How do you define Church?
Webster defines Church as a building used for public Christian worship. Unlike Webster, we know the Church is far more than a building. In fact, during Mass we profess our belief in “one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” built and founded by Jesus Christ. Perhaps my favorite definition of Church comes from Pope Benedict XVI: “To it, the Church, belong all the saints: from Abel and Abraham and all the witnesses of hope whom the Old Testament tells us, through Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and the Lord’s apostles, (emphasis added) The Church includes all the unknown and unnamed ‘whose faith is known to Him alone,’ it embraces the men of all places and all times whose hearts stretch out in hope and love to Christ, the “author and finisher of faith”, as the letter to the Hebrews calls Him.” (12:2)
Over the years, but particularly these past few weeks, I have seen the Church being the Church for one another. Many, if not most of you know that we continue to endure staffing shortages, made worse by the recent car accident of our Youth Ministry Director, Karen Schindler. You have been the Church for Karen by lifting her up in prayer, as well as your thoughts and letters. She continues to recover well at home, credits her miraculous recovery to the prayers offered for her, and hopes to be easing back in with us on staff in a couple of months.
Until then, we offer our gratitude to you, the Church, for your offers of help for the parish. You have come forward to lead music during Masses, organize and arrange for Children’s Liturgy of the Word, Sacramental Preparation for First Communion and Confirmation. Also, to the Proto Cathedral of St. James and St. Joseph’s parish for welcoming our OCIA and OCIC candidates with open arms. As we go about the expected restructuring that comes with Partners in the Gospel, we will be reminded again and again that the Church is far more than the buildings sheltering us.
Scrolling through Pinterest, I came across the endearing photograph (above) captioned: “We are all just walking each other Home”. The capital H in the word Home, meant to remind us that our true Home is Heaven, and we are all on the path being guided by each other. This image fully represents Pope Benedict’s sentiment that we, the Church, are filled with men and women whose hearts stretch out in hope and love to Christ.
Thank you for the ways you lead me, and others, Home.