54. A NEW TEMPLE. Renovation winds

Created: Wednesday, 12 December 2012 Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014
54. A NEW TEMPLE
Renovation winds

atti1. Does the New creation, which opens the Gospel, mean a new temple? What is the relationship between innovation and Gospel? Does ecclesial innovation require a new temple? The Gospel too? What is what the spirit says to the diverse Churches? (Rev 3, 22). The Council is not, certainly, reduced to some documents. Above everything, the Council is a prophetic event, innovation wind, spirit’s wind. Perhaps it went farther that it was expected: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going." (Jn 3, 8). Fifty years after the Council, it is something to remember. It is necessary to go back to the communitarian experience of the origins, the key to the ecclesial renovation. The photograph is an issue of the Acts of the Apostles, a present from Paul VI (1969)
2. From the first moment, for many people Council announcement meant the breathing of a new, extraordinary atmosphere, created by the wind of the spirit, a renovation wind. A good diagnosis of the post council time cannot be done. We evoke here that moment, the immediate genesis of the Council, and also the ecclesial hope it aroused.

Prophetic event
3. “The idea of the Council, says John XXIII, has not come to fruition in me as the fruit of an extended meditation, but as the flower of an unexpected spring” (H. Fresquet. Pope John small flowers, Estela, 1964, 108). In effect, 20th January 1959 he becomes surprised by a great grace; and in it “some ideas look to him like simple and of immediate implementation, very easy, but large in scope and responsibility, excellent prospects and immediate success”. Deep inside, the thing was “to receive Lord´s good inspirations with simplicity and confidence”.
4. “I was the first one surprised by this proposal of mine, with no one making any indication to this respect. And I must say that later on everything seemed to me so natural in its immediate and continuous development. After three years of hardworking preparation, here I am at the feet of the holy mountain. May God support me to carry all to a good end” (John XXIII, Soul diary, Cristiandad, Madrid, 1964, 406 – 407)
5. On January 25th 1959, John XXIII announces the celebration of the Council, in the basilica of Saint Paul, in the frame of the closing ceremony of the week of prayer for the Christians unity. The preparatory phase of the council begins on November the 13th, 1960. Says John XXIII: “The whole work of the new Ecumenical Council truly trends to bring  to the face of Jesus´ Church the most simple and pure shining features of its origin and to present it, such as his Divine Founder made it: spotless and wrinkleless” (John XXIII, One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 13 – 11-1960)
6. The task was not easy and courage was necessary. John XXIII had to raise the spirits: “We must keep ourselves full of courage… No, Christ, the son of God and our Savior, has not retired from the world he has redeemed, and the Church, founded by Him, one, saint, catholic and apostolic, continues being his mystic body, from whom He is the head, with which every on of us is related, to whom we belong”
7. Calling to innovation, John XXIII updates the prophetic hopes: “Don’t you believe to hear the echo of a far away voice arriving to your ears and your hearts? Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you! (Is 60, 1). The distant Isaiah offers us the notes for the first triumphal song, which collects the echoes of the melodious fervour that rises up from between all languages, tribes and peoples”. In effect, from the Council announcement “the Christian world has noticed that a current of spirituality moves the souls with unusual vibrations (John XXIII, papal address, 14 – 11 – 1960)
8. To an ambassador who asked John XXIII what did he expected from the Council, he answered: “The Council? – he said, approaching the window and making the gesture of opening it – I hope from it a little fresh air… It is necessary to shake the imperial powder accumulated on Saint Peter’s throne from Constantine” (Fresquet, 109). Certainly, madness for many; for many too, a truth that purifies the temple and that, therefore, innovates the Church.
9. In a special way, in John XXIII call to renovation, Haggai prophet word is accomplished. His message about the temple reconstruction becomes an ecclesial innovation message. Let us see. Year 520 b. C. is in course. It is the after exile period. Prophet Haggai arrives in the decisive moment: the birth of Palestine’s new community. The first Jews coming back from Babylon all of a sudden got discouraged. The prophet arrives with the mission to awake up hope and rise up the courage
10. Let us see the points of coincidence: the mandate to go up the mountain and to rebuild the House (Ag 1, 8), it is to say, to renovate the Church; the reference to the origins splendor (2, 3), it is to say, to the communitarian experience of the Acts of the Apostles, to “the most simple and pure features” of the incipient Church; the words of courage, founded in God´s presence (1, 13 and 2, 4) and in the presence of Christ; the difficulties created by the false prudence, after which powerful resistances are hidden: “The moment has not arrived yet” (1, 2); the awakening of many asleep spirits (1, 8), that “current that moves souls with unusual vibrations”.
11. The word proclaimed by Ages in also accomplished in the post council time. Cyrus granted freedom to those deported the year 538 b. C. The Jews who return are, doubtless, the most enthusiastic: they aspire to build the city and its temple, the Jerusalem dreamt by the prophets. But very soon the reality becomes disappointing. . The difficulties are neither few nor small. There are those living well, even very well: their “coffering homes” contrast with the temple ruins and the precarious situation of a people who must be born, the new community. Almost twenty years have elapsed (now fifty) and the reconstruction works have hardly begun.

