Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Holy Spirit at work in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. Supporting material comes from Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, “Mystici Corporis Christi”.

III. THE CHURCH IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

797 "What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church."243 "To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members."244 The Holy Spirit makes the Church "the temple of the living God":245

Indeed, it is to the Church herself that the "Gift of God" has been entrusted.... In it is in her that communion with Christ has been deposited, that is to say: the Holy Spirit, the pledge of incorruptibility, the strengthening of our faith and the ladder of our ascent to God.... For where the Church is, there also is God's Spirit; where God's Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace.246

798 The Holy Spirit is "the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body."247 He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity:248 by God's Word "which is able to build you up";249 by Baptism, through which he forms Christ's Body;250 by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ's members; by "the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts";251 by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called "charisms"), by which he makes the faithful "fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church."252

Charisms

799 Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.

800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.253

801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church's shepherds. "Their office (is) not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,"254so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good."255

IN BRIEF

809 The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the soul, as it were, of the Mystical Body, the source of its life, of its unity in diversity, and of the riches of its gifts and charisms.

810 "Hence the universal Church is seen to be 'a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit'" (LG 4 citing St. Cyprian, De Dom. orat. 23: PL 4, 553).

In his encyclical, “Mystici Corporis Christi”, Pope Pius XII discusses the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Church (57,58).

57. To this Spirit of Christ, also, as to an invisible principle is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the Body are joined one with the other and with their exalted Head; for He is entire in the Head, entire in the Body, and entire in each of the members. To the members He is present and assists them in proportion to their various duties and offices, and the greater or less degree of spiritual health which they enjoy. It is He who, through His heavenly grace, is the principle of every supernatural act in all parts of the Body. It is He who, while He is personally present and divinely active in all the members, nevertheless in the inferior members acts also through the ministry of the higher members. Finally, while by His grace He provides for the continual growth of the Church, He yet refuses to dwell through sanctifying grace in those members that are wholly severed from the Body. This presence and activity of the Spirit of Jesus Christ is tersely and vigorously described by Our predecessor of immortal memory Leo XIII in his Encyclical Letter Divinum Illud in these words: "Let it suffice to say that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the Holy Spirit her soul."

58. If that vital principle, by which the whole community of Christians is sustained by its Founder, be considered not now in itself, but in the created effects which proceed form it, it consists in those heavenly gifts which our Redeemer, together with His Spirit, bestows on the Church, and which He and His Spirit, from whom come supernatural light and holiness, make operative in the Church. The Church, then, no less than each of her holy members can make this great saying of the Apostle her own: "And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me."

Footnotes

243 St. Augustine, Sermo 267, 4: PL 38, 1231D.
244 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.
245 ⇒ 2 Cor 6:16; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 3:16-17; ⇒ Eph 2:21.
246 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 24, 1: PG 7/1, 966.
247 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.
248 Cf. ⇒ Eph 4:16.
249 ⇒ Acts 20:32.
250 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 12:13.
251 LG 7 # 2.
252 LG 12 # 2; cf. AA 3.
253 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 13.
254 LG 12; cf. 30; ⇒ 1 Thess 5:12, ⇒ 19-21; John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 24.
255 ⇒ 1 Cor 12:7.