Sacramentum Mundi Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

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Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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Collectivism - Masses and Crowds

(1,481 words)

Author(s): Roman Bleistein
Part of Collectivism: 1. Masses and Crowds 2. Nature, History and Forms of Collectivism 1. The problem of the masses. Crowd psychology has been seen as a precise problem since the end of the 19th century. The perspectives in which it was seen were determined for some time by the works of G. Le Bon ( Psychologie de foules, 1895), G. Tarde ( L’opinion et la foule, 1901) and G. Sighele ( La folla delinquente, 1891). These analyses were motivated less by scientific objectiveness than by emotional reactions to far-reaching social changes, such as revolutions, restlessness …

Collectivism - Nature, History and Forms of Collectivism

(957 words)

Author(s): Heinrich Beck
Part of Collectivism: 1. Masses and Crowds 2. Nature, History and Forms of Collectivism 1. Nature. Collectivism is the attitude, more or less consciously adopted and practised, that man is merely a collective being. By “collective” is meant the form of social organization in which the individual is robbed of his personal independence and dignity and reduced to a mere functional organ of the community. The importance of social bonds is so exaggerated that the individual no longer seems to have any importance in…


(1,640 words)

Author(s): Heinz Robert Schlette
Colonization must be distinguished from colonialism. The term colonization is often, though not invariably, applied to the ambitions which Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Phoenicia, Macedonia, and Rome had to rule the world, and also to the activities of medieval Christendom in Eastern Europe. Here it is used in a good sense, to mean civilizing and “developing” a territory. But it would be misreading history to ignore the many negative aspects — political, religious, and psychological — of “…

Commandments of the Church

(2,097 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
1. Notion. In the wider sense one understands under the term “Commandments of the Church” all the general precepts of the Church’s pastoral office which define in the concrete the divine law in view of the salvation of the faithful (canon law). They must be distinguished from the instructions which may be imparted by the ecclesiastical superiors to particular members of the faithful. Taken in the strict sense, however, the commandments of the Church grew up in the Middle Ages, in asso…

Commandments, the Ten

(1,592 words)

Author(s): Henri Cazelles
The “ten words” (our “Decalogue”) is a term used in the ОТ to describe a group of divine commandments written down by Moses on the occasion of the theophany in the desert. In Deuteronomy the term clearly refers to the ten commandments of Horeb (4:13; 10:4), which are quoted at 5:6–21'; they are written on tables of stone and preserved…

Communications Media

(3,228 words)

Author(s): Émile Gabel
What Catholic circles call social communication media are generally known elsewhere as mass media (an expression that has been popularized by the Americans), media of mass communication, collective communication media, modern techniques in publicity, and so forth. The Catholic expression, coined and spread by the Second Vatican Council in its decree Inter Mirifica, highlights the role that these media, ideally, should play. To communicate is to convey and share. By exchanging what they have, men help each other, draw together, and come to resembl…

Communion of Saints

(1,872 words)

Author(s): Wilhelm Breuning
1. The article of faith asserting the communion of saints is first found in the Western creed at the end of the 5th century in the form given by Nicetas of Remesiana. From the 5th century onwards it is found in the Gallic variations (Faustus of Riez, Caesarius of Arles; DS 26; 27) and later in all the Western forms. Nicetas used the word sanctorum as the genetive form of the neuter sancta, i.e., a share in the sacred things of the Church, in keeping with the Augustinian concept of the communio sacramentorum ( Sermo, 214, 11). The phrase ϰοινωνία τῶν αγίων was, however, used much earlier …

Communion Under Both Kinds

(1,765 words)

Author(s): August Franken
1. Instituted probably within the framework of the paschal meal, the Eucharist has retained the structure of a meal in which Christ gives himself to his own, under the twofold appearances of bread and wine, as their food and drink. By eating his flesh and drinking his blood the faithful attain the unity with him which confers on them eternal life. The eucharistic discourse (Jn 6:51, 53, 54, 56) affirms in realistic terms the necessity of the reception of the Eucharist for salvation. If the matte…


(2,528 words)

Author(s): Irving Fetscher
1. Notion. Communism today — we disregard its older sense — means three things: the philosophical and political theory of the revolutionary workers’ movement, this revolutionary (Communist) movement itself, and the (future) society which is the movement’s ultimate goal. There have been many ideals of the Communist society in Asian and Western history. They allowed no private property (sometimes not even the private marriage-bond) and had a political organization regarded as ideal, often (as in Th…


(1,381 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
A concept is the representation of an object (a thing or a state of things) in a general way. The general character is not due to a certain obscurity and vagueness, as in “general” sensible representations. It is due to the drawing out (abstraction) by the intellect of something that is common as such to several objects — a “whatness” or essence about the existence of which no affirmation at all is immediately made. Abstraction takes place in the “light” of the “active” intellect ( intellectus agens) which manifests the intelligible element in the sensible thing present. Thus the concept li…


(1,190 words)

