My wife

On my way to Church the other day, I saw a sign at the corner of Pomona and Riverton Road which says or rather asks “Single?” Then, it lists a website: I am living in Cinnaminson and I am single. That could apply to me.

But, I realized that I am already married. Not to Jesus, because we are of the same sex. Not to Mary either, because she is our mother. I am married to the Church. And what a marriage it is.

This is my love story. I started to like her when I was only 12 years old. That was the time when I entered the seminary. Then for another 12 years, I wooed and courted her. She was a tough lady. When I was ordained his priest more than 18 years ago, there was a reception party after, but there was no honeymoon. Over the years, I consider myself blessed and lucky to have her as my wife, because her most endearing quality is that she does not talk back.

We celebrate today the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. In November 9, 324 A.D., Pope Sylvester I dedicated a land owned by the Laterani Family to be the mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world. It became the residence of the popes for more than a thousand years and is the cathedral Church of Rome. Not St. Peter’s Basilica.

Remembering the dedication of this basilica is remembering the Church we belong to. It is a timely reminder for us as a faith community to be aware of our calling as Catholics. There were parts of this Church which later broke away and were called Protestants, but it was Jesus Christ who founded our Church.

If there is no salvation for us without Christ and if without the Church, we will never know Christ, then it follows that there is no salvation without the Church. Just like Mary whose last recorded words were: “Do whatever He tells you,” so is the Church pointing beyond herself to Christ.

The Church exists to teach us about Christ and to show us how it is to be Christ. If there are some people who prefer teaching the Church than the Church teaching them, if there are some people who favor worshiping the Church than the Church sanctifying them, if there are some people who like directing the Church than the Church leading them, then the Catholic Church is not for them.

There are plenty of other churches that would fit them. There are churches that welcome theologies without miracles and wonder, churches that accept moralities without restrictions and absolutes, and churches that favor liturgies without adoration and sacrifice. Not this Catholic Church.

Every time we go to a Sunday Mass, we profess the marks of our being Church. We are one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. We are one because we have one Lord, one faith and one baptism. We are one because we have profession of one faith received from the Apostles, one common celebration of divine worship, especially the sacraments and through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, one line of apostolic succession.

We have a holy Church because our doctrine, our moral principles and our sacraments are from Christ. As the perfect Head, Christ is perfectly holy. We are Catholic, which means universal, because we are one in many and spread over many places on earth. We are apostolic because of our mission, our being sent to preach the Good News that Christ has died, has risen and will come again.

Listen to what my old father-in-law, the late John Paul II wrote five years before he died: “To what extent have the sons and daughters of the Church been shaped by the climate of secularism and ethical relativism? And what responsibility do they bear, in view of the increasing lack of religion, for not having shown the true face of God, by having "failed in their religious, moral, or social life"?

How can we remain silent about the religious indifference which causes many people today to live as if God did not exist, or to be content with a vague religiosity, incapable of coming to grips with the question of truth and the requirement of consistency? To this must also be added the widespread loss of the transcendent sense of human life, and confusion in the ethical sphere, even about the fundamental values of respect for life and the family.

It cannot be denied that, for many Christians, the spiritual life is passing through a time of uncertainty which affects not only their moral life but also their life of prayer and the theological correctness of their faith. And with respect to the Church of our time, should we not also regret, among the shadows of our own day, the responsibility shared by so many Christians for grave forms of injustice and exclusion? It must be asked how many Christians really know and put into practice the principles of the Church's social doctrine.”

Today’s Feast is not only a reminder of our being Catholic. It is also an examination of our conscience, a confrontation of our faith, and a challenge to our lives.

9 November 2008

1 comment:

Canadian Friends said...

A very beautiful love story father with an absolutely happy ending, a lifetime of happiness, compromises, faithfulness, and moreover passion.

Nanay Tildeng and Mary Anne