Piety in the Body of Christ

Father Guibert cites St. Paul’s teaching that all the baptized make up the body of Christ: “Christians are the members, and Christ Himself is the head of it. Just as in a living organism order demands that all the members shall be subject to the head, and that all the members shall work in harmony to serve the head, so in the Church. . . . Christians are not jealous of one another; but each fulfils the part, however humble it may be, that is assigned to him.”

But Christ is more than the head of a society. He gives life to the members. “His Spirit inspires life and movement everywhere. Every good thought, every noble feeling, and every virtuous action, proceeds from its inspiration or His grace. . . . The duties which, during His mortal life, He began to carry out for His Father, these He still fulfils throughout the ages and all over the world, in the heart of each Christian and in the whole assembly of the elect.”

“Would you not lend yourself to all His plans in regard to yourself? After having been received as a member of His sacred body, would you rebel against the head that directs you, or—what shall I say?—against the heart that gives you life?”

“The word that through your piety He speaks within you reverberates in the hearts of all believers who live on Him. Thanks, then, to His action in you, your prayer has, as it were, a divine echo, and its sound goes forth through all the Church. And, with a wonderful reaction, the prayers inspired by Jesus in all other Christians are repeated in your own heart, so that it is the mighty voice of the whole Church that re-echoes in you. Such is the law of the living body. The activity of the humblest part is felt through the whole organism; but, in return for this, the work of the whole organism benefits the humblest of the parts.”

“If piety procures for the soul of the Christian this beneficent Communion of the Saints, if it evokes the ineffable joy of feeling that the least of prayers has its value for the whole Church, and that all the prayers of the Church have their value for the least of souls, this is because piety, instead of being a motion limited to one poor human heart, is the very life of Jesus Christ in a state of activity within each believer.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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