I. The Mystery of the Church

By her relationship with Christ, the Church is a kind of sacrament or sign of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all. She is also an instrument for the achievement of such union and unity.

The Church is the mystery of God among us. Within this visible community on earth, we continually encounter God who knows and loves us faithfully. We know what it means to be the Church when we experience the presence of a God who saves us and gives our hearts hope and love beyond our powers.

The redeeming experience of knowing Jesus the Lord and of sharing our faith in him gives strength and life to the Church. Jesus is the focal point and goal of all human history. Through his dedicated and total commitment to God, he has given witness of a faithful response from humanity to a loving God. In him we know the power of dying and rising, of redeeming the time in which we live. In him we contemplate a vision of hope for the renewal of all people to the glory of God.

Within the Church it is our joy to initiate new members in baptism and invoke the Spirit of God upon them. We express our unity in the Eucharist and in the celebration of reconciliation. We bless covenants of love in marriage and call forth and anoint others from our midst to serve the people of God. Finally, we support the sick and offer prayerful hope and love to those in transition from life on earth to the fullness of life in glory.

As the people of God, we have been called together by the Spirit to show forth the life and mission of Jesus; thus we become instruments of continuing revelation. Together with the visible representative of Christ on earth, we are all commissioned to serve in accord with the principles of collegiality and co- responsibility.

We are a pilgrim Church, a people already on our way to God, still subject to trials, while longing for future fulfillment. Experiencing the power of the risen Lord in the gift of the Spirit, we witness to God’s fidelity.

The Creator’s unconditional and faithful love is expressed in a universal call to holiness. Some of God’s people respond to this call by choosing life in a monastic community, as we have. The covenant that we affirm in community life is one sign of Christ’s saving action in his Church. This covenant identifies us within today’s world and points beyond this world to the fullness of the kingdom.

Next: II – The Mystery of Cenobitic Monastic Life
Appendix: Sources