So why a Church?

So why the Church? This is actually a whole plethora of questions rolled into one. I’ll ask the Spirit to help me look at two: Why any Church? And why the Catholic Church?

Why any Church? First, I am not talking bricks and mortar. I am talking a faith community, it is the “we” in the “Our”; God is “Our” Father, not just my Father.

There is a difference between belief and faith. I recite in the creeds, “I believe”. What I believe is important, is gleaned from a faith community, perhaps many faith communities, plus my own reflections and thoughts, an amalgam of what I believe. But there is a transition from belief to faith. It’s the transition from “I believe” to “I believe,” the personalization, the identification, the commitment to, the living in accordance with the what, the belief. For the simple reason, faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. [1] [Heb 11:1] “Realization” is the making real to me; “evidence” is sometimes translated “conviction,” but either ultimately stem from videre, “to see,” not just to stand under [understand] and view, but to grok with the eyes of the heart, to peer into the essence of the reality and behold the face of God. Indeed, this is often my problem, I may believe, I may be able to mouth the words, but I haven’t made them my own, I haven’t covenanted with them, I haven’t recognized the God Life in them, I haven’t loved them, I haven’t lived them.

So why a Church? Because such lived belief, such faith, is in Jesus; from the incarnational point of view, it is not sought out there in the heavens or in the recesses of my mind, it is found in community, communion with the Jesus, with His Spirit, and through them with the Father. And not even Them out there, but in these, us least of His brothers and sisters, us whom Paul persecuted, us who gather by twos and threes and welcome Them in our midst. Because God has revealed to us that He is so intimately bound to each and every person through His Son and Spirit, I cannot hope to find Them in the Trinity’s infinite diversity and wisdom, mercy and love if I try to find Them in my sinful self alone. I need to find, to see, to experience Them in Their myriad and every fascinating manifestations in each person I meet and in each community I share. “Religion’s main and final goal is to reconnect us (re-ligio) to the Whole, to ourselves, and to one another—and thus heal us.” [R. Rohr]

Not that I do this well. I sometimes prefer to hole up in my own cubby of a world and pretend that the rest don’t exist, or at least don’t matter. It’s called self-idolization. I’m god and I believe in me and I’m in charge and everything and everybody else either better take note and fly right or get out of the way. Of course, such hubris has, as the Greeks observed, its inevitable fall, its crumbling tumble into reality. And for this I need the faith community more than ever, to bear with me when I build my Babels, to pick up the pieces and put my Humpty back together with mercy, love and forgiveness, and to welcome back the battered and scarred sheep with loving and open arms to again form our community of faith and trust in our loving God. Please forgive me, Lord, Jesus, Spirit, Father, and my sisters and brothers, I blew it again, but I’m back to try once more with Your help.

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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