June 29, 2018

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Faith teaches we are one holy, catholic and apostolic Church

Cynthia DewesEvery time we go to Mass, we say that we believe in one, holy and apostolic Church. We know the Church is holy because we believe it was instituted by God. And we know it’s apostolic because our duty as Catholic Christians is to spread the Good News as the Apostles did.

But the “catholic” part is what interests me here. It means so much more than just “Catholic,” as in the Roman Catholic Church. It means “catholic,” as in all-encompassing. That’s because it covers all races, nationalities and political opinions, among many other things. It’s what attracted me to the Catholic Church in the first place, and I’ve never doubted my decision to become a member of it.

Think about it. We have Catholics in good standing who believe in limited capital punishment, and equally faithful Catholics who are totally against it. We have Republican Catholics and Democrat Catholics, political liberals and political conservatives. We have extremely wealthy Catholics and impoverished Catholics, and everything in between.

However, Catholics also believe in good and evil. There are certainly shades of gray in many areas, but we believe that some things are simply right and others are simply wrong. We believe that abortion is simply wrong because it murders an unborn child who, if left alone, would become a living, breathing human person.

The same is true of unborn babies who are known to be “imperfect,” and who will not live long after birth. We have a great-grandson in heaven whose parents knew he would not live, but to their credit they persevered and accompanied him on his journey until he passed away at the age of 2 weeks.

Not only that, but they made a video of him after birth, full of tubes everywhere, and cradling him at the end with the tubes removed. The sound track was full of loving words to the baby and the Eric Clapton recording of “Will You Know Me in Heaven.” Needless to say, it was a terribly moving lesson in the real meaning of God’s gift of life.

The Church offers us an opportunity not widely available in our present culture. It allows us to do the right thing even when it is hard or painful or unimaginable at the time. We selfishly want to terminate an inconvenient pregnancy, but the Church insists we keep it. We don’t want to suffer the death of our child, but the Church says we must. And much to our surprise, we find joy and meaning in our sacrifices.

How many times has that unwanted baby become the center of our delight? How many times has the baby we suffered with to natural death become an inspiration to be better parents to subsequent children? And how many times has the so-called “handicapped” child shown us what’s important in life?

Finally, there is the mystery of Church. There is a profound attraction on our altars, drawing us in to share in Jesus’ body and blood in a way we don’t understand but only sense. It drew me to this Church, which is the only one I’ve discovered that is truly catholic, so I can say, without hesitation, “I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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