No theological book had a greater impact on me during my college days at Fordham (before Vatican II was a glimmer in Blessed John’s eye) than that of the Belgian Jesuit, Emile Mersch: The Theology of the Mystical Body.
I thought of Mersch (who died in a bombing raid at the very beginning of World War II) when I read Pope Francis’s Catechesis today. He expounds on the reality of the Church as the body of Christ and says:
The image of the body helps us to understand this deep Church-Christ bond, which St. Paul has developed especially in the First Letter to the Corinthians (cf. chap. 12). First, the body brings our attention to a living reality. The Church is not a charitable, cultural or political association, but a living body, that walks and acts in history. And this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, feeds and supports it. This is a point I want to emphasize: if the head is separated from the rest of the body, the whole person cannot survive. So it is in the Church, we must remain bound ever more deeply to Jesus. But not only that: just as the body needs the lifeblood to keep it alive, so we must allow Jesus to work in us, that His Word guide us, that His presence in the Eucharist nourish us, animate us, that His love give strength to our love of neighbor. And this always! Dear brothers and sisters, let us remain united to Jesus, let us trust in Him, direct our life according to His Gospel, nourish ourselves with daily prayer, listening to the Word of God, participating in the Sacraments.