A conversation at work last week, about the current political environment, led to a question by one of the group to me. ‘Why has your Catholic Church decided to push their idea of life and family on the rest of us this year?’
Well, I pointed out to him that:
- It isn’t my Catholic Church, it is Christ’s.
- That the Catholic Church along with most organized religions have always made their ideas and beliefs known in the societies they were members of. It is no different than any other organization secular or otherwise.
- And, most important, we aren’t pushing our ideas, as if they are intellectual exercises – it is who we are – you can’t separate what we believe from whom we are. And to emphasize this I explained what we as Catholics have been doing for the past 3 months. By looking at our liturgical year a person can know exactly what it means to be Catholic and how we view the world around us.
For the past Ninety days, or so, we have participated with Holy Mother Church as she has celebrated the true meaning of being human, of being a member of the mystical body of Christ.
For the forty days of Lent, we turned within, to ourselves, to understand how we have acted in the past year and how our actions have affected the world, the church, those around us and ourselves. In light of the love that God shows us we have tried come to an understanding of how we have returned that love in our lives.
All of this led us to reflect on the reasons why God, through Christ, did what He did for us. During the Sacred Tridduum we contemplated the ultimate gift given to us by our God; a gift unimaginable and undeserved, but given to us none the less. We participated with the Apostles and walked with Christ in His Passion; a path that He walked so that death would have no power over us.
With the apostles for the forty days from Easter until now, we witnessed to the amazing resurrection of Jesus, body and soul; showing that through His love God has guaranteed that our true life, life in God, is restored, and if we accept it, we will rejoice with Him forever. We heard Jesus words, His lessons about what His gift means, and His explanations as to, as disciples how we should act and what our calling is.
And now, with the Feast of the Ascension, the final moment of the true Passover of Christ, Jesus reveals by His rising to heaven that God desires to bring all humanity to Himself. The Father has shown us, through Jesus, that the dignity of mankind is a dignity of no less than heaven itself. We are meant to be in heaven, we are meant to be with God, with His angels in paradise. That is how important each and every life is to God. This is a lesson that has been repeated for millennia – from Christ’s loving action until now. This lesson is not a secret, it is, or should be, loudly proclaimed by every believer. WE BELONG TO GOD!
This ultimate meaning of our destiny should fill us with extreme joy, and Holy Mother Church celebrates with loud exultation. This Mass started by Father praying the opening prayer:
O God, whose Son today ascended to the heavens
as the Apostles looked on,
grant, we pray, that, in accordance with his promise,
we may be worthy for him to live with us always on earth,
and we with him in haven…
Or if you were at Mass tomorrow you would hear
‘Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son
is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope…’
Beautiful words that strive to express our inexpressible joy at knowing who we truly are meant to be, and the hope we have that we will ultimately attain this destiny.
But, and to the point of the question asked of me at work, this explains just why the Catholic Church participates in the national discourse. We know that every member of the human race is loved the same, has the same destiny, has the same dignity – WE BELONG TO GOD! We participate because we see this in each person we meet and we hope for their eternal joy. We participate because we see the dignity of mankind being reduced to a utilitarian point of view and it worries us. We make a contribution to society because that is what members of society are meant to; and that contribution is based on what our Lord commanded us: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”- and so we follow our brothers, the apostles, who ‘went forth and preached everywhere’ with the peace of mind that comes from the words of Jesus: “Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age, alleluia!’ (Matthew 28:20)