Our love touches one another

(12th in a series of a presentation on The Apostles Creed)

If we hear the question asked, “Who or what is the Catholic Church?” What will our response be? Do we think of the church as just a building? Do we get lost in all the hierarchy and feel it is a gigantic organization? Or, maybe we feel that it is just a ploy to take our hard-earned dollars? How sad. How very sad that we are so willing to leave ourselves out in the cold. We overlook the very spirit of God that is to dwell in us, and push it off like so much lint on our sleeves. How often we hear comments like, “Oh, I can pray anywhere”, “I don’t need a church to pray in”, and “the sky’s canopy is my church”. They are all true, but sorely lacking in a fundamental truth. Let’s delve into what is the church.
First, let us put to rest that the word Catholic, as contained here, does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church. This word in the Creed simply means universal, that is: She is not limited by any one kingdom, or to any one group of peoples, but embraces all mankind with her love. This Holy entity, flowing from Christ, can be nothing but holy. And, flowing from Christ, who came to save every one, must be universal.

The church, “ecclesia”, means a gathering, an assemblage, a group of people, a congregation. Over time we have gotten used to calling the building “the church”. We may say, “Look at that great set of wheels”, referring to a good looking car (synecdoche). Common usage today says “church” but thinks of the building rather than the peoples who congregate there. It has confused the building with the people who are drawn there. The church is not brick and mortar, it is people. It is you and I. We are the church. God’s love brought mankind into existence. The same love brought Christ into the world. We know He walked among us, worked among us and died for us. His love for us prompted all of this. He sends the Holy Spirit to us. Why? To ensure the flow of love to all of us will continue forever. This love bonds us, joins us, and permeates us. It draws us to come together and flows through us. This love is really our God at work in the world.

Yes, we can pray anywhere. No, we don’t need a building to pray in. The sky is indeed beautiful, impressive and inspirational. But it is not a church. A church is people, people who feel the love bonding them with their God and each other. This love is God in us. We need this church just as we need our life’s blood.

The church is how we will build up our love for God and our fellow man, AND it is also the purpose of why man was put on this earth. God, love, permeates all of creation. We were created for one purpose and one purpose only. Man was given free will so that he could/would use it to freely allow himself to be drawn back to God, to choose God. This is man’s purpose to be united again with God…here on earth, not just in Heaven. This is the church!

How is this to be done? How can this be accomplished? Again, we must look to the church, the people of God. The church, through Christ, has been entrusted with all the necessary means for salvation. The Sacraments, the Mass, the Word of God all of these are to be found within the people of God. These are all designed to uplift us, to cleanse us, to strengthen us. In short, they are there because of God’s love. Their purpose is to build up our love for God and our fellow man.

So, we can understand the words, “The Church is both the means and the goal of God’s plan”-1. We may not like certain things about the building that we go into to pray. There may also be other things that may annoy us, or make us uneasy. But we cannot say, “We don’t need the church”. For to treat it as a piece of lint and flick it away, is to flick away salvation. We are the church, we are God’s people. We are bound and surrounded by His love. We are drawn to each other by His love. We are renewed by each other’s love. In this love is our salvation.              goto next segment

-1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, art. 778