Sacramentum Mundi Online

Get access Subject: Religious Studies

Edited by: Karl Rahner with Cornelius Ernst and Kevin Smyth.
Advisor for the online edition: Karen Kilby, Durham University

Sacramentum Mundi Online is the online edition of the famous six volume English reference work in Catholic Theology, edited (in 1968-1970) by Karl Rahner, one of the main Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Sacramentum Mundi: An Encyclopedia of Theology was originally published by Herder Verlag, and is now available online at Brill.

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Illness - Illness

(2,539 words)

Author(s): Raymond Hostie | Juan J. López Ibor
Part of Illness: 1. Physical Illness 2. Illness A. Mental Illness The term mental illness is applied to morbid states in which the patient loses touch with reality and his judgment is disturbed (whether in relation to other people and outward circumstances or in relation to himself), so that he will often end by behaving in an asocial or anti-social way. This type of illness has been studied with particular care during the past hundred years. Given the great difficulty of ascertaining the precise causes of…

Illness - Physical Illness

(2,050 words)

Author(s): J.-C. Didier
Part of Illness: 1. Physical Illness 2. Illness 1. General considerations. Sickness, which is an evil, must be distinguished from physical trials to which man is exposed from without, such as hunger, exhaustion, or cold, and from moral trials, such as grief and afflictions of the heart. Sickness affects the human organism from within and tends of its nature to destroy that organism. A certain parallelism, then, can be discerned between health and life on the one hand and sickness and death on the other. W…


(2,301 words)

Author(s): Herbert Schade
The image is a figure which is so constructed that it enables something to be really present. Hence the concept of image is not identical with that of a work of art. It is philosophically more comprehensive. In its theological form the concept is very close to that of a sacrament, since the sacrament likewise uses an outward sign to bring about the presence of another reality, grace. In the history of thought, the notion of image has been of paramount importance at one time: it was the point at which human minds diverged. The metaphysical meaning of image is clear at once when the heathe…


(1,048 words)

Author(s): Peter Henrici
Immanentism is the name given to the doctrine or attitude which excludes transcendence, that is, the reference to “the other” in any form whatever, on the grounds that this other is to be found equivalently in the subject itself. Immanentism, therefore, substitutes a false concept of “inwardness” or of commitment to the world, to eliminate the authentic religious attitude, which is the adoring recognition of God as the “wholly other”, and the thankful acceptance of the surprises of his grace throughout history. 1. The forms of immanentism. The normal distinction is between episte…


(1,587 words)

Author(s): Jörg Splett
By immortality is meant, in general, endless life. It is said absolutely of a being who cannot die (gods, God) and then of a being who survives in a changed form after death. This survival can be thought of as personal or impersonal (supra-personal), as bodiless or in some way bodily, as a lower or a higher plane of existence. 1. Comparative religion. Belief in life after death is attested, even before the funeral rites and the cult of the dead in primitive religions, by the burial procedures of the earliest cultures. In view of the burial gifts, the “book…


(6,456 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. Introduction and Preliminary Remarks 1. The teaching on Jesus Christ is the central mystery of Christianity, which of course takes its name from him. The doctrine of the one God who, as an infinite transcendent person creates, conserves and guides the world to its goal, the doctrine of the nature and dignity of man as a free person with an eternal, blissful destiny, and the doctrine of the unity of love of God and the neighbour as the ultimate purpose and saving activity of human existence, are al…


(782 words)

Author(s): Ernst Niermann
Indifference is an aspect of the Christian’s attitude to the world. 1. There is no single word in Scripture to designate indifference. But the attitude grows from Christ’s liberation of man from the powers of this world, so that he lives in expectation of the Day of the Lord (cf. Rom 8:18–39; 14:8–12; 1 Cor 4:9–13; 7:27–39; 2 Cor 4: 16–5: 10; Tit 2: 12f.; Heb 10: 32–39). Expectation of the eschatological event implies a freedom which enables the Christian to keep his correct distance from inner-worldly thi…


(1,021 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
The notion of indifferentism became important in ecclesiastical usage in the 19th century, when it was used to designate pejoratively the religious and philosophical trends of modern times, especially of the Enlightenment, which rejected exclusive (dogmatic) forms of religion and ethics while accepting certain general principles. Indifferentism therefore may sum up the trends which allow more or less the same rights to the various forms of religion and ethics, and thereby leave them all without …


(1,261 words)

Author(s): Heinz Robert Schlette
Individualism can stand for a large number of highly divergent views and attitudes, of which the highest common factor is the effort to make the individual stand out in bold relief against the background of society, community, group, collectivity and general setting. The meaning of individualism in any given case must be sought in the actual context. There is no systematic philosophy of individualism which the representative upholders of individualism possess. It is rather a matter of individual…


