2020/08/21

The Head of the Church

St. Francis

For all the criticism I level at the Catholic Church's current leaders on Earth, my motive is not hostility but filial love.

Imagine a princely and ancient mansion that's been handed down in your family since the clan patriarch built it by hand 2000 years ago. It stood as a rock amid the storms of all the passing ages. Now the current trustees of the estate, your Boomer parents, have mortgaged the grand old house to the hilt to pay for hideous "renovations" in imitation of the McMansions that occupy the rest of the street. Worse, they are harboring dodgy workers--some of whom came not through the door but over the wall and are making trouble in the neighborhood. A small but highly visible number of gardeners have committed the most atrocious crimes against the tenants' children. Yet your parents harbor them.

You could disown your parents, go your own way, and abandon the princely house of your fathers, washing your hands of any responsibility for the future of your patrimony. That is the way of the rootless, atomized man of the world. You would not be the first to take it.

The faithful, tradition-minded disciple of Christ gives filial correction to his wayward parents in a spirit of charity. He does not abandon his ancestral home, which the Builder has promised will stand till the end of time. Even if his parents refuse to listen, he trusts the Builder. For does not the Builder also have a vineyard which fell under unworthy management? And did He not remove those wicked managers?

The order of bishops--including the Pope--is not the head of the Catholic Church. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, which is His Body. The first fruits of the Church have already been gathered into heaven. The gates of hell cannot prevail against them.

Every day, this reality is revealed to ordinary people--even if only in part. Despite the sins--many of them grave--of her members, God calls his elect into full communion with Him, and some of those who are called answer.

5 comments:

  1. Our earthly church leaders are just as frail as we are, fortunately it is not their faith that sustains us. It is because God is faithful that we are redeemed. It is because Jesus Christ went to the cross, and was raised from the dead that we have hope eternal.

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    1. Amen. The wheat and the tares shall grow together until That Day.

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  2. For many Catholics, the issue in conversation tends to be that if Francis and the bishops are corrupt and evil, then this can’t be the Church that Christ claimed “Hell will not prevail against it.” Some can be talked back from the ledge by citing Scripture passages and moments in Church history, but some can not.

    With Protestant family members, the difficulty is they choose churches based on the man leading it. So when I move my family to a different parish because the local priest teaches error and won’t accept charitable pushback, they see me “parish shopping.” But when we drive further out to an FSSP parish because nothing local is faithful or orthodox in teaching, they are confused why we don’t go to the local Anglican Church that is very conservative and Anglo-Catholic or High Church.

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    1. Christ established the papacy as the Church's key unifying principle. Since Protestantism by definition means rejecting that principle, Protestant ecclesiology often descends into personality cults.

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    2. We have always tried to choose a Church where the teaching is faithful and the organization/leadership structure clear. But that is either much easier or much harder in a rural area where you're intertwined with all the families. With social mobility and in larger centers it would be a nightmare.

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