Tradition burden
12. The past April 23rd, cardinal Rouco requested to receive the Council “”in an adequate way” and he strongly criticized the most progressive vision about it. The Council, he said, “is the great innovation instrument of the universal Church, which sinks its roots in the precedent decade’s Christian life”. This is, really, very ambiguous, so ambiguous as to say that the Spanish democracy sinks its roots in the precedent decades. Besides, those preparing the Council had a bad time in the pre council.
13. There are, for instance, Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955) with his dynamic vision of the world and the developers of the “nouvelle theologie”, who between the years 1930 – 1950 is developed in two schools: Le Saul choir, Paris Dominicians, and La Fourvier, Lyon Jesuits. Great theologians came out from there with a large influence in the Vatican II. In august 1950 Pius XII encyclical letter “Humani generis” paralyzed the theological renovation movement, and its main driving forces – Chenu, Congar, De Lubac – felt under canonical censorship, while it was imposed that theological teaching should follow the scholasticism. (J. Espeja. Fifty years after the Council, San Pablo, Madrid, 2012, 30 – 36)
14. According to the Cardinal, there are “problematic aspects” in particular doctrinal ways of reception of the council teaching that “seeking protection under a Council that never existed, neither literally nor in the spirit, have sowed anguish and distress in many faithful hearts”. Seeking an explanation, the Cardinal cites the Pope: “There had been two opposite hermeneutics” “one caused confusion; the other has given and is giving good fruits”. One is the “hermeneutic of rupture”, which has often enjoyed the sympathy of the communication means and also of a part of modern theology. The other one is the “hermeneutic of continuity”
15. Two hermeneutics, two interpretations: “The hermeneutic of the discontinuity is in danger to point to a rupture between the pre council and the post council Church”, “the right nature of a council rests radically misinterpreted, since, in that manner, it is considered like a kind of constituent assembly, which eliminates and old constitution and creates a new one”.
16. The key, says the Cardinal, is to read “in an appropriate manner” the council texts and to assume  these  “inside Church Tradition”. The Catholic Church Catechism “allows reading the Council according to the hermeneutics of continuity”, “the vain pretension to build a new Church, different of that existing before the Council, denotes a grave crisis of faith in the Church”. Before the Council, says the Cardinal in Salamanca, there is a Church “with a large pastoral vitality, so much in the clergy as in the compromised laity, besides the testimony of the distraught Christian communities, the new martyrs”, “there was no intention to subvert Church Tradition, but the intention was to preserve it, taking out its outdated forms”.
17. Seemingly, the Cardinal presents tradition as a regulation, and not the Scripture. Nevertheless, in case of discrepancy among tradition and Scripture, the tradition must give up. Jesus says it: “you nullify the word of God by your tradition” (Mc 7, 13). Therefore, tradition must be revised in the light of the Scripture: “the Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn 10, 35), says Jesus
18. Certainly, in the light of the Scripture, it is also necessary to revise the post council excesses, coming from where they may come. Not everything is valid. Christianism is not liberalism. As Paul says: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature” (Ga 5, 13)
19. The consensus method used in the Council makes that the approved text be “a braided (a compromise formula) among two different threads (two tendencies)”, which afterwards facilitates “the appearance of confronted hermeneutics” (M. Vidal, Vida Nueva, n.2816). Nevertheless, the hermeneutic of continuity cannot nullify the necessary renovation of a Church that has the Gospel as its Constitution and that comes back to the sources of the blossoming Church. The burden of tradition ought not to prevent it.

