Mutuae Relationes 5: Communion

SenanquecloisterChapter II (MR 5-9) explores “the ministry of the bishops within organic ecclesial communion.” The full document is online here.

The communion proper to the People of God and its excellence

5. Organic communion among the members of the Church is the fruit of the Holy Spirit Himself, in such a way that it necessarily presupposes the historical initiative of Jesus Christ and His paschal exodus. The Holy Spirit is, in fact, the Spirit of the Lord: Jesus Christ, “now raised to the heights by God’s right hand” (Acts 2:3), “poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father” (LG 5). Now, if the Spirit is like the soul of the Body (cf. LG 7), Christ is objectively its Head (cf. LG 7); both therefore are the source of the organic cohesion of its members (cf. 1 Cor 12-13; Col 2:19). Consequently they can have no true docility to the Spirit without fidelity to the Lord, who sends Him; Christ, in fact, “is the head that adds strength and holds the whole body together, with all its joints and sinews” — and this is the only way in which it can reach its full growth in God (Col 2:19).

“Organic” is an adjective suggesting something pertaining to the “organs” or the Body of the Church. Heavily referenced, Lumen Gentium reminds us of the Christ-centered experience as the Church. I would suggest that the mindful imitation of Christ is the best approach for fidelity.

The organic communion of the Church, therefore, is not exclusively spiritual, born, that is, in whatever manner it may be, of the Holy Spirit, and of itself preceding the ecclesial function and creative of them, but is simultaneously hierarchic inasmuch as by a vital impulse it is derived from Christ, the Head. The very gifts given by the Spirit are willed precisely by Christ and are of their nature directed to the contexture of the Body in order to vivify its functions and activities. “Now the Church is His body, He is its head. As He is the Beginning, He was first to be born from the dead, so that He should be first in every way” (Col 1:18; cf. LG 7). In this manner the organic communion of the church, both as to its spiritual aspect and its hierarchical nature, has its origin and vitality simultaneously in Christ and in His Spirit. Rightly and appropriately, therefore, the Apostle Paul has used the formulas “in Christ” and “in the Spirit” a number of times, making them converge in an intimate and vital way (cf. Eph 2:21-22; and in various places in the Epistles).

We are given a hierarchy as part of Catholic history. But after the acknowledgement of Christ as the head, the direct example of the Lord is leadership as service. One might also say mandate.

Thoughts or comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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