But who is inside the Church? Who is outside? Are all baptized Catholics inside the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ?
When the Saints, like Francis, Ignatius, Vincent de Paul established their orders they were aiming at holiness with their first few companions. Knowing that the Church was supposed to be holy --aside from being one, catholic, and apostolic, they knew the Catholic Church existed, but somehow, they could not pinpoint where she was. One thing they knew -- they could not find it in their surroundings. So they were moved by God to establish it where they were. They did not mean to establish orders or congregations within the Church. They were, in fact, building the Church in their locality.
Most founders did not know the exact theological description of their efforts. They were concerned with establishing a group whose members were of one heart and one mind in becoming holy....which is the description of the Church. They did not say: "There is no Catholic Church here; therefore we shall build the Church here," yet that was exactly what they were doing.
If we analyze the environs of Francis, Ignatius and Louis de Montfort, they were surrounded by "catholics" who were not part of the Mystical Body of Christ, dead branches attached to the Vine. The Church was hardly visible. And so they had to do something under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to build the Church in Assisi, Manresa and France. This is also what St. Boniface did in Germany and Augustine in England. Their efforts can be described,using the text of "Lumen Gentium," or any treatise on Ecclesiology (like the one of Pope Benedict XVI.), as building up the Catholic Church in places where she does not exist. And they knew that the Church, existing somewhere would, with Her prayer, aid them.
If these founders of orders and congregations knew where the Church was by Her visible signs of being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, they would have simply entered the Church, finding no need to separate themselves from the rest of society in order to seek holiness on their own. And since they could not find those visible signs, so God taught them the dynamics on how Christ builds His Mystical Body on earth, thus building their respective congregations. Their Holy Rules would show how a soul can " connect" with the Mystical Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. St. Boniface built up the Church in Germany at that time. Germany was then pagan. But why did St. Francis and St. Ignatius do the same when Italy and Spain were already Catholic? Is it because the Catholic Church in their respective countries have ceased to show the signs of being Catholic? There seems to be no other reason.
To found a religious community is to found the Church. When God raises Saints to establish communities, it is His way of directly intervening in the ordinary way of the church (hierarchy) in order to add faithful members to His Mystical Body. The church hierarchy is empowered to do this, but their seeming failure to do so makes God intervene directly by raising up saints who would found communities after His heart, according to the one and the same spirituality -- the Evangelical Spirituality. (Isn't it quite strange when spiritual writers talk of Carmelite spirituality or Rosminian spirituality when they really have the same Evangelical spirituality?)
This is why promises made during religious professions are made to the Church, so that by profession, a person of any congregation is added to the Mystical Body of Christ, not so much to the Order that he or she has chosen to enter.
Today, there are many emerging communities. But many of them do not correspond to the dynamics on how the Church is built according to St. Augustine, Thomas of Aquinas, Bellarmine and "Lumen Gentium." But worthy of note is the community of Antonio Rosmini who was recently declared venerable by Pope Benedict XVI and scheduled for Beatification this year. His writings show the right way of building the Church. Buffeted by the period of "enlightenment" members of other congregations watered down the Holy Rules of their founders which is equivalent to watering down the teachings on the Catholic Church, thus preventing them from entering the Mystical Body of Christ through faith, hope and charity.
All Orders founded by their Holy Founders were built following the dynamics of building the Church. But somewhere along the way many of their followers fell short. They could have continued building the Church if they were faithful to their Holy Rules. But many were not, so they ceased becoming members of the Church or the Mystical Body of Christ.
It is indeed necessary to find out how God through Christ built the Church; how it was meant to function in the salvation of souls, and how we are moved to enter the Church.