The Law of the Church: A Cyclopedia of Canon Law for English Speaking Countries
- ISBN-13: 9781491248614
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Release Date: Aug 10, 2013
- Pages: 674 pages
- Dimensions: 1.52 x 9.0 x 6.0 inches
LAW and life are correlative terms. As God is the Author of life, so is He the Author of law: 'By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things' (Prov. viii. 15). This general truth is particularly seen in that Divine society, the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, which is quickened by the ever abiding presence of the Holy Ghost, Himself the Lord and Life-giver. From the earliest days of the Church, law has existed as essential to her existence. The keys of the kingdom, symbols of power, were of old given to one who was bidden to confirm his brethren and to feed the flock. This charge to Blessed Peter was not only to teach infallibly, but also to govern with Divine authority the Church over which he was set as head. Thus, we see him, after the Ascension, standing up in the midst of the disciples and pre siding over the election of Matthias, who was numbered with the eleven. The Prince of the Apostles exercised jurisdiction by that first sermon on the Day of Pentecost when he preached 'Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God' as 'both Lord and Christ;' and he opened the Church by baptism on that same day to ' about three thousand souls.' The Petrine privileges are for all time. They are bestowed for the Church, not for the individual man. They were instituted for US in this twentieth century as well as for the first followers of Christ's Name. Hence the Vatican Council, following those of Lyons and Florence, decreed that the Pope as successor of St. Peter has ordinary and immediate jurisdiction throughout the whole Church. From the Day of Pentecost till now the successors of Blessed Peter, as Vicars of Christ, have been the divinely appointed lawgivers in the Church. Judgment has been locked up in their hearts, and the law has been sought from their lips. From the Holy See, as from a new Sion, has gone forth the law that rules the people of God. Peter has never failed his brethren, he has always risen to the occasion; and his judgments stand because they are based upon truth and mercy. 'Peter is no recluse,' eays Newman in an eloquent passage, 'no abstracted student, no dreamer about the past, no doter upon the dead and gone, no projector of the visionary. Peter for eighteen hundred years has lived in the world; he has seen all fortunes, he has encountered all adversaries, he has shaped himself for all emergencies. If there ever was a power on earth who had an eye for the time, who confined himself to the practical, and has been happy in his anticipation, whose words have been deeds and whose commands prophecies, such is he in the history of ages who sits from generation to generation in the Chair of the Apostles as the Vicar of Christ and the Doctor of the Church.' As the life of the Church is marked by a perpetual growth and development down the course of the ages, ever changing, never altering, so is the history of her law. Each new phase of life requires a new manifestation of law. Popes have watched the times, and have directed the current of legislation towards the need. Whether in the Catacombs, in the Lateran, or close by the Tomb of the Fisherman, or whether at Lyons, Avignon, or at other places where the Pontiffs tarried, there were they in the place of their jurisdiction; and there have they set forth decrees to the whole Christian world. It may be fairly said that no country has contributed more to the formation of the Corpus Juris Canonici than England; for, as no country was so closely united to the Holy See as ours, so to none came more decretals in reply to questions submitted by English bishops to their supreme head.
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