Reason # 14:Here to Stay! When I think of the Church, I cannot avoid coming to the conclusion that the Church is a miracle! If the Catholic Church’s survival were dependent upon human beings, how long would she have lasted? I suppose, about twenty minutes, max! But here we are 2000 years later. To me, this is a miracle and a very clear sign that Jesus both founded and sustained the Catholic Church. The Roman empire is gone. Other nations and empires have come and gone. Chinese dynasties have risen and fallen. Fads and fashions, political movements and theories, all these have had their time only to fade away and disappear. But through it all, the Church has remained. There’s just something about the Church. Sometimes she’s loved by the world, more often she is hated, but in the end she remains, firm and fixed, as everything else comes and goes. And she will remain until the end!
You may say that this sounds arrogant, but I do not base it on any human promise. Rather, I base it on the promises of Christ. The place was Caesarea Phillipi: Simon had just confessed Jesus’ divinity and that He was the Messiah. Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of John, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are rock(Peter), and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:17 -18). Thus Christ promised that the Church is here to stay. There have been many times in history that the world in some way announced the death of the Catholic Church; but here we are, still! The Church’s influence may have waxed and waned, her numbers risen and fallen, but still we remain. Do you see the miracle? No human effort could ever have sustained this 2000- year unity. Only God can do that. Don’t argue with God; behold the proof that he both founded and sustains the Catholic Church. All other human institutions that you see around you will one day disappear, but the Church is here to stay. So why is this a reason to come home? Well I don’t know about you, but if I have such strong evidence that Jesus both founded and sustained His Church, I want to make darned sure I’m on the winning team. And it’s the winning team for no other reason than this: Jesus Christ is the head of the Body, the Church. You may hear the Church ridiculed, scoffed at, and called “out of touch.” But do not be fooled. She alone is the winning team, for she alone has the promise that she will be here to the end. Jesus guarantees it! Join the winning team.
Reason # 12: The Promise. The Lord Jesus makes some pretty powerful promises to those who faithfully and fruitfully receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion: I am the bread of life, who ever comes to me will never hunger…I am the living bread that comes down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day…whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him…the one who feeds on me will have life because of me…Whoever eats this bread will live forever. (John 6:35ff).
So here is a central reason to come home: Holy Communion is not some empty ritual; it is a partaking of the living Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. Many people today have lost touch with the power of the Eucharist. Sadly, many people put more faith in Tylenol than in the Eucharist, since when they take Tylenol they expect something to happen. But they expect little or nothing from Holy Communion. But look at the promises of Jesus! He promises radical transformation and new life to those who receive with faith. Take Jesus at his word!
Try not to understand the Eucharistic promises in a magical way. Sacraments, in order to be fruitful, require that we receive them with faith and that we be open to their full effects. It is an absolute truth that everyone who receives Holy Communion truly receives the Body and Blood of Christ. But not everyone receives it as fruitfully. Picture two people at an Art Museum. One person is a well-trained artist who appreciates art history; knows color, shadow, and techniques; knows the personal styles and stories of artists and the subjects they paint. The other person has no such training, or even an appreciation for art. Now both of them look at the same work of art, say a Rembrandt, but the one appreciates it richly while the other is downright bored. This is how it can be with the Sacraments. The Lord makes wonderful promises to us if we receive the Eucharist, but what we bring to each Holy Communion is also important. Beg the Lord to help you grow in appreciation for his greatest gift—the gift of his very self in Holy Communion. If you do, I promise you, Jesus will bring forth in you new life and powerful transformation that will usher you right into eternal life. It is Jesus who promises, and Jesus always keeps his promises. Reason # 12to come home is the promises of Jesus in the Eucharist. He promises his True Presence and amazing transformation to those who receive it with faith.
The following video explores the true presence and recent miracles that confirm Jesus’ promise in the Eucharist. I think the video is very balanced and scientific in its exploration of these miracles.
The following comment and question came in from a reader and presents a very soul-searching insight.
I am a Catholic in my mid thirties, raising a family and faithfully attending Mass. But I must admit I have some concern that the Church is missing the mark in reaching out to people my age and younger. It seems that all the concerns of the Church are about internal things like translations and where tabernacles should be. Don’t get me wrong, as a faithful Catholic those things are important to me. But these discussions take all our time, and, meanwhile, the world around us gets more and more secular. Many young people I know are practical atheists; God and the Church aren’t even on their radar. Yet we continue to go on and on with our internal preoccupations. Any comments?
