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Saturday, 8 December 2012

Mother Church

The Church of Rome is, of course, the oldest single institution in Earth’s History. Respect! A thousand years from now it will remain so.

Churchmen have done stupid and wicked things. Men do; and men do not cease to be men when they become churchmen. We Catholics believe that Christ weeps when his bride stumbles. Our cheeks, too, are streaked with tears. The Galileo fiasco is a lasting embarrassment, though human hubris (as much on GG’s part as that of the pope) was largely to blame, not a real doctrinal (or even scientific) difference. The “abuse scandal”, we must suppose, is another crown of thorns on Our Lord’s brow. It is, and should be, a source of pain to all Catholics. The hierarchy made bad decisions to protect the Church’s reputation, as they thought.

The Church will suffer scandals again. Christ and the Church will weep again. Catholics are destined to have wet cheeks forever. Our tears are our pride. Just as our symbol is an instrument of torture.

All the same, the Church is not just old. The Church is faithful. To a non-believer the following will be just silly, but the faithfulness of the Church is reaffirmed Sunday after Sunday: We pray as Jesus taught us to pray 2000 years ago. We eat his flesh and drink his blood, as he commanded us 2000 years ago. The Mass was instituted by Our Lord. We celebrate it today and that is why the Roman Church has outlasted every other institution in Human History.

Bad popes and misguided bishops (and, God forgive them, at least some of the “kiddy fiddlers” and worse) have known in their hearts that the sublimity of the Mass deserves our devotion. The lasting damage to the child victims deserves our pity, our disgust and our determination that such abuse should never be repeated. May we also pity repentant abusers, whose self-loathing and self-disgust must be indescribably horrible?

[I can’t help thinking of the penance I was given at my first confession: One Our Father and one Hail Mary – for a life of self-indulgence! A truly repentant abuser can be imagined to implore of his confessor, “More, Father, more!”]

As Gerard Casey observes, Salvation is the only Free Lunch. Perhaps that is why we are suspicious.

OK, enough piety and indulgence for one evening. Does the Church (meaning Catholics) do enough to fulfil her mission – that of preaching the Gospel to every creature? No.

The Church is my Mother and deserves my respect and honour. Nevertheless, the Church (meaning Catholics) is complacent. We neglect our duty of evangelisation. Moreover, we neglect our duty to study and to understand our faith. Our priests, though mostly devout and pious, do not challenge us in their homilies. Parishes are content with ministering to existing parishioners. Every parish and every parishioner should strive to bring others in. I want every human being on the planet to be a Catholic. Not all Catholics take the same position. I want every Catholic to be a better Catholic, better informed about his faith and more energetic about sharing it.

Grace is a Free Gift but Catholicism is hard; there are difficult doctrines and evangelisation is hard work.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't marriage the oldest institution in the world?