Many Catholics seldom think past their own parish when the consider the Church. And yet the Catholic World is huge and quite vibrant:

  1. 1.2 Billion Catholics in the World.
  2. 412,236 Priests
  3. 721,935 Religious Sisters
  4. 221,055 Parishes
  5. 92,847 Catholic Elementary Schools with 31 million students.
  6. 43,591 Catholic Secondary Schools with 17 Million Students [*]
  7. 117,000 health care facilities, including hospitals, clinics, orphanages,” as well as “18,000 pharmacies and 512 centers” for the care of those with leprosy, all comprising 26% of the total of  the world’s health care facilities. [*]

There is probably never a moment during the day in which Mass is not being celebrated somewhere on this planet, where the Liturgy of the Hours is not being celebrated. At every moment, Catholic school bells ringing, the poor and sick attended to by the Church, confessions being heard, counsel being given.

I am mindful of the words of an old hymn: The sun that bids us rest is waking, our brethren ‘neath the western sky.

Scripture also comes to mind

  1. Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mk 16:15)
  2. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
  3. Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Rom 10:18)
  4. My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty. (Mal 1:11)
  5. Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. (Psalm 48:10)
  6. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (Is 12:4-5)
  7. I am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory. (Is 66:18)
  8. And many others.

Yes, the Lord has done a glorious thing. It is so common to hear the failings of the Church and of her apparent irrelevancy to the modern Western World. And she remains, by God’s grace, strong, vital and worldwide. What a marvelous thing the Lord has done.

And if perhaps the worldwide picture overwhelms, consider even the life in one diocese in this country. My cousin John Clem alerted me to the video below, from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It pictures the life of the Church in just one Archdiocese. As the clock in the video ticks by there is not a moment where the Church is not teeming with life, by God’s grace. The video beings in the early hours of the night where religious are praying the hours and shelters and crisis centers are up and running. As the morning dawns Masses are celebrated, parishes and school come to life, hospitals and clinics hum with activity. And as evening comes, more prayer, parish meetings and and the settling in of people in shelters. And in the late hours of the night an Archbishop prays for his people. One day in an Archdiocese.

Here in the Archdiocese of Washington, we did something similar in written form, a document called Catholic Impact. In its forty pages a similar story is told of a local Church, and Archdiocese,  that teems with life.

There are surely struggles in the Church about which we must be sober today. But too easily we focus on the negative, on what is wrong, and we look right past a lot of what is right, what is good, life giving, healing, vivid and true. Let this video and book remind us of that.

The Lord continues to do a marvelous work in his mystical Body, the Church.

24 Responses

  1. Donna says:

    How beautiful!!

  2. David F says:

    Thank you Father – enjoyed the post and the video

  3. Mark Redman says:

    Pray for the Church in Europe.
    Where even most priests do not believe in the Real Presence.
    Where most couples no longer get married.
    And those couples no longer have children.

    America is not far behind

    • Mark Redman says:

      The often heard number of 1.2 billion Catholics is misleading and has little value.
      Unless these “Catholics ” are practicing their faith, they are no better off than the pagans.
      The fact is that the vast majority have left the Faith and we have a tremendous amount of
      Work to do.
      The number of priests and religious we currently have is woefully inadequate – causing the
      Closure of thousands of parishes.
      Please – let us not put bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is peachy as we whistle
      Down the primrose path.
      If you are blessed to have a strong faithful priest in your area – say thank you to God Almighty.
      And pray for the millions who do not.

      • We have discussed all the problems you mention. There are no buried heads at this blog. But a little perspective doesn’t hurt and I suspect you could use a little Mark. At the very least try not to belittle other people who might see a little blue sky by saying the have the heads buried, and are simply on primrose paths.

