"THEN Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:1-4

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Loving the Church

Some years ago, a friend of mine, challenged me with this: "The question is do you love the Church?"
I could not answer no but I was then unable to give an unreserved "yes."  A, "yes, but."
That is not the right answer.
One does not love if one's yes is followed by but.
Christ loves us, He doesn't love us, but....
That's a hard concept for most of us fallen humans: we love our spouse but [insert whatever thing s/he does] makes me nuts; we love our kids, but, under the guise of wanting what's best for them, we try to make them be more like *us.*  We love this person or that person, but....
That's not love - love loves - it doesn't matter what the person does or doesn't do. Even the things that we as parents say we would reject a child for - that is not love.  If our child chooses a path down which we would not have him go - dangerous, sinful, deadly, wrong - we are obliged to try to stop him. If our child chooses a path which causes us discomfort but which is not immoral, our love must allow him this freedom - because True Love allows him this freedom.
Human love, constrained by our inability to overcome the Fall, does not always love as it ought.
I realized that "I love [fill in the blank], but.." was not the right answer.
I began to try to overcome the but in my own life. To love my husband and children without buts. This is not easy. Unconditional love requires an understanding of one's own limitations more than the limitations of others.

It requires a response like so, "I love my husband even though I struggle with my own prideful need to be right."
Because Biblically speaking, love prefers the beloved and love surrenders itself to the needs of the beloved whether it's own needs are met or not. That is the Love of the Holy Cross.

That's not a popular idea. And it sounds a little out-of-date to love the Church, especially right now.

Consider this: all through the New Testament, the Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ. From the very beginning of the Bible, we are told that a man and his Bride become as one. Therefore, (skipping over several intermediate steps of logic) the Church and the Lord are in essence, one flesh. For Catholics, this is borne out further in our love and regard for our Lord in the Eucharist - our Holy Spouse provides for and nourishes us. Pope St. Leo the Great taught that we become what we receive. So in a nutshell, we are the Bride of Christ and we are one flesh with Him, and so by extension is the Magisterium. One may not separate us/them/Church/Lord. It is not only impermissible, it is impossible - nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Except maybe our own ignorance. So get to know the Church. Read some of the Documents, the Early Fathers, Pope Benedict.

Loving the Church - read the documents, see the beauty - is easy actually. Loving the members of the Church who have caused great grief and harm is not. There are a lot of those folk out there right now- not all of them are abusive priests. Some of them are well-meaning sinners like me.
Love the Church anyway. And in so doing, you can aid in the restoration of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

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About Me

Welcome! The most important bread is the Bread of Life. I am Catholic and do my best to know, understand and live what that means that I might "know Him, love Him and serve Him." My husband, Bud, and I have been married for 24 years and we have seven children. Because of his job, we travel the country in an RV with five of them, learning as we go.