The Universal Church
|The Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch|
Let that celebration of the Eucharist be considered valid which is held under the bishop or anyone to whom he has committed it. Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
The term initially was meant to identify the Church, along with all the doctrines and practices, that was authoritative for all Christians, as opposed to heresy, from the Greek αἵρεσις, “a choosing”. A heretic was someone who chose only certain things from the Universal Church, while rejecting others, thus cutting himself off from the ecclesial body and the tradition established by Jesus Christ himself and handed on by his Apostles.
We can also say that the Church is "catholic" in other senses as well. It is “universal” in that it embraces the entire history of Christianity, for instance; and not only the experiences of previous generations of believers, but those believers themselves, who still participate in the life of the Church as members of the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven.
The primary place in which those of us alive here on Earth (in the Church Militant) experience the catholicity of the Church is in the Holy Eucharist, where we are all joined to our One Lord by partaking in His Body and Blood (hence the term “Communion”). I have suggested previously [here] that the use of Latin in the Western Church reinforced, in a very effective, concrete way, the reality of that communion, but it is the Mass itself (and really Christ through the Mass, particularly in the Eucharist) that unites us. Whether we attend the Extraordinary form in Latin or the Ordinary form in any language you could name, we are participating in the One Sacrifice of Calvary, and also in the liturgy that unfolds eternally before the throne of God in Heaven. I had a beautiful reminder of how the Mass can embody the catholicity of the Church over the past two Sundays, when I and my family celebrated the Eucharist away from our home parish.
At The VA Hospital
|Togus VA Medical Center, Augusta, ME|
At The College
|The Chapel at Thomas More College|
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
And Father accordingly spoke in his homily of the need for us to live out our faith, and particularly our obligation to make the love of Christ a reality in our lives.
God Is Love
|The Crucifixion by Marco Palmezzano|
The common thread is love: Christ’s love in offering himself for us, our love for him as expressed in the reverence of our worship, and our love for each other as manifested in our care for others. The Beloved Disciple tells us that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), and Jesus himself says:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
Piety and Charity, then, aren’t opposites, or even separate: in fact, for followers of Jesus Christ they are inseparable, two sides of the same coin. And we encounter them in every Mass, wherever it is offered, and whatever it looks like. God’s Love is universal.