A New Missionary Age: The Year that was and the Year that will be are a Prelude.
We need a new Christian foundation for the West. The Catholic Church is in the first stage of a new missionary age.
Pope Benedict’s summons to Europe to return to her Christian roots in order to rebuild herself - and his commendation of some of the philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment ( as evident in his visit and his locutions while on our shores) - are both oriented toward the same end. He is encouraging the building of a truly just civil and social order by proposing the Christian vision of the person, the family and the common good as the foundation for authentic and responsible freedom.
We live in an age when many, including some Catholics, have a view of the Church that falls short of what the Gospels and the ancient faith claim. They view the Church as an organization which we came up with - to study the bible, or to pray or to do good works. Though all three efforts are commendable, they do not define the nature of the Church. The Church is the Risen Body of Christ, a sacramental reality. The Church is not some – thing, but some – One. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and we are members of His Body. The ancient Christians would have never considered a Christianity which spoke in terms such as “I do not need the Church, I have Jesus”. Christianity is not “me and Jesus”, it is “me (and you) in Jesus”, now made, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “partakers of the Divine Nature”. We become members of His Body through Baptism. In Him we are joined in an eternal communion with all who have also been baptized into Him. We are all called to live in the Church.
This is more than an allegory, this is a reality. The Church makes the Risen Christ present on the earth by carrying forward in time His redemptive mission until he comes. Through her proclamation and demonstration of his Word - and by providing through her Sacraments the grace that we need - she enables us to grow more fully into His Image and Likeness for the sake of the world. The Church is God’s plan for the whole human race. All men and women are called to find their home in the One Church of Christ. The early Father’s were fond of referring to the Church with phrases such as the world reconciled or the world in the course of transfiguration. She is a communion wherein we participate, even now, in the Trinitarian communion. She is the seed of the Kingdom to come and makes that Kingdom present in the here and now. She is the soul of the world and animates that world by her very presence.
Similarly, the teaching office (magisterium) of the Church is the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord to guide us in all truth by His Holy Spirit. It is not - as some seem to think, including sadly some poorly catechized Catholic politicians - old men in Rome with pointy hats somehow imposing rules. Rather, the promise of Christ is proven true; He has not left us orphans, he continues to guide us into all truth. The Bishops are the successors of the Apostles. The Pope really is the successor of Peter and the principle of unity. The Holy Spirit works through the Church because Jesus Christ is alive and continues His Incarnational and saving mission through His Body.
Because of this understanding of the Church I believe that what is most important in 2009 is what happened in the Church. The collapse of the West will not be remedied by any political party or philosophy. In the United States, gripped by the lies of a culture of death and use, we do not need a “conservative revolution” as some pundits maintain. We need a Christian revolution. It was the Christian Church which gave us the understanding of the dignity of every human person because we are created in the Image of God. From that came the understanding that we all possess fundamental human rights. Yes, the American founders carried such a notion into a bold experiment in ordered liberty but they did not come up with it on their own. They derived it from Western civilization and the influence of Christendom. That is the the influence of the Church. That is also why the seemingly inevitable collapse of the West can be averted, but only through the resurgence of the Church in the Third Millennium. It is the Church which is the vehicle for true progress. Christianity is the antidote to the descent into a new barbarism arising out of the neo-paganism currently masquerading as liberation.
The Lord who founded His Church did not intend for it to be divided. We are responsible for that. We have been created in His Image. That includes our capacity to exercise our human freedom. Unfortunately, we are still affected by the first wrong choice, it is called sin, and we repeat it over and over. That is also why we continually need the Lord - and why the Church is so important because she is His Body. The Church must manifest her four marks, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, in our ...
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