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Can We Really 'Shop' For a Church?

9/2/2005 - 5:50 AM PST

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By: Deacon Keith A. Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online

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“Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty he sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His side. From the wound in Christ’s side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His bride”

Origen, Early Church father

“We need to take refuge with the Church, to drink milk at her breast, to be fed with the scriptures of the Lord. For the Church has been planted in the world as a paradise” Iranaeus of Lyons

"He cannot have God for his father who has not the church for his mother"

Cyprian of Carthage, Early Church Father

“In the Risen Christ, in his glorified body, in the very opening of His wounds, it is no longer death that reigns but the Spirit, the Breath of Life. And the cross of victory and of light, which is the pattern of our baptism, can henceforth transform the most desperate situation into a death-and-resurrection, a ‘Passover’, a crossing-point on the way to eternity.

And that is what the Church, this profoundly holy institution is: it is the baptismal womb, the Eucharistic chalice, the breach made for eternity by the Reurerestion in the hellish lid of the fallen world. The Church is the Mystery of the Risen Lord, the place, and the only one, where separation is completely overcome; where paschal joy, the ‘feast of feasts’, the triumph over death and hell are offered to our freedom, enabling it to become creative and work towards the final manifestation of that triumph, the final transfiguration of history and the universe. …In its deepest understanding the Church is nothing other than the world in the course of transfiguration”

Olivier Clement, Orthodox theologian and author

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Introduction

I was traveling back from Richmond, Virginia after having served as a weekend deacon at St. Benedicts. I was especially tired and facing a two hour drive back home. So, I turned on the radio to listen to someone talking to me. Most of us know the drill, in order to pass the time and avoid “nodding off” on the road, we listen to “talk radio”. I found a program on Public Radio which I hoped would keep me awake on the drive. It did much more. It opened my eyes and moved my heart. It reveals a hunger that is not being satisfied and a desperate need for the Church to become what she is and open her doors to the world waiting to be reborn.

Shopping for a Church?

The program, a special presentation of a P.B.S. series entitled “All Things Considered”, was dedicated to examining the growth of what is called the “Mega Church” movement in a segment of Western Protestant Christianity. The title of the program was “Big Churches Use Technology to Branch Out.” It focused specifically on a trend toward building “Satellite” churches which have the messages delivered to their assembly over video conference.

The reporter visited several Protestant “mega churches” who were participating in this “new” technological approach and noted some commonalities among them. For example, most have eschewed much of what they perceive as “formalism”. The people being interviewed in the first part of the program were in the very facilities that house these groups. Some of these facilities were built by the groups and some were leased, either from a commercial developer or a former Church.

The appearance of the facilities was another common point; they had no interest in creating what they perceived as “churchy” looking environments. One group boasted of covering over the stained glass windows left from a prior occupant of their facility in order to place the video screen in front of them.

The reporter interviewed several people attending these “services”. They extolled the fact that they were able to obtain coffee as they entered the facility. While speaking with the reporter, they took their lattes and cappuccinos into the main auditorium of the “Church”. There, they listened to a band that could be heard as the background of the interview. The music was contemporary in its sound.

One couple spoke to the reporter of their fatigue with past church experiences and how they longed for something more “alive” and “fulfilling”. They spoke of the attending these “new” churches, where the “message” is actually presented over video monitors, as the answer to “their needs”.

One person being interviewed commented that watching the “messages” was like “watching TV”. He claimed that the content of the messages helped him to be more successful in his business and experience a more fulfilling life. He later added that he and his wife liked attending this service by video because it “kept their children interested” One telling line came ...

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