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One Flesh Union - Christ and the Church

De Maria's picture

What is the One Flesh Union concerning Christ and the Church?

I have posted a version of this question in the Biblical Studies because I believe it is a beautiful question to ponder. And another version in the interdenominational Discussions to see how we view this mystery as expressed in the Sacrament of Matrimony differently.

But I have really been waiting patiently and anxiously for quite a long time to post this particular question on this forum because in another discussion here, the Catholic view of the One Flesh Union between Christ and the Church was called blasphemous. Specifically this teaching from the Catechism.

795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.

Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.

Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.

A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: "About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter."

Our understanding of the One Flesh Union between Christ and the Church is based upon this verse.
Ephesians 5:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Now, it seems to me that our understanding lines up pretty well with Scripture.

And so, I posted this particular thread to see how your views contrast with the Catholic view of this greatest and most wonderful of mysteries.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria's picture

re: Scripture vs tradition on "Christ Offered Himself ONCE"

Found this today while reading on another subject. I think it adds to my "misunderstanding" that the Eucharistic sacrifice offers Christ up repeatedly, day after day, whereas scripture says He offered Himself ONCE.

Scripture

Hebrews 10 (NIV)

11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest [Christ] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,

Paragraph 75:
All this is common knowledge, and it is also common knowledge that only one sacrifice is offered in the Church. In this Eucharistic sacrifice Christ Himself, our Salvation and our Redeemer, immolates Himself each day for all of us and mercifully pours out on us the countless riches of His grace. No blood is shed, but the sacrifice is real, just as real as when Christ hung from a cross of Calvary.

Note that in this paragraph, the Sacrifice is referred to as the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Singular. Not the Eucharistic Sacrifices or nor any other plural form.
78. All men are to have part in this true unity; and so, when a Catholic priest offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice, he presents our merciful God with a spotless Victim and prays to Him especially "for Thy holy Catholic Church, that it may please Thee to grant her peace, to protect, unite, and govern her throughout the world, together with Thy servant our Pope, and all who truly believe and profess the Catholic and Apostolic faith."(33)

Let us see also, what Pope John the XXIII says about the "unique" sacrifice of Christ in another encyclical, to see if we are understanding this paragraph correctly:

53. For, if you give careful consideration to all of the activity of a priest, what is the main point of his apostolate if not seeing to it that wherever the Church lives, a people who are joined by the bonds of faith, regenerated by holy Baptism and cleansed of their faults will be gathered together around the sacred altar? It is then that the priest, using the sacred power he has received, offers the divine Sacrifice in which Jesus Christ renews the unique immolation which He completed on Calvary for the redemption of mankind and for the glory of His heavenly Father. It is then that the Christians who have gathered together, acting through the ministry of the priest, present the divine Victim and offer themselves to the supreme and eternal God as a "sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God." (64) There it is that the people of God are taught the doctrines and precepts of faith and are nourished with the Body of Christ, and there it is that they find a means to gain supernatural life, to grow in it, and if need be to regain unity. And there besides, the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, grows with spiritual increase throughout the world down to the end of time.
SACERDOTII NOSTRI PRIMORDIA, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII ON ST. JOHN VIANNEY, AUGUST 1, 1959

Catholic tradition

AD PETRI CATHEDRAM (On Truth, Unity and Peace)
Pope John XXIII
Encyclical of Pope John XXIII On Truth, Unity and Peace, In A Spirit of Charity, promulgated on 29 June 1959

75. All this is common knowledge, and it is also common knowledge that only one sacrifice is offered in the Church. In this Eucharistic sacrifice Christ Himself, our Salvation and our Redeemer, immolates [to kill as a sacrifice] Himself each day for all of us and mercifully pours out on us the countless riches of His grace. No blood is shed, but the sacrifice is real, just as real as when Christ hung from a cross of Calvary.

As we have seen, it says exactly the same thing as Scripture.

Scripture

Hebrews 9

22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Catholic tradition

No blood is shed, but the sacrifice is real, just as real as when Christ hung from a cross of Calvary. (ibid.)

And you have proven that the Church does not "sacrifice" Christ again. Because if the Church sacrificed Christ there would be a shedding of blood.

But the Blood which Christ gave us was shed once, on that fateful day in Calvary. It is that blood which we accept, the same blood shed on Calvary, the same sacrifice of Calvary.

Scripture

Hebrews 9

24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Catholic tradition

In this Eucharistic sacrifice Christ Himself, our Salvation and our Redeemer, immolates [to kill as a sacrifice] Himself each day... (ibid.)

What you have defined is the Protestant understanding of the word. But it is not thus understood by Catholics:

IMMOLATION

The actual or equivalent destruction of some material object as an act of sacrifice. When the destruction is done actually, the object is radically changed, as when an animal is killed or wine is poured out. When the destruction is not done but is equivalent, it is called mystical or symbolic, as occurs in the sacrifice of the Mass, where the separate consecration of the bread and wine symbolizes the separation of Christ's body and blood on Calvary. Christ does not actually die in the Mass, but he manifests his willingness to die symbolically by the double consecration. (Etym. Latin immolatio, sacrifice.)

There you go.

For a better understanding of either the Bible or Catholic doctrine, you need to remember that they were not written in a vaccuum, but in a context which was affected by time, culture and society in which they were written. And both the New Testament and Catholic doctrine are in the main a result of Catholic Tradition.

Sincerely,

De Maria




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