The Catholic Church that is.
“Yes the Church is an institution. As an institution it has a visible reality: Vatican City, Cathedrals, the Pope, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, pews full of sinners and a few saints. The Church has doctrines, dogmas and laws. The visible Church is important because, like the skeleton supports the body, it supports and points to the interior invisible spiritual reality of the Church.
But the Church is so much more than a visible institution. I am not in love with an institution. I am in love with the Church because the Church is Jesus Christ.”
The Church is Jesus Christ, and that is why I will never leave her. No matter what. But I also love the Catholic Church for her Sacraments that put me in direct contact with the divine. I love the beauty of the mass even when some Priests butcher it, and the songs are unsingable, and/or nearly heretical, and stuck in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
I love the Church because she is the bride of Christ. She is the Church of saints and sinners, scholars and the uneducated. I love the Church because as (supposedly) James Joyce said:
Look Out! Here comes everybody.
Guilty aside. When I was much younger, back in the last century, I went on a James Joyce kick. Meh. I was young enough and arrogant enough to think that I was smart enough to understand him. Yeah right. Not.
But I digress.
Back to on loving the Church, Anthony Ensolen says it more eloquently. I don’t cry, well rarely and then it is a scary thing, but it did give me a, rather large, lump in my throat.
“I love this Church, this bride, this sheepfold, this ark, this glorious cathedral. I love the soaring visions of blessedness that inspired the glaziers of the rose windows of Chartres; and I love, sometimes I am not sure why, the same Church that has turned louche show tunes into hymns for the common people. I love the Church for which St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his great compendia of theology and philosophy, dictating, it is said, four separate books to four secretaries simultaneously as he paced about his room; and I love the Church that sells simple holy cards to old women who miss their beloved dead. I love the Church that celebrates the sacrament of the altar under Bernini’s baldacchino at St. Peter’s, and in a bamboo hut in Africa; a Church of untold riches, and sometimes terrible poverty. I love a Church great enough to exalt a middle-class girl dying of consumption, a Therese of Lisieux, to the status of doctor, a teacher of endurance and faith amid suffering. I love a Church whose saints shine forth in beauty – a simple Francis of Assisi, hymning the goodness of all creation; a King Louis IX, meting out justice and mercy under a tree in Paris; a Mother Teresa, smiling with kindness upon the destitute and the dying of Calcutta. And I love a Church filled to the clerestory with sinners, some of whom make their silent way to the confessional every month or so, while others err at the margins, looking warily but longingly to their Mother, hoping someday to return home.”
Do read the whole thing here.
Oh and, while I am in a rare sentimental mood, here is a video from Catholics Come home that never fails to give me a wee lump in my throat.