Winter 2002

Toward a Culture of Life: The Eucharist, the “Restoration” of Creation, and the “Worldly” Task of the Laity in Liberal Societies

David L. Schindler

“Community is not first an object of choice but a gift always already given and calling forth gratitude and further giving.”

1. Communion ecclesiology and a “new” sense of the world and of the identity/mission of the lay faithful.


The Second Vatican Council’s communio ecclesiology indicates a “new” (renewed) understanding, not only of the Church, but of the world itself. In light of the great text Gaudium et Spes, 22, we can say that this ecclesiology recuperates in an organic way the trinitarianeucharistic destiny of creation in Jesus Christ, and thereby deepens and transforms what is meant by creation in its original-natural integrity as such.1

Christifideles Laici [=CL] defines the lay faithful both in terms of the “newness of Christian life” received at Baptism and in terms of their “secular character” (CL, 16). “The ‘world’ [is] the place and the means for [the lay faithful] to fulfill their Christian vocation, because the world itself is destined to glorify God the Father in Christ” (CL, 16). The laity’s presence in the world, in short, is a properly theological and not merely sociological or indeed (social-) ethical presence (cf. CL, 15).

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