No.42 More Fully Catholic
The True Church
Among the distinguishing characteristics of the true Church, founded in and by Jesus Christ, are that it is and must aspire to be One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic (Nicene Creed, 4th century). The Roman Catholic Church is all these. Trusting in the grace of God, the Church professes and strives to be united in its faith in Jesus Christ true God and true man. Catholic, in that it is open to and entrusted with carrying Christ and his message to all people regardless of their ethnic, cultural or spiritual pedigrees. Apostolic, in that its teaching and worship are firmly rooted in Christ and the apostles and in that of the Church, illumined by the Holy Spirit; thus carrying Christ and his teaching to posterity. The Church is Holy because Christ is at its centre, and in that it provides the means of holiness, through oneness with and fidelity to the mind of Christ especially expressed through its ministry, despite the fact that not all its members are fully holy. Indeed, few are, because the Church is for saint or sinner or the blend of both which describes the majority of us, its members.
In our day, we encounter many who call themselves Christian while trying to make the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church conform to their own prescriptions for a better life and a better world. Trying to make out that the Churchís legitimacy is determinable by the extent to which it yields to popular clamour, whether in the realm of faith, worship or morals. The Divine Command where primacy of adoration, reverence, love and obedience are to be given to God, is thus compromised and even substituted by so-called love for others. But what love of neighbour is in the absence of attention and obedience to the will of God is a dangerously loose and fluid notion. What do you think?
“Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Nothing can come out of nothing, although, strangely, some insist that it can. When pressed these concede that nothing is not really nothing, but something else. Only from God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, can anything be. From God who is Mystery. Unknowable. But Who beckons. Speaks. Who makes Himself known. In so far as the creature is capable of understanding Him and wants to know Him. Gradually. Through the millennia. Through attending to our needs. Through comforting us in times of anguish. Through hearing our cry. Through beauty and awe. As we grew from primitive superstition. Drawn through hope and aspiration for what is good and true. Towards awareness of One God. Through Godís self-revelation and covenant. Through Incarnation, the Word become Flesh and the good news of the gospel. Treasured and transmitted by His Church, frail vessel which continues on its own stormy journey, making known the Message in greater fullness. Because of Godís presence and grace through His Church among us, always. Despite our sin and error. Despite our despair. Despite our rejection of His commands. Because of the Creatorís love for the creature, inviting us to be like Him. But respecting our free will to decline His wish. Which we so often do. So many times a day. Yet, that is our mission. To be Him to one another. Possible only by His grace, and our prayerful Amen.
So, we continue to hope and pray that in His mercy He will draw us out of our weaknesses. Liberate us from confusion, rebelliousness and pride. Save us from our selves. Enable us to live by His promise. To mature. To believe that Goodness is there in the hearts of all. And so we pray that we yearn for the Light. Placing our life in the hand and the heart of the One Who is Truth and Love. Without fear of what the morrow might hold. Ready to accept whatever comes. But moving closer to Him. Wanting to live more closely to our God. Whose will and Whose way we are coming to know more clearly are of love, forgiveness, justice, mercy, self-giving and peace. Though many of us keep repeating, “Not just yet, Lord!”
Within us we know that small and hardened hearts have to change. And that this requires prayer and deepening entry into the divine message. Through more attentive listening. And sacrifice, sacrament and Eucharist. Trusting increasingly in Jesus our Lord Who gives us treasure through His Church on earth.
The Church Besieged
But the Church is under siege, even as it seeks to be faithful to Christ. Attacked by enemies from without and within. Hence the need for vigilance, renewal, continuity without severance from Christic and Apostolic tradition. The need for at-one-ment, and reconciliation. And thus, movement toward a genuinely better world; especially, the real but invisible world of the spirit. Beginning with me. With our homes. More loving and forgiving families. Homes where Christ is accepted as light. Honoured and gratefully revered. Where goodbye is said to the father of lies, and the make-believe with which we are taken in: noise and distraction, self-indulgence, rancour and squabbles and yielding to illicit urges of the flesh. No more equating sin and error with freedom and happiness. Saying “that ís not good enough” to the fools’ gold we painstakingly gather. No longer denying the necessity of according our God and Saviour the highest priority. No longer denying Him His due. From all that is not of God, his people must rise. Especially in our day. Through purification. Through crying out for sound teaching, brave teaching, truly Catholic teaching. Putting on Christ. Placing Christ above all else. Including culture and nation. So, in these Easter days, and in the days towards Pentecost, may we who are children of God may we realise the importance of praying with Mary, praying with the Church, for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our world, and to live in the expectation that our prayer has been heard. And go forward in hope.
[“The Church has ever proved indestructible. Her persecutors have failed to destroy her; in fact, it was during times of persecution that the Church grew more and more; while the persecutors themselves, and those whom the Church would destroy, are the very ones who came to nothing. Again, errors have assailed her; but in fact, the greater the number of errors that have arisen, the more has the truth been made manifest. Nor has the Church failed before the assaults of demons: for she is like a tower of refuge to all who fight against the Devil.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)]
Stay with us Lord. Graciously hear us. Send us Your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth.