The Collect, the Opening Prayer, at Mass on Sunday had the Church pray for something quite extraordinary and remarkable.
Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
For myself, I tend to think of the Paschal Mystery as something which is about Jesus, about his Passion, Death, Rising and Ascension. These events in his life are source of salvation for us, of course, but I had not really thought of the Paschal Mystery – as the Collect has us ask – being accomplished within us.
Yet, of course, it is. St Paul writes powerfully of our dying and rising in Christ. The Collect takes it a wonderful and and moving step forward, asserting that he also dies and rises in us.
The intimacy and communion shared with us by the Risen Lord is extraordinary. And it leads us to life beyond what we can conceive, but is his free gift.
Christ and his Church together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:
- Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church. (St Augustine)
- Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. (Pope St Gregory)
- Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. (St Thomas Aquinas)
- A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church 795
Isn’t it a wonder!
- Wherein are you like Christ? And where can you see yourself in him?
- Wherein are you unlike? How might his ministry help you continue to grow?
Neonian Baptistery, Ravenna.