booklady's Reviews > Gaudium Et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World

Gaudium Et Spes by Second Vatican Council
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Oct 10, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2008, church-documents, non-fiction, spiritual, religion, theology
Recommended to booklady by: Mike Chavez
Recommended for: any Christian
Read in October, 2008

Gaudium et Spes or the "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World", was the Second Vatican Council's response to the horrors the world had witnessed up to the early 1960s when it was published. Gaudium is the longest of the four constitutions produced by this Council and one of -- if not the longest -- document overall. In describing the relationship of the Church, the People of God, to the modern world, understandably there is a lot to say.

Gaudium approaches the monumental task of reconciling the two proverbial 'cities', i.e., the City of God and the city of the world in the opening words of the Preface: 'The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.'

Indeed, were it not so, the Church would have no purpose; there would be no need for Her, much less this Constitution. 'Inspired by no earthly ambition, the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.' (paragraph 3)

The Constitution consists of an introduction and two main parts. The Introduction establishes the anguished condition of humanity today despite all the so-called modern technologies which were supposed to bring suffering mankind relief, aide or at the minimum, change.

Part One delves into the vocation each of us have by virtue of being human beings created by God. We have dignity as such and we certainly share in a portion of His Intellect, Truth and Wisdom; yet we are also sinners facing the mystery of Death. Each of these areas are explored along with the excellence of the Freedom He has given us. There is also a fascinating discussion on Atheism and our responsibility as Catholic Christians to live lives worthy of our Faith that we might be true witnesses for Christ. 'Believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion.' (paragraph 19)

There are four chapters in the first part. In the first, the individual is the focus, then the emphasis shifts from that one person, to his/her relationships with those outside. In the third chapter, the perspective is humanity's activity in the universe at large. The fourth chapter examines the role of the Church in the world. And here the Church shepherds wax most eloquent. For example:

'The Church truly knows that only God, Whom she serves, meets the deepest longings of the human heart, which is never fully satisfied by what this world has to offer.'

'Man is constantly worked upon by God's spirit, and hence can never be altogether indifferent to the problems of religion.'

'Whoever follows after Christ, the perfect man, becomes himself more of a man.'

'By no human law can the personal dignity and liberty of man be so aptly safeguarded as by the Gospel of Christ which has been entrusted to the Church.' (paragraph 41)

Part Two deals with urgent problems besetting the modern age such as: the dignity, sanctity and holiness of marriage and the family; cultural, political and economic changes/issues; peace, the arms race and the avoidance of war; and the complexity of the international community.

Gaudium concludes with a discussion of the role of individual Christians and local churches to draw from the wealth of historic informational teaching in carrying Christ's message to the larger world today.

For anyone who has any thoughts...doubts...or accusations about how the Church sees Herself and what She thinks are her responsibilities to a suffering humanity in this day and age--and in turn what are ours to Her.

Most highly recommended!
1 like · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Gaudium Et Spes.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.