Monday, December 11, 2006
The Church which is "Jesus Christ spread abroad and communicated" completes -- so far as it can be completed here below -- the work of spiritual reunion which was made necessary by sin; that work which was begun at the Incarnation and was carried on up to Calvary. In one sense the Church is herself this reunion, for that is what is meant by the name of Catholic by which we find her called from the second century onward, and which in Latin as well as in Greek was for long bestowed upon her as a proper noun. Katholikos in classical Greek, was used by philosophers to indicate a universal proposition. Now a universal is a singular and is not to be confused with an aggregate. The Church is not Catholic because she is spread abroad over the whole of the earth and can reckon on a large number of members. She was already Catholic on the morning of Pentecost, when all her members could be contained in a small room, as she was when the Arian waves seemed on the point of swamping her; she would still be Catholic if tomorrow apostasy on a vast scale deprived her of almost all the faithful. For fundamentally Catholicity has nothing to do with geography or statistics. If it is true that it should be dsiplayed over all the earth and be manifest to all, yet its nature is not material but spiritual. Like sanctity, Catholicity is primarily an intrinsic feature of the Church.
--Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man (Ignatius Press), 48-9.