Christ and the church

Augustine’s search had a single purpose, to reflect on God and man; two truths that sum up in themselves all the themes of Christian philosophy: creation, knowledge, morality.

However, Augustine was also a theologian, he sought with faith, guarding it after having rediscovered it, clarifying it and defending it against its deniers or counterfeiters (heretics and schismatics). The main aim of this defence of the faith to the bitter end was charity towards men, hatred of mistakes, and the triumph of truth.

One of the central themes of the theologian Augustine (= he who knows what it means to be a Christian and teaches it) is Christ and the Church. As a young man, behind the denigrating propaganda of the Manichaeans, he hated the Catholic Church, and thought he could find Christ outside the Church. Christ yes, Church no. How many also say the same today: the Church is made ??up of men, and men can make mistakes; the Church, however, does not identify itself with Christians; as in a family, there may be a component that is good for nothing; I do not think that any of you would dare say: that is a family of good for nothings.

CHRIST is at the centre of the life and thought of Augustine; he had drunk his mother’s milk and, once converted, he put himself at its complete service. The Christ of the Gospels is God and man:“The same One who is Man is God, and the same One who is God is Man, not by a confusion of nature but by a unity of person" (Sermon 186: 1). Jesus is the only one about whom it is written that he came out of the tunnel of death, and not only that, but was consistent to the end: he loved, comforted, had compassion and healed men, welcomed everyone, without distinction, Jews and not. Christ is also the Redeemer because "he died for all” (2 Cor. 5: 14); the man died as a result of original sin, comments Augustine, we are all redeemed by Him; in solidarity with Adam in sin and death, in solidarity with Christ in redemption and resurrection.

If Christ is at the centre of the life and thought of Augustine, so is the CHURCH because the Church is inseparable from Christ. Christ is found only in His Church. Augustine summarises this profound union with an expression which has become famous: “total Christ” (Christus totus).

Total , whole, Christ is the Head (Christ) and the Body (Church) (see Commentary on Psalm 85: 1). From this truth derive many others with which Christ has adorned his Church. First of all, the Church has a soul: the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, given on the day of Pentecost, which will animate the Church until the end of time.

The Church, by virtue of the same Spirit, is in communion with all people in the unity of faith and is "holy", even though many sinners live in it: the Church is holy and sinful together. Moreover, the Church is a caring mother, generating children in the faith, and attentive teacher who instructs men in the knowledge of God. Here is an Augustinian text of great effectiveness and love for the Church (see Comm. on the Gospel of St. John 21: 8). The Holy Spirit is for the body of the Church what the soul is for the body; as the soul for the human body is the cause of life, movement, unity, beauty, so is the Holy Spirit for the Church (see Sermon 267: 4).

The conclusion is that the Church is “mystery of unity and communion”, as also observed by the Second Vatican Council, noting the Trinitarian roots. The Holy Spirit is communion, love of the Father and love of the Son; by virtue of this presence, the Church is mystery of communion, and it is so in three ways: communion of the sacraments, communion of the saints, communion of the blessed. The soul of all is charity. “If you wish to live in the Holy Spirit, preserve charity, love the truth, and you will attain eternity” (Sermon 267: 4).

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