On Separating the Head from the Body: Literally and Figuratively

Thoughts on the Martyrdom (beheadings) of Sts. John the Baptist and Thomas More

and the words of St. Augustine and Blessed Columba Marmion

John the Baptist                                                                  st thomas more

Thinking of today's Feast Day of the martrydom of St. John the Baptist made me also think of the beheading of a certain other Saint, St. Thomas More. And, of course, there have been many Saints to have suffered beheading for the love of Jesus Christ and His Holy Church. St. John the Baptist died in his witness to the truth concerning marriage as did St. Thomas More.  In witnessing to the truths of the doctrines concerning Holy Matrimony, they were ultimately giving witness to He Who is THE TRUTH!  (Jesus said to him, "I Am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 14:5-7)

To paraphrase St. Augustine, one cannot separate Christ from His Church.  And that Sacramental entity with her teachings and doctrines and the souls baptised into her make up the Mystical Body of Christ and Jesus Himself is the Head.  There is no life when the head is separated from the body both in the literal sense as in a beheading and subsequent death and in the figurative sense when people turn away from holy mother Church and face a spiritual dying.

For more thoughts on the Mystical Body of Christ, let us turn to a spiritual Master, Blessed Columba Marmion:

I have tried to show how Our Lord is our All. He has been chosen by His Father to be the one Model of all holiness, in His state of Son of God, and in His virtues. He has merited, by His Life, Passion, and Death, to be for ever the universal dispenser of all grace. It is from Him that all grace proceeds, and all Di­vine life flows into our souls.

St. Paul tells us that God "hath subjected all things under His feet, and hath made Him head over all the Church, which is His body and the fullness of Him Who is filled all in all". [Eph. 1:22-23.J By these words, in which he speaks of the Church, the Apostle completes the description of the economy of the mystery of Christ; we shall only understand this mystery well if we follow St. Paul in his exposition.

According to the beautiful words of St. Augustine, we cannot have a full conception of Christ considered apart from the Church. ( No one has exposed this doctrine better than St. Augustine). Jesus has the glory of His Father in view, as the foundation of all His life, of all His acts, but the masterpiece by which He is to procure this glory is the Church.

Christ comes on earth to create and constitute the Church; it is the work to which all His existence converges, and He confirms it by His Passion and Death. His love for His Father led Jesus Christ to the mountain of Calvary, but it was there to form the Church, and make of her, by purifying her in His Divine Blood, a spotless and immaculate Bride: Christ loved the Church and delivered Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her (Eph.5:25-26) This is what St. Paul tells us. Let us then see what this Church is, of which the name occurs so often under the great Apostle's pen as to be inseparable from that of Christ.

We may consider the Church in two ways: first as a visible, hierarchical society, foun­ded by Christ to continue His sanctifying mission here below; she appears thus, as a living organism. But this point of view is not the only one; to have a complete idea of the Church, we must regard her as the holy and invisible society of the souls that share by grace in Christ's Divine Sonship, and form the Kingdom He won by His Blood. That is what St. Paul calls the body of Christ, not of course, His physical body, but His mystical body.

It is on this second point of view we shall principally dwell: we must not, however, pass over the first in silence. It is true that the invisible Church, or the soul of the Church, is more important than the visible Church, but, in the normal economy of Christianity, it is only by union with the visible society that souls have participation in the possessions and privileges of the invisible kingdom of Christ. By her doctrine, which she guards intact and integral in a living and uninterrupted tradition; by her jurisdiction, in virtue of which she has authority to direct us in the name of Christ; by the Sacraments whereby she enables us to draw from the sources of grace which her Divine founder has created; by the worship which she herself or­ganizes so as to render all glory and honor to Jesus Christ, and to His Father.

Blessed Columba Marmion OSB (Christ the Life of the Soul)

st augustine                                                bl columba

      Apart from Me, you can do nothing.   


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