Today in history class, we reviewed the fall of the Soviet Union. The teacher showed pictures of the various statues of Stalin & Lenin on the ground. We also revisited the fall of the Berlin wall. I was barely out of junior high when all this happened & remembered how amazing it was to see such things "live" on television. History & the geography of the world changed before my eyes.
The thought came to me that with revolution of any sort, something inevitably has to fall... whether its the government, the monuments or the mindset... it all goes. If anything remains, it becomes a history lesson, a museum piece, a tourist destination.
I admit, I also thought about Catholicism & the various iconoclast movements throughout church history. People have often thought of the Catholic "government" as oppressive, its images as idolatry or its mindsets as unreasonable. Funny thing is, the Catholic church remains. Why is that? If one managed to be successful in stripping the churches of their statues, their icons or their gold, would there still be a Catholic church? What if there were no Pope, no priests, no Mass... would there still be a Catholic church? Isn't the Eucharist the source & summit of the Catholic faith? If Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, what happens in the absence of consecrated elements?
The Catholic church remains because the real power isn't in wafers or wine made by human hands. It isn't even in the money or the Magisterium. Its in Christ, Who is seated at the Right Hand of the Father. Its in Christ, who lives in the hearts of those who believe. The elements are a gift to us... like the crucifixion wounds Thomas once touched. The absence of wounds wouldn't negate the truth of Christ's death & resurrection, but I believe they remained as proof for our sake. How much more do the elements, icons & even government of the Catholic church remain for our sake?