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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Holy Spirit and Yves Congar

It's Pentecost and I have so many questions about the holy spirit ... is it indwelling in people or is it something that affects us from without like Ignatius' good spirit ..... if it's indwelling, was it always so, and if so, why the need for Pentecost .... if the holy spirit was not always indwelling, when was it bestowed - at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) or around Easter (John 20:21-22 ... Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; bas the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.")


- Christ's appearance behind locked doors by Duccio di Buoninsegna

In looking around, I saw that Wikipedia has a page on Pneumatology ....

Pneumatology is the study of spiritual beings and phenomena, especially the interactions between humans and God. Pneuma (πνεῦμα) is Greek for "breath", which metaphorically describes a non-material being or influence .... In Christian theology pneumatology refers to the study of the Holy Spirit.

One interesting bit from that page was this one ...

Reformation and Counter-reformation: Here the relationship between the Spirit and the Scriptures is re-examined. Martin Luther and John Calvin hold that the Spirit has a certain "interpretive authority" to "illuminate" scripture, while Counter-reformation theologians respond that the Spirit has authorized the Church to serve as authoritative interpreter of Scripture.

So, does this mean the Protestants saw the holy spirit as indwelling, maybe informing the conscience, while the Catholic church wanted to see the holy spirit instead only residing in the leaders of the church? Drat - the Protestants get to have all the good stuff :)

This idea, that the holy spirit had more import as the guarantee of the authenticity of the tradition and the authority of the acts of the magisterium than as an indwelling source of graced info, was changed in part through the work of Vatican II era theologian Yves Congar, a contemporary pneumatologist.


- Joseph Ratzinger (L) and Yves Congar (R), both periti at Vatican II

Yves Marie Joseph Congar (April 8, 1904, Sedan, Ardennes - June 22, 1995) was a French Dominican cardinal and theologian. Born in Sedan, in northeast France, in 1904, Congar's home was occupied by the Germans for much of World War I ... In 1925 he joined the Dominican Order at Amiens. Following his theological studies at the seminary at Le Saulchoir in Etiolles, near Paris with its strong emphasis on historical theology, Congar was ordained a priest in 1930. During World War II he was drafted into the French army as a chaplain, and was held from 1940 to 1945 as a prisoner of war by the Germans in Colditz.

After the war, he continued to teach and to write, eventually becoming one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century on the topic of the Roman Catholic Church and ecumenism .... Congar was once removed from teaching or publishing for a time by the Holy See, during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. However, his reputation was rehabilitated, as he was made a cardinal, in 1994, by Pope John Paul II .... He published on wide ranging topics, including Mary, the Eucharist, lay ministry and the Holy Spirit, as well as his diaries from his experiences during the Second Vatican Council.


Here's an article about Congar and the holy spirit - The Contribution Of Yves Congar's Theology Of The Holy Spirit, Theological Studies, Sept, 2001 by Elizabeth Teresa Groppe. It's long but worth a read.

And here's a short excerpt from an article about the article above :) ......

Yves Congar's Theology of the Holy Spirit, Theological Studies, June, 2005 by Eileen C. Burke-Sullivan ....

[...] Groppe's basic thesis asserts that Congar distinctively contributed to Roman Catholic theology of the Holy Spirit by retrieving the intimate bond between the work of the indwelling Spirit within the human person and the activity of the Spirit within the Church. The magnitude of this contribution is more fully appreciated both when it is seen in contrast to other pneumatological writing by Western theologians of the mid-20th century, and the more one understands the development of Congar's own writing before and after the Second Vatican Council .....

In her opening chapter G. demonstrates that the great influences on Congar's thinking included a strong historical Thomism, a deep appreciation for Johann Adam Mohler's work, and years of study of both the Protestant thought of Luther and Barth and Orthodox theology mediated by the Russian school in Paris between the wars. These various influences helped Congar shape responses to ecclesial questions that were surfacing in various Christian denominations, including and especially the ecumenical currents in play since the World Missionary Conference of 1917.

In this dynamic context, Congar's true starting point is always trinitarian, and G. illuminates both the depth and the development of this dimension of his work in her chapter 2. Out of Congar's trinitarian consciousness G. carefully outlines his position on the indwelling of the Spirit, and the mystery of deification as well as the moral implications of such sanctifying activity. But his Pneumatology does not stop with contemplating personal indwelling; rather his work focuses on the distribution of necessary gifts, both charismatic and hierarchical, that provide for building up the Church in the context of indwelling. This inseparability between the gifts of baptism and the dynamic power of the Spirit unifying and fructifying the Church lead one to say: where there is the manifestation of the indwelling Spirit, there the Church dwells. To believe in the Holy Spirit, third Person of the trinitarian God, is to believe in the gifts and powers of the Church: unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity ...



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