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208

Part One

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?

214

II.

T

he

C

hurch

—B

ody of

C

hrist

The Church is communion with Jesus

787

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.

215

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.”

216

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.”

217

788

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.

218

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.”

219

789

The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on

the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she

gathered

around him;

she is united

in him,

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,

Sermo

4, 1: PL 54, 149.

215 Cf.

Mk

1:16-20; 3:13-19;

Mt

13:10–17;

Lk

10:17-20; 22:28-30.

216

Jn

15:4-5.

217

Jn

6:56.

218 Cf.

Jn

14:18; 20:22;

Mt

28:20;

Acts

2:33.

219

LG

7.

2443

755

690

521