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No one can any longer make sense out of society and church by means of the old delineations and exclusions: Christian and non-Christian, Catholic and non-Catholic, clergy and laity, sacramental and profane. Those too severe divisions fade before the approach of Jesus who leads religious words and things to their source and ground, the kingdom of God. The model of a strict dividing line yields to one of concentric circles. One can describe the center of the circles absolutely or relatively: it can be God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, or, to a much lesser degree, a ministerial leader or a sacrament. In the church, Jesus’ Spirit is at the center of circles of sacramentality around which baptism and the Eucharist flow first, and then come the other sacraments, followed by countless rituals and devotions. Moreover, the Spirit is the life-principle of the baptized, a center surrounded by circles of people and ministries, some of ordination, some of baptism, some lasting, some temporary. Finally, in the world of religions, Christianity sees itself as the center of circles where other religions have their message and sacrament, forgiveness and sin.

“The basic distinction between the universal presence of God and religious phrases and rituals in peoples’ lives and societies leads to this model of the circles. A theology of circles points to the deep presence in grace swirling around every man and woman.

– Thomas F. O’Meara, GOD IN THE WORLD (1987)

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