The Mission’s final word

The term was used to describe the various communities of followers springing up around the world. St. Augustine used this term in his two great works of theology “Confessions” (394) and “City of God” (410). The church had major splits in the 5th century and 11th Century; yet the term Catholic stuck to those who were loyal to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope).

It was in the 17th Century that the term Catholic became an official part of the church and used in official documents.

Yes, the church has evolved. Our Cultural context is relevant.

Who among us would wear sackcloth clothes into our church as a sign that we are sinners seeking the baptism of faith?

Who among us would publically confess our sins to all in the congregation, declaring our humanity and our search for forgiveness to the entire community?

We don’t do these things today. We accept ashes prior to Lent in order to publically display our faith and our status as sinners. We seek the sacrament of reconciliation, and we pray directly to our God in Christ’s name for the forgiveness of sins.

Not one of us has all the answers. But we know that change has occurred in the past, and we should be ready to accept change even to demand it from our church in the future. The issues that plague us are known: War and Politics; Corruption, both in and outside the church; Women’s roles in the church; Alternate sexuality in society; Celibacy of our priest; and a host of other social issues that affect our lives. The church is not an Island that is separate from society, but it often serves us as our sanctuary against the immorality of society, reminding us of our faith and commitment.

In fulfilling the request of the mission, we realize, we must cling to the Divine; absorbing as much of the truth of Christ words and teachings as possible, but reading these and knowing them are not enough. We must translate these into works.

We are not all meant to be Priest. We are not all meant to be Catechist, or to start a charity, which will feed millions. Some of us are meant to lend an ear, say a kind word, hold a hand, and provide a shoulder.

When asked to summarize what it means to be Catholic, one of my students said it best “To seek and accept the love of God and to Love our neighbors as ourselves.” I hope the mission has made us all more willing to make this a part of our daily life.