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Our Crucified Church

by Catherine Doherty

I love the Church with a tremendous love. I love the Church with just as passionate a love as I love God.

You cannot love Jesus Christ without loving his Church, and the Church is in agony today. The Church is being crucified, torn apart, by her own people.

Yet our hope is immutable. Christ said, Nothing will prevail against me (cf. Mt 16:18). He is here, though these days evil may seem stronger than good.

The Church is going through terrible times. We are being humiliated, call it being forced into the catacombs again, or not. Are we ready?

How can we prepare? I think our preparation is love.

And learning how to die. But how do you learn how to die?

We can be martyrs that sow the seeds of faith for tomorrow. But at the same time, I think that if we are icons of Christ, imitating him, we may avert certain situations. Living a life of gospel poverty is part of preparing, of safeguarding yourself.

We are called to restore the Church. It came to me that God is purifying all of us, so that we might help the Church.

To consider that people can uphold the Church is absurd, but I think that that is what God is asking of us. But God can make the impossible, possible. We need to prepare inwardly through prayer.

How can we restore the Church, bring it again to what it should be—instead of something lying on the road that anybody kicks around and has another idea about?

We should be Good Samaritans. We should open the inns of our hearts and take the Church in.

Restoring the Church means to restore ourselves, we who are part of the Church.

Restore ourselves, as God wants us to be restored, so that each one of us becomes an icon of Christ.

People will follow us, simply because we are an image of Christ—not because we’re intelligent or beautiful but because in our eyes will be the face of Christ; our heart will act according to Christ’s commands and so will we.

Restoring the Church is restoring the family, the community, so that all should see Christ’s image in us through our love of one another.

There are amongst us men and women who are intensely lonely, who are in great need, but if we are only interested in ourselves, in our little aches and pain, our this and that, we may not even notice that our neighbor—or a member of our family—is lonely.

How shall we approach the Church? With a tenderness that a mother has when she holds her newborn baby in her arms. With a love as passionate as that of all the lovers in the world.

With the humility that realizes that I am a member of this Church that I may be talking negatively about; that I am a member of the mystery that was born when Christ died—born out of his side, in a manner of speaking.

I approach the Church knowing it is weak. Today the Church is like the man in the Gospel besieged by brigands, by those who attack her. Many wounds are inflicted on her by us. She lies there prostrated.

Tenderly pick her up and bring her into the “inn” of your soul.

If you really love her deeply, you will lay down your life for her. A mother protects her child at the expense of her life. So a Christian protects his Church, and takes the consequences.

The Church will survive. I foresee that we may have to face that we are in the minority; but in the midst of that minority Christ stands, asking us not to be afraid, not to be worried, because he—in fact, the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is really renewing the Church and the people of God.

The Church has gone through many tremendous and difficult periods. Do not imagine that it will not survive this current period.

Christ works in a strange fashion. On the one hand, he calls: “Come, follow me. Let us fight injustice; let us fight misery; let us fight poverty.” And, though we can use all kinds of ways of fighting these, ultimately it’s always a peaceful effort; Christ does not throw bombs.

On the other hand, he says: “Be patient. Stiff-necked men have been working at destroying my Church for generations. Don’t join them. You are the Church.

“Act the way you want the other fellow to act, in this Church of mine.”

So, be at peace. The Church will come back out of the waters of an eternal “baptism” in which seemingly the Church dies and the Church resurrects.

Do not fear. The Church is the Bride of Christ, the spouse of God’s Son—worth living and dying for. The Church absolves us, like a mother absolves a child.

The Church is all around us, covering us with her mantle. The Church is the Bride of God—glorious but sinful. The Mystical Body of Christ is still worth living and dying for.

Excerpted and adapted from Mystical Body of Christ, (2013), pp. 110-115, available from MH Publications