The soul of the Church

"No one should say, 'Ive received the Holy Spirit; why do I not speak in the languages of all nations?' If you want to have the Holy Spiritlisten, brothers and sisters: the spirit by which anyone of us lives is called one's 'soul,' and you know what the soul does in the body. It enlivens all the members; it sees through the eyes, hears through the ears, smells through the nose, speaks through the tongue, works with the hands, walks with the feet. It is present at once to all the members so that they may live; it gives them all life, gives each of them its task. The eye doesnt hear; the ear doesnt see; the tongue doesnt see; the ear and the eye dont speak; yet each of them lives, the ear lives, the tongue lives: they have different tasks, but a common life. Thats the way Gods Church is: in some holy ones it performs wonders; in others it tells out the truth; in others it maintains married chastity; in some this, in others that: individuals doing their own parts, but equally alive. What the soul is for the human body, the Holy Spirit is for the Body of Christ that is the Church. In the entire Church the Holy Spirit does what the soul does in all the members of the human body. But notice what to avoid, what to keep, what to fear. It can happen that some member of the human body is cut offa hand, a finger, a foot; but does the soul follow the separated part? It lived while in the body; cut off from it, it loses its life. Thats how things are with a Catholic Christian: while in the body, he is alive; but cut off from the body he becomes a heretic, and the Spirit does not follow an amputated member. If, then, you wish to live by the Holy Spirit, maintain charity, love the truth, desire unity, so that you may attain eternity. Amen." (Augustine, Sermon 267, 4; PL 38, 1231)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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