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Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Church - both visible and spiritual

771 "The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men." 184 The Church is at the same time:

- a "society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ;

- the visible society and the spiritual community;

- the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches." 185

These dimensions together constitute "one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element": 186

The Church is essentially both human and divine, visible but endowed with invisible realities, zealous in action and dedicated to contemplation, present in the world, but as a pilgrim, so constituted that in her the human is directed toward and subordinated to the divine, the visible to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, the object of our quest. 187

O humility! O sublimity! Both tabernacle of cedar and sanctuary of God; earthly dwelling and celestial palace; house of clay and royal hall; body of death and temple of light; and at last both object of scorn to the proud and bride of Christ! She is black but beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, for even if the labor and pain of her long exile may have discolored her, yet heaven's beauty has adorned her. 188

Notes:

184 LG 8 § 1.

185 LG 8.

186 LG 8.

187 SC 2; Cf. Heb 13:14.

188 St. Bernard of Clairvaux, In Cant. Sermo 27:14 PL 183:920D.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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