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Part One

associated with his sufferings as the body with its head, suffering

with him, that with him we may be glorified.”

228

794

Christ provides for our growth:

to make us grow toward him,

our head,

229

he provides in his Body, the Church, the gifts and

assistance by which we help one another along the way of salvation.

795

Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole

Christ” (

Christus totus

). The Church is one with Christ. The saints

are acutely aware of this unity:

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not

only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and

grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice:

we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the

members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The

fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what

does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church.

230

Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the

holy Church whom he has taken to himself.

231

Head and members form as it were one and the same mys-

tical person.

232

A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of

the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About

Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one

thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”

233

The Church is the Bride of Christ

796

The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of

one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal

relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bride-

groomand bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroomof the Church

was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the

Baptist.

234

The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”

235

The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful,

members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so

as to become but one spirit with him.

236

The Church is the spotless

228

LG

7 § 4; cf.

Phil

3:21;

Rom

8:17.

229 Cf.

Col

2:19;

Eph

4:11-16.

230 St. Augustine,

In Jo. ev.

21, 8: PL 35, 1568.

231 Pope St. Gregory the Great,

Moralia in Job, præf.

, 14: PL 75, 525A.

232 St. Thomas Aquinas,

STh

III, 48, 2.

233 Acts of the Trial of Joan of Arc.

234

Jn

3:29.

235

Mk

2:19.

236 Cf.

Mt

22:1-14; 25:1-13;

1 Cor

6:15-17;

2 Cor

11:2.

872

695

1474

757

219

772