The Mystical Body of Christ
Birth of the Church
from various sources
The Church, the Mystical Body, partly
Exists on this Earth, and is called the Church Militant, because its Members
Struggle against the World, the Flesh and the
The Church Suffering means the Souls in
The Church Triumphant is the Church in
Heaven (Angels and
The Unity and Cooperation of the Members of the Church on Earth, in
Purgatory, in Heaven is also called the
Communion of Saints.
The Communion of Saints is the Spiritual
Union which Unites the Faithful upon Earth, the
Souls in Purgatory, and the Angels
and Saints in Heaven, in the
One (1) Mystical Body, the
Church, of which Jesus Christ is the
Head, and the Participation of All in the One (1)
Supernatural Life. The Saints , by their Closeness-to
God, Obtain-of Him many Graces
and Favors for the Faithful on Earth and the
Souls in Purgatory; the
Faithful on Earth, by their Prayers and Good
Works, Honor and Love the Saints, and Succor the
Suffering Souls by their Prayers, and the
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Gospels on every Page, speak of the
Kingdom of God as a Divine, Spiritual
Kingdom established by Christ, and United in the Bond
of Charity. It Embraces all the Elect on Earth and in Heaven, even the
Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist,
May28, 1902: "For the Communion of Saints is nothing other than
a Mutual Communication of Help, Expiation, Prayers, Benefits among the Faithful; either (1) those who have already attained the Heavenly
Fatherland, or (2) are assigned to Atoning Fire or (3) are Still in Pilgrimage on Earth; Coalesced into One City, whose Head is Christ,
whose Form is Charity".
Mystical Body of the Church
”We Love Jesus Christ in His Church because She is His Immaculate Spouse Who came out of His Opened Side
on the Cross, just as Eve came out of the First Adam”
Saint Eugene de Mazenod
Pentecost is Traditionally considered to be the Birthday-of the
Church, which is Christ's One
(1) and only Bride. However, the above Quote by Saint Eugene-de-Mazenod sheds
additional Light on the Subject. Actually, the Birth of the Church
Commenced on Good Friday, when the Side (Heart)
of Jesus was Pierced with a Lance, and Water and Blood Flowed-Forth for the
Salvation of all Mankind. This Concept is Eloquently Explained below by the Great Doctor-of-the-Church, Saint John
Chrysostom. The Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Soul of the
Church, Fifty (50) days after
Easter, on the Feast-of Pentecost, Concluded the
Birth (Fashioning) of Christ's Immaculate Spouse, the
Birth of Eve,
the Bride of Adam,
from Adam's side
Birth of the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
from Christ's Side
"Water and Blood Symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these Two (2) Sacraments the Church is
Born: from Baptism, the Cleansing Water that gives Rebirth and Renewal from the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist.
Since the Symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ 'Fashioned' the Church,
as He had 'Fashioned' Eve from the side of Adam".
Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church
Pentecost - by El Greco -
from Museo del Prado, Madrid
The Church came into Being when Christ
Died on the Cross, but it was Formally
Inaugurated on Pentecost, when He sent
the Holy Spirit as He had Promised. Saint Paul
speaks of All Christians as Members of Christ, so that with
Him, they Form One (1) Mystical
Body (Cf. 1Corinthians 12:12-31; Colossians 1:18; 2:18-20; Ephesians 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:13). Saint Paul did not use the
Word Mystical. The Term Mystical was developed more-recently to Bring-out the
Fact that this Union is Unique, there is no Parallel-to it. It is not the same as the Union of a Physical Body, nor that of a
Business Corporation. Mystical was First Officially-used in Boniface VIlI's Bull,
Unam Sanctam, in Unfolding the Ideas put-forth by Saint Paul.
