The Catholic Thing
On the pilgrim Church Print E-mail
By Pope St. John Paul II   
Thursday, 08 May 2014

The Second Vatican Council speaks of the pilgrim Church, establishing an analogy with the Israel of the Old Covenant journeying through the desert. The journey also has an external character, visible in the time and space in which it historically takes place. For the Church “is destined to extend to all regions of the earth and so to enter into the history of mankind,” but at the same time “she transcends all limits of time and of space.” And yet the essential character of her pilgrimage is interior: it is a question of a pilgrimage through faith, by “the power of the Risen Lord,” a pilgrimage in the Holy Spirit, given to the Church as the invisible Comforter (parakletos) (cf. Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:7): “Moving forward through trial and tribulation, the Church is strengthened by the power of God’s grace promised to her by the Lord, so that...moved by the Holy Spirit, she may never cease to renew herself, until through the Cross she arrives at the light which knows no setting.”

It is precisely in this ecclesial journey or pilgrimage through space and time, and even more through the history of souls, that Mary is present, as the one who is “blessed because she believed,” as the one who advanced on the pilgrimage of faith, sharing unlike any other creature in the mystery of Christ. The Council further says that “Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation and in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith.” Among all believers she is like a “mirror” in which are reflected in the most profound and limpid way “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11).

Built by Christ upon the Apostles, the Church became fully aware of these mighty works of God on the day of Pentecost, when those gathered together in the Upper Room “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). From that moment there also begins that journey of faith, the Church’s pilgrimage through the history of individuals and peoples. We know that at the beginning of this journey Mary is present. We see her in the midst of the Apostles in the Upper Room, “prayerfully imploring the gift of the Spirit.” – from Redemptoris Mater (March 25, 1987)


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