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THE THOMIST A SPECULATIVE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY EDITORs: THE DoMINICAN FATHERS OF THE PRoviNCE oF ST. JosEPH Publishers: The Thomist Press, Washington 17, D. C. VoL. lX OCTOBER, 1946 No.4 SACRAMENTAL INCORPORATION INTO THE MYSTICAL BODY WITNESSED by the recent Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis/ and by the numerous treatises of theological and devotional writers, the widespread and intensive interest among Catholics in the truth of the Mystical Body of Christ evidences a doctrinal survival against naturalism and a spiritual revival in the face of indifferentism . Throughout the ages of the Church the faithful have stood in awe of this sublime doctrine of the transcendent union of the members of Christ with their Head. Ever since St. Paul employed the metaphor " the Body of Christ " 2 to express the ineffable mystery of divine grace, which it is not given to man to speak, ever since that unique age when God spoke to 1 Pius XII, Encyc. "Mystici Corporis," AAS, XXXV (1948), pp. 198-!l48. • E. g., I Corinthians, vi, 15; xii, !t7; Ephesians, i, 22. 469 470 JOHN T. DITTOE and through men, Catholics have conceived of themselves as members of a divine organism. For St. Paul this daring conception uniting the grossness of sense perception with the unspeakable reality of divine life became the characteristic mode of describing the great fundamental truth of the Christian life. To him was given the privilege of uttering this word of wisdom which has made for all the followers of Christ an almost tactile experience of the divine union among the members of Christ. From St. Paul the Fathers and Doctors of the Church received this sublime teaching and doubled the talents of its richness by their contemplation, preaching, and writing. St. Cyprian, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and especially St. Augustine were the great expounders of this profound and yet universally appealing doctrine of Catholic truth. St. Thomas, enamoured of this truth so well attes:t;ed by Scripture and so beautifully delineated in Tradition, looked upon it as a treasure hidden in a field and worthy of all the powers of his theological exposition. So thoroughly has St. Thomas treated this matter that many modern writers find in the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ the master-idea of the Summa Theologica.3 If the Mystical Body can be conceived of as the master-idea to an understanding of the most profound work of St. Thomas, certainly the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist may be considered as the master-key to the doctrine of the Mystical Body. The Mystical Body flowed from the side of Christ hanging on the Cross, for by the power of His Passion His Mystical Body was constituted, moulded, founded, and blessed. To apply the power of His Passion, Christ instituted the Seven Sacraments. For men they are the means of becoming a member of Christ, of being joined to the Head. Their common effect is the con3 Cf. Anger, The Doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ (New York: 1931), (translated from the French by J. J. Burke), pp. xvi ff. SACRAMENTAL INCORPORATION INTO THE MYSTICAL BODY 471 struction of the Mystical Body. To the two principal Sacraments as their proper effect belongs the forming of the union of the members with Christ. Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are the Sacraments of incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ. The precise purpose of this study is to clarify the relationship of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist with the Mystical Body and to show that the unity of the Mystical Body is the direct, proper effect of the Sacrament of the true Body and Blood of Christ. First, the doctrine of the Mystical Body summarized as " incorporation through grace in the Incarnate Word " 4 will be treated. Men are members of that Body of which Christ is the Head. All supernatural life descends to men through Christ after the manner in which natural life and movement flow from the head of the human body to its members. How this notion is borne out in the Mystical Body of Christ will be the matter of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 469-514
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-15
Open Access
No
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