Author(s): Hubert Jedin
Conciliarism, or the conciliar theory, which was developed in the 14th century and applied to the so-called reform councils of the 15th century, teaches that an ecumenical council is superior to the Pope. 1. Conciliarism was not originally and exclusively the creation of Marsilius of Padua and William of Occam, as has often been supposed. It had its roots in the discussions on the Church by canonists of the 12th and 13th centuries, resulting from efforts to set juridical limitations to the power of the papacy. According to Huguccio and others, the Pope can fall into error, but not the Ecclesia…


(1,351 words)

Author(s): Leo Scheffczyk
Concupiscence is a fundamental element of Christian anthropology. This anthropology understands man as a being of finite resources orientated to the infinite, and hence intrinsically affected by an element of resistance and tension (between essence and existence, nature and person). Christian anthropology also sees in man a more profound division resulting from sin (original and actual). The fact of such a division is so obvious and familiar to human experience that it has found a place even in …


(4,420 words)

Author(s): Piet Fransen
A. Methodology Most studies of confirmation are unconvincing because the problems are envisaged in too narrow a perspective. Since the beginning of the Middle Ages the Scholastics sought, by an analysis of the fruits proper to this sacrament, to define its special nature, in contrast to baptism, or even the Eucharist, on account of Ps 103:3, “panis cor hominis confirmat”. This method was based on “axioms” of a rather meagre sacramental theology. The sacraments were considered too exclusively as “instruments of grace”, and not sufficiently as “mysteries …


(2,924 words)

Author(s): Rudolf Hofmann
1. General description. The word conscience (the “inwit” of Chaucer and Joyce) derives from conscientia, as does this from συνείδησις. While it is used in many senses, both in popular and scientific language, it denotes, in its specifically moral usage (French: conscience morale), a series of related phenomena of the soul, the kernel of which is an impressive basic experience reaching deep into personal consciousness. Long familiar, especially in the form of the so-called bad conscience, it has been apprehended and expressed in a variet…


(1,604 words)

Author(s): Jörg Spleti
1. Consciousness, literally the state of knowing, of knowing well in one’s own mind, is the spirit’s awareness not merely of the objects of its experience, but of this experience as its own and hence of itself. Consciousness includes, as well as the immediate moment of experience, the memory of past experience — based, on experience — and a more or less general anticipation of its future. At the most primitive level it is not a matter of two or more different acts, which might then perhaps give …

Constantinian Era

(3,317 words)

Author(s): Peter Stockmeier
In every discussion of the Church in history, the age of Constantine takes pride of place, less in view of a possible division of Church history into periods than in an attempt to assess this encounter of Church and State initiated by the Emperor Constantine ( c. 285-337), which determined to some extent the outward form of the Christian Church for centuries, and perhaps still does. The “age of Constantine” is a historical category which has become a judgment of value — mostly negative; hence the various meanings of the expression. If we are to be consistent, the analogy of the “age o…


(2,174 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. Concept. Contrition is an element or aspect in that process of individual salvation which is usually called metanoia, conversion (in the sense of change of heart and life), repentance, justification. It can therefore only be correctly understood and judged in that larger context. Since it is a rejection of sin, it presupposes a theologically correct understanding of sin and guilt. 2. The teaching of the Church. The Council of Trent describes contrition as “sorrow of heart and detestation for sin committed, with the resolution not to sin again” ( D 897, 915). The Church’s doctrine …


(2,996 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Sections A and В of this article will deal with the wider notion of conversion as amendment of life; section C with the problem of conversion in the narrower sense, that of a baptized person from a Christian community to the Catholic Church. A. Theology 1. Methodology. a) The content of the theologically important and indeed central concept of conversion will be presented here from the point of view of dogmatic theology, but that of biblical theology will also be taken into account. b) It is difficult to distinguish the concept precisely from related theological concepts: faith (as fides qua…

Council - History

(6,613 words)

Author(s): Odilio Engels
Part of Council: 1. Theology 2. History A distinction is still usual today between assemblies which represent the universal Church by virtue of their composition (Ecumenical Council) or which gather together bishops of a number of ecclesiastical provinces (plenary council) or of a single province (provincial council) and, on the other hand, the diocesan synod. The terms σύνοδος and concilium were originally equivalent; there was as yet no hierarchy of different kinds of assembly. Today, 21 assemblies are reckoned as Ecumenical Councils. The authoritativ…

Council - Theology

(1,101 words)

Author(s): Hans Küng
Part of Council: 1. Theology 2. History 1. Concept. Councils or Synods are assemblies (σύνοδοι, concilia) of representatives of the universal Church or local Churches for mutual consultations and for reaching decisions on Church affairs. A distinction must be drawn between Ecumenical Councils representing the universal Church and the various kinds of particular councils (general, patriarchal, plenary, primatial, imperial and provincial synods). 2. Historical sketch. The forms taken even by the Ecumenical Councils have been of diverse kinds. According to exis…
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