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The Total Christ

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The doctrine of the Totus Christus should be recovered — this was what Tarcisius van Bavel, OSA wrote some years ago.  The doctrine is Augustinian; it is the result of Augustine’s continued reflection on the Pauline theological insight on the Body of Christ and the Johanine chapters on the Eucharist (John 6) and the vital relationship between Christ and his disciples in the “Vine and the Branches” discourse (John 15).  The principle of identification through love that Augustine  finds in the Parable of the King (“Whatever you did … you did it unto me.“) and in Paul’s experience of the Risen Lord in Acts 9 are the key passages that allow us to reread certain biblical passages that contribute to our understanding of the Totus Christus idea.
Within the context of this great insight, the Church emerges as the “bodily” extension of the Lord in history.  Christ the Head is triumphant and seated at the right hand of the Father, but His Body still labors amidst the turbulent seas of human history.  The Lord is not to be seen as external to His Church immersed in time;  in His Spirit, He remains the “inwardness” of that Church.  The sacraments are the powers that emanate from His Body, the conduits of His healing love for the whole of humanity.
Seen from within the Church, the individual Christian works out his/her salvation energized by the Eucharist, his/her mind transformed by the hearing of the Word and by the testimony of the apostles.  He who has been baptized into Christ and waits for the Resurrection must continue to die daily in the shadow of the Cross of Christ and united to His death, so as to experience the power of the New Life in the Spirit.
In Communion with the Head and with the Body, the individual Christian becomes for the world, an alter Christus.  Exercising his office as priest, prophet and king, he becomes, united with his brothers and sisters, a spark of light to a world that gropes in the dark for peace, for wholeness and for truth.  Christian spirituality becomes a living out of the dual communion that was effected in each soul upon baptism.  It is in and with the Church that the individual Christian becomes light of the world and salt of the earth.

Originally posted 2005-02-01 21:33:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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