First, here’s the link to Pius XII's encyclical, Mystici Corporis (1943). Note what he says about the Church being (definition, not description) the mystical Body of Christ.
Second, "What is the Church?" We started with details of the preparatory revelation of the Old Testament, and types of the Church. We looked in the NT for some of the key moments when Christ gives the Church its most powerful gifts. And we've glanced quickly at how those gifts both remain stable and unchanging, and simultaneously can be used very differently, through time (Tradition). From all of this, I suggest three things for your consideration and discussion, to help prepare for next class on 9/24. I hope it’s obvious how these three (mutually enlightening) definitions come out of the OT, NT, and Tradition that we covered in our first two classes.
1. The Church is the New Covenant.
a. Where are the fundamental elements of the Old Covenant in the New (i.e. God, People, Land, Law; sacrifice, revelation, unique mission for the world, unique identifying rituals)?
b. Fit into this the threefold mission (liturgy, proclamation, service).
c. Fit into this the seven virtues (faith, hope, love, prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude).
2. The Church is the Body of Christ.
a. How is St. Paul’s language about being the Body of Christ literal (historical, and eschatological, both) and not merely a metaphor?
b. How does our being this Body make us “a perfect and visible society”? What else (more than visible) needs to be added (more on this with Lumen Gentium on 10/8).
3. The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ.
a. Sometimes this is conflated with Covenant, but not necessarily. How do the Gospels and St. Paul use this nuptial identity? (Again, more on this with LG.)
b. How does this relate to traditions of clerical and monastic celibacy? How are celibacy and marriage connected within the Church, and therefore by analogy between Church and Christ?