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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(702 words)

Author(s): Heinz Robert Schiette
Empiricism is generally taken to be a philosophical attitude based on epistemological preliminaries, which takes experience (internal and external) alone as the foundation of true knowledge and of science. In this sense, empiricism is the opposite of an equally radical a priori system where knowledge is based on first principles from which truth and certainty are derived deductively. This current but somewhat conventional antithesis does not, however, render clearly the meaning and aims of empiricism. Even when the name of empiricism is reserved for the Enlightenment o…


(1,072 words)

Author(s): Joaquin Salaverry
1. Term and background. Encyclical is a term, derived from the Greek (έγϰύκλιοι έπιστολαί), for an ecclesiastical circular letter addressed to some or all Christian Churches, for example 1 Pet to the Churches of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, or the letter on the martyrdom of Polycarp “to all the communities of the Catholic Church”. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries such letters were called catholic letters because of their general destination. This is what Eusebius calls the letters of Dionysius of Corinth ( Hist. Eccl., IV, 23). Letters written by Alexander of Alex…


(1,623 words)

Author(s): Heribert Raab
The Enlightenment denotes the most revolutionary of all movements which the Occident has undergone in the course of its history. It has not yet been sufficiently investigated, but it may be admitted that it affected various countries, Churches and generations in different degrees. The historian Troeltsch has characterized it as the beginning of the really modern period of European culture, in contrast to the ecclesiastical and theological culture which had been hitherto predominant. The Enlightenment originated in the Netherlands and in England in the mid 17th centur…


(568 words)

Author(s): John Russell
The term entelechy was first introduced into philosophy by Aristotle who used it in several different but related senses. We shall understand by it an intrinsic tendency within a physical body, by virtue of which it is orientated towards some goal, e.g., the perfection of the individual concerned or of the species to which it belongs. The principle of entelechy is sometimes known as the principle of finality or teleology. The question whether there is intrinsic finality in the physical world has been much disputed. Aristotle and most of the medieval philosophers h…


(889 words)

Author(s): Klaus Hemmerle
1. Its meaning. The original Greek word means rapture, being inspired or possessed by a god. Used disparagingly in the 17th century of the religious attitude of the Puritans and in the 18th of that of the Methodists, the English word now has the general sense of passionate eagerness in any pursuit. 2. Its nature: Enthusiasm is not something a man “has”, but something which he is plunged in. To be enthusiastic means that one’s life is caught up in something which, however, is also within man and impelling him on. The other basic trait of enthusiasm …


(965 words)

Author(s): Roman Bleistein
1. Notion. By environment we mean the sum of the natural and social factors (the world of things, people, and values) which affect a man (whether he consciously experiences them or is unconsciously influenced by them) and which he in turn affects. By contrast with a man’s “social world”, which is a whole set type of life, environment is described as “a formless sum total of surrounding conditions without any meaningful inner cohesion” (Nell-Breuning). In a pluralistic society the environment assumes increasing importance, not least because of its power to disrupt and confuse. We disting…