I have had an interesting time this past week trying to get my mind around what it means for me to be Church in this place and time. I went to daily Mass on last Thursday, the feast of St John Lateran, and heard something which has made me think.
Now I've never been a fancier of these feast days dedicated to buildings. I guess I've been "schooled" too much in the idea that the Church is the people of God, not a building made of stone. And that is certainly true.
But I am glad I went to Mass that day because I heard a homily from a Jesuit priest on loving the Church as She is. I needed to hear that homily.
I had been in the process of reviewing (and thinking of discarding) some of my para-church affiliations, primarily because I disagree with some of the thoughts expressed and actions taken by the leadership in these organizations. I won't go into details about that struggle, except to say that my issue is not with the Insitututional Church per se as much as with some sub-segments of it. I love my Church- the Roman Catholic Church- and I especially love my home parish. My "beef" has been with some other organizations which exist as charisms within the Church.
In any event, the priest at the Mass talked about loving the Church as she is, warts and all. This started me thinking about my own attitude toward other members of the Church. In particular, I have struggled with ill-feelings towards those Catholic who publicly reject some portion of the Church's teaching, i.e. on artificual contraception, male priesthood, right to life, same sex attraction.
But the upshot of the homily was that we should all pray for the ability to love the Church as God does, that is, without reservation, with malice toward none and charity toward all.
How can we do that when there is so much that divides us? That truly is a work of grace, ... to be able to disagree with someone on an issue, whether it be major or minor, theological or pastoral, and yet still to have the Presence of Christ's Mind so much that we are able to see and love as God does.
I'm not sure how that will happen. But, I will gladly celebrate a dozen feasts for Church buildings if we can only have answered the prayer to which the Liturgy of the Hours directs us in the Commons for a Church Dedication:
you called your people to be your Church.
As we gather together in your name
may we love,, honor and follow you
to eternal life in the kingdom you promise.