The Analogy linking a Society to an Organism is easily understood. In every Society the Constituent Individuals are
United (1), as are also the Members of a Body, to effect a Common End; while
the Parts they Severally (>1) Play, Correspond-to the Functions of the
Bodily Organs. They Form a Moral Unity (1). This, of course, is True of the
Church, but the Church has also a
Unity (1) of a Higher Order; it is not merely a Moral, but a Mystical
Body. This Truth, that the Church is Part-of
the Mystical Body oj Christ, all its Members being Guided and
Directed-by Christ the Head, is Set-forth by
Saint Paul in various Passages, more especially in Ephesians 4:4-13 (cf. John 15:5-8). The Doctrine may be summarized as follows:
The Members of the Church are Bound-together by a Supernatural
Life, Communicated-to them by Christ through the
Sacraments. Christ is the Center and Source of Life to
Whom all are United, and Who Endows
each one with Gifts fitting him for his Position-in the Body. These
Graces, through which each is Equipped-for his Work, Form it into an Organized
Whole (1), whose Parts are Knit-together as though by a System of Ligaments and Joints.
Through them, too, the Church has its Growth and Increase, Growing-in Extension as it
Spreads-through the World, and Intensively as the Individual Christian develops in himself the Likeness of
In Virtue-of this Union, the Church is the Fullness or Complement
(Pleroma) of Christ (Ephesians 1:23).
It Forms One (1) Whole with Him;
and the Apostle even speaks of the Church as
"Christ" (1Corinthians 12:12).
This Union between Head and Members is Conserved and Nourished-by the
Holy Eucharist. Through this Sacrament,
our Incorporation-into the Body of Christ is alike, Outwardly-Symbolized and
Inwardly-Actualized; "We being Many, are One Bread, One Body; for we all Partake of the One Bread"
In this depiction of the Final Judgment, Jesus sits in Judgment of the World and is being handed
a Red-hot Sword by the Angel at the top-right of the painting.
One of the most Thought-Provoking Passages in the Gospels is that of Our Lord telling
about the Final Judgment. Men will be Separated, one from another, as a
Shepherd separates Sheep from Goats. The Lord
Condemns those who did not give Him Food when
He was Hungry, Clothing when
He was Naked, or a Visit when He was
Sick. He tells the Nations "In so far as you did
this to one of the least of these Brothers, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40). Here
Christ is Identifying Himself with Mankind a very Real Way.
He says He is Present-in
His Brothers, to such a degree, that it is He Who is Fed, Clothed
and Visited. This is a Powerful Statement, and it Sheds Light on our Understanding-of Christ's Mystical
Body. Somehow Christ Dwells-in each Individual Person. This is seen
again in the Acts of the Apostles where Saint Paul hears the Words of Christ,
"Saul, Saul, why are you Persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4-5). Paul had never Known
Our Lord Personally. He was Persecuting the Christians.
Christ however Stated that He Himself was being
Persecuted. Again, Christ is Identifying
Himself with Men. He is Joined-to them, a
Part-of them, or rather they are a Part-of Him.
We, who Belong-to the Church, are the Living Parts or Members of
Christ's Body. "Christ is the Head of the Church and Saves the Whole Body"
(Ephesians 5:23). Just as Christ is the Vine, He
is the Head of His Body, Giving Life-to the
Members and Bringing-about their Salvation. Paul uses the Analogy of the Human
Body in showing that all Parts must Cooperate-for the
Good of the Church: "Not you together are
Christ's Body; but each of you is a Different Part of It" (1Corinthians 12:27). Some Members are Apostles, some Teachers,
but they all Form One (1) Body,
One of the most important Pauline Themes, Connecting-with the Mystical Body, is that Adam
was a Type-of Christ. In Adam, the Whole Human Race
Fell (1Corinthians 15:45). As Adam was the First
Head of Mankind, so Christ became the New Head
of the entire Human Race through His Victory over
Satan, Death and Sin. When
the Second Divine Person became Man, all of Humanity was Elevated.
Christ, being both True God and True Man, Manifested
His Position as Head of the Whole Human Race. And by Founding
His Church on the Apostles and the Sacraments,
He Set-up a Means-to Incorporate People into His Very
Life. The Church, then, is the Extension-of
Christ in Time, which Reaches-out to bring the
Redemptive Grace to all Men.
Speaking of Full-Membership in the Church, Pius XII, in his
Encyclical on the Mystical Body, said it is the Society
of those who have been Baptized, and who Profess the Faith of
Christ, and who are Governed-by their Bishops under the Visible Head, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome.
