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April 18, 2010

From Crisis to Challenge (cont.)
                           
    This week we want to take a deeper look into the challenge we have as committed disciples of Christ.  As Catholics we are often challenged to stay the course. Many events in the course of church history have challenged Catholics over the centuries.  This is not anything new for us.  How we react and remain steadfast is another matter.  In this light two of the three questions that were presented last week will be examined more deeply.

    Question #l.  Who is the Head of the Catholic Church?  At first we may all blurt out, The Pope is the head.  Well, in a way, yes.  The pope is the visible head of the church.  However, the real and more important head is Christ himself.  It is not the pope that makes our church One, Holy, and Universal.  It is Jesus Christ.  Christ is the first and official teacher of those facts we believe.  Christ is the one who gives us the grace or the gifts we need to be faithful.  It is Christ who remains faithful to us, watches over us and sends us the Spirit when we ask for help.  It is Christ who is the bridegroom of the Church, i.e., the one who loves us faithfully and eternally.  No human being has this power nor does any human being claim to have any such power of the church.  If people think otherwise it is because they choose to, it is not because it is the reality.

    Question #2.  What is the purpose of the Catholic Church?  Keeping the above in mind we must remember that the Catholic Church has a specific purpose.  We have a mission in life. We have been commissioned by Christ himself to become holy and to help bring others to holiness.  There are several ways to fulfill our mission but one of the main channels of holiness is the sacramental life of our church.  It is through the presence of Christ in the Sacraments that we receive strength, courage, and wisdom to go on.  It is through the sacraments that we are able to maintain such a close relationships with God.  This happens most specifically through the Eucharist when Christ becomes one with us.  Divinity and humanity cannot get any closer than through the Eucharist. 
   
Our Church maintains the spiritual health of its people through its teachings.  This includes the Theological, Spiritual and Moral teachings.  As Catholics we are obliged to further our knowledge of God and the church.  We do this through the weekly homilies, through religious education classes, especially important are the generational classes that are offered in many parishes today.  We can also deepen our knowledge through our personal reading of church teaching.  When individuals choose to avoid or ignore such opportunities they are neglecting an important component of their commitment.

It is always disheartening to hear Catholics speak of their faith in terms of human socializing.  We often hear people state that they are not happy with the Church because it is not friendly enough.  Other churches are friendlier.  Of course, it is only human to want to be accepted and appreciated and there is certainly nothing wrong with people being friendly with one another.  However, when Catholics think of joining other faith denominations because they are friendlier, what does this say about their level of understanding of their own faith?  The human aspect is important but churches are here to bring us to God, not simply to have someone to chat with on occasion.
                                            Lorette P. Nault