One of the lectures that we had on-the-record at the conference I recently attended was on the nature and mission of the Catholic Church. With the Synod on the Family starting tomorrow (read an AP story here), what could be more timely than sharing a few takeaways from this talk by Rev. Paul O’Callaghan?
The first stage of becoming Christian is about the individual and God, the second about the individual and the Church. Ideally the Church is both a product and a producer of Christians, and a family rather than a sect.
On the Church
The reality of the church is greater than the concept that we have of it, and for this reason we (especially journalists) must dig beyond the surface to discover the real story. The church, to believers, has both visible and invisible aspects, just as the body has the soul.
The church should not be fearful of change, because that is what sustains it. The church is a pilgrim; it adapts to situations and realities and is enriched by reality. It relates in different ways at different times. This struck me, as I read just this morning the Rolling Stone article from February titled “Pope Francis: the times they are a-changin’.” I think many people hope to see the Church change how she relates, especially on family issues. We’ll see if this hope is unfounded.
An aspect of change that I found especially interesting is the capacity of the Catholic Church to contain within it great figures and great movements, absorbing and nurturing them without a significant disruption. This is something in my opinion woefully lacking in Protestant movements. I’ve been reading recently about Opus Dei as well as intrachurch movements such as Focalare and Schoenstatt, many of which I didn’t know even existed. On the other hand, the Church doesn’t quite have this down, as evidenced by the fact that Protestantism exists.
The lifeblood of the church is mission.
What does it mean to be saved? To live in communion with God forever.
On Pope Frankie
O’Callaghan kept it short and sweet: “He’s really keeping us on our toes.”