BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (78) – How is the Church related to the Blessed Trinity?

– Rev José Mario O Mandía

The Church is the People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Spouse of Christ, and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.


“The Church is the ‘people of God’ because it pleased God to sanctify and save men not in isolation but by making them into one people gathered together by the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (CCCC 153).

In the Church, God fulfills His promise: “and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7; cf Ezekiel 34:24, 36:28; Jeremiah 7:23, 30:22, 31:33).  

The CCCC (no 154) enumerates the characteristics of this people. “One becomes a member of this people through faith in Christ and Baptism. This people has 

– for its origin God the Father; 

– for its head Jesus Christ; 

– for its hallmark the dignity and freedom of the sons of God; 

– for its law the new commandment of love; 

– for its mission to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; and 

– for its destiny the Kingdom of God, already begun on earth.”


Saint Paul repeatedly refers to the Church as the body of Christ (cf I Corinthians 12:12,13,27; Romans 12:4-5;  Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4,11-13, 5:29-30; Colossians 1:18,24). 

Why “mystical”? The word “mystical” comes from the Greek μυστήριον (mystērion, mystery) (see Mark 4:11; Romans 11:25, 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:11, 4:1, 13:2, 14:2, 15:51; Ephesians 1:9, 6:19; Colossians 1:26, 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Timothy 2:7, 3:9; Revelation 17:5). “The Greek word mysterion was  translated into Latin by two terms: mysterium [“mystery”] and sacramentum [“sacrament”]. In later usage the term sacramentum emphasizes the visible sign of the hidden reality of salvation which was indicated by the term mysterium” (CCC 774). Let’s say that again: the visible sign is called the sacramentum, while the invisible and hidden reality which the sacramentum reveals is called the mysterium

These terms can apply (1) to Christ Himself, (2) to the Church He founded, and (3) to the means of grace (sacraments) that He established (cf CCC 774-776).

The Church is called mystical” because she possesses an invisible and hidden element. “The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept” (CCC 779).

Moreover, Christ is the head of this body. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).


The Church is also “called the ‘Bride of Christ’ because the Lord himself called himself her ‘Spouse’ (Mark 2:19). The Lord has loved the Church and has joined her to himself in an everlasting covenant. He has given himself up for her in order to purify her with his blood and ‘sanctify her’ (Ephesians 5:26), making her the fruitful mother of all the children of God. While the term ‘body’ expresses the unity of the ‘head’ with the members, the term ‘bride’ emphasizes the distinction of the two in their personal relationship”  (CCCC 158).


The Church is also called “Temple of the Holy Spirit” because, as the CCCC (no 159) says “the Holy Spirit resides in the body which is the Church, in her Head and in her members. He also builds up the Church in charity by the Word of God, the sacraments, the virtues, and charisms. ‘What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the members of Christ, that is, the body of Christ, which is the Church’ (Saint Augustine).” 

Charisms are “special gifts of the Holy Spirit which are bestowed on individuals for the good of others, the needs of the world, and in particular for the building up of the Church”  (CCCC 160).