As we look at the Church today, we might feel very dismayed. We see, or imagine, a long list of reasons, priests are leaving their vocation, the resultant shortage of priests and religious, the desire for something more in the Church, the state of the world and the seeming absence of the Catholic Church. But to perceive these things as directional arrows  leading to collapse, is totally wrong. Our Eternal Father in Heaven saw these events long before the creation of time.

The Church, the Body of Christ, is alive and well. The period of growth that we are experiencing in the Catholic Church, indeed, does not happen without the inherent growing pains. When a child grows into adulthood and moves out on his own, along with the joy of seeing an adult emerge there is the predictable sense of loss. I believe the Catholic Church, and all of Christianity, is realizing that to rely totally on its ministers is to miss the point that Christ preached. If you believe in Me take up your cross and follow Me. And again, we hear in the Gospels that they went out in twos to preach the Good News.

We are realizing more and more, that along with our Baptism, came a Priesthood. We are to preach Christ in the way we live. We don’t have to be an ordained priest, to reflect Christ. The tasks of visiting the sick, of preaching the Gospel, of helping the infirm and the shut-ins, of being just a bit kinder to people, of trying to understand another’s point of view, of not looking down on others… these are all within the realm of loving tasks that we can do. And, if someone should ask us why, don’t hesitate to tell them, “Because that is what Christ would want me to do.”

Today, more than ever, the laity of the parishes are becoming more active in their churches. They are not being told to. There is this feeling going around that challenges us to do something. This is reflected very appropriately, in those dioceses where churches are being merged. Sure there is a financial consideration here, but the driving force is being better able to preach the Good News. Along with these mergers, each parish brings its talents to the merger table to share with others. The result is a healthier, more vibrant community. The times may necessitate certain actions, but our faith will tell us what we can do to show a loving Christ to others. In our actions, we will help the Church through its difficulties, and preach the Good News to the world.

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