(5,277 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
The question of indulgences offers dogmatic, psychological and pastoral difficulties. To have a sound basis for discussion, we begin with the teaching of the Church, always bearing in mind, however, that most of the declarations of the magisterium (all, in fact, except the Council of Trent, which is very reserved) are not irreformable decisions and that they are often the echo of a theology which is not in all respects of a strictly binding character. As regards the notion of temporal punishment…


(1,878 words)

Author(s): Max Pietsch
Industrialism has brought about such a fundamental change in man’s way of living and civilization that modern anthropologists (A. Gehlen and others) compare it with the change that took place in prehistoric times in the transition from hunting and food- gathering to a settled agricultural way of life. With industrialism man has crossed a “second absolute threshold of civilization”. This transition embraces — for the first time in human history — not merely individual cultural groups, but the entire world including the “developing countries”. It is thus …


(4,252 words)

Author(s): Heinrich Fries | Johann Finsterhölzl
A. Notion The term infallibility very often is understood to imply also sinlessness, a mistake which had to be denounced by Bishop Gasser as the official relator at Vatican I (see Mansi, LII, 1219). “Inerrancy” might be better, but this is usually reserved for the same quality in Scripture. The positive content of the term infallibility is simply “truth” or “truthfulness”. In the following exposition we continue to use the word infallibility. Infallibility must be distinguished from inspiration, which is attributed only to the attestation of revelation in the Church…


(1,401 words)

Author(s): Gerd Haeffner
1. Meaning and history of the concept. The word “infinite” appears for the first time as an attribute of formless “first matter”. Later it became one of the most pre-eminent attributes of God. Anaximander is the first to speak of the infinite (ἄπειρον), which he makes the inexhaustible ground of the becoming and passing away of things. According to the Pythagoreans and Plato, things are composed of one element which is indeterminate (άπειρον) and another which is a determination (πέρας, limitation). A…

Inquisition - Inquisition

(2,531 words)

Author(s): Hermann Tüchle
Part of Inquisition: 1. Inquisition 2. Witch-Hunting As a judicial prosecution of heresy by a special court set up by the Church and acting on its behalf, the Inquisition conflicts sharply with the civil tolerance which has been customary for centuries and recently confirmed officially by the Church in the Second Vatican Council (Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae). It is strange that the Inquisition took shape in a Church appealing to the Gospel and enjoining love. This is not the place for a direct apology for the Inquisition; what …

Inquisition - Witch-Hunting

(1,817 words)

Author(s): Hugo J. Zwetsloot
Part of Inquisition: 1. Inquisition 2. Witch-Hunting 1. In the period between the Middle Ages and modern times, that is from the 14th to the 18th century, superstition, which is present under the surface in all religions, took the particular form of hysterical witch-hunting which was to lead to the death of several hundred thousand victims. There was a conviction, irrational and therefore difficult to counter, that wicked people could establish contact with the devil and make a pact with him and that they were then able to harm others through secret powers ( maleficium, evil spells). Thi…


(4,412 words)

Author(s): Luis Alonso-Schökel
”In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” This opening passage of the Letter to the Hebrews at once fixes the Christian idea of inspiration as a saving mystery. Christ is the centre — the total, definitive Word, the fullness of revelation — round whom we find the concentric circles of the Son’s creative activity, his manifestatio…


(1,173 words)

Author(s): Waldemar Molinski
By integralism, we mean the tendency, more or less explicit, to apply standards and directives drawn from the faith to all the activity of the Church and its members in the world. It springs from the conviction that the basic and exclusive authority to direct the relationship between the world and the Church, between immanence and transcendence, is the doctrinal and pastoral authority of the Church. In a word, integralism means that the world is to take shape only under the direct or indirect ac…


(835 words)

Author(s): Fernand Van Steenberghen
This term was originally used in a derogatory sense, which it still often retains : the attitude which exaggerates the role of the intelligence in its work of abstraction, forming of concepts and use of logical reasoning, to the detriment of other activities such as observation, intuition, willing and feeling. Today, however, the term is frequently used in a good sense, to designate the attitude which recognizes the preponderant role of the intelligence in man’s conscious activity. But the quest…

International Law

(1,956 words)

Author(s): Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte
By international law is understood the sum total of all those norms which regulate relationships between States, federations of States and certain other so-called international law “persons” (see below) within the universal community of nations. The norms of international law bind States and statesmen in international intercourse: they lay down the rules to a certain extent for the great interplay of world politics. From another point of view they provide States and statesmen with a weapon — abo…

Invasions, Barbarian

(3,590 words)

Author(s): Kurt Reindel
Mass, migrations have not been confined to any one period or to certain peoples. Various causes again and again set whole peoples on the move: oppression by neighbouring peoples or conquerors, natural disasters, overpopulation, love of pillage and adventure. But we are concerned here only with the Germanic invasions, beginning with the settlement of the Goths on Roman soil in the year 376 and ending with the Lombardic settlement in Italy in the year 568. These “Barbarian Invasions” brought to an end the Imperium Romanum in the West, but the subsequent unification of Christian, …
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