Last week we discussed our place and role in the Mystical Body of Christ. Now we are going to talk more about the Mystical Body and how it lives and works. Our Mother Mary is considered by many theologians to be the “neck” of her Son’s Body. You and I are parts of the Body that function as a unity to make the Body work, develop and fulfill its goals. Just as blood makes the natural human body go, so grace makes the Mystical Body work. Each of ourselves, baptised in Christ, needs a lot of grace to fulfill the tasks that God the Father has given to us.
You may remember last week how we saw that each one of us is intimately united to the other members of Christ’s Body. It is obvious that each of us has to be healthy and in good shape in order to contribute to the Body’s life. Sit back perhaps, and imagine this Body full of Christ’s life, working in the world. If the Body were perfect our image would be that of a world full of peace and joy.
But be that as it may, it is unrealistic because the Body has a lot of illnesses and weak parts along with several parts that are temporarily dead or in the state of a deep “coma.” The weak parts also have a difficult time pulling the weight that God wants from them. The bright and living parts have to carry much more weight of the Body than a reasonable person would expect from them.
What makes the Body of Christ so unable to perform its role as a united, smooth functional, effective fountain of human and supernatural life? The answer is: sin. Now you might say: “I guess that I know that answer.” But please let me suggest a little deeper focus that could bring more light (faith) and energy (grace) to the picture.
The dead (or “comatic”) parts of the Mystical Body have no sanctifying grace. They are simply there, in the Body, but they are inert. The Mystical Body includes them, but they prove no help and they are a heavy weight to the Body. (Of course, each of them needs conversion and Confession in order to be freed from mortal sin and to function again as God’s sons and daughters, filled with His life which includes especially grace and the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.)
The “comatic” members of the Mystical Body are certainly an obstacle to the Body’s functioning effectively. But today I want us to consider the other affected members who have become weak and severely limited in the exercise of their functions in the Body. Their limitation here comes from a growing indifference to venial sins. These people have grace, but not a whole lot of it, and they function at, say, 20% of the capacity of God’s sons and daughters.
What happens here? They have, or are in the process of having, lost their “sense of sin.” The divine life begins on earth and is fully attained in Heaven. Now if this life is functioning smoothly, a depth of grace and faith are present and are applied in the person’s actions. But sin damages the image of God. It produces disorder in the person, disrupts the harmony one has, and it limits proper functioning. The person has trouble loving God above all things. One no longer seeks God with hunger and can lose interest and satisfaction in finding Him. It becomes harder to possess and reflect the life of Jesus. One can even become indifferent to venial sins or faults. One can say to himself: ”It’s not that big of a deal. Everyone does it.” A person can lose the spirit of examination of conscience and his conscience can become deformed. Venial sins can make a person vulnerable to mortal sin. At any rate the person, as part of the Mystical Body of Christ is barely functioning.
Why am I saying this, and how can I see it? Well, actually it is very simple. The “energy” of Christ’s Mystical Body is grace and its “food” is the Eucharist. The fountains of both are the Sacraments, and especially the Mass and Confession. Confession here is the key. If people are not going to Confession often, it could mean to them that the acts that they are doing are neither mortal nor venial sins and perhaps not even faults. It may also mean that they do not understand how important grace is and how it comes primarily from the Sacraments.
Confession should be a weekly or bi-weeky necessity for us. Why? Because we always receive a huge amount or degree of sanctifying grace each time we go, we receive also sacramental grace to fight against the temptations for the sins or faults that we confess, we get the help, which can be spiritual direction, that can be of very direct assistance and motivation in our struggle for holiness, and we recover the spiritual energy to become and to be a great, fruitful part and instrument of Jesus’ Mystical Body.
A person can speak of difficulties in Confession itself: I don’t know what to say, I always say the same things, I will be so embarrassed, the priest will think badly of me, I can’t stop doing it, the priest won’t understand me, etc. Please believe me: these reasons are things that the devil puts in your mind to keep you away from Confession and all of the grace and help that you will receive through it.
Unfortunately, there is one criticism that may be true: The priests don’t make themselves available for Confession. Hopefully this non-practice is changing. Here I can only speak for myself. After the celebration of the Mass, Confession is the most important thing in my life. I can make more time-hours and even days for Confession in Sancta Maria Reina, in the Chapel at IESE Business School, or in other parishes throughout Barcelona. We are talking about a flourishing interior life in a person. Frequent Confession is key for this. We are receiving grace and also pinpointing our struggle more.
I think that I should stop here. I was going to give a list of faults and sins that we might not be aware of, or that don’t seem to apply. But it is better to bring these to another weekly note.
Finally, please don’t forget about the vulnerability that we can have toward becoming a weak, ineffective part of the Mystical Body of Our Lord. God doesn’t create us and then call us to paradise through a soft, routine, comfortable, lukewarm spiritual life. Let’s answer Our Lord’s call to grace. “For The Holy Spirit is at work within you, helping you both to do God the Father’s will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)
Yours in Christ,