”.(259) For before we reign with Christ in glory, all of us will be made manifest “before the tribunal of Christ, so that each one may receive what he has won through the body, according to his works, whether good or evil”(260) and at the end of the world “they who have done good shall come forth unto resurrection of life; but those who have done evil unto resurrection of judgment”.(261) Reckoning therefore that “the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will be revealed in us”,(262) strong in faith we look for the “blessed hope and the glorious coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ”(263) “who will refashion the body of our lowliness, conforming it to the body of His glory(264), and who will come “to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at in all those who have believed”(265).
49. Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him (266) and death being destroyed, all things are subject to Him,(277) some of His disciples are exiles on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding “clearly God Himself Triune and one, as He is”;(1*) but all in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbor and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him.(268) Therefore the union of the wayfarers with the brethren who have gone to sleep in the peace of Christ is not in the least weakened or interrupted, but on the contrary, according to the perpetual faith of the Church, is strengthened by communication of spiritual goods.(2*) For by reason of the fact that those in heaven are more closely united with Christ, they establish the whole Church more firmly in holiness, lend nobility to the worship which the Church offers to God here on earth and in many ways contribute to its greater edification.(269)(3*) For after they have been received into their heavenly home and are present to the Lord,(270) through Him and with Him and in Him they do not cease to intercede with the Father for us,(4*) showing forth the merits which they won on earth through the one Mediator between God and man,(271) serving God in all things and filling up in their flesh those things which are lacking of the sufferings of Christ for His Body which is the Church.(272)(5*) Thus by their brotherly interest our weakness is greatly strengthened.
50. Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead,(6*) and “because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins”,(273) also offers suffrage for them. The Church has always believed that the apostles and Christ’s martyrs who had given the supreme witness of faith and charity by the shedding of their blood, are closely joined with us in Christ, and she has always venerated them with special devotion, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the holy angels.(7*) The Church has piously implored the aid of their intercession. To these were soon added also those who had more closely imitated Christ’s virginity and poverty,(8*) and finally others whom the outstanding practice of the Christian virtues (9*) and the divine charisms recommended to the pious devotion and imitation of the faithful.(10*)
When we look at the lives of those who have faithfully followed Christ, we are inspired with a new reason for seeking the City that is to come (274) and at the same time we are shown a most safe path by which among the vicissitudes of this world, in keeping with the state in life and condition proper to each of us, we will be able to arrive at perfect union with Christ, that is, perfect holiness. (11*) In the lives of those who, sharing in our humanity, are however more perfectly transformed into the image of Christ,(275) God vividly manifests His presence and His face to men. He speaks to us in them, and gives us a sign of His Kingdom,(12*) to which we are strongly drawn, having so great a cloud of witnesses over us (276) and such a witness to the truth of the Gospel.
Nor is it by the title of example only that we cherish the memory of those in heaven, but still more in order that the union of the whole Church may be strengthened in the Spirit by the practice of fraternal charity.(277) For just as Christian communion among wayfarers brings us closer to Christ, so our companionship with the saints joins us to Christ, from Whom as from its Fountain and Head issues every grace and the very life of the people of God.(13*) It is supremely fitting, therefore, that we love those friends and coheirs of Jesus Christ, who are also our brothers and extraordinary benefactors, that we render due thanks to God for them (14*) and “suppliantly invoke them and have recourse to their prayers, their power and help in obtaining benefits from God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Redeemer and Saviour.”(15*) For every genuine testimony of love shown by us to those in heaven, by its very nature tends toward and terminates in Christ who is the “crown of all saints,”(16*) and through Him, in God Who is wonderful in his saints and is magnified in them.(17*)
Our union with the Church in heaven is put into effect in its noblest manner especially in the sacred Liturgy, wherein the power of the Holy Spirit acts upon us through sacramental signs. Then, with combined rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of the divine majesty;(18*) then all those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (278) who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and gathered together into one Church, with one song of praise magnify the one and Triune God. Celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice therefore, we are most closely united to the Church in heaven in communion with and venerating the memory first of all of the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, of Blessed Joseph and the blessed apostles and martyrs and of all the saints.(19*)
