Thesis on inculturation

Abstract in Englisch

No universal model can speak with equal clarity and force throughout the world. Moreover, no Christian community can become creative in language and symbol system that is basically alien to it. What is liturgical inculturation?

Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

In other words, it should not be confined to the newly evangelized missions. Second, the Christian faith transcends all cultures. At the same time, it cannot exist except in a cultural form. Third, there is need of a reciprocal and critical interaction between the Christian faith and culture. The issue of liturgical inculturartion is primarily an ecclesiological one. It cannot be understood and practised separate from the life of the Church in all its aspects.

One reason for the relative failure of liturgical inculturation is the inadequate understanding of the liturgy as a vertical celebration in a numinous sphere unrelated to the real life situations of the celebrating community. There is a close relationship between a ritual and the community that enacts it. Ritual, in fact, is a symbolic expression of the structure of the society.


What are the areas of inculturation in the Church? There is no area of the Church that does not need inculturation.

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The liturgical inculturation should not be reduced to the exclusive sphere of worship. But, of course, one needs to fix priorities. To worship God is a fundamental need of a religious minded person. It is a personal, deep experience of the human soul. Being persons with senses, they require visible signs and symbols to express this experience.


This visible expression becomes meaningful and communicative only when it is understood by the generality of the people. Hence it is imperative that it is expressed through the symbols of the people of the place. Liturgy is the expression of the experience of the risen Lord manifested in various cultural forms. One and the same experience is expressed by different peoples in different historical and geographical contexts. In this manifestation there are universal and unchangeable, as well as particular and changeable, elements. The universal elements are celebrated by a particular community in a particular place.

The unchangeable truths are celebrated with changeable elements. And, the Divine is celebrated by human beings. This is something marvellous in the universal Church.

Hybrid Churches of Canada: A Space for Religious ‘Inculturation’?

A successful liturgical inculturation depends upon striking a balance between these elements. Since this experience is linked with cultural manifestations, its expressions vary. This variety, however, is not to be determined by laws and regulations, but from the cultural experiences of a living community of a given place. In order to attain this goal, it is not enough that we merely adapt some cultural elements into the institutionalized form of Christianity. Chupungco suggests a three-step process. Dynamic Equivalence is practically an adaptation of the editio typica.

Though some creativity is involved in this process, it is dependent on the typical editions of the liturgical books.

Creative Assimilation is a methodology used in the Patristic era. The giving of a cup of milk and honey in the baptismal Mass, renouncing Satan looking towards the West and making the profession of faith turning towards the East, the celebration of Epiphany on 6 th January and Christmas on 25 th December are examples. Vatican II has identified certain areas of the liturgy where this process needs to be undertaken.

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In this process, the sacramentals, especially the blessings, have a special place as most of them are closely related to the day to day life of the people. Though there are sacramentals that have some sort of a universal character, mostly they are attached to the culture and the customs of the people. Therefore SC 39 names them among the liturgical books wherein the Conferences of Bishops have a free hand to make adaptations. Local Church : The Venue of Inculturation.

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  4. The Church being the sacrament of Christ is the visible manifestation of Christ. The institutional Church which is localized must have a visible expression congenial to the community of the people. The Church becomes authentically local in so far as she bears the imprint of the place and the people where she lives. We know from history that liturgy developed in the local Churches resulting in liturgical diversities.

    Only later they began to be unified, a phenomenon more prevalent in the Western liturgy. In the East, maintaining the unity of faith, liturgies continued to flourish in diversity. As the decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches notes, the universal Church is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government. But they combine into different groups which are held together by their hierarchy and so form individual Churches keeping their own particular liturgy, spirituality and discipline OE As Pope Paul VI notes, the universal Church is in practice incarnate in the individual Churches that are heirs of a cultural patrimony, of a vision of the Word of God, of an historical part of a particular historical substratum.

    Every worshipping community manifests the full mystery of the Church. This manifestation is based on its social, cultural and religious milieu, and hence appropriate signs and symbols congenial to the people are to be employed. History of the Churches — both in the West and in the East — gives evidence to this fact.

    The five liturgical families — Alexandrian, Antiochian, Byzantine, East Syrian and Armenian — with 22 individual Churches bear ample witness to it in the East. Even within an individual Church there can be diverse liturgical expressions according to the culture, place and the context of the people as we see in the Western and Eastern ecclesiastical traditions. Liturgical Inculturation: An Historical Review. Inculturation is essentially an historical phenomenon, and the history of the Church is practically a history of inculturation.

    It was a period of liturgical creativity with original composition of liturgical texts for the people of the time. In the 8 th century, as the Church spread to Franco-Germanic world, it underwent another type of liturgical inculturation. Liturgy was transformed from its Roman simplicity and sobriety to a charming, dramatic and colourful one to suit the temperament of the Franco-Germanic people.

    The first half of the first millennium was a period of intense inculturation in liturgy.

    Some examples will clarify this point. Though Christianity was in close relationship with the Jewish religious tradition, when it required the liturgical vestments the West adopted the festive attire of the Greco-Roman world and the East that of the Byzantine Empire. From the Jews she inherited the Bema — a platform for reading from the Torah — for the proclamation from the Bible.

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    The morning and evening holocaust of the Jews appears in the form of morning and evening prayers in the Christian tradition. The language used in the liturgy was the language of the people. The Christian litanic prayers are an imitation of the Roman manner of prayers. The liturgical gestures like kissing the altar, the prostrations, the use of incense and the candles, etc are taken from the non-Christian practice. The prayer turning to the East has its roots in the Sun-cult of the pagans. Further research is recommended to ensure a continuous process of learning.

    Hence, this reshaping exercise should be evaluated periodically to ensure that full inculturation of the gospel message into the Church in Igboland becomes a reality. Anyanwu, C. Advanced Search. Privacy Copyright. Skip to main content. Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

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