McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Maximus the Confessor, Laity, Vatican 2, Lumen Gentium, Logoi
Post-Conciliar ecclesiological reflection has been largely critical of Lumen Gentium’s description of the laity. The criticism is focused around two concepts: that the lay vocation takes place principally among the life and work of the world, having a “secular character” and that the activity of the laity, as a participation in the priesthood of Christ, is the consecration the world itself to God. According to this critique, these concepts are problematic because they juxtapose the task of the laity in the world with the task of the clergy who are the sole proprietors of the sacred. This is compounded by 20th Century theologies of grace. Acknowledging a human task of consecration would be the equivalent to arguing that the world was not already filled with the grace of God. Together these issues set up a series of unacceptable dichotic pairs: separate activity of laity/clergy implies a division between secular/sacred and ultimately of God and the world.
Maximus the Confessor’s theological vision is a corrective to the views expressed in post-Vatican II literature. I argue that within Maximus’ theological worldview, the goodness of creation is entrusted to humanity for consecration. The offering of creation to God arises from creation’s own goodness, based within the maximian concept of the logoi. It is this priestly act that unites humanity with creation and constitutes their shared deifying communion. The maximian lens also serves to deepen and enrich Lumen Gentium’s description of the laity and is a basis for further exploration of the lay vocation.
Marco, A. (2021). Consecrate the World to God: Maximus the Confessor on the “Secular” and Vatican II’s Theology of the Laity. (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1987