The construction of La Sagrada Familia in
Barcelona, Spain witnesses to the law
of the Church’s foundation. 

 In his second exposition on Psalm 29 Augustine offers a beautiful and poetic reflection of what it means to refer to Christ as the foundation of the Church.

“Christ is the foundation.  As I have pointed out, our Head has been dedicated already, and the Head is the foundation.  But the foundation is usually at the bottom.  You must all try to understand what I am saying, holy brethren, and perhaps I may be able to explain the matter, in the name of Christ.  There are two kinds of weights.  Weight is like a force within each thing that seems to make it strain toward its proper place.  This is what I mean by ‘weight.’  You are carrying a stone in your hand.  You feel its weight; it presses on your hand because it is seeking its appropriate place.  Do you want to see what it is looking for?  Take your hand away; it plummets to the earth, it comes to rest on the ground.  It has reached the goal it was tending toward, it has found the place proper to it.  In that case ‘weight’ was something like a spontaneous movement, without life, without sensation.  There are other things which seek their own place by pushing upward.   If you pour water onto oil it pushes downward by its own weight, for it is seeking its proper place, seeking to be set in order.  It is contrary to order for water to be on top of oil, so until the proper order is established there is uneasy movement, and then it takes up its position.  But now look at it the other way round.  Pour oil underneath water.  Let us suppose a container of oil falls into water, into the ocean, say, or the sea, and it breaks.  The oil will not consent to remain underneath.  Just as when water was poured on top of oil it sought its own place at the bottom, so now, if oil is poured out underneath water, it will seek its proper place at the top … For things which strain in a downward direction the foundation is placed at the bottom.  But God’s Church, though established here below, strains toward heaven, and so our foundation is laid there, where our Lord Jesus Christ sits at the Father’s right hand.”

It is the “law of foundation” – objects strain toward their foundation, their proper place.  The Church throughout all history, cultures and contexts strains toward the future, toward a more just and equitable world, precisely because it is being obedient to the law of its foundation!  The Church’s foundation is Christ and the fullness of the Kingdom of God!  The Church does not give in to this world and the gravity of decay but rather is formed and pulled by the gravity of grace.  Yes, there is “uneasy movement” as the Church continually seeks its proper place and foundation – straining through the weight of this world and itself being purified of this weight – but we know where our true home lies because its pull on our heart is authentic and true.  Christ is our foundation and it is toward heaven that we strain! 

This steeple of an Orthodox Church in Russia stands in
witness to the straining of the Church for its true foundation;
enduring even through times of persecution and suppression. 

It can be noted that this very straining of the Church throughout history (as philosophies, ideas, movements, nations and empires grow and then collapse under their own weight) is itself a testament to the truth of Christ.  If Christianity were merely a myth, an invention of this world, would it not also have collapsed long ago under the unescapable law of gravity and decay?  Just as all things founded in our world eventually do?  The Church endures because its foundation is not of this world.  Its foundation is Christ.  Objects strain toward their proper place, their foundation.  The Church strains toward heaven because it is true to the law of its foundation.