The Church as the Body of Christ

St. John the Wonderworker, “The Church as the Body of Christ“:

Fully abiding in the Church is already victory over sin and complete purification therefrom. To some degree everything sinful estranges us from the Church and keeps us out of the Church; this is why in the prayer read at confession over every penitent we have the phrase: “reconcile, and unite unto Thy Holy Church. ” Through repentance a Christian is cleansed and united closely to Christ in partaking of the Holy Mysteries, but later the grime of sin again settles upon him and estranges him from Christ and the Church, and therefore repentance and communion are again necessary. As long as the earthly life of a man endures, up to the very departure of the soul from the body, the struggle between sin and righteousness goes on within him. However high a spiritual and moral state one might achieve, a gradual, or even headlong and deep fall into the abyss of sin is always possible. Therefore, communion of the holy Body and Blood of Christ, which strengthens our contact with Him and refreshes us with the living streams of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Body of the Church, is necessary for everyone. How very important communion of the Holy Mysteries is we see from the life of St. Onuphrius the Great to whom, as well as to other hermits dwelling in the same desert, angels brought Holy Communion; and in the life of St. Mary of Egypt we read that her final wish after many years of desert life was the reception of the Holy Mysteries. The lives of St. Sabbatius of Solovki and a multitude of others tell us similar things. Not in vain did the Lord speak and say: “Amen, amen, I say unto you, except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you” [John] 6:23).

To partake of the Body and Blood of Christ is to receive in oneself the Risen Christ, the victor over death, granting to those with Him victory over sin and death.

Preserving in ourselves the grace-filled gift of Communion, we have a guarantee and foretaste of the blessed, eternal life of the soul and body.

Up to the very “Day of Christ, ” His Second Coming and the Judgment of the whole world, the struggle of sin with righteousness will continue, individually in each person and collectively in all mankind.