Yesterday I touched on the fact that the Catholic Church is suffering through a number of serious problems. So what’s new? The Church always has problems and always will, as long as most of its members tend to be human beings.
I thought that in the midst of these difficulties it might be a good time to talk about some of the wonderful attributes of Roman Catholicism and blessings that flow from membership within this enormous community of faith. Where to start?
For me personally, one of the joys that I draw from being Catholic is to be able to place myself in a fantastic, interesting and exciting spot in the human story. The Church is now 2000 years old, and it has lived through virtually every possible human experience. Those experiences range from faithfulness and heroism through hard work and struggle on to debauchery and decay, but the Church is here. And that “here-ness” is awesome.
I am a Roman Catholic Bishop. St. Augustine was a Roman Catholic Bishop in the 4th century. We both had the same job description- shepherding a community of faithful followers of Jesus within a certain geographic area. 150 years from now, there will be a Bishop in Austin, Texas, and that person will have the same job that I have just enjoyed. Now that’s unity in time. There is also the Church’s delightful aspect of unity extended across the planet. Naturally, I have known and worked with all the Bishops in the United States, but I have also worked with bishops, clergy and lay people in Mexico, Central America, Ethopia, Ireland, Poland, and other scattered parts of the planet. The miles were many, but the unity of faith was always intact.
As I step back from those realities, I see a gift that for me is wonderfully encouraging. 2000 years ago, a carpenter stood on a hill in Galilee and told eleven battered friends that He was sending them into the whole world to tell the good news of God’s love for the whole human family. All but one of those followers gave their lives in the process of spreading the message. The message is here. Those who believe it are united, and their unity will carry into the future until the end of time.