A Message from our Parochial Vicar - August 31, 2014
In last week’s Gospel, Jesus appointed Peter to be the first pope, gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church. Of course, the leaders of the Church have made monumental mistakes at various times in history. Scandals have infected the Church from the very beginning, starting with Judas who betrayed Christ, and the pages of Church history are riddled with such betrayals.
Nevertheless, despite the many battles waged against her, both from within and from without, and despite the rough seas she often has found herself navigating over the centuries, the Church is like a stalwart old battleship, who will always survive, despite many scandals and imperfections, because she has been willed eternally by God from “before time began” and “will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time” (Lumen gentium n. 2).
However, many people reject “organized religion” because of such scandals. Others have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude regarding church, participating only when it suits them. In “survival mode” because of the many challenges and distractions of daily life, church involvement beyond Sunday Mass may seem like just an extra burden.
But beneath these excuses, most who reject the faith do so for the simple reason that religion makes real demands on our time and finances. It’s far easier to be “spiritual but not religious.” Indeed, Peter tries to talk Jesus out of the cross in this week’s Gospel. He wants to take the easy way out, but Jesus tells all of us to take up our crosses and follow him. Discipleship costs, but the good news is that we have the Church, divinely ordained by God, to help us along the way.
I invite you this week to reflect on what the Church means to you. Do you come merely to find a meaningful social outlet? Are you content simply with picking and choosing which Church teachings make the most sense to you, while ignoring others? Can you really live without the Church? Is Sunday Mass attendance really enough? Can you truly be spiritual without religious? Take the follow self-quiz to find out.
If you think there’s room for improvement (and there certainly was for me!), I look forward to seeing you in Church on Sunday! We’re here to help!