Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ratzinger on Prayer

I just began reading Feast of Faith yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. It's a collection of articles that he's written about the liturgy, and, if there's anyone to read on the Liturgy, it's Ratzinger, hands down.

The first article is interesting, there, I believe, to set the tone for the rest of the articles on the Liturgy. What is the Liturgy? It is the greatest prayer the Church has. It is Christ made present to us, where Heaven and Earth meet in a communion of persons that transcends time. If the Mass is the greatest prayer, then it is, obviously, important to know what we mean by prayer.

The first section is what others have said on prayer in an improper way. I will not talk about that right now, though it is very good and you can see deep-rooted general Ratzinger trends even if he doesn't mention them (especially about relativism). Good stuff and worth reading. There is one comment he makes in the second section, however, that I thought was interesting and worth noting.

He says that man ought to be not only a personal embodiment of Christ, but also a personal embodiment of the Church. I have never heard this before, nor have I ever thought about it, so it is quite an eye opening moment for me.

I see what he is saying though. By nature of our baptism we become a personal embodiment of Christ. As Saint Paul says, it is no longer I whom and alive, but Christ Who is in me(Gal 2:20). Christ is alive in us, and He is revealed to others through us, through our bodies. This goes further though. Since the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, that intimate communion of persons all one in Christ, we are in Christ. Since we are whom make up the Church, since we make up the body of Christ, then the Church is personally embodied in us by virtue of Christ being alive in us.

What does this mean exactly though? B16 says that and then leaves it. We make Christ known to others by virtue of the grace He gives us to do good works, which we do as a result of our faith. It is the Church, which is a communion of persons in Christ, that is made present through these actions. We see the goodness of ALL the people of the Church, not just ourselves, but what the Church is is expressed through us. It is not when we say "Canon blah blah blah states...", this is important and good stuff, but is not the Church in its mystical sense. The Church in its mystical sense as the Body of Christ is the communion of persons. A communion of persons is a result of love. Therefore, we embody the Church through our love for others. Simply put, the love we output is the love of Christ, which is expressed through the communion of persons of the Mystical Body of Christ. When we express this love of Christ, we are expressing the love that is given and received within the communion of persons, and all of it is done in Christ. Therefore, the love expressed is an embodiment of the Church.


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