I BELIEVE IN ONE HOLY, UNIVERSAL AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH
‘Yes, I believe in one, holy, universal and apostolic Church and I will not join the proud who are accusing it, because I remember only its goodness!’ (Andre Frossard)
Criticism of the Church today is a particular task of media, the most important news on the front pages. The topic are various moral scandals – alleged or real, wealth of the Church – rather imaginary than realistic. It is impossible to include even an important cardinal or a bishop into the group of the richest people in a particular country. And the world is rich among various spheres of the society. Journalists earn more than professors at universities, similarly as governing people, big business, supervisory boards and not only. The rule of legitimate property is the fact that it should derive from work. But is it really so in Poland? Calls of the Holy Father Francis are heard but rich people do not refer them to themselves. They refer them to the hierarchy of the Church.
The Church is a community of believers and it can be understood from the faith and Christ. ‘As Father sent Me, so am I sending you’ (J 20.21). ‘Who is listening to you, he is listening to Me’ (Lucas 10.16). The Church is in ministry for God’s reign, is a tool of this reign. It is fulfilling its tasks well, sometimes in a poor way, and sometimes even in a wrong way. For, it is Divine and human. It is holy and sinful. It is holy only because Christ lives in the Church. ‘Christ loved the Church and gave himself to sanctify it’ (Ephesians 5.25). It is holy because its basic task is to lead people to holiness. People who managed to meet this requirement, are saints. They are aware of their weakness and sinfulness. Others say: ‘I do not commit sins, I have not killed anybody, I have not robbed anybody, so why do I need a confession, why do I need God?’, but we all are sinners, if we want to evaluate ourselves in a real way. The question is – do we want it?
The Church is a great mystery. God gave weak people the authority to forgive sins and the authority at Eucharist – their Body. Priests forgive sins, being aware of their sinfulness. God is strong, and people are weak. Christ came and called the weak. Apostles were weak people but they became saints, giving their life for Christ and for their brothers. The Gospel tells us about the weakness of the Apostles, Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal, about quarrels about priority. We read in Apostolic Letters that in the Church of the first centuries there were abuses and betrayals. But the Church survived because ‘hell’s gates will not prevail it’ (Mt 16.18). The Church is holy and also requires constant purification.
Does the Church meet God’s expectations? It is a big group of sinners! But the man is a road of the Church (‘Redemptor hominis’, 14). People will always be a trouble. In every man there is a clash of the good and the bad – desire of good and its poor implementation. ‘Christ came to look for the weak and the sinful’ (see Mt 9.13). ‘Not those who are healthy need a doctor but those who are ill’ (Mk 2.17). Therefore, Christ puts up with the weak, even if they bring a lot of harm to the Church. Many did not recognize God in Christ, although he was sinless. It is much more difficult to see Him in the Church which is burdened with sins. And after all, He is present! And he loves His Church!
The Church is responsible for the Truth. In this responsibility it participates in the ministry of the Master (RH 18). In this difficult responsibility it becomes a ‘sign of opposition’. So, it is inconvenient, difficult – because demanding. And the Church cannot abandon a man in a fight for a man (see RH 14). It is fighting for salvation for ‘poor sinners’ (Fatima apparitions). ‘The Road of the Church is a road of constant repentance and renewal’ – Vatican Council II. The Church is still unfinished, because somebody is still joining it – the saints and the sinners. So, it will carry human weaknesses till the final times.
‘Looking backward today at the past events, we must state: it is not the Church of successful people which makes impression on us, not the Church of popes reigning in the world, not the Church of those who knew how to build special contacts with the world, but what is created by faith, what remained unchangeable, what gives us hope – it is the Church of sufferers. Till today it remains a sign of the fact that God exists and the man is not only a cloaca but he can be saved. It has been obligation since the times of martyrs from the first centuries till the times of Maksymilian Kolbe and many anonymous witnesses who gave their life for God at the times of dictatorship, when they either had to die or they were being destroyed year by year. The Church of sufferers testifies about Him, is a Divine success in the world; a sign from which the power of life still derives. It is coming beyond the way of thinking in the categories of a success and, in this way, it purifies the man, opens God the door to this world’ (Joseph Ratzinger ‘Eucharist. God near us’).
If I am looking at the Church with the eye of faith and the eye of history, it is only the Church which is a winner. Two thousand years ago it was a small group, today it has a milliard of members. The teaching of the Gospel remains unchanged, although philosophers and systems are changing.
I love the Church because it knows what are the recommendations of Lord. The Church can gives us Bread of Life. Its sign are the Saints. They do not fight the Church, are suffering because of sins of the Church, but they do not organize ‘small chapels’ on a side, do not reject ‘poor sinners’. because they got rid of their own priority.
‘Divine Institution, a mystery of faith, a boat and a traveler – who did not receive from you more than he will ever be able to give you anything?’ (Andre Frossard, ‘Credo’).