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Chapter 10. The Church: Reflecting the Light of Christ • 115

and responsibilities in serving the Church. This was a dynamic process

that illustrated the abiding presence and action of the Spirit along with

the increased understanding of the Faith. From Pentecost onward, the

Church began her earthly pilgrimage that will be fulfilled one day in

glory. The Holy Spirit maintains the stability, durability, and continuity of

the Church both in favorable and unfavorable historical circumstances.



The Church is the continuing manifestation of the Father, Son, and Holy

Spirit. The Church exists by the will of God the Father and his plan to

gather all people under the Lordship of his Son. As Head of the Church,

Jesus Christ continues to fill her with his life and saving grace, pouring

into her the Holy Spirit with his gifts of unity, peace, and love.



To say that the Church is a sacrament is to say that she is a mystery,

being both visible and spiritual.

The visible Church is a public institution, with a hierarchical govern-

ment, laws, and customs. She is visible in her worldwide membership of

millions of believers who gather in Christian homes, parishes, dioceses,

monasteries, convents, and shrines to praise God and then to go forth to

witness Christ and serve the world in love, justice, and mercy.

This Church is also a spiritual reality, with interior bonds of faith

and love forged by the Holy Spirit. The Church as both visible and spiri-

tual is traditionally described as the Mystical Body of Christ. It is a living

body, sustained by the hidden work of the Holy Spirit.

The complexity that characterizes the Church as a visible institution

and, at the same time, a spiritual reality causes some to miss the basic

unity of the Church. The Holy Spirit is the source of unity of all the

aspects of the Church. The Holy Spirit integrates the visible aspects of