Father Benson notes: “It has been pointed out that in the Gospels Christ again and again utters His desire to form a Friendship with souls. It is equally clear in the Gospels that this is not to be merely an interior relation. Certainly He comes to the heart of every man who desires it; but He makes promises that are far more explicit and far-reaching than these, to souls who do not isolate themselves with Him, but unite with other souls. His Presence ‘where there are two or three gathered together in His Name’ (Matt 18:20); His special accessibility to those who ‘consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask’ (Matt 18:19); His promises in fact to guide those who corporately seek Him—are indefinitely more emphatic than any pledge He expressly gives to any single soul.”
“But the affair is much greater than this. For in the words ‘I am the Vine, you the branches’ (John 15:5) He actually announces a certain identity of Himself—and not merely His Presence—with those who corporately represent Him.”
“According to the Catholic system there is another Presence of Christ, to which the soul also has access, to which He has promised guarantees which He never promised to the individual. In a word, He has promised His Presence upon earth, dwelling in a mystical Society or Body; it is through that Body of Christ that His Voice actually speaks, exteriorly and authoritatively; and it is only by submission to that Voice that we can test these private intimations and ideas, as to whether they are indeed of God or not.”
“A soul which seeks The Friendship of Christ cannot find it adequately in the interior life only. . . . But how enormous become the possibilities before a humble soul who not only knows Christ in herself, not only studies His character in the Gospel—the written record of His natural life on earth—but has her eyes opened to the astounding fact that Christ still lives and acts and speaks upon earth through the Life of His mystical Body.”
Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).