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Laity - Clergy and Laity

(975 words)

Author(s): Miguel Веnɀо | Ernst Niermann
Part of Laity: 1. The Layman in the Church 2. Clergy and Laity 3. Catholic Action 1. The relationship between clergy and laity in the life and work of the Church is determined by the unity of its mission — the salvation of men, which they lay hold on by faith in Christ and by his grace. Clergy and laity are therefore one as members by baptism of the one people of God, members of the same body which all are called on to build up. Nevertheless the individual members of the Church carry out its mission in different ways. 2. If the clergy carry out the Church’s mission (apostolate) by formally pro…

Spirituality - Special Features

(7,628 words)

Author(s): Eberhard Simons | Jesús María Granero | Josef Sudbrack | Ernst Niermann | Friedrich Wulf
Part of Spirituality: 1. Concept 2. History of Christian Spirituality 3. Special Features A. Meditation 1. As opposed to the terms “mental prayer” and “contemplation”, the traditional terna “meditation” is increasingly employed nowadays, even outside the domain of Christian life and spirituality. Its meaning ranges from a psychosomatic technique and therapy acquired by yoga exercises and the practice of auto-suggestion, to ordinary intellectual and personal reflection, or even to advanced forms of religious an…


(1,685 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
1. An approach to the controverted enon of veneration of relics must be sought in the corporeal structure of freedom and its exercise generally. The tension which thus characterizes it involves the indubitable danger of magical fetishism on the one hand, and on the other a demand for purity of intention which is hostile to the body and to linguistic and other forms of expression. Nevertheless the full development of freedom requires the combination found in embodied action or animated sign (see Symbol). The right, and limits, to veneration of relics can only be determined as …


(3,126 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
A. Concept It is important to bear in mind, in the following discussion of the applicability of the terms “priest” and “priesthood” to the office-holders in the Church, that the NT does not use the terms ίερεύς, ίεράτευμα, to describe ecclesiastical office. They occur, however, in the interpretation of Christ’s work of salvation and in the description of the NT people of God. The Letter to the Hebrews, in the perspective of the Jewish-Christian community and its interest in ОТ tradition, works out a theology of Christ’s work of salvation which presents it a…

Saints - Veneration of Saints

(2,349 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
Part of Saints: 1. History of Saints 2. Veneration of Saints 3. Canonization 4. Hagiography The veneration of the saints is an element of Church spirituality which can be shown to be present in the whole of tradition. At one time it dominated the liturgy and the practices of the faithful so strongly that it was regarded as a hall-mark of Catholic piety. 1. The magisterium of the Church expressly approved the practice at Trent, seeking both to explain itself to the Reformers and to eliminate abuses and excesses on the Catholic side. ( D 984–8). The doctrine of the Council is not given as …

Parish - Parish Priest

(821 words)

Author(s): François Houtart | Ernst Niermann
Part of Parish: 1. Sociological Structure 2. Parish Priest 1. Definition. The parish priest is the physical person ( sacerdos) or juridical person (in incorporated parishes) to whom the parish is entrusted for the exercise of pastoral care ( CIC, can. 451, para. 1). 2. Canon law. The legal definition of the rights and duties of the parish priest, especially his relationship to episcopal authority, has changed in the course of the history of the parish. In the early Christian system of titular churches he was the helper and delegate of the bishop. Now he has potestas ordinaria et propria, subo…

Laity - The Layman in the Church

(3,316 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
Part of Laity: 1. The Layman in the Church 2. Clergy and Laity 3. Catholic Action Since it is impossible to discuss here all the possible aspects of the word “laity”, this article will confine itself in the first part to a survey of the mind of the Church on the subject, as it developed in the course of history. The second part will be an attempt to assess systematically the declarations of Vatican II on the laity. If the laity is to play its proper role in the Church, this will not be the result of pastoral en…

Secularization - Laicism

(1,292 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
Part of Secularization: 1. Concept 2. Laicism The term “laicism” was coined in France during the struggle for spiritual power under the Third Republic and introduces the problems of the “Church and the World” as they were understood in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is only against this historical background that the attitude of laicism to the relationship of Church and State, for instance, can be properly understood. Laicizing thought was given its classical form in France, though it also played an important role in other countries down to the present century. The spiritual roots of l…


(1,542 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
Spiritualism is a general term covering both certain philosophical statements of the reality and power of the spirit and of its relation to the material and corporeal world (1); and also certain tendencies and attitudes in the social and individual life of men in religious matters (2). The more common meaning in English (— “spiritism”), interest in certain abnormal phenomena attached to mediums etc., is not dealt with here; but see Psychology IV. 1. Spiritualistic tendencies in philosophy. In the history of philosophy, spiritualism is used to characterize opinions oppose…


(782 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
Indifference is an aspect of the Christian’s attitude to the world. 1. There is no single word in Scripture to designate indifference. But the attitude grows from Christ’s liberation of man from the powers of this world, so that he lives in expectation of the Day of the Lord (cf. Rom 8:18–39; 14:8–12; 1 Cor 4:9–13; 7:27–39; 2 Cor 4: 16–5: 10; Tit 2: 12f.; Heb 10: 32–39). Expectation of the eschatological event implies a freedom which enables the Christian to keep his correct distance from inner-worldly thi…

Parish - Sociological Structure

(3,163 words)

Author(s): François Houtart | Ernst Niermann
Part of Parish: 1. Sociological Structure 2. Parish Priest 1. Definition. Vatican II gives the following description of a parish: “Because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these, parishes set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop are the most important: for in a certain way they represent the visible Church as it is established throughout the w…


(2,049 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
The notion of providence sums up God’s relationship to the world as he knows, wills and executes his plan of universal salvation and leads the world to the end decreed by him. 1. Providence in non-Christian beliefs. Greek philosophy concluded that providence watched over men, because it saw the world as a rational, apt and purposeful order. This order was seen as the work of a divine Spirit pervading all things and guaranteeing the well-being of man. The word πρόνοια (providence) appears for the first time in the 5th century B.C.,…