Scriptural Reference to the
Mystical Body of Christ
For as in One Body we have many Members, and all the Members do not have the same Function, so we, though many,
are One Body in Christ, and Individually Members one of another.
Do you not know that your Bodies are Members of Christ? ... But he who is United to the Lord becomes One Spirit
The Cup of Blessing which we Bless, is it not a Participation in the Blood of Christ? The Bread which we Break,
is it not a Participation in the Body of Christ? Because there is One Bread, we who are many are One Body, for we all Partake of the One
1Corinthians 12:12-14, 24-27
For just as the Body is One and has many Members, and all the Members of the Body, though many, are One Body,
so it is with Christ. For by One Spirit we were all Baptized into One Body -- Jews or Greeks, Slaves or Free -- and all were made to Drink
of One Spirit. For the Body does not consist of One Member, but of many .... But God has so Composed the Body ... that there may be no
Discord in the Body, but that the Members may have the same Care for one another. If One Member Suffers, all Suffer together; if One
Member is Honored, all Rejoice together. Now you are the Body of Christ and individually Members of it.
[God the Father] has put all things under [Christ's] Feet and has made Him the Head over all things for the
Church, which is His Body, the Fullness of Him Who fills all in all.
Therefore remember that at One Time you Gentiles in the Flesh, called the Uncircumcision by what is called the
Circumcision, which is made in the Flesh by Hands -- remember that you were at that Time Separated from Christ, Alienated from the
Commonwealth of Israel, and Strangers to the Covenants of Promise, having no Hope and without God in the World. But now in Christ Jesus,
you who once were Far-off have been brought Near in the Blood of Christ. For He is our Peace, Who has made us both one, and has Broken
down the Dividing Wall of Hostility, by Abolishing in His Flesh the Law of Commandments and Ordinances, that He might create in Himself
One New Man in place of the Two, so making Peace, and might Reconcile us both to God in One Body through the Cross, thereby bringing the
Hostility to an End.
There is One Body and One Spirit ... And His Gifts were that some should be Apostles, some Prophets, some
Evangelists, some Pastors and Teachers, to Equip the Saints for the Work of Ministry, for Building up the Body of Christ, until we all
attain to the Unity of the Faith and of the Knowledge of the Son of God, to mature Manhood, to the Measure of the Stature of the Fullness
of Christ ... Rather, speaking the Truth in Love, we are to Grow up in every way into Him Who is the Head, into Christ, from Whom the
Whole Body, Joined and Knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each Part is Working Properly, makes Bodily Growth
and Upbuilds itself in Love.
For the Husband is the Head of the Wife as Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, and is Himself its
Savior .... For no Man ever Hates his own Flesh, but Nourishes and Cherishes it, as Christ does the Church, because we are Members of His
Body. "For this Reason a Man shall leave his Father and Mother and be Joined to his Wife, and the Two shall become One Flesh". This
Mystery is a Profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church ...
He is the Head of the Body, the Church ... Now I Rejoice in my Sufferings for your sake, and in my Flesh I
complete what is lacking in Christ's Afflictions for the sake of His Body, that is, the church ...
And let the Peace of Christ Rule in your Hearts, to which indeed you were called in the One Body.
But Saul, still breathing Threats and Murder against the Disciples of the Lord, went to the High Priest and
asked him for Letters to the Synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, Men or Women, he might bring them
Bound to Jerusalem. Now as he Journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a Light from Heaven flashed about him. And he Fell to the
Ground and Heard a Voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you Persecute Me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus,
Whom you are Persecuting ..."
Teachings of the
Doctors of the Church
A Study of the Incarnation could not be Complete without Reflecting-on the
Doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. The Second
Divine Person took Flesh at One Point in History, as we read in the First
Chapter of Saint John: "And the Word was made Flesh and Dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Without the
Incarnation, there could be no Mystical Body.
The One is the Source, or Prerequisite, for the Other. The Mystical Body exists because the
Word has become Man, and God has
Willed that the Mystical Body be the Extension,
or Prolongation, of the Incarnation and the Redemption.
