Author: Worcester, Thomas
Date published: June 1, 2011
ESSENTIAL WRITINGS. By Yves Congar. Edited and introduced by Paul Lakeland. Modern Spiritual Masters. Maryknoll, N. Y: Orbis, 2010. Pp. 206. $20.
This volume is a worthy addition to a very useful series from Orbis. From the abundant writings of Dominican theologian Yves Congar (1904-1995), Lakeland ably selects and introduces key texts that treat a broad range of topics, ecclesiology foremost among them. Lakeland highlights Cs lifelong commitment to ecumenism and to a vision of church in which the laity would no longer be treated as children. Yet Cs long-term commitments did not mean he was arrogant or unwilling to change; on the contrary, Lakeland stresses, Cs "intellectual humility" (121) stood out.
For Lakeland, the church will be well served if Cs work continues to shape and inspire theologians in the 21st century. Some themes that emerge do indeed have a very contemporary resonance: the feminine characteristics of God; the church as guided by the Holy Spirit and as an orchestra in which every member has a distinct instrument to play; the proposal that everyone baptized and confirmed is made a witness to Christ in the world; and an insistence that preaching must correspond to the real needs and concerns of people, and that there must be a new style of church, more inclusive and missionary. Some of Cs writings reproduced here may seem more distant to many today, such as a long panegyric on Thomas Aquinas or a passage in which C. praises the monastery or convent as a sign and revelation of God's kingdom. But even in these texts it is Cs passion for recognizing the Holy Spirit present and at work in all the members of the church that stands out, whether they are lay men or women, priests or religious. In the light of this excellent volume, it is clear that C. continues to be well worth reading and rereading, and pondering.
THOMAS WORCESTER, SJ.
College of the Holy Cross,