51. This Sacred Council accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our brethren who are in heavenly glory or who having died are still being purified; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea,(20*) the Council of Florence (21*) and the Council of Trent.(22*) And at the same time, in conformity with our own pastoral interests, we urge all concerned, if any abuses, excesses or defects have crept in here or there, to do what is in their power to remove or correct them, and to restore all things to a fuller praise of Christ and of God. Let them therefore teach the faithful that the authentic cult of the saints consists not so much in the multiplying of external acts, but rather in the greater intensity of our love, whereby, for our own greater good and that of the whole Church, we seek from the saints “example in their way of life, fellowship in their communion, and aid by their intercession.”(23*) On the other hand, let them teach the faithful that our communion with those in heaven, provided that it is understood in the fuller light of faith according to its genuine nature, in no way weakens, but conversely, more thoroughly enriches the latreutic worship we give to God the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit.(24*)
For all of us, who are sons of God and constitute one family in Christ,(279) as long as we remain in communion with one another in mutual charity and in one praise of the most holy Trinity, are corresponding with the intimate vocation of the Church and partaking in foretaste the liturgy of consummate glory.(25*) For when Christ shall appear and the glorious resurrection of the dead will take place, the glory of God will light up the heavenly City and the Lamb will be the lamp thereof.(280) Then the whole Church of the saints in the supreme happiness of charity will adore God and “the Lamb who was slain”,(281) proclaiming with one voice: “To Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb blessing, and honor, and glory, and dominion forever and ever”.(282)
NOTES – Chapter VII -Pilgrim church union With Church in heaven
237 (Acts 3:21). Whom heaven indeed must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the beginning of the world
238 Cf (Eph. 1:10); (Col.1:20); (2Pt.3:10-13). In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him; And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.; But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness? Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwell.
239 Cf. (Jn.12:32). And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.
240 Cf. (Rom.6:9). Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him.
241 Cf. (Phil.2:12). Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
242 Cf (1Cor.10:11). Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment.
243 Cf. (2.Pt.3:13). But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwell.
244 Cf. (Rom.8:19-22). For the expectation of the creature wait for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groan and travail in pain, even till now.
245 (Eph.1:14). Who is the pledge of our inheritance, unto the redemption of acquisition, unto the praise of his glory.
246 Cf. (1Jn.3:1). Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him.
247 Cf. (Col.3.4). When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.
248 Cf. (1Jn.3:2). Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is.
249 (2Cor.5:6). Therefore having always confidence, knowing that, while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord.
250 Cf. (Rom.8:23). And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.
251 Cf. (Phil1:23). But I am straitened between two: having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better.
252 Cf. (2Cor5:15).And Christ died for all; that they also who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.
253 Cf. (2Cor.5:9).And therefore we labor, whether absent or present, to please him.
254 Cf. (Eph.6:11-13). Put you on the Armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the Armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.
255 Cf. (Heb9:27). And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:
256 Cf. (Mt.25:31-46). Sheep & Goats; And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separate the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
257 Cf. (Mt.25:41). Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels
258 Cf. (Mt.25:26). And his lord answering, said to him: Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where I have not strewed:
259 (Mt.22:13, 25:30). Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ,And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth
260 (2Cor.5:10). For we must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.
261 (Jn.5:29); Cf. (Mt.25:46). And they that have done good things, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.; And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
262 (Rom.8:18); cf. (2Tim.2.11-12). For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. ;A faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall live also with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us.
263 (Tit.2:13). Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,
264 (Phil.3:21). Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
265 (2Thess.1:10). When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be made wonderful in all them who have believed; because our testimony was believed upon you in that day.
266 Cf. (Mt.25:31).And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty.
267 Cf. (1Cor.15:26-27). And the enemy death shall be destroyed last: For he hath put all things under his feet. And whereas he saith, All things are put under him; undoubtedly, he is excepted, who put all things under him.
268 Cf. (Eph.4:16). From whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together, by what every joint supply, according to the operation in the measure of every part, make increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in charity.
269 Cf. (1Cor.12:12-27).For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. 13For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink. …..That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another. And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.
270 Cf. (2Cor.5.8). But we are confident, and have a good will to be absent rather from the body, and to be present with the Lord
271 Cf. (1Tim.2:5). For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus:
272 Cf. (Col.1:24). Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:
273 (2Macc.12:46). It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
274 Cf. (Heb13:14;11:10). For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come. For he looked for a city that hath foundations; whose builder and maker is God.
