Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Wound in the Body of Christ

The recent debate and subsequent legislative action by congress on health care reform has exposed a wound in the Church which is deep and harmful to the Body of Christ. In a local newspaper in Stark County, the block quote highlighted this wound with words to the effect of “Catholic bishops, religious, and health care professionals at odds over health care.” Such a statement gives the impression to the general public that the Church is a free-for-all, a smorgasbord, and that it is perfectly acceptable to believe what you want all the while remaining “Catholic.” Furthermore, such a statement makes it seem that the Church is a loose collection of people who believe all sorts of different things, people who are “at odds” with each other, people who “agree to disagree.” However, what is at stake is not a matter of opinion or agreeable disagreement. Rather, the issues at hand are fundamental truths about the human person and religious values essential to the Catholic Tradition.

Those who supported the Senate version of the Health Care Bill, contrary to the USCCB’s urgent directives, are “at odds” with the teaching authority of the Church. The Catholic Health Care Association and the religious who make up the Leadership Conference of Women Religious are not only “at odds” with the bishops but with the truth about the sanctity of life and the dignity of every human person’s conscience. The USCCB, which manifested the consistent teaching of Christ and the Church, and the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious, who confidently supported the bishops, are truly at the heart of the Church.

This wound is not new. Yet the pain of it is again felt as we witness religious and health care professionals within our own Church take positions contrary to the Church’s teaching authority and to the authentic good of the human person. In the Gospel reading from last Saturday, Saint John writes “A division occurred…because of Him.” Today there is a division, not only because of Church teachings and moral concepts, but because of Christ Himself. As Pope Benedict XVI has said, Christianity is not merely a code of ethics or a philosophy but an encounter with a person: Jesus Christ! Within the Church there are those who have encountered Christ and say “yes” to Him in all things and in all people, and there are those who harden their hearts to the voice of Christ, which resonates in His Church’s teaching and which cries out in the unborn and vulnerable of our society.

Politically, much will be done in response to the decision made yesterday. Spiritually speaking, there is much to be done as well. The wound in the Body of Christ caused by division over the truth is perhaps more harmful than any legislation, for it scandalizes, confuses, and weakens the Church’s mission to lead all people to God. As people of faith, we need to challenge each other and those around us to lay aside egos and ideologies which keep us “at odds” with the truth – about ourselves, about our faith, about our society, about Christ! Only when we unite around His truth can we then be a beacon of hope and an instrument of change in our world. We may be disappointed not to be part of a grand sweeping change. We may not see all the ideologues defeated. Yet, if all we do is to bring one wayward soul back to the truth of the Catholic faith, we have been the hand of God. Souls who know and love the truth can work miracles. We can heal even a small part of the wound in Christ’s body left by those among our ranks who have abandoned the truth as we lovingly share that truth with all we meet.

A popular radio commentator lamented today that there may no longer be a pro-life Church, for the Catholic Church is infected by liberals who want to change and destroy it. Of course, Christ is always with His Church, guaranteeing by the power of His Holy Spirit that she possesses and leads us into all truth. The Church is pro-life! At the same time, there is indeed an infection in her – an infection caused by scandalous ideologues who neither proclaim the truth nor speak with the authentic voice of the Church but who instead spread the poison of lies and deception. People’s understanding of the Church, the sacrificial priesthood, the Eucharist, the Sacraments, the Commandments, life, love, marriage, uality, and so on, is confused – because Catholics have not told the truth for far too long. The wound is infected. The infection is spreading.

And yet there are antibodies on the move. There are signs of new life, of hope, of growth. Solid Catholic colleges, young orthodox priests, the pro-life movement, the leadership of the popes since Vatican II – Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, faithful writers and journalists, liturgical renewal, marvelous growth in seminary formation, the bishops’ initiative on marriage. All these and more serve as signs that the Body of Christ is alive!

We are called to be healers of the wounds and confident sharers in the love and truth of Jesus, who has given us new life in His Paschal Mystery. Live in the heart of the Church! Stand with Christ! “Where there is Peter, there is the Church.” We stand with Peter, with the Magisterium. The Church is not at odds with Christ. She is one with Him always. Be where Christ is, where Peter is, and thus live in the heart of the Church. Within the heart of the Church, share the love and truth of Jesus with the world. Bring healing to the Body of Christ with the salve of His Love and Truth. This is our task in these days.

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