Synodal Aspirations: The Church We Need
As part of the oddly named and conceived Synod on Synodality, dioceses across the country are embarking on a series of “Listening Sessions,” designed to gather feedback from the faithful that will then be passed on to Rome. If other dioceses experiences are anything like my own, these “Listening Sessions” will too often become forums for an older generation of Catholics to advocate for changes to Church teaching on subject like contraception, divorce and remarriage, and same-sex marriage. The Church, it is demanded, must change her teaching to suit modern desires, interests, and priorities.
A basic set of questions seems to be standard at these listening sessions:
What are your aspirations for the Church today?
What do you need from the Church in your life?
How can the Church support you?
What is your experience of the Church?
What impact do you want the Church to have in the World?
Presented as deeply meaningful and complex questions that may elicit a range of answers, the only real answer is quite simple and obvious.
We need the Church to be what it exists to be: the Body of Christ that exists to draw all men to that Body. We need priests and bishops to be what they were ordained to be: preachers of the Gospel and Christ crucified, baptizing all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We need the Church to stop the continuous babble about “listening” and preach the Gospel!
We need the Church to be what it exists to be, so I can be I am called to be, a husband and father, passing the Faith to my children. Yet, as old rule goes, nemo dare potest quod non habet, no one can give what he doesn’t have. How can families and parents preach the faith if the Church will not? How can we be expected to live the hard truths of the faith if the Church will not even teach them to the faithful for fear of offending the unfaithful? If I am to pass the faith to my children, the Church must pass it to me, the hard parts as well as the easy.
And I receive the faith, not like a child receiving play-doh, to be shaped and molded according to my own illicit desires and own fallen nature. Rather, I receive the Faith in trust, as a pearl of great price, to be handed on as such. I do not stand in judgment of the Faith, its history, Tradition, and doctrines. They are the standard against which we measure ourselves. They stand in judgment of me.
Fulton Sheen once told the story of an American tourist at the Louvre. When asked how he enjoyed the paintings, he ridiculed them, saying he found nothing there to admire. An annoyed security guard replied firmly: “These paintings are not on trial, you are!”
Let the Church preach the Faith, the hard words as well as the easy; let it be what it is called to be, so that I may be what I am called to be, so that someday, when both the Church and I stand before the Just Judge, we may say with St. Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have run the race, I have kept the faith.
Long Live Christ the King!