275 Cf. (2Cor.3:18). ut we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
276 Cf. (Heb.12:1). And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us
277 Cf (Eph.4:1-6).I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.
278 Cf. (Rev.5:9). And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
279 Cf. (Heb.3:6). But Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end.
280 Cf. (Rev.21:24). And the nations shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it
281 (Rev.5:12). Saying with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and benediction.
282 (Rev.5:13-14). And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them: I heard all saying: To him that sit on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honor, and glory, and power, for ever and ever. And the four living creatures said: Amen. And the four and twenty ancients fell down on their faces, and adored him that live for ever and ever.
SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES (*) Chapter VII
(1) Conc. Florentinum, Decretum pro Graecis: Denz. 693 (1305).
(2) Praeter documenta antiquiora contra quamlibet formam evocationis spirituum inde ab Alexandro IV (27 sept. 1958), cfr Encycl. S.S.C.S. Officii, De magne tismi abusu, 4 aug. 1856: AAS (1865) pp. 177-178, Denz. 1653 1654 (2823-2825); responsioner S.S.C.S. Offici, 24 apr. 1917: 9 (1917) p. 268, Denz. 218 (3642).
(3) Videatur synthetiea espositi huius doctrinae paulinae in: Piu XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis AAS 35 (1943) p. 200 et passilr
(4) Cfr., i. a., S. Augustinus, Enarr. in Ps. 85, 24: PL 37, 1095 S. Hieronymus, Liber contra Vigl lantium, b: PL 23, 344. S. Thomas In 4m Sent., d. 45, q. 3, a. 2. Bonaventura, In 4m Sent., d. 45, a. 3, q. 2; etc.
(5) Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis: AAS 35 (1943) p. 245.
(6) Cfr. Plurimae inseriptione in Catacumbis romanis.
(7) Cfr. Gelasius I, Decretalis De libris recipiendis, 3: PL 59, 160, Denz. 165 (353).
(8) Cfr. S. Methodius, Symposion, VII, 3: GCS (Bodwetseh), p. 74
(9) Cfr. Benedictus XV, Decretum approbationis virtutum in Causa beatificationis et canonizationis Servi Dei Ioannis Nepomuecni Neumann: AAS 14 (1922 p. 23; plures Allocutiones Pii X de Sanetis: Inviti all’croismo Diseorsi… t. I-III, Romae 1941-1942, passim; Pius XII, Discorsi Radiomessagi, t. 10, 1949, pp 37-43.
(10) Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl : Mediator Dei: AAS 39 (1947) p . 581.
(11) Cfr. Hebr. 13, 7: Eccli 44-50, Nebr. 11, 340. Cfr. etia Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mediati Dei: AAS 39 (1947) pp. 582-583
(12) Cfr. Cone. Vaticanum Const. De fide catholica, cap. 3 Denz. 1794 (3013).
(13) Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis: AAS 35 (1943) p. 216.
(14) Quoad gratitudinem erga ipsos Sanctos, cfr. E. Diehl, Inscriptiones latinae christianae vereres, 1, Berolini, 1925, nn. 2008 2382 et passim.
(15) Conc. Tridentinum, Sess. 25, De invocatione… Sanctorum: Denz. 984 (1821) .
(16) Breviarium Romanum, Invitatorium infesto Sanctorum Omnium.
(17) Cfr. v. g., 2 Thess. 1, 10.
(18) Conc. Vaticanum II, Const. De Sacra Liturgia, cap. 5, n. 104.
(19) Canon Missae Romanae.
(20) Conc. Nicaenum II, Act. VII: Denz. 302 (600).
(21) Conc. Florentinum, Decretum pro Graecis: Denz. 693 (1304).
(22) Conc. Tridentinum Sess. 35, De invocatione, veneratione et reliquiis Sanctorum et sacris imaginibus: Denz. 984-988 (1821-1824); Sess. 25, Decretum de Purgatorio: Denz. 983 (1820); Sess. 6, Decretum de iustificatione, can. 30: Denz. 840 (1580).
(23) Ex Praefatione, aliquious dioecesibus concessa.
(24) Cfr. S. Petrus Canisius, Catechismus Maior seu Summa Doctrinae christianae, cap. III (ed. crit. F. Streicher) pas I, pp. 15-16, n. 44 et pp. 100-1O1, n. 49.
(25) Cfr. Conc. Vaticanum II Const. De Sacra Liturgia, cap. 1 n. 8.