Friday, November 9, 2007

THE HAND THAT WALKED AWAY

If one buys the idea of Christ founding a Church and that Church is the 2000-year-old Catholic Church, one must also buy the idea of being part of the Body of Christ. Far from a mere symbolic statement, Catholics believe that corporately we become the Body of Christ with Christ Himself as the head. Therefore it is entirely impossible to step outside of the body and remain a member of it. Just like the foot may not say, “Look at that hand playing cards! I am not part of that body,” a person cannot say, “Look at (the Vatican, the bishops, those Catholics, whatever), that is not MY Catholic Church. I am certainly not a part of that.”

We cannot be a member of the parts we like and not the parts we do not like. The unity of the body demands otherwise. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (1 Cor. 12;26) We do not get to enjoy the agreeable parts and disassociate ourselves in the more difficult.

Too often some men and women of faith treat issues of belief as late night radio talk shows treat sports and politics, criticizing and demonizing anyone who does not agree with their particular way of thinking. Matters of faith (and this post is limited to matters of faith and morals as taught by the Church and not an individual's actions) are not so negotiable for the Catholic. There is revelation of truth with which we must contend. Teachings are not “teaching of the Vatican” but our teachings (Thanks Mrs. T) for they are in keeping with Scripture and Tradition. And unlike politics and sports, matters of faith have been given Divine assurances. Christ promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. If the Church does fail, we have more to concern ourselves for then Christ’s entire message is put into doubt. (Therefore, the Catholic who believes that the Church has seriously erred in official teaching on faith and morals has, in the realm of ideas anyway, done away with the Church.)

Does this mean that Catholics are then to shut off their brains and simply obey? Far from it. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite. If one knows truth, it is a force with which one must deal and rectify with the dealings in the world and that requires great action and thought. If one knows the law of physics, one is not stupid or manipulated if one adjusts his teachings, actions, and beliefs to conform to the truth of physics. As a matter of fact we might think them a bit odd not to conform in this way. Likewise if the man or woman of faith knows a matter of faith and morals to be true, they use their freedom and their intelligence to correctly live that truth in the world.

Of course, there may be qualms about how a particular truth is being put into action, but that does not deny the validity of the truth nor does it give one permission to step away from the unity and relationship established by Christ.



If I were all powerful (and I am not) the Church would look much different than it does today (and I think many people would be shocked) but it is not about me or my personal desires, it is about being members of the Body of Christ in the Church He founded. Everything else is a sign that a person of faith is holding on to something inferior far too tightly.

3 comments:

Adrienne said...

Amen and hallelujah!!

JustMe said...

Yes, amen. Having read the 133 comments that followed a report about Conan O'Brien's alleged stalker (and isn't it funny that there are only 13 comments at most to any report of a priest doing good, such as when one opens a home for unwed pregnant, or gives his own life in place of another prisoner's, etc.), one sees what people will cling to/do away with when one individual in the church errs or ails. To me, this is an even greater crime than stalking; it is theft of peace and hope for little ones. But some of these are already calling for the guy to be jailed and the key thrown away. One can only hope the worst comments were from grammar school kids. Cripe, it was painful enough to find out that Conan is allegedly Catholic.

frival said...

Excellent post, Father. That is a line of thought that is not understood by entirely too many people. Just because the Church says something does not make it so - the Church says something because it is so. There are many who have that truth upside down.