The Church Is Embedded in the Temporal Order

December 26, 2013

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

While we acknowledge that the Church’s sphere is essentially spiritual, this fact does not change the reality that the Church is a visible community of the faithful. She is a living force, an organized hierarchical institution, and a public forum that projects Her immense influence into society and history.

She is found in the world, the professions, the family, and the State, where the Christian works out his salvation by obeying God’s laws. By drawing upon twenty centuries of wisdom, the Church must play an active role in the world as She applies moral norms to the concrete historic circumstances that help to orient the spiritual and social life of Christians.

Henry IV begging forgiveness of Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, the castle of the Countess Matilda, 1077.

Henry IV begging forgiveness of Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, the castle of the Countess Matilda, 1077.

Thus, the Church cannot retreat into an abstract and empty corner of society, a mere psychological support for weak souls with no connection to our industrialized and globalized world.


Corpus Christi Procession in Seville

No, the Church is ever ancient, ever new. She is older than the nations yet not limited to or under the jurisdiction of any single people. She is both supranational and supernatural, uniting human and divine. She is both Mystical Body of Christ and hierarchical institution; She is in the world, yet not of the world. She has a universal message and mission applicable for all times and places that far outstrips the poor extent of the globalism of our days.


It is this universal Church that insists upon Her role in society to promote the worship of God and teach the moral law and dogmas necessary for sanctification.


John Horvat II, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 214-5.


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