ministryThe Church of Christ is truly present in all legitimate local congregations of the faithful which, united with their pastors, are themselves called churches in the New Testament. For in their locality these are the new People called by God, in the Holy Spirit and in much fullness (1 Thess 1:5). In them the faithful are gathered together by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, that by the food and blood of the Lord’s body the whole brotherhood may be joined together. In any community of the altar, under the sacred ministry of the bishop, there is exhibited a symbol of that charity and “unity of the mystical Body, without which there can be no salvation” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III 73.3). In these communities, though frequently small and poor, or living in the Diaspora, Christ is present, and in virtue of His presence there is brought together the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. For “the partaking of the body and blood of Christ does nothing other than make us be transformed into that which we consume” (Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 63.7).