Love the Church and the Pope

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Rev. Fr. Roy Cimagala

Candidly Speaking

WE need to be more conscious and skillful in our Christian duty to love the Church and the Pope. This cannot be taken for granted anymore, especially these days when the world is developing in a very rapid pace that often leaves behind our spiritual and religious responsibilities.

            The Church is nothing other than the people of the God, gathered together at the cost of his own life on the cross by Christ. This is because we from the beginning are meant to be God’s people, members of his family, partakers of his divine life.

            We have to understand that this gathering of the people of God is not achieved merely by some political, social or economic maneuverings. It is a gathering that is described as “communion,” where our heart and mind work in sync with the mind and will of God.

            It is a communion where the love of God for us is corresponded to by our love for him. And this is done not only individually by each one of us, but also collectively, all of us together in an organic way. Thus, we need to need to help one another in this common, universal concern.

            At the moment, the common understanding that many people have about the Church and their duty toward the Pope is far from perfect and functional. If ever there is such concern, it is limited to the sentimental or some mystical feelings that hardly have any external and, much less, internal effects.

We have to know the real nature of the Church, going beyond its historical and cultural character, or its visible aspect, because right now we need to do a lot of explaining, clarifying and defending the role of the Church in our life.

            Knowing it requires nothing less than faith which God himself gives us in abundance. We need to go beyond our own human estimations of it, no matter how brilliant or smart these estimations are. We need faith that is lived in charity.

            In fact, we need to have the universal inclusiveness of charity to be able to capture what the Holy Spirit wants us to know about the Church. Remember St. Paul saying:

            “Charity is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful. It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

            We need to be wary of our tendency to know and clarify the nature and life of the Church, to create a certain so-called orthodoxy that leads us to be exclusive rather than inclusive with the inclusiveness of charity.

            The Church is the mystical body of Christ, with Christ as the head, and all of us incorporated to it in various and often mysterious ways. The usual ways of incorporating ourselves to it is through baptism, and the bond nourished through the other sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, the doctrine of our faith and obedience to our hierarchy.

            But there are other ways that only God knows and can explain very well. We can only have glimpses of them and they often escape cut and dry explanations. Just the same, we need to understand that we have the duty to understand the nature and life of the Church.

            There is, for example, the need to distinguish and then integrate its seemingly contrasting characteristics and dimensions, like the visible and invisible aspects, the hierarchical and charismatic, the human and divine, the eternal and the historical…

            This is important to ward off unnecessary misunderstandings and controversies that have hounded all of us, raising a lot of dust in the process when the truth can easily be found when this dust settles down.

            The Church on earth is the people of God still in a journey, still in a pilgrimage. As such it is at once holy and in need of purification.

            St. Bonaventure describes it as the dawn that has passed the night of sinfulness and is entering into the day of grace, but is not yet completely there. It is still in the mixture of darkness and light, night and day.

            It would be good if all of us just try to develop in a conscious way a great and realistic love for the Church and the Pope who, with the power given to him, connects us with Peter and ultimately with Christ.

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