The Mystical Body of Christ – the Church
A lot of questions, contentions and assertions, often contradictory, have arisen lately about the matter of who is, or is not, part of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Some have been correct. However, by far, the larger part of the contentions and assertions have all been either just partially correct or flat-out wrong. Some have been fueled by inadequate knowledge; others have been fueled by partisan denominational agendas. Misunderstandings and misrepresentations abound. Let us look, therefore, at who and what constitutes the Church.
The Church is made up of three parts: the (1) Church Triumphant, which consists of all those persons who are now in Heaven, enjoying the Divine Family in a direct manner. The (2) Church Suffering, which consists of all those souls who are still being purified in Purgatory, but who have now attained the assurance of reaching Heaven once their purification has ended. And (3) the Church Militant, the visible Church that consists of all those people on earth who are part of the Body of Christ.
How does one become part of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church?
Entrance into the Body of Christ is through baptism of which there are three kinds: (1) the baptism of water, (2) the baptism of blood, and (3) the baptism of desire. Any person who receives any one of the above kinds of baptism is Christian, hence part of the Mystical Body of Christ (Paul VI, 1964. Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). This is the official teaching of the universal Church, the fullness of which resides in the Catholic Church. (more…)