Fall 2011

Introduction: Ecclesiam Apostolicam

The Fall, 2011 issue of Communio inaugurates a new four-year-long series devoted to the mystery of the Church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. “These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.” [1] The present issue is devoted to the apostolicity of the Church. The Letter to the Ephesians describes the household of God as “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (2:20). Guided by the Spirit and awaiting the return of Christ, the Church continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles through their successors—the college of bishops, of which the successor of Peter is the head. Receiving what has been handed on by the apostles, the entire Church is apostolic; she is sent into the world as a “servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1).

Roch Kereszty, in “The Infallibility of the Church: A Marian Mystery,” situates the charism of infallibility in the context of the Church’s virginal and, ultimately, Marian nature. Kereszty shows how “the apostolic ministry including the Petrine office has been established for the sake of guarding and guiding the virginal Bride Church to full eschatological union with her Divine Bridegroom.”

Michelle K. Borras, in “The Desert of Solitude: Reflections on Apostleship in the Work of Madeleine Delbrêl,” shows how the French Catholic lay woman was apostolic in the double sense of the word: “a Christian who, in receiving the Word, allowed herself to be sent forth by and with it into the world, and who recognized that her ‘apostolate’ (a term she seldom used) could bear fruit only if it retained its organic connection to the hierarchical Church of the apostles and thereby remained a living cell of the ‘whole Christ,’ the ‘Christ-Church.’” In a word, Madeleine Delbrêl loved the world with a boundless love because she loved God above all.

Stratford and Léonie Caldecott, in “Divine Touch: A Meditation on the Laying on of Hands in the Church,” reflect on the sacramental depth of communicating life and commissioning through the laying on of hands. The hands have a particular function, “they are the organs with which we touch, receive, take, and make. . . . As such, they are made to express the love for which we ourselves are made, and which we so often fail to manifest. Christ’s hands, however, do not fail. He touches his apostles, he consecrates them and washes their feet, and this human-divine touch is passed on, without interruption, until it reaches the very priest who, right here, right now, is placing the eucharistic Lord gently in our hands and in our mouths so that we may be saved from death.”

1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 811.