The Mystical Body of Christ

Jesus Christ Crucifix

When we recognize that the Church Christ founded is not simply an organization comprised of bricks and mortar but a living organism, the Mystical Body of Christ, we start to understand how different it is from any organization that has ever been formed in history. The Church has also been characterized as a living vine, with the people as its branches. Both images bring forth an image of something alive and vital.

If the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, as scripture attests, we know that our allegiance is not with a group of people that have formed a corporate style of organization. Incredibly, this organization is our union with the One. And this One person that we belong to is Jesus Christ and this is the 1st mark of the Church; that it is One.

Because we belong to Jesus Christ and we know and believe in our hearts and minds that He is God we also belong to that which is always Holy. It can never be unholy as God can never be unholy. This is the 2nd mark of the Church: it is Holy. Though we often separate ourselves from Christ by sin or wound the Mystical Body of Christ, He is always willing to readmit us into His Body should we do penance and seek reconciliation. He grafts us back onto the Vine as St. Paul says. If not, we have severed our relationship to the only salvific means man has: Jesus Christ Himself.

Christ Jesus, though he came to the Jews, opened the gates wide and called all of mankind to Himself. It was a universal call to the world and that is why the Church will forever be called Catholic, the 3rd mark of the Church. The diversity within the Church and her presence throughout the world testifies that men from every corner of the earth have found Christ Jesus in His Mystical Body. They have eaten of His flesh and drunk of His blood and thereby find their life in the Lifeblood of Christ as a participation in His Person.

The Apostolic nature of the Mystical Body of Christ is that the Church is a living memory and living union with Christ that stretches back in history to the founding of the Church. For we are Apostolic: the 4th mark of the Church. As the Apostles were sent into the world to teach the Good News and to draw as many as would listen to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we too are asked to do the same in every age and it is our participation in the Apostolic nature of this Mystical Body to be sent into the world and draw all things to Him. Our communion with the Lord is a participation in His love; the self-sacrificing love of a family member.

As I think about the characteristics of the Mystical Body, it strikes me that when we decided to take up membership in the Church (to be a member of the Mystical Body) and become a part of the Living God, we are called to share in His Life and in His sufferings as well. We don’t just take up membership, we take up His cross. We will take the stripes, wear the crown of thorns, be mocked for our beliefs, and ultimately carry our cross with Him and suffer agony with Him, both in body and in soul. The world will hate us as it did Him and scorn us for being a stumbling block to their worldly designs.

We sometimes forget as Christians what exactly we were called to. It is not the romanticized faith of warm and fuzzy feelings, honor, esteem and a successful and prosperous life. We know that our happiness does not reside in the world. We are called to something far greater than anything this world has to offer. In fact we reject the world and the things of this world and seek only to remain joined to our Head. If we live in Him and die in Him, we will also rise with Him and abide with Him in an endless participation in His Divinity. It is as  St. Athanasius said: “God became man so that man might become a god.”

8 Replies to “The Mystical Body of Christ”

  1. Jay

    This is principally the reason the secular world does not, cannot, comprehend the beauty of the Church. It is alive and the Body and Blood of the Redeemer is the nourishment, the very thing keeping alive the Church He built. How insubstantial is mortal popularity or brief moments of self love when compared to the everlasting gift of Christ.

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  2. servusfidelis Post author

    Amen to that. I also thing that the secular world doesn’t even want to try to comprehend the Church in any fashion as it is totally opposed to anything that would hamper their efforts to further their ideologies. We remain steadfast as the only substantial roadblock to many of their goals.

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    • Jay

      A roadblock that they will stop at nothing to remove, as evidenced by the increasing attacks and the very public nature of them.

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      • servusfidelis Post author

        Well Catholics have been persecuted in almost every century and this country may be the last place on earth that it hasn’t occurred in a violent way or banned outright. That may very well change in the future and we must steel ourselves for the fight. We have been so blessed for all these years but we grew complacent in our faith and our defense of morality. We will get what we deserve. Just hoping that we can rally our Church to repentance and prayer and perhaps turn the situation around while there is still time.

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  3. nateaddington

    alright, so a few days back I swear you posted something on masculinity and i thought to myself, I need to read that, but now I cant seem to find it. Help a fellow out with a link?

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    • servusfidelis Post author

      Yes, it was poorly written and not edited properly and I messed up and published instead of leaving in the draft. I may or may not get back to that article at some point but it needs a lot of work.

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        • servusfidelis Post author

          I’m glad you wrote a thesis on that. I think it is an important topic. Men need to get back to the understanding that religion is not just for women: it is a masculine role. Men are supposed to be the spiritual heads of their households and it is not effeminate to get deeply involved in your faith. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It is the most masculine thing I can think of. After all, we need to have the hearts of warriors to do battle with the world, the flesh and the devil. That should appeal to men.

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