        • Mark Redman says:

          Msgr. Pope,

          My intention wasn’t to put you on the defensive or to belittle anyone – As my notes were not
          Addressed to a specific person.
          I guess my post was more for the consumption of those who just happened upon your article.
          As far as perspective is concerned –
          Sometimes those with the most truncated view are those within the walls of the Church Herself.
          The lay person who is in the trenches battling for the faith on a daily basis – many days
          Surrounded and outnumbered by forces of complete darkness – has some degree of perspective.
          Maybe that perspective becomes quite soured at times. I will grant you that.
          Thank you for this blog and thank you for giving your life to the Church.

          • Once again, you are dismissive of others (not just me) in calling the view “truncated” and saying that people who don’t agree with you, lock, stock and barrel do not have perspective. Why not just say that there ARE things to celebrate, even as there are things about which to be sober? It is quite possible to adopt and hold both perspectives. No one, surely not on this blog suggests that there aren’t serious problems in the Church. But there are also many good things and the Church remains vibrant worldwide and very much in God’s care.

            Thanks for your closing salutation as well.

            • Mark Redman says:

              Msgr. Pope,

              You are putting words into my mouth.
              Probably my fault – I don’t converse on these blogs often.

              Why did you assume I was referring to YOUR
              view as being truncated ?

              I have no doubt that the Church is under the protection of the Lord and Our Blessed Mother.
              But, there many parts of the world where the Church is not vibrant.
              Look at the so called “Catholic Vote”.
              Who just put the pro-death President back in White House.
              This is in a country where the Church is presumed healthy.
              Yet , most US Bishops don’t seem a bit fazed.
              The leader of the USCCB evens honors this baby killer with a dinner.

              Yes, in the end , the Good Lord and his Church will prevail. But we have a very tough row to hoe.
              We need to pray for courageous faithful bishops.
              Somewhere along the line our Bishops have lost the main objective – the salvation of souls.

              • I wasn’t presuming, I understand you were generalizing, that said, you were commenting on something I wrote.

                • Marcus says:

                  To Mark and Monsignor,

                  I think the wise thing to do is to affirm both your positions.

                  Mark is right, there is a lot to be done. I think evangelization and renewed Catechesis should be at the top of this priority. Very few Catholics are (I think) truly Catholic anymore. I lament this cafeteria culture that has invaded the church – priests and laity included.

                  At the same time, if we focus on that and do not look at the blessings then we would get dejected. What Monsignor Pope is saying is also true, that the Church is alive and continuing the ministry she was entrusted by Christ. There is so much focus on the negative that we fail to see the positives and we basically play the game of the Church’s detractors. It is important to give thanks and be joyfull in the Lord for whatever comes and believe (truly believe) that He knows what He is on about. There is much to be joyfull about. Years of neglect cannot be overturned in a day but she remains Christ’s Church thorugh it all and thus beauty, intelligence and joy abound in her still. We must not forget that.

                  The Lord is good and cares for His Church. But there is much to be done so let’s get on with it. All in the Name of the Christ.

  4. teomatteo says:

    “…too easily we focus on the negative, on what is wrong, and we look right past a lot of what is right, what is good, life giving, healing, vivid and true.”

    So true Monsignor. I think some of that attitude is from the culture asking us to apologize for our feel goodness as it relates to our Faith. We should at times step back and get a reality check like this. Thanks

  5. John says:

    Thanks for this. It is easy to lose sight of all that the Church is and does. This is a great reminder that we are a part of something incredible in this world (and the next).

  6. RichardC says:

    8. One Pope.

    The Ten Commandments take the idea of private property as given and some of the Commandments are intended to insure private property rights, however, there is nothing in the Ten Commandments to insure the rights of the State, to imply the need of a State, or to imply that a State is even desirable.

    Some of the good deeds in that video may have been partially funded by my tax dollars.

    • Marcus says:

      “Some of the good deeds in that video may have been partially funded by my tax dollars.”

      I think this is one of Church’s problems because in doing so she is forced to acquiesce to some of the state’s less than Christian perspective.