The decay of the old Christianity
20. Jesus confronts a similar problem. Midst conventional Judaism he assumes John’s call: “You brood of vipers...  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father” (Lk 3, 8). The faith is not received by heritance. A personal answer is needed. In a similar way, the call of the Gospel bursts midst the conventional christianism. It is not valid to say: “We are all life Christians”. Another thing is necessary. The “new wine” of the Gospel must be thrown into “new wineskins” (Mk 2, 22). The old Christianity is an old wineskin.
21. Since 50 years ago, an inexorable fact is taking place, which for many can be disconcerting: the decay of the old Christianity. There are many indicators. For instance, in Spain the number of priests has gone down in a 40 % in the last decade. The priests coming from other countries are more than 500, but the percentage is very low in the total of 18.633 priests of our country. In the Aparecida Conference (2007) the information was given: “in the last ten years about 30 millions of Latin-Americans Catholics have left the Church” (Vida Nueva, no. 2798 and 2800)
22. Which is the cause of this decay? The Council makes the diagnosis: “Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world” (GS 4). “It is necessary to scrutinize to the bottom the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel”. It is neither the Council’s fault nor of an inadequate interpretation of it.
23. The old Christianity, with its secular ruins, is decaying. She does not bear the tremor of an earthquake, the deep and accelerated changes of the contemporary world. John Paul I said it to his theological counsellor, Mr Germano: “You are my witness. The Council did not break the retaining walls, as it was said and still is being said by some unfortunate minds. It was not the cause of the decay of ideas and values, of rules, traditions and habits up to then valid and untouchables. The Council arrived by God´s will to a world in quick cultural, social and religious transformation” (Bassoto, 132)
24. In this situation of crisis the Council arrives and refers to the communitarian experience sources like the model of ecclesial renovation. The Council sees in the origins´ communitarian experience (Acts 2, 42 – 47) the model, not only of the religious life (PC 15, 1), of that of the missionaries (AG 25, 1) and of the priests (PO 17, 4 and 21, 1), but of all  God´s saint people (LG 13, 1; DV 10,1). In this manner the Church is born, reborn and is renovated: going back to the cenacle (Acts 1, 13 – 14 and 21), to Pentecost, to the communitarian experience of the Acts of the Apostles.
25. Really, what was there before the Council? Bishop Luciani says: “A kind of religious underfeeding in many places”, “we were kept happy with a popular religion, which was fed with traditional religious practices and habits, neither vivified by the contact with the liturgy and God´s word, nor placed inside a deep religious instruction. Even in the liturgy the layman assisted passively, like an object and not like the subject of the saint rites, spectators, not authors: in the measure in which the officiating priest got further away from the community, following the altar placed more and more at the bottom of the apse, the people did not talk any more and they could not follow the readings made by a reader back to them; the heart of the mass, the cannon, was read by the celebrant in low voice, while, individually, everyone said a prayer in his own account without looking to the rest. We prayed at the Church like we eat in a restaurant, where one is in one table, other in another one; one is eating the first dish, the other one is with the fruit. Something enough different is to eat in family, everybody together, the parents with their children, the children under the look of their mother. The renovated liturgy goes to the feeling of the family, to the communitarian prayer” (Opera Omnia 4, 138 – 139). It is necessary to go back to the sources. The pre council puddles are useless. A poster should warn: “Non potable water”.
26. It is necessary to pay attention to the signs of the times, to discern in the events, exigencies and desires of which we participate jointly with our contemporary “the true sign of the presence and the plans of God”, says the Council (GS 11). Now, 50 years later, we have a perspective. What is happening (in all the Churches) is included in God´s plan. The judgment of the old Christianity is in action. A rest will remain: “I will leave among you a poor and humble people”, “the rest of Israel” (Sof 3, 12). It affects to every Church. Every Christian confession must revise its own tradition in the light of the Gospel. The mobility of the contemporaneous world takes us to meet. We can now verify what the wind took away. We can now share the Gospel experience.

The community
27. Midst the heavy rain that is coming, boats are necessary, id est, alive communities. It is something obvious, but it is convenient to say it, with opportunity or without it, “in season and out of season” (2Tm 4, 2): when the heavy rain come the boats will float. We sing it many times: “It is not, no, the lifeless Church / which sees with discouragement / in decay the old Christianity / it is the one that is converted / and goes back to the sources / of the blooming Church / being a community”
28. Therefore, no continuity, but rupture, denunciation of the temple, imminent judgment, a call to conversion: “The axe is already at the root of the trees” (Lk 3, 9). A new temple is necessary (Jn 2, 14 – 19): “Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables”. The Passover is not what it was. It is now the Jewish Passover. Jesus goes up to Jerusalem and he bumps into the old temple. He makes up a whip of cords and lashes the established tradition: “Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered what was written down: “The zeal for your house devours me.”  It is a prophetic signal.
29. The Jews request Jesus a signal justifying his action; they do not perceive the signal he is delivering. They tell him: Which signal do you show us to act like that? It is to say, with what authority do you make this? Jesus answers: “Destroy this sanctuary and I will rise it up in three days”. The Jews reply: Forty six years took to build this sanctuary and you will rise it up in three days? But he was talking about his body’s sanctuary. When he raises from the dead, the disciples recall his words. Resurrection is the signal that justifies Jesus. Otherwise, in the New Creation inaugurated by the Gospel “temple I did not see anyone, because the Lord is his temple” (Rev 21, 22) and the earth is “the footstool of his feet” (Mt 5, 35)
30. The Jews do not perceive either the signal coming later on. “In three days I will rise it up”. The old temple is useless. It not only must be denounced, not only must be purified, it must be substituted. With the experience of the resurrection, with his new presence, Jesus inaugurates a new religious order, a new temple, the community of disciples: “You are Christ’s body” (1 Co 12, 27), “alive stones” of the new temple (1 P 2, 5)
* Dialogue: Does the New creation inaugurated by the Gospel mean a new temple? Which relationship exists between renovation and Gospel? What do we see in the signs of the times? What does the spirit tell the Churches?