Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Do You Stay?

Happy Monday to you all.

Yesterday, my pastor began his homily by telling us that the Second Sunday of Easter is sometimes referred to as "Low Sunday." Then he added his own twist, saying that sometimes it is also known as "Low Attendance Sunday." He likened the fact that so many were in the hall the week before and now were no longer there, to the fact that Thomas was not there with the other disciples when Christ first appeared after the resurrection. He then went on to talk about the wounds of Christ and then talked about the current state of our wounded, sinful Church.

I remember mentioning the phrase "sinful Church" at one point on the pages of this blog. Someone responded with words like, "You cannot use that phrase because the Church is the spotless Bride of Christ." Well, it seems these days that the spotless Bride is in quite a sad state of affairs. We could go on and on about the almost daily news reports (some horribly misleading; others right on the mark) about the ongoing sexual abuse scandal and the coverups. I want to add my own word of lament and extreme disappointment with just one small facet of this whole sad episode. And I get riled up about this probably because I am still a Bostonian at heart. This has to do with what the Vatican did with the resigned-in-disgrace Archbishop of Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law. As you know, after his resignation, and after a short period spent in prayer, he was appointed the Archpriest of Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome. I still can't even write those words or speak them without a sense of distaste. I don't want to cast the first stone here, but this appointment just seems to be a sinful act to me. Of course, it doesn't affect my day-to-day life as a Roman Catholic. There are too many mouths to feed to wallow in my own disappointment and lament. I wonder sometimes if there will come a time when I reach a tipping point with all of this.

Father Anthony Ruff has an intriguing "Why I Stay: A Liturgical Reflection" over on PrayTell. You can find it here. I think it's a good thing to ask the question—Why do I stay?—in these troubling times. My answer came yesterday when I was welcomed back from the piano bench (after my six week stint as the interim music director) to "my" side of the parish hall (our current space for worship) at St. James. Those made in God's image and likeness embraced me once again. I tasted a little bit more of the heavenly banquet yesterday. When we lifted our voices in song at the end of the liturgy, I was given just a little more of the traveling music on the road to heaven: "I'm so glad Jesus lifted me, singing Glory Hallelujah, Jesus lifted me. Satan had me bound, Jesus lifted me, singing Glory Hallelujah, Jesus lifted me. When I was in trouble, Jesus lifted me, singing Glory Hallelujah, Jesus lifted me." Sounds like a fitting theme song these days, yes?

Why do you stay?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Diezba said...

As Peter said to Jesus, "To whom else shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life."

I converted to the Catholic Church in Easter 2009. I stay, because we follow Christ, not the Christians. Jesus never said he would protect the bishops' ethical behavior or the ethical behavior of anybody in the Church. We're promised that the Holy Spirit will protect us from erroneous teaching on the Faith.

And the Catholic Faith is why I stay. Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus. Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia..

Anonymous said...


You took the words right out of my mouth. The homily at yesterday's Mass (EF) was about bringing the truth to the world...not being afraid to tell others when they are wrong and pronouncing loudly the truth that is only proclaimed by the One True Church. We do nobody any good by allowing them to continue in error.

The Church is just fine...always has been and always will be. We are the ones at fault for the problems we find ourselves in today. But the solution is THROUGH the Church, not by going outside of it. As you said above Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus.

I have though lately wondered about which people might leave under the circumstances, and then I think back to Joseph Ratzingers prediction of a smaller but more Orthodox Church in the future. Hmmm....could it be that the less orthodox would be more likely to leave when the going gets rough?

Jerry Galipeau, D. Min. said...

Hello Anonymous,

Just wondering about the ecclesiology at work here. You say:

"The Church is just fine...always has been and always will be. We are the ones at fault for the problems we find ourselves in today."

It seems you make a distinction between "the Church" and "we."

Who is the Church and who are we?

Aren/t they one and the same?


Anonymous said...


"We are the Church" is a children's song. The sense in which "we are the church" is very different from the recognition of the Church as the eternal and perfect institution founded by Christ on the Apostles. The truth would be better seen as "we are part of the Church today at this time". But the Church is not the "sum of us".....