Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man Paperback – 1 Nov 1988
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About the Author
(1896-1991) A leading figure in twentieth-century RomanCatholicism. He was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul IIin the mid-1980s.
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One aspect of the book that I was particularly interested in reading was a short section that de Lubac has on the interior life. It is my understanding that Fr. de Lubac had planned for most of his religious life to write an entire book devoted to the interior life, but never got around to doing so. This short section gave me a small glimpse into some of his ideas concerning the interior life and our relationship with God, though it could be argued that the whole book discusses our relationship with God in the sense of the interior life.
Although the book is a hard read (like all of de Lubac's books), it is very good and well worth it to devote some time to the writings of one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century.
For de Lubac, people are fundamentally *social* beings and the saving work of Christ is a saving work of humanity first, individuals second (hence the subtitle). The point of the Church is to be a witness to the common, shared humanity of man by bringing us all together into the body of Christ. The [Roman] Catholic church embodies this intention of God - that all would be one - more so than any other ideology, religion or church.
Interestingly enough, for de Lubac unity does not mean uniformity but, instead, presupposes difference. De Lubac does believe that the Holy Spirit continues to speak through the Pope today just as the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostles; given this, any notion of catholicity that denies the primacy of the the Papacy would not fit into de Lubac's vision. Although it is too easy and too common to place the community over and above the individual, de Lubac places the individual within the community by recognizing that the difference between individuals is what allows unity-within-difference to exist. The individual communes with God and with others; the point of the Church is to bring the people together, before God, and therefore also face to face with one another.
This, however, is also the first limitation of de Lubac's vision: it does not get into the *reality* of the divisions between the Churches that are Catholic - Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Catholic - and does not really engage the reality of Protestantism/s/s/s/s/s/... De Lubac gives a beautiful vision of the Church as pure, undefiled and united. The reality of brining together the broken church is never explored, however.
The second problem with this book is the utter *lack* of translated footnotes! The book is probably half footnotes, many of which are simply left in Latin. It makes for a fairly maddening read at points, especially since it is obvious that de Lubac really knows his stuff. He is deeply rooted within the spirituality of [Roman] Catholicism; not being able to read who he thought was worth citing keeps the reader from being able to grasp the full depth and breadth of his thought.
De Lubac's writing is a fresh engagement with the Fathers of the Church, primarily, but he also engages Scripture and the Scholastics. He has a nearly 70-page appendix of citations from various works of the Fathers (and yes, they are all translated into English), which helps the reader understand better his view of the Church. Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man is a brilliant synthesis of ancient and new theology and ecclesiology that will help the reader gain a far greater insight into what it means to be an individual that is a part of the community called the Catholic (universal) church.
An added bonus is a 75+ page appendix of excerpts from various works of famous Church Saints & Fathers.