Thursday, April 5, 2012

Look for the Church

When I wrote my previous post, I removed a quotation from the end, for fear of making it too long. (In fact, I added it, and then removed it, and forgot to remove that third footnote.) The reason for removing it was not that I had found it to be irrelevant, but that since it is one of my favorite passages by Fulton Sheen, I decided to save it for later so as to give it more attention in a post of its own.

It has been almost a month since that post on having faith in God and the Church (which I wrote for the topic of counseling the doubtful, part of a Lenten series about spiritual works of mercy). Lent is almost over. Today is Holy Thursday. It seems like an appropriate time to go back to thinking about that post, and connecting my additional thoughts to it.

Recently, Marc at "Bad Catholic" was discussing failed attempts to sabotage the Catholic Church. His clever response to the anti-Catholic New York Times advertisement pulls from a message of insensitivity and bigotry an admonition to "repent, and believe in the Gospel," a call for an examination of conscience, and a need to increase faith in the Church. Explaining why such attempts to dishearten the faithful ought not to discourage us, he concludes, "But the reasons our enemies are foaming at the mouth over the Church are the very reasons we embrace Her. . . . they remind us of how good, how true, and how beautiful the Bride of Christ is." His statement brings me to the same excerpt of an essay by Fulton Sheen that I had originally planned to post because I like it so much. 

Here is my continuation of my last post:

It is sometimes difficult to be outwardly Catholic, especially in the face of mainstream culture.  We are confronted by a culture that is not only secular, but often outright anti-Catholic.  Perhaps it may be said that the Church does not "get along well with the world," or that it may be "the Church the world hates" (1).  Fulton Sheen tells us, though, that these are not characteristics of the Church that should cause us to fear it. On the contrary, they tell us why we ought to courageously seek it:

My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which, in seasons of bigotry, men say must be destroyed in the name of God as men crucified Christ and thought they had done a service to God. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because He called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which is rejected by the world as Our Lord was rejected by men. Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its Voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself. But only that which is Divine can be infinitely hated and infinitely loved. Therefore the Church is Divine.

(1)Fulton Sheen, Preface to Radio Replies Volume 1, Catholic Apologetics Online: Radio Replies.  (accessed March 9, 2012).
[I encourage you to follow the link and read the whole preface. There are too many things that I would love to quote, especially the last paragraph of it.]

See also:
I also like this blog post by Alexander Pruss, in which he applies C.S. Lewis's "Lord/liar/lunatic" argument about Jesus's divinity to the divinity of the Church. Found here:


  1. I often reflect with amazement that despite the history of the Church and the people who have at times led out of selfishness or lust for power, she still survives, and thrives. This Easter 100,000 new Catholics were welcomed into the Church through baptism. Amazing!
    The voice of the New Evangelization calls us to precisely this- to take our love for Christ and our vocation as His bride out to the culture, so that others may look past the crumbling walls or ancient dogmas and see - no longer the oppression of law- but rather the deep and shining beauty that comes from the freedom of knowing the Person who is the Truth.

    1. Well said, Christine. Thank you for commenting!