Yes, this is a very important insight. There is always the temptation for any organization with humans involved to become primarily inward-looking and to lose sight of its essential mission. Obviously our fundamental mission is to announce Jesus Christ, to go to all the nations and teach them what the Lord Jesus taught for our salvation. We are to bring people into living, conscious contact with Jesus Christ; to bring them into a transformative relationship with Him through Word, Sacrament, and witness. But too easily we can spend all our time consumed with internal procedures and policy, debates about furniture and buildings, etc.
As you point out, some attention has to be paid to internal issues; there can be some very important theological and faith-related issues in such details. But the danger is that this becomes all-consuming. Meanwhile we have lost the culture around us, and even more sadly, many indviduals.
What to do? I would answer that we as a Church should continue the very discussion you have begun. As we both seem to agree, the answer is not simply to disregard internal issues, but rather to continue to summon the Church to her fundamental mission. Your insight is powerful and is a profound call to awakening. If we do not listen to your wake-up call, we risk the proverbial fate of “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Some will counter that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church, hence we could never be the Titanic. True, but no such promise is given to our western world, which increasingly has lost its way through secularism. Souls are being lost and error is spreading. We have to renew the good fight and take our message back out into the world as never before. That is one hope that underlies both this blog and the fundamental question asked by our Archbishop: Longing for something? Maybe it’s God!
Fr. Robert Barron struggles with the very problem you have raised in the following video—one of his best commentaries ever. He also has proposed some solutions.
This is a question that the main stream media and the cultural elites like to ask. Often the Roman Catholic Church is accused of not being relevant for our unwillingness to accommodate shifting cultural norms. Some of our teachings are dubbed “unpopular” and out-of-step with the mainstream. The Church’s teaching on birth control, priesthood, women’s role and living together are a few of the teachings that regularly come under fire.However they cannot explain why year after year more people chose to become members of this 1 billion plus community that lives in all countries of the world and all corners of the earth. As a matter of fact in the Archdiocese of Washington 1,147 adults will become full members of the Church this Easter.
Clearly the Church is relevant to them. They have found in the Roman Catholic Church a spiritual home. These men and woman come from different cultures and all walks of life. (Read some of their stories at www.cathstan.org). They have spent one to two years preparing for their full entry into the Church.On their way they have discovered that the Church not only has not lost its relevance, but still after 2,000 years provides a path to true happiness. In welcoming these new members the Church will be more fully the body of Christ for having them join us. Our communities will be all the richer for the way in which they will live their lives at home, on the job and in the world empowered by the Holy Spirit, manifesting through their gifts, the living presence of Christ.
The Church was founded by Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, the truth found in his teachings remains the same, yesterday, today and forever. The Church’s teaching has provided generations of its followers with the happiness that only the closeness to Christ can bring. Throughout her history the Church has encountered many trials and difficulties, sometimes brought about by the sinfulness of her own members. But time after time it has prevailed, by reorienting itself on the teachings of Jesus Christ. In some of the darkest times in history the Church remained a beacon of hope for believers and non-believers alike. We attribute this to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the eternal mercy of God’s all forgiving love. Which other institution can make similar claims?
Congratulations to Jon who came closest with a guess of 1,000 to guessing the number of adults who will enter the church at Easter. Richard’s guess of
The following video is a brief but beautiful tapestry of the Mass.
The video invites you to visit the website www.catholicmass.org, which contains inspriational and instructional material on the Holy Mass. A full DVD can also be purchased, and it is a wonderful resource for those either returning to the Mass or wanting to learn more of the Sacred Liturgy.
Some folks who have been away for a while have questions and concerns to express. (Even Catholics who have never been away have many questions!) Please feel free to use the comments section of this blog to ask questions and state concerns. All of us who contribute to this blog are pleased to answer your questions and address your concerns. Your questions will help this blog to get its wings and really fly. Ask and ye shall be answered!
One of the main themes of this blog is the subject of longing and desire. You and I desire infinitely—without limit—and this points to and proves that God exists and is calling us. The way C.S. Lewis put it is this: If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
Along these lines, I would like to call to your attention a talk by Dr. Peter Kreeft on the Argument from Desire. A written summary of the talk is available HERE . There is an mp3 audio of both the talk and a question/answer session with the audience available HERE Be aware that the talk is a scholarly one and was presented to a largely academic audience. But the fundamental point of his talk is clear enough.
Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object in the world that can satisfy that desire.
But there exists in us one desire that nothing in time, nothing on earth, and no creature can satisfy—a mysterious longing!
Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth, and creatures that can satisfy this desire.
This something is what people call “God” and “life with God forever.”