I love this chapter … it pulled no punches but laid out in clear and simple terms why each one of us needs the Church. Each segment of this chapter builds up our understanding of what Christ intended for His Church. We are shown how sin separated us from God and each other, as well as the Protestant Reformation. We see how wise God’s plan for His Church is; how He is providing guidance not only in Sacred Scripture but also in the teaching authority passed on to the apostles and their successors, as well as in Sacred Tradition.
The Church as Holy (one of the four marks) should not be overlooked by the reader. The Church is not made holy by her members, but by the power of God at work in the Church, despite the sinfulness of the members. Sometimes many of us forget this. We, for whatever reason, expect that those who have been ordained or taken religious vows are somehow no longer imperfect humans. We expect perfection from them in all regards. We expect an absence of sin. And let’s not forget that for many, infallibility is also a part of this misconception.
I, for one, am pleased that Sri addressed the dangers of seeking God outside of the Church. If we take away one thing from this chapter, let us remember that pride is dangerous – capable of tricking us into thinking that we know what is best for our immortal souls. Being Catholic doesn’t mean picking and choosing practices and beliefs from a buffet table filled with options that we are free to adopt or discard depending on what works best with our schedules or desires. Being Catholic means rising to the difficulties and challenges of our lives from a Christian perspective, which when formed properly under the tutelage of the Church, ensures our growth in spirituality and success at holiness.
Deacon Ralph –
Sri asks the million-dollar question, “Why do I need the Church?” I think the answer to this question lies at the heart of the increasing number of “nones”, those who identify themselves are having no affiliation with a particular religion. It is not that these folks are abandoning God and religion altogether, rather they are opting out of the “organized” part of religion. They believe in God and that they can have a relationship with God and be a good person all on their own. (Click here for a good article by the Pew Research Center).
Sri points out the dangers of the “Church of Me”.
“One danger, however, of seeking God all on our own, apart from the Church, is that we make God in our own image and likeness; it’s too easy to tailor a spirituality and morality that suits our own comforts, lifestyles, and interests. After all, being “spiritual but not religious” would be a very appealing option for someone who still wants to have some sense of God in his life—someone whose conscience is uneasy about rejecting God entirely—but who wants to keep God at arm’s reach and still do his own thing.”
These words are very true, but likely unconvincing to those who belong to this self-designed church. Sri, however, points out that Jesus is calling us to something greater, something deeper. Jesus calls us out of ourselves and into a new way of life. The author concludes with a few soul-searching points. How can you accept Christ, the King, but reject his Kingdom? How do accept Jesus, but not his Church? How do you embrace Christ’s teachings, but say no to his invitation to join his called community? Good questions!
Please share your thoughts and comments on this chapter or the questions below!
- Why did Jesus establish a church?
- How would you answer someone who says that it does not matter if you belong to the Catholic Church or attend Mass as long as you are a good person and have faith in Jesus?
- Do you really see the Church as “catholic” (universal)? The Pittsburgh Diocese is going through the “On Mission for the Church Alive” process which will decrease the number of parishes from over 200 to under 50. Do members often value their particular parish or pastor more than the universal Church? Why?
- What are the implications of believing that Christ founded the Church and that we are members of his Body? How does that image frame our view of what it means to be a community of faith?