Gaudium et Spes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 399

Themes in Gaudium et Spes include social connections, improving the world, and living in Christ.

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Social Connections

Social connections are shown as both beneficial and detrimental to man. On one hand, they offer a person the chance to become better and to achieve their destiny; on the other hand, some social connections can enhance temptation and lead people away from their goals. The authors also believe that culture is created and influenced by the social and spiritual character of men; they say that it needs liberty and autonomy to develop. Social connections are what will allow the world to progress forward as we develop a more human-centered and positive culture.

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Improving the World

The goal of the suggestions in Gaudium Et Spes is to improve the world. The authors offer specific guidelines for how the world needs to change, including more education for people all over the world. They also state that it's important for nations to give up their expansive, warlike ideology and their attempts to make money from human misery. This is one thing, they argue, that keeps the world from progressing to be a better place. Once this is achieved, they suggest that it will be easier to distribute the needed help to developing countries that will need guidance and resources from developed countries to more quickly change.

Living in Christ

To become the kind of person who has positive social connections and can change the world, they argue that a person should strive to live a Christlike life. Doing so and choosing to live in Christ can help a person better unravel the mysteries and difficulties that surround them. The authors reference Jesus's prayer that "that all may be one. . . as we are one" and use that to point out that it's only through giving of oneself that a person can truly find themselves. This means that following the path of Jesus Christ not only helps a person to change the world but also helps them to better understand themselves.

Jesus is shown here as an example of human fellowship because he "was present at the wedding of Cana, visited the house of Zacchaeus, ate with publicans and sinners" where he affirmed human, social connections and worked to make a better world. The authors make it clear that people need to follow his example and do their best to create a better world for everyone.

Christian Themes

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 381

In Gaudium et Spes, the council fathers discuss how Christians should engage the modern world and how such interaction can be fruitful for both modern culture and the Church. The document portrays Christians not as sectarians afraid of the world but as a community of truth capable of engaging all cultures. The fathers acknowledge that their reflections do not address concrete issues in particular cultures but rather provide a general framework to guide Christians of all cultures. In this regard, much is left open for further reflection.

The fathers argue that Christ has redeemed all people, a point that has two significant implications in the document. First, as followers of Christ, Christians are called to love all people. Second, every person will lack fulfillment and meaning without knowledge of the Gospel of Christ. Christian evangelization, therefore, is founded not on a false righteousness or pride but on love and concern for the genuine good of others. In this framework, the council fathers diagnose certain modern practices that are harmful. They condemn the economic disparity between the wealthy few and the wretched poverty of the majority. Further, they write against those political proposals that deny humanity’s spiritual good. The fathers argue that exclusive attention to economic or social goods loses sight of humanity’s highest calling, namely, to enter into communion with God. This calling is revealed in the revelation of Christ, who shows humanity that people are fully themselves only when they offer a sincere gift of themselves to others.

Because Gaudium et Spes speaks in general terms, much work is yet to be done to apply these guiding reflections to concrete situations. Local Church leaders must discern the signs of the time and equip their communities for fruitful engagement with their surrounding culture. Christians must identify those cultural characteristics that are harmful to the Christian community. Once identified, Christians must determine when they should seek to overcome the structures of culture, when they should seek conversion within the structures of society, and when they should withdraw from their surrounding culture. Perhaps, more important, the council fathers propose that Christians must affirm those aspects of culture that promote or are compatible with the Christian faith. By acknowledging such similarities, the Church provides a foundation for social unity and fruitful dialogue.

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