According to Saint Irenaeus, the Body of Christ is what Realizes the
Will of the Father in Men, and Renews them from their Old Way into the
New Life of Christ. A Pauline Theme which is Developed-by Irenaeus deals with
Christ as the Second Adam. He writes: "We have
Offended God in the First Adam ... but we are Reconciled through the Obedience, even unto Death of the Second Adam". Adam was the
Head of the Human Race and Caused its Fall from Grace,
but Christ, the new Head,
Redeemed all Mankind and takes His Place as the
Head of the Mystical Body.
Saint Cyprian also Asserts the Union of all Faithful Christians in Christ, a Union which is seen
in the Church. He writes that. "The Church is One, with One Head and One
Origin ... " (De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, 5). This reminds us of Christ's
Teaching that He is the Vine for the Branches, that is, the
Head and Origin of Divine Life.
The Writings of Saint Athanasius bring out a further Understanding of the Doctrine of the Mystical Body.
He says that through the Incarnation and the Redemptive
Act on Calvary, all Men are Intimately Connected-with
Christ. The Whole Human Race is Elevated and Brought-into a Greater Participation in the
Supernatural Life. In his Work against the Arians, Athanasius writes:
"For just as the Word, having Assumed a Body, became Man, so also, we Men have been Assumed to the Word through the
Flesh, and are made Inheritors-of Eternal Life and Bearers-of God through Him".
With the coming of Saint Augustine, a Great Advance was made in Theology. Our Understanding of the Mystical
Body was deepened by his Insights and Writings. For example, he said that "What the Soul is to the
Body of a Man, the Holy Spirit is to Christ's Body which is the Church". This reaffirms the Teachings of Saint Paul about the
Church, but he goes further to State that the Holy Spirit
is "the Soul" of that Body. Here Augustine is speaking
Analogically. Both Paul and Augustine recognize that there are many Analogous Concepts between the Human
Body and the Church. Based on Paul's Teaching,
Augustine is able to Develop our Understanding of the Mystical Body and unfold its Deeper
Implications. He also writes "All Men are One Man in Christ, and the Unity of Christians constitutes but One
Man" (In Psalms 39, En. 2). Again, Paul's Teaching that many Members make up
One (1) Body is the Foundation for this Point made by Augustine.
Augustine makes an Interesting Statement regarding the Whole Christ. He writes:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, like a Whole and Perfect Man, is Head and Body ... His Body is the Church, not simply
the Church that is here in this Particular Place, but both the Church that is here and the Church which extends over the Whole Earth; not
simply the Church that is Living Today, but the Whole Race of Saints, from Abel down to all those who will ever be born and Believe-in
Christ until the End of the World, for all belong to One City. This City is the Body of Christ ... This is the Whole Christ: Christ
United with the Church”. Augustine uses the Term “Church” in the Broad Sense. He refers
to Her as that which Extends-through the Entire World, and that which Includes all the
Just who ever Lived and will ever Live. He describes the
Church as One (1) Man who reaches unto the End of
Time. Augustine stresses the Reality that all the Members of the Church
make-up One (1) Body in Christ.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
A Few Centuries later, the Greatest Theologian of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas,
builds on the Teachings of Augustine. His Writings on the Mystical Body of Christ and the
Church are so Extensive that it will be possible to mention only a
Few here. He writes, “The Head and Members are as One Mystical Person, and
therefore Christ's Satisfaction belongs to all the Faithful and His Members”. This Question brings up a Recurring Theme found
in the Study of the Incarnate Word, that is, “Solidarity”.
Because of the Vital Intimacy between Christ and His
Members, there is a Principle of Solidarity present-in the Mystical Body.
This Solidarity is a Communion-between Two (2) or
more People. Saint Thomas develops the Idea of Solidarity (Unity) between
Christ and Ourselves: “The Members and the Head are but One Person. Therefore, since Christ is our
Head by Reason of His Divinity and His Superabundant Fullness of Grace, and since we are His Members, His Merit is not Something Outside us,
but it is Communicated-to us or Flows-into us on account of the Unity of the Mystical Body”.