Sunday, February 26, 2012

Under God's Roof

It makes me sad & even a little angry to think that Catholicism gets such a bad rap because no one knows what its actually about. Not many will take the time to lay aside what they think they know & read the Catechism, attend Mass, talk to a priest or an actual practicing Catholic. Fewer still will consider the Rosary or study church history.

Many think the Catholic Church has set itself up as an authority. What right do they have to tell me such & such? Keep the church out of my home, my body, my bedroom. Some even go so far as to shut the Church out of their life. But what these folks don't realize is that the Church wasn't set up on some elaborate, centuries old conspiracy theory. Some power tripping group of guys bent on ruling the world didn't launch out & just start some movement. The Church was set up by Christ Himself, who ordained Peter & the other apostles to carry the message to the world. They were the first pastors of the first "church" & they passed their authority onto successors. All authority in heaven & on earth was given to Jesus, which He also gave to them. Therefore, (I believe) the Church is a spiritual authority which exists by God's will. When Its leaders follow God wholeheartedly, the Church provides a tangible parental model. While its true that most kids don't appreciate the rules & discipline a good parent offers, if that parent makes sure to under gird all they do with unconditional love, their children are more likely to respect that authority, even if they don't like how it feels.

As long as I am under the authority of God's roof, I'm required to abide by His "rules". What happens to a kid who slacks off or rebels? Maybe there's grace, maybe there's discipline. Instead of being a spiritual runaway or considering myself a no good lump of snow covered dung (as Luther once suggested), I can "have access to the facilities" & be renewed daily... but only as long as I remain under God's roof. Rather than being left to my own devices, I can feel safe within the structure of the Church- tangibly & spiritually- because God loves me without condition & only seeks my good. My definition of "good" may not look like His though... Sometimes "good" comes with a yoke & a burden to bear. But Jesus said His yoke is easy, His burden is light.

I think one of the main turnoffs to Catholicism is this issue of authority. Everyone wants to be autonomous & strong. Being subject to someone implies weakness, powerlessness, vulnerability. But autonomy only serves to isolate us from God's love. It can even be a form of rebellion. Doesn't God oppose the proud & give grace to the humble? Doesn't God say when we are weak, He is strong? And doesn't He tell us to rend our hearts, not our garments? Why are we so opposed to submission to authority? Because we can't trust it? Because we fear we'll lose our freedom? Even if the Church is under the jurisdiction of fallible human beings, if God is the authority by which It exists, can't I trust that He'll watch over me?

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