The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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It is the Church who lives in me

Canisius | 31 May, 2007 06:49

In his entry for Wednesday in Whitsun Week, Dom Gueranger offers a splendid quotation from St. Augustine (IX,382):

The spirit, by which every man lives, is called the soul. Now, observe what it is that our soul does in the body. It is the soul that gives life to all the members; it sees by the eye, it hears by the ear, it smells by the nose, it speaks by the tongue, it works by the hands, it walks by the feet. It is present to each member, giving life to them all, and to each one its office. It is not the eye that hears, nor the ear and tongue that see, nor the ear and eye that speak; and yet they all live; their functions are varied, their life one and the same. So it is in the Church of God. In some saints she works miracles; in other saints she teaches truth; in others she practices virginity; in others she maintains conjugal chastity. She does one thing in one class, and another in another: each individual has his distinct work to do; but there is one and the same life in them all. Now, what the soul is to the body of man, that the Holy Ghost is to the body of Christ, which is the Church: the Holy Ghost does in the whole Church what the soul does in all the members of one body.

Now, there are limits to this analogy. The Holy Spirit does not merge with the Church to form one nature as my soul does with my body, and the members of the Church retain their individual existence in a way that the members of my body do not--this is why an individual member of the Church can sin, acting contrary to the animating principle of the Church.

But the truth in St. Augustine's analogy is wonderful to contemplate. When I act as a member of the Church, that is, when my action flows from the life principle of the Church, the Spirit, then it is the Church who acts in me. If I speak unkindly to my children or act selfishly towards my wife, it is I, the individual sinner, who speak unkindly and act selfishly; but if my words and deeds flow from the power of the Spirit, it is the Church who raises my children and Christ who loves my wife.

As another great saint has put it, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20).


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