Guardini says: “The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ.”
B16 then said: “This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square. We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God. She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: 'The Church is awakening in souls.' The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which, like the Virgin Mary, accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.”Since a lot of this blog is about the connections between spiritual realities and physical realities, here is some information on (physical) living things as they could compare to the Church:
A Living Thing: Any organism or living form that possesses or shows the characteristics of life or being alive. Living things are those that display the following characteristics:
Ø An organized structure, being made up of a cell or cells
Since God is orderly, His Church is also orderly; not just a bunch of people that “believe”. Every baptized person is a cell grafted into “the body”. Of course, one could become a dead cell via mortal sin, but is still a cell nonetheless.
Ø Requires energy to survive or sustain existence
I would call the power of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual food of the Eucharist a kind of energy; wouldn’t you?
Ø Ability to reproduce
Although it remains as one and only one body, quite a few dioceses and parishes have popped-up over the centuries.
Ø Ability to grow
Could relate to reproduction in this context, but the Church has not only grown in size & number, but also in the knowledge of God.
Ø Ability to metabolize
Metabolism is a set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. This compares to the set of life-sustaining sacraments that provide Sanctifying Grace resulting in transformations inside of us.
Ø Ability to respond to stimuli
This made me think of the many counsels held over the centuries in order to properly and definitively “respond” to problems and heresies.
Ø Ability to adapt to the environment
Simply stated, “The Church in the Modern World”. The Church's on going teachings about humanity's relationship to society, especially in reference to economics, poverty, social justice, culture, science, technology and ecumenism. We might add, however, that the Church adapts more IN the world than TO the world.
Ø Ability to move
Animated by the Holy Spirit, the Church has gone and continues to go forth and make disciples of all nations, even to the farthest reaches of the newest continent…the internet.
Ø Ability to respire
Respiration is sometimes just another way to say “breathing”. The breath of God is often related to the Holy Spirit or God giving life. In Genesis, God breathed into Adam to make him a living being (see Gen 2:7); in the New Testament Jesus breathed on the apostles so they could receive the Holy Spirit (see John 20:22). The Church continues to breathe God’s life into the world today.
If Church is a living organism as described in 1 Corinthians 12, it makes sense that it would change, mature, grow and gain knowledge over the centuries; if it did not it could be described as something “dead”.
It is common fallacy to say things like the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility or the Assumption of Mary are just man-made doctrines, made-up as time went on. The reality is that they were finally and properly understood with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as the Body grew; a natural consequence of a living thing. Although “Non Habemus Papam” for now, we can still enthusiastically say, “It’s Alive!"