Theology of the Mystical Body

First Installment: School Days

“God…has established one sole order composed of two parts: nature exalted by grace, and grace vivifying nature. He has not confused these two orders, but he has coordinated them. One force alone is the model and one thing alone the motive principle and ultimate end of divine creation: Christ…All the rest is subordinated to Him. The goal of human existence is to form the Mystical Body of this Christ, of this Head of the elect, of this Eternal Priest, of this King of the immortal Kingdom and the society of those who will eternally glorify Him.”

The above quotation, from an article defending the Syllabus of Errors of Blessed Pius IX entitled L’enciclica del 8 dicembre by Matteo Liberatore, S.J. (La Civiltà Cattolica, VI, i, 1865, pp. 287-288), is typical of much of the Incarnation-focused spirituality of the nineteenth century Catholic revival movement. That deeply Christocentric spirituality was concerned both for a better understanding of the doctrine of the Church as the Mystical Body of the Creator and Redeemer of the world, as well as the full implications of the Incarnation and the Mystical Body for man’s earthly political and social life. These concerns are also those of the Roman Forum, which will discuss themes relating to the Incarnation, the Mystical Body and Christ as King of the Universe in this section of the website. We begin with a general introduction to the above-mentioned Catholic revival with the following article. [READ MORE]

The Whole Christ: Introduction

Exploration of that nineteenth and twentieth Catholic counter-revolutionary interest in the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ which has had so much of an impact upon the thinking of the Roman Forum involves a three-pronged effort: 1) exposure to the doctrine in and of itself; 2) treatment of its meaning for everything from devotional to daily political, economic and cultural life; and 3) discussion of the problems and possible errors that can develop and have indeed emerged from the nevertheless necessary attempt to probe its sublimity and apply its teaching.

The Theology of the Mystical Body will move back and forth among these three themes for the sake of varied reader interests. Exposure to the doctrine in se will begin with a full presentation of the work of the Belgian Jesuit, Emile Mersch (1890-1940), entitled The Whole Christ (translated by John R. Kelly, S.J., London, Dennis Dobson, 1938). Once again, this will be posted online systematically but periodically — so as to allow time for other related topics and problems. The introduction to The Whole Christ follows. [READ MORE]

Removing the Blindfold: Nineteenth-Century Catholics & the Myth of Modern Freedom

As noted in the last instalment, the Theology of the Mystical Body will alternate between a discussion of the doctrine in and of itself and its application to daily life. The importance of that second theme is the topic of Dr. John C. Rao’s work on the nineteenth century Catholic revival’s profound interest in the consequences of the Incarnation: Removing the Blindfold (1999, second edition 2014). It has been newly reissued by Angelus Press and is available here.

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