Pray Brethren

Pray Brethren

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Masculine Body, Feminine Bride

St. Paul describes the Church as both the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. Now there is a great deal of theology behind both of these terms, and while many words have been said about them, their theological depths can be plunged still further.

One way to think of these mysterious descriptions of the Church is to think in terms of masculine and feminine.

The concept of the bride being feminine is quite obvious, but discussing the body as masculine may need a few words of explanation. The easiest way to think of a masculine body is that the body takes its identity from its head – and in the case of the Church, the head of the body is Jesus Christ, God the (very masculine) Son. We become the sons of God because we have entered into the Body of the Son and are thuse sons in the one Son of God. As such, the Church as body takes a masculine, public, external, non-intimate orientation in structure and worship. This is not only one reason why the liturgy is formal and celebrated by men and but it is also why praise and worship music (along with any other individualistic acts of personal intimacy with God or others) should not be a fixed part of the Mass.

This brings me to another point: there is an overemphasis on the bridal aspect of the Church.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Church is the Bride of Christ – but we often come together to celebrate the liturgy as the Body of Christ and then pretend like we’re just the feminine bride, not masculine the body. Understanding we are the Bride of Christ is one thing, but forgetting that we are the Body of Christ is another. To be in the Body means to be under the authority of the masculine Christ and those men he has entrusted his Body (which here means not only the Church but the Eucharist as well, for the former makes the latter and the latter builds up the former).

Strangely, traditional Catholics mock the “praise and worship” Catholics for being bad-imitation Evangelical or Pentecostal Protestants. The reality is that it is not the praise and worship that is wrong (for outside of the Mass, personal devotion can take many forms), but that that the Evangelicals have led Catholics to believe that the “me and Jesus” intimacy, like a bride with her husband, is all we really need – but to keep it Catholic, “Catholic evangelicals” believe that that intimacy must somehow be injected into the liturgical and sacramental structure of the Church.

But this is just as disastrous as the liberal watering-down of the liturgy.

If we are to learn anything from the Protestants, it should be the geo-political lessons learned in the rise of nations during the 16th-18th centuries. While the U.S. bishops have yet to rid their ranks of practicing homosexuals, preferring instead to voicing their concerns as a kind of Congressional Subcommittee on Morality, the idea of the manly, hardworking, self-sacrificing, nation-creating Protestantism is dying a hard death. This is of course in part because Protestantism has no Magisterium and thus it lacks the backbone and institutional memory of the Catholic Church. We as Catholics must pick up the falling banner of the nations under God before the dwindling Protestant nations lose it altogether to the feminist-Leftist, mainline Protestant denominations and the feminine-intimate, Bride of Christ Evangelicals.

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