The Church

St. Thomas did not write a treatise on the Church “ex professo,” but wrote on it on the occasion of the “gratia capitis— capital grace,” i.e., the grace of Christ as Head of the Church, which grace is the source of all sanctifying grace, and from which the Mystical Body of the Church benefits. He asks who are the members of this Mystical Body of which Our Lord is the Head. His response is very instructive: he distinguishes between those who are only members in potency and those who are actually members, be it definitively—this is the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant, including the angels—or those who are actually- ly members, but “in via—on the way” by faith and charity in this world; or be it the sinners who have faith but are dried up members, not having charity. The Church considered as Mystical Body is a spiritual reality comprising all the souls and angels who live by the divine life communicated by Our Lord. They are as living branches attached to the vine. During this earthly life, alas, many can detach themselves from the vine and perish. Others, on the contrary, are grafted on to the vine by a valid and fruitful baptism and then live by it. At the same time this Body, which is mystical and invisible for us, pre- sents itself here below as a visible, hierarchical society founded by Our Lord for the purpose of augmenting the Mystical Body ac- cording to the command given to the apostles by Our Lord: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28:19). “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). The final goal of salvation is linked to the Faith. The whole hierarchy was instituted by Our Lord in service of the Faith, which Faith then permits the faithful to drink from the sources of charity, of the Holy Ghost and of His grace. The entire history of the primitive Church is a quite instructive illustration of the importance of the commands given by Our Lord. The Church is born in its vitality with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. It can then, instructed by Our Lord, institute a sacramental liturgy for its baptized members, comprising prayers, preaching, the Divine Office, the celebration of the mysteries of the Cross and of the Eucharist. The Church rapidly multiplied bishops, priests, and others in Holy Orders for the multiplication and sanctification of those who have the Faith. From the Israel of the Old Testament is born the New Israel of the New Testament, of which the Incarnate Word is the Head, directing and instructing His people across the desert of this life to lead them to the Promised Land, which is none other than the Holy Trinity itself. Just as the Israel of the Old Testament had a troubled history because of continuous infidelities towards God, which were often the works of its leaders and its Levites, so the Church Militant in this world endlessly experiences periods of trial on account of the infidelity of its clerics and their compromises with the world. The higher they come from, the more these scandals provoke disasters. Certainly, the Church itself guards its sanctity and its sources of sanctification, but the control of its institutions by unfaithful popes and apostate bishops ruins the faith of the faithful and the clergy, blunts the instruments of grace, and favors the assault of all the powers of Hell which seem to triumph. This apostasy makes its members adulterers, schismatics opposed to all Tradition, separated from the past of the Church, and thus separated from the Church of today, in the measure that it remains faithful to the Church of Our Lord. Everyone who remains faithful to the true Church is the object of savage and continuous persecution.

But we are not the first to be persecuted by false brothers for having kept the Faith and Tradition. The Martyrology teaches us this every day. The more Holy Church is insulted, the more we must cling to her, body and soul, the more we must force ourselves to defend her and to assure her continuity by drawing from her treasures of sanctity to reconstruct Christianity.1

Spiritual Journey, Chapter VII


“The Church is bornin its vitality with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.”