Friday, January 19, 2007

The Church

1. Jesus Christ did not found the Church only as the mystical Body of which He is the Head and we are the members. He also made it a visible and hierarchical society, the supreme authority in doctrine and morals, the distributor of His grace and of the means of Redemption. If He had not done this, it would be impossible to understand how men could have carried on the saving work of the Redeemer throughout the centuries.

The Church is Jesus' masterpiece. It is empowered by His grace and authority to enlighten men and guide them safely along the path of sanctity. Jesus said to His Apostles and through them to their successors: He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me (Luke 10:16). He also said: I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world (Mt. 28:20).

This is why obedience is our first duty to the successors of the Apostles, in other words, to the hierarchical church. We must obey the Church as we would obey Christ. Anybody who makes exceptions or compromises in this matter is not a true Christian.

2. Besides being our infallible teacher, the Church is also our affectionate Mother. Along with the inexhaustible treasury of His graces, it has inherited from Jesus His infinite love for all mankind. Let us consider what the Church does and has done for us. As soon as we are born into this mortal life, She gives us through the waters of Baptism a second life which is supernatural and everlasting. When we are a little older and exposed to the onslaughts of evil, She strengthens us in grace by means of another Sacrament, and makes us soldiers of Christ. If in spite of this we fall into sin, She is by our side once more. She raises us up. In the Sacrament of Penance She gives us God's forgiveness and the spiritual strength to rise again. Moreover, She gives us Jesus Christ Himself in the Blessed Eucharist. By means of another Sacrament She elevates those who receive the power of Orders. In yet another She blesses and consecrates matrimonial love and the pure marriage union. When we are dying, She comes compassionately to our side again and through the final Sacrament gives us strength and purity of purpose for the great journey into eternity. Nor is this enough. She is present with her prayers and blessings even by our coffin and by our graveside.

We owe the Church more than obedience. We owe Her our love. We should love very much this good Mother who accompanies us from the cradle to the grave, from our birth upon earth to our spiritual birth into everlasting happiness.

3. But this love should not be so much empty sentiment. Do we see the Church insulted, despised and persecuted? We must defend Her by every means at our disposal. If necessary, we must even die for Her.

Do we hear the Church slandered even as Jesus was slandered? If so we must learn to be on our guard against these calumnies and to contradict them in front of others. If She is suffering we must comfort Her. If She is in need, we must succour Her. If She requires more Apostles who will extend Her sway amongst heretics and pagans, we must be generous in offering our money and our prayers.

Pray very especially and very often for the Church and for Her triumph, which is the triumph of the kingdom of God upon earth.