Faith, Living

You Need the Church Christ Founded

Because of my sinfulness and selfishness, I was out of communion with the blessed sacrament for most of my adult life. To anyone who’s never been excommunicated, you cannot imagine the pain and humiliation of being in that state.

Being a coward, I avoided mass. I was too embarrassed. Week after week, my neighbors would see me not going to communion. I’d have to get up and let the communicants through, then kneel back down, often alone. Alone to recall the many sins I could not confess. Alone to wonder if I’d ever return to a state of grace. Alone to wonder if I’d ever again taste the body and blood of Christ.

Please don’t let the latest church scandal come between you and Christ in the sacraments.

Anger over the continuing revelations of massive criminal perversion, rape, pederasty, and cover-up in the Catholic church is understandable and appropriate. Many bishops and priests need to be incarcerated. Many, many more need to be defrocked, at a minimum, for covering up abuses.

[Read my immediate reaction to news of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.]

But to leave the church because of these criminals is a terrible option. Don’t do it.

Here’s why:

As a Catholic,  you believe that God created you out of love, and you have sinned against him. God sent his son, Jesus, to die for us and to save us from the fires of hell through his resurrection. While on earth, Jesus created a Church to shepherd his kingdom on earth. He commissioned a dozen men to nurture that church by spreading the news of His life, death, resurrection, and kingdom to every corner of the earth. He entrusted the keys to that Church to one man, Peter. And He gave those first bishops the power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven in His name.

You know that those original apostles instituted a plan of succession to make Jesus’ Church perpetual. (Jesus promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:15-16)). And that His church exists to this day as one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

You remember that Jesus hand-picked a “devil” who betrayed Him. The men of the Church, then, were never perfect because all men are broken.

You also believe that Christ directed us to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to eat His body and drink his blood, to avail ourselves of confession for the remission of sins, and to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. You believe that the church alone can confer these sacraments to help you imitate Christ and obtain His promise.

You recite by memory these beliefs when you say The Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. And you know that the authority and the power to consecrate bread and wine so that it becomes the true body and blood of Christ is handed down only through apostolic succession within His Church.

Why, then, would anyone leave the church over the latest scandal? I could see leaving the Church upon learning that Jesus was such a poor judge of character that he picked Judas as a disciple. I could see leaving the church, as many did (John 6:66), after Jesus told his followers that they’d live forever if they ate his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:47-59). I mean, that’s crazy talk, right? Unless, of course, Jesus is God.

Well, leaving the church, whether because of the sex scandal, because of Judas’s betrayal, or because of the craziness of eating another human, means you don’t believe something Jesus said, right? Or you don’t want to go to heaven. One of the two. There’s no other answer.

If you believe that Christ spoke the truth, you can’t leave the Church Christ founded. The Catholic Church is the only dispensary of the sacraments.

I pray that you do not excommunicate yourself over a scandal among the clerics in the Church. Instead, I pray that you accept the Holy Father’s invitation to pray and fast for the Church. Here’s what I’m doing as obedience to the pope:

Even if you have one foot out the door of the Church, please pray and fast just one day. Ask for discernment and guidance from the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, Pope St. John Paul II, and all the angels and saints.

What do you have to lose?

 

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

2 Comments on “You Need the Church Christ Founded

  1. I was raised in a hardcore protestant denomination that considers the Catholic church Babylon.
    I was brought up Adventist. After years of cognitive dissonance, I left. I departed organized religion and carried tremendous guilt.
    I have recently begun attending a local church with my family, and I’m glad I did. No, it’s not an SDA church. It’s just people like you and I who sense their need.

    1. Ken, thank you for your comment. I am glad to hear you’re back in church, as I’m sure you’re glad to hear I am. Let me know if you ever feel the urge to come to mass with me or to learn about the Church. I’d be honored to host you. And I’m curious to know more about the Babylon thing. (We get a lot of that. It’s interesting to me.)

      Peace,
      Bill

      P.S. You might like this little prayer of consecration I learned from St. Paul Street Evangelization. It’s great for praying with someone who wants to pray together. For some reason, it seems like a great moment to share it:

      “God our father, I believe you made me out of love. In a thousand ways I’ve sinned against you. Please forgive me. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to die for me, to save me from hell. I choose this day to renew my covenent with you and to place Jesus at the center of my heart. I surrender to Him as Lord over my whole life. I ask you now to flood my heart and soul with your Holy Spirit and to grant me the gift of new live. Give me the grace and courage to live as a missionary disciple for the rest of my days. Amen.”

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