Friday, August 24, 2012

The Documents of Vatican II – Gaudium et Spes – Part 4

The first part of Gaudium et Spes, entitled “The Church and Man's Vocation,” discusses four main themes in four chapters: the dignity of human beings, the community of mankind, human activity, and the Church's role in the modern world.

Here are some of the topics and ideas you'll find in Part I, Chapter III, of Gaudium et Spes.

Chapter III – Man's Activity in the Universe

The Problem

* Humanity has made progress in science and technology, so much so that all people now form “one single community over the whole earth.”

* In spite of this progress, the human race is still “troubled by many questionings” about the value and goal of work and life.

* The Church seeks to answer these questions by applying “the light of revelation” to human experience.

Value of Human Activity

* Human activity, both collective and individual, is a part of God's plan and ought to be used to praise and serve God and to improve the lives of all human kind.

* Daily work contributes to “the fulfillment in history of the divine plan” and actually participates in the work of the Creator.

Regulation of Human Activity

* People learn and grow through their daily work, but they must be careful to avoid making work and wealth ends in themselves, for it is “what a man is, rather than what he has, that counts.”

* Human activity should help people to “pursue and fulfill their total vocation” in God's will.

Rightful Autonomy of Earthly Affairs

* Earthly affairs necessarily function according to their own “order and laws” as should the different branches of scholarly pursuit.

* Yet all these spheres must comply with the absolute moral law. Faith and reason work together because both “derive from the same God.”

* Many people today misunderstand the autonomy of earthly affairs and refuse to acknowledge God, but “without a Creator there can be no creature.” All people must strive to recognize “the voice and the revelation of God in the language of creatures.”

Human Activity Infected by Sin

* Human activity is infiltrated by disorder and selfishness, and humans struggle every day against the power of evil that they may overcome their own pride and self-centered ways, cooperate with Christ in all their activities, and discover their own “inner integrity.”

* Only in Christ is human activity “purified and perfected.” In Christ, people can use and enjoy the things of the world “in a spirit of poverty and freedom.”

Human Activity: Its Fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery

* Jesus Christ, the God-Man, entered into history and took all history into Himself. He taught, lived, and died love, and only in love can the “ordinary circumstances of daily life” reach their full potential in the plan of God.

* True freedom comes only with love, service, self-giving, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

* While Christians await a new heaven and a new earth, they work to better order the current society so that the Kingdom of God becomes more and more present in this world until it reaches its fulfillment at the end of time.

The full text of Gaudium et Spes is available online at the Vatican website.

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