Three Pillars of the Church
Last week at his daily Mass Pope Francis spoke about the importance of belonging to the Church, the Holy Father drew on the image of David in the first reading of the day, focusing on his relationship with God, which he compared to a father and a son. This relationship calls on us to reflect on our relationship with God and the Church.
(With my own highlights in answer those who want to portray Pope Francis in their own image of wishy washy Catholicism.)
“The Christian is not a baptized person that receives Baptism and then goes along his own way,” he said.
“The first fruit of Baptism is to make yourself belong to the Church, to the people of God. A Christian without a Church is not understood. And for this reason, the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ but not the Church; to be with Christ at the edge of the Church. It can’t be done. It is an absurd dichotomy.”
Continuing on this sense of ecclesial belonging, the Pope highlighted three pillars, the first being humility. This humility is exemplified in the person of David.
“A person who is not humble, cannot hear the Church, they will hear what she likes, what he likes," the Pope continued. "And this humility is seen in David: ‘Who am I, Lord GOD, and who are the members of my house?’ - that realisation that the history of salvation has not begun with me and will not finish when I die. No, it is all a history of salvation: I am coming, the Lord takes you, He makes you go forward and then calls you and the history continues. The history of the Church began before us and will continue after us. Humility: we are a small part of a great people, that is going on the path of the Lord.”
The second pillar the Pope highlighted was faithfulness, which he noted is “connected with obedience.”
“Faithfulness to the Church: faithfulness to its teachings; faithfulness to the Creed; faithfulness to the doctrine, to guard this doctrine. Humility and faithfulness,” he said.
“Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we should transmit it as a gift, but not as something of our own: it is a received gift that we give. And in this transmission to be faithful. Because we have received and we should give a Gospel that is not ours, it is of Jesus, and we should - as He says - become masters of the Gospels, masters of the doctrine received, to use it to our liking.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that the third pillar, prayer for the Church is an important service that unites us to the universal Church.
“May the Lord help us to go on this path to deepen our belonging to the Church,” he said.
On another day the Holy Father reflected on the first reading which spoke of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband, Uriah. David, he said, rather than seeing his adultery as a grave sin, sees it as a problem that needs to be resolved.
Referring to Pius XII’s assertion that “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin”, the Pope reflected on Uriah, who represents the innocent victims who suffer as consequence of our sins.
“I must confess, when I see these injustices, this human pride, also when I see the danger that would happen to me, the danger of losing the sense of sin, it does me well to think of the many Uriahs in history, the many Uriahs who even today suffer from our Christian mediocrity, when we lose the sense of sin, when we let the Kingdom of God fall.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to take a moment to “pray for ourselves so that the Lord give us always the grace to not lose the sense of sin, so that the Kingdom does not fall from within us.”
It struck me that, while these calls are for all of us to take heed of, there are those in the Church (particularly those who would use the Holy Father's words for their own liberal and re-(de)forming agenda) who could well take particular heed of them. I've been reading the reports of ACTA on Deacon Nick's Blog. members of ACTA (A Call to Action) could well benifit from a reflection on the Pope's words, "Faithfulness to the Church: faithfulness to its teachings; faithfulness to the Creed; faithfulness to the doctrine, to guard this doctrine. Humility and faithfulness." Particularly he notes that faithfulness is related to obedience and presupposes humility. It's not really believable to say that you love the Church but want Her to change completely. No husband could get away with that with his wife - "I love you, darling, but here's a list of things I don't like about you that you must change!" Not a very convincing term of endearment.
According to Deacon Nick's Blog, ACTA intends to have its national meeting this October in Liverpool Hope University, which is made up from what used to be the Anglican and Catholic Colleges. I don't know how much influence the Archdiocese still has at the University, although University Council is chaired by the Pro Chancellor, Mgr John Devine OBE, a Liverpool Priest.
I see from ACTA's website that there are regular monthly meetings here in a Liverpool parish. Not a very wholesome use for Catholic premises to be used for groups who want to undermine great chunks of the Church's teaching. To continue the husband and wife analogy, a bit like using the marital home for an illicit affair! Perhaps a new Archbishop will call things to order. To quote Chesterton: we do not want “a Church that will move with the world. We want a Church that will move the world. We want one that will move it away from many of the things towards which it is now moving."