Monday, 16 June 2008

Why the Church Exists

In his reflection on Sunday's Gospel, Fr Cantalamessa preached on the needs we have for a True Shepherd:

It is described thus: "Jesus, seeing the crowds, felt compassion for them, because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Jesus sees the crowds, he feels compassion for them: this is what moved him to choose the 12 and send them to preach, heal, liberate.

Here we have some valuable information. We see that the Church does not exist for herself, for her own end or her own salvation; she exists for others, for the world, for the people, above all for the afflicted and oppressed.

He goes on by quoting Gaudium et Spes:

"The joys and the hopes, the grief and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the grief and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts."

"Seeing the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." The shepherds of today, from the Pope to the last village priest, appear to us in this light, as the deposit and continuation of the compassion of Christ. The late lamented Vietnamese Cardinal, Fran├žois-Xavier Van Thuan, who spent 13 years in the communist prisons of his country, in a meditation before the Pope and the Roman Curia said: "I dream of a Church that is a ‘Holy Door’ that is always open, that embraces all, full of compassion, that understands the pain and suffering of humanity, a Church that protects, consoles and guides every nation to the Father who loves us."

Now to me this speaks clearly of a Church focused (rightly) on others, on saving souls... That is why the Church exists; yet it has to bring it's beauty, tradition, Holy Mass to the world and not gather up in little cells and wet ourselves when someone nods a biretta from the Vatican. Yes I can understand people are very chuffed after suffering years of oppression and abuse, quite often from those of influence and of power just because they held on to the true faith, but let's not see this as a temptation to sail off into the Gregorian Mass sunset; no let's see it as an invitation to present the sacrifice of calvary to those who need it most and for those who need to come back to it.

click here for Fr Cantamalassa's reflection

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