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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

General Audience: the relationship between the visible reality and spiritual nature of the Church

Vatican City, 29 October 2014 (VIS) – The Church: spiritual nature and visible reality. “Two different things or a single Church?”, said the Pope in this Wednesday's general audience, returning in his catechesis to the theme of the Church. “If the Church is always one”, he continued, “how can we understand the relationship between the visible and spiritual reality?”.

Francis commented that when we speak about visible reality we must not think only of the Pope, bishops, priests, nuns and consecrated persons. “The visible reality of the Church is constituted by the many baptised brothers and sisters throughout the world who believe, hope and love. … The Church is all of us”. Therefore, the visible reality of the Church cannot be measured or known in its entirety. “How can we know all the wonders that Christ is capable of achieving through us, in the hearts and lives of people?” he said. “See: even the visible reality of the Church goes beyond our control, beyond our strength, and it is a mysterious reality, as it comes from God”.

To understand the relationship between the visible and spiritual realities of the Church we must look to Christ, “whose body is the Church and from whom She is generated, in an act of infinite love. Indeed, also in Christ, through the mystery of the Incarnation, we recognise a human nature and a divine reality, united in the same person in a wonderful and indissoluble way. This applies in a similar way to the Church … who is a mystery too, in which what we are unable to see is more important than what we can see, and can be recognised only with the eyes of faith”.

The Holy Father went on to ask how visible reality could be placed at the service of the spiritual nature of the Church, explaining that it is possible by following the example of Christ, “who made use of His humanity, as He was also a man, to announce and implement the divine plan for redemption and salvation, as He was God. Through her visible reality, from all that we see, the sacraments and the witness of all Christians, the Church is called each day to be close to every person, beginning with the poor; to the suffering and the marginalised, so as to make them aware of Jesus' compassionate and merciful gaze”.

Before concluding, he asked all the faithful present to pray for the gift of faith, “so that we are able to comprehend how, despite our limits and our poverty, the Lord has truly made us instruments of His grace and the visible sign of His love for all humanity. We can become the source of scandal, it is true. But we can also become the source of witness, saying through our lives what Jesus wants from us”.

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