Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Narrow Image or Capacious Image?

Although the Second Vatican Council made clear that the church is a mystery of Christ present with the earth, some people still equate it with the pope and bishops. They are a slender sliver of church membership who, by their own admission, cannot have the effect on the world which the laity can: their "effort to infuse a Christian spirit into [their communities] can never be properly performed by others" (Constitution on the Laity, The Second Vatican Council).

The church is
a vast universe of individuals, movements, parishes, schools, journals, international networks, and all manner of other slices of life, engaged in a dizzying variety of activities, from contemplative prayer to feeding the hungry, to striving to translate the gospel into art, politics, finance, medicine, and other realms of secular culture
to use the capacious image of John A. Allen, Jr.

Last week Mr. Allen offered his capacious image of the church at the beginning of his fine reflection of recently deceased Abbe Pierre. Abbe Pierre motivated lay people to infuse the world with love in the concrete expression of care for the homeless. Read Mr. Allen's most recently weekly column to enjoy both meeting Abbe Pierre and to gain a more expansive image of Christ's mystery on earth.

Photo of Caritas in Our Lady's Church, Trondheim, Norway, is in the public domain.

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