Map of Life - Lesson 6

Rev. Robert Brucciani

Map of Life: Chp 6. The Mystical Body of Christ
Map of Life: Contents
Catechsim Series 1: 
Catechism Series 2: 
Catechism: Q89-103
Bible: Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17; Rom 6:3-4
Magisterium: Satis CognitumMystici Corporis
Aquinas 101: 
Summa Theologica: 3aQ8A4 Whether Christ is the Head of the angels?
Companion to the Summa: 
Random articles: 
Ite Missa Est:


The Mystical Body of Christ

What is the Catholic Church?

Relationship of the Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ

The Catholic Church on earth is the Church of Christ on earth;

- it is entered by baptism (sacramental baptism, or baptism of desire, or baptism of blood);

- its members are united by belief, governement, and worship (at least implicitely),

- but the thing that gives it life - its soul - is the Divine Life (attributed to the Holy Ghost). Living members of this Church are animated by the Divine Life (by being in a state of sanctifying grace). Together, the members of the Catholic Church form the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.

But the Mystical Body of Christ extends beyond the visible Catholic Church on earth. Souls in purgatory and in heaven (together with the angels in heaven) are also part of the Mystical Body of Christ. They too are animated by the unifying principle which is the Divine Life. They form the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (souls and angels on heaven).

What are the different types of members of the Catholic Church?

  1. Recap:

    Introduction: Just as we need a geographical map to know where we are, and how to get to where we want to go in the world, we also need a map of life to know where we are in relation to everything else in life, and how to get to our ultimate goal in life. This map of life is given to us by God through Divine Revelation which is preserved, interpreted and transmitted through the Catholic Church.

    Chapter 1:  Just as we must have faith in the geographical map-maker at the start of a journey, we must have faith in life's map-maker at the start of our journey through life. The map of life tells us

          (a) what man is (a creature composed of body and soul, in the image and likeness of God by the possession of an intellect and a will),

          (b) where he is destined (his finality: supernatural union with God).

    Chapter 2:  We also need an law of life so that we might attain the goal indicated on the map of life. This law comprises the physical law (for all material creatures) and the spiritual law (for intelligent creatures). Some spiritual laws are natural to man (eg. the ten commandments), some are divinely revealed in Scripture or Tradition (e.g. the laws of the sacraments). Some spiritual laws form the basis of man-made laws such as canon laws or civil laws. 

    Chapter 3: The "X" that marks the spot on the map of life is heaven, where our highest faculties (intellect and will) are perfected by a perfect knowledge and love of God, which is only possible with supernatural grace (also called supernatural life, sanctifyfing grace and habitual grace).

    Chapter 4: Adam was created with the means of attaining heaven, but lost supernatural grace, virtues and gifts when he committed the sin of disobedience. It was the first sin of the first man and condemned humanity to a fallen state whereby every man was henceforth conceived in the state of Original Sin. The map of life became blurred to humanity, the path was either lost or impassible, and "X" was unattainable without supernatural help.

    Chapter 5: God then entered into His creation so that man might (a) know the truth about God, and (b) know the law by which he might attain God, and (c) be sanctified by the supernatural life necessary for union with God. He enacted the objective redemption by which the gates of heaven were opened once again.

  2. How are men to obtain the Truth, the Law, and the Supernatural Life?

    Our Lord Jesus Christ founded a Church - the Catholic Church - on earth to continue His mission to redeem the world from sin and hell and to teach them the way to heaven. Jesus' mission on earth in the flesh ended with His Ascension into heaven.

  3. The Catholic Church

    Q84. What is the Catholic Church? The Catholic Church is the union of all the faithful under one head.

    The Catholic Church is a visible hierarchy of men, founded by Our Lord Jeus Christ, for the purpose of continuing Christ's mission to teach, govern and sanctify souls.

    Formal cause: the Divine Life.

    Material cause: made of men who believe Catholic doctrine, submit to the Church's authority, and are sanctified by her sacraments.

    Efficient cause: founded by Jesus Christ when on Calvary.

    Final cause: to continue Christ's mission on earth to teach, govern and sanctify.

    Q85. Who is the head of the Catholic Church? The head of the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ Our Lord.

    The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and is the visible head of the Church on earth. The first Pope was St. Peter.

  4. The Mystical Body of Christ - Definition of the Catholic Church

    All those who share in the Divine Life of Christ by sanctifying grace are members of His Mystical Body.

    - By sharing in the Divine Life we say that Christ lives in us. (And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. (Gal 2:20)) 

    - By being one of many who share in the Divine Life, we say that we live in Christ. (If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away, behold all things are made new. (2 Cor 5:17))

    Definition: If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ — which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church 12— we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression “the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ” – an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers. (Mystici Corporis §13)

    For the Divine Redeemer began the building of the mystical temple of the Church when by His preaching He made known His precepts; He completed it when He hung glorified on the Cross; and He manifested and proclaimed it when He sent the Holy Ghost as Paraclete in visible form on His disciples. (Mystici Corporis §26)

  5. Relationship of the Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ

    According to place

    - Church Triumphant

    - Church Suffering

    - Church Militant

    According to baptism:

    - Sacramental baptism

    - Baptism of desire

    - Baptism of blood

    According to supernatural life:

    - Living member (anyone in a state of grace)

    - Dead member (baptised and in a state of mortal sin)

    (nb. see modern error concerning membership according to supernatural life)

  6. Sharing in the atonement of Christ

    By being incorporated into Christ by grace, His act of atonement becomes our own, and we share the fruits of his act. 

    Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4)