      One Catholic charity organization no longer proclaims Christ because they are not allowed to if they accept state funding.

      Sad really, because the person becomes reduced to a mouth to feed.

  7. MIKE HENCHY says:

    AMDG

  8. Agustín Guerrero says:

    Precioso. Thanks to God and to all of you.

  9. sedes sapientiae says:

    Here in Nigeria,where faith is measured with material prosperity (all means are permitted) in accordance to the mentality here,spirituality are never preached by the pseudo new generation churches to the flocks.If our Lord comes today…..what a disaster.? Queen of Heaven save my country mode of been a Christian.

  10. Deacon Tom says:

    39,564 Permanent Deacons worldwide as of 2010 (17,289 in the U.S. as of 2012)

  11. Doug Lawrence says:

    All of these things are powerful manifestations of the Kingdom of God. Beautiful, authentic reflections of the life of the church on earth. The fact that today, many people have chosen to reject or abandon the Kingdom of God in favor of video games, smart phones, IPods and other forms of material satisfaction says much more about them than it does about the church. Perhaps we’re living in the time of the great apostasy, mentioned by St. Paul, when the Holy Spirit decides to step aside and let people contend with unbridled evil, without the help of the grace they earlier decided to eschew. Time will tell. Meanwhile, as always, there is absolutely no substitute for full, faithful participation in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, along with regular reception of the sacraments.

  12. TeaPot562 says:

    “But when the Son of Man comes, will He find any faith on the earth?” __Luke 18:8
    TeaPot562

  13. Julie says:

    Mark, You have been reading too many Associated Press stories. The media want us to believe the Church is irrelevant and on life support. But we Christians are a hopeful people. After all, we believe in life after death. I love hearing good news. Yes, we have a lot of work to do. And yes, prayers are desperately needed. But I love getting a bit rejoiceful when I read good news for a change once in a while. Praise God for the Catholic Church. It is a gift from our Lord.

    • Mark Redman says:

      Julie you are probably correct.
      Then again, the secular media doesn’t see anything wrong with the death spiral of our culture.
      So most of it goes unreported.

      Having said the above, let me say this:

      The Church is the Bride of Christ – His very mystical Body.
      She has survived the rise and fall of empires. Despite us.
      St Paul tells us that She instructs even the angels on the mysteries of the Church.
      Without Her presence in the world, any semblance of civilization would collapse.
      She is the Sacrament of Salvation to the world.
      There is no Salvation outside of Her.
      She is the New Israel.

  14. Maggie McT says:

    And how many religious Brothers are there in the world? Poor Brothers; everyone overlooks them.

    Thank you for a beautiful column, however. We do need to remember the larger picture.

  15. GaryM. says:

    If I could close my eyes and blink a wish it would be that each Catholic faithful would feel the Charity the Church offers the world. Unfortunately, charity within the Church is primarily institutionalized away from the people in the pews. Yes, there is tremendous charity being done by individuals and groups at the parish level of which I am one, but it is dwarfed by the huge charity done by the institution of the Church through Catholic Charities etc. What a wonderful thing.

    The responsibility of the Church is to make sure that we do not violate our Catholic principles by funding indirectly abortion, contraception and related conscience violations through our community endeavors, especially Catholic Relief Services. For some reason, the Church recently found it hard to subordinate funding these groups to our core beliefs, it seems. Even the famed ACORN (now defunct) was among the recipients of our financial gifts donated by the Catholic faithful. Some of these groups reportedly openly oppose Religious Freedom. To be clear, there is no justification for this type funding. Out of conscience this should be stopped cold. Yet, by the information known publicly, there seems to have been some clerical support for this practice. Hopefully we can change this tendency by continuing to draw attention to it as it becomes evident. My hunch is, as a result all the adverse publicity, things have already begun to change. I pray for that.

    As for me, I am “all in” on Charity, especially through the Church. It is the light illuminating from our love of God. No doubt about it.

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