of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation
to serve with Christ.
The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ
and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as
priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our
ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized
as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ’s priestly
office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the
body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to
dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the
spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart?
The Church is communion with Jesus
From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his
own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave
them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.
Jesus spoke of
a still more intimate communion between him and those who
would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. . . . I am the vine,
you are the branches.”
And he proclaimed a mysterious and real
communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my
flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did
not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them
until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.
As a result com-
munion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By com-
municating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body
those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”
The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on
the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she
she is united
in his body. Three aspects
of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically
noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of
their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church
as bride of Christ.
214 St. Leo the Great,
4, 1: PL 54, 149.