For In Division We See the Divine
“For, in the first place, as you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized” (1 Corinthians 11:18-19).
There are over 39,000 different Christian denominations in the world today, and yet still there is only One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. I mention this, because as Catholics we understand that there are many facets to any given truth, but still only one truth. I believe the Reformation, in attempting to correct the corruption within the church (which certainly needed correction), inadvertently caused a much greater wound. In splitting with the ancient church, (in whom all authority was given), the door was opened for self-interpretation of church teaching, and one truth has become many truths.
To give a concrete example, take the sacrament of Baptism. Baptism is an outward sign of an inward conversion, but at the same time, this “sign” is not merely a symbol, as many Protestant denominations believe it to be. The sacrament of Baptism accomplishes exactly what our Lord Jesus has told us it will accomplish. No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. Through baptism our sins are forgiven, and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have been buried with him in death that we might rise to new life in Christ. We have been washed, sanctified, and justified in his name. He saves us through the washing of rebirth, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs. This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (See John 3:5; Acts 2:37-38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Peter 3: 20-21; Hebrews 10:22). To regard Baptism as merely a sign is to empty this sacrament of its supernatural power, and this is no small difference. Baptism is indeed a symbol of the Christian conversion experience, but more than that, it truly imparts the very Spirit of God, that enables us to live that Christian ideal to the fullest.
The deposit of faith that has been handed down for over 2,000 years tells us this, and so much more that is essential for our journey. The Catholic Church possesses a vast treasure of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that is living and effective for our times. No facet of truth will ever negate another facet, but will only reveal the cohesiveness of all that is revealed in time. For two millenia, the Churches teaching on faith and morals has remained unchanged. These teachings are the very “roots” of every other Christian denomination, but unfortunately, because of the Reformation, many roots were damaged beyond repair, and the fruit that should have been produced was lost forever. Again, this leaves us with over 39,000 different denominations, each lacking something of the fullness of truth that only Holy Mother Church can provide.
That being said, I believe that God is in every Christian church that worships Him as the One Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We cannot put God in a box. He is everywhere, but this does not mean He did not establish a Church. It would not make sense for him NOT to do so. He is not a God of confusion, and clearly we are confused. In establishing a Church on the rock of Peter, Jesus was ushering in a new covenant that would supersede the old. In failing to interpret the law correctly, Jesus chastises those who sit on the chair of Moses, but he never denies that there is in fact a chair. The chair of Moses would now become the chair of Peter (See Matthew 23: 1-3). In so doing, Jesus was not abolishing the law, but fulfilling it (See Matthew 5:17). He would fulfill the promise that ALL nations would come to worship. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all (Ephesians 4:5-7).
Not only did the Pharisees and Sadducees fail to interpret the law, they even more astonishingly attributed Jesus’ miracles to the power of Beelzebub, so I am never surprised when I hear the ridiculous notion that the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon”. Actually, it makes perfect sense. If at the time of Christ, people were so apt to call Jesus, the Son of God “Beelzebub”, it only follows that today we would be so brazen as to call His bride, the Church, the Whore of Babylon. Unfortunately, this description of my beloved Catholic faith has been communicated to me more times than I would like to admit. But I rejoice! Because, it is only one of the many ill-conceived notions that only serve to illumine the authenticity of the Catholic Church.
Jesus reminds us that “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15: 18-19). Clearly the world “hates” the Catholic Church, more so than any other Christian denomination, and I believe it is because she alone, by the authority bestowed upon her by Christ Jesus himself (See Matthew 16:16-19), continues to speak the fullness of truth in a world that prefers to speak only fractions of the truth, leaving the door open for all sorts of misinterpretations that only “tickle our ears” (See 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
I believe our ears have been tickled to deaf, and we no longer discern truth from the world’s lies. We settle for that which tickles our ears, or allows us to remain neutral or safe. The problem with this is, in refusing to stand for something, we are apt to fall for anything (Alexander Hamilton), and falling for anything seems to be the norm these days. This is why Jesus gave us a church. It was God in the pillar of fire that led the Israelites for 40 years in the desert, to a place flowing with milk and honey (The Promised Land), and it is God through his Church, the pillar and bulwark of the truth, who will lead us home to heaven, the ultimate Promised Land (See 1 Timothy 3:15).
He did not give us a church to lord it over us, or to control us. He did not give us the Church to save us. Christ already did that. He gave us the Church to guide us. The Devil’s last and quickly closing window of opportunity to completely deceive us in these last days is upon us, and we need all the help we can get. The devil need not tempt us to commit some great mortal sin. He only need tempt us to believe that sin is relative, and how we deal with it is of no consequence. If sin is relative, Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection is irrelevant. We don’t need Jesus, and we certainly don’t need His Church.
It is the Catholic Church that continues to lead God’s people in this barren wilderness of lies, deception, depravity, and division. It is through her liturgy, prayers, sacraments, and especially the Holy Eucharist, that nourishes us on this journey. It is a gift beyond human comprehension that we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ Jesus himself in the sacrament of Holy Communion, and yet it is true (See John 6). Our Creator wants to share His divine life with us forever! We were created to know, love, and serve him in this life, so that we can be forever happy in heaven with him for all eternity. His every commandment and law passed onto us through His church is for our sanctification. As our creator, it is He who knows what we need. He knows that our hearts will be restless until they learn to rest in Him alone-(St. Augustine), and it is through his church that we will discover this wall of protection that has surrounded us for over 2,000 years. He wants us to come home, but like the prodigal son, we want our inheritance now, and we squander this earthly life in all manners of depravity, attempting to fill that whole in our hearts that only He can fill (See Luke 15: 11-31).
In my lifetime, I can honestly say that I do not remember a time when we have been so divided, and on matters that are not only frivolous, but diabolical. Everything that we are divided on today has something to do with sex, our sexuality, or gender ideology. This is no surprise, as the devil attacks the very image of the Holy Trinity-that can only be reflected best in this broken world, through the human person that he created. Some people may ask, “Why would an all-powerful all- loving God allow for marriage, sex, love, and the family to be distorted in this way?” I would respond, by repeating the words of St. Paul when he said, “For there must be factions among you, in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” When it comes to the factions that dominate our culture today, there is no doubt as to what is true, and what is false. By God’s grace, it is only a matter of common sense.
At the very least, we owe it to God to investigate the awesome claims of this Church that dares to call herself the Bride of Christ. This is what I myself have done. I am not Catholic because I was raised Catholic. I am Catholic because I have searched for him, I have groped for him, and I have found him most fully in the Church that He established. There is nowhere else that I can go. I am Catholic, and Catholic I will remain. I challenge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to download a Catechism & Bible One Year Reading Plan, and find out exactly what the Church really teaches, and why!
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Bishop Fulton Sheen who said it perfectly: “There are not 100 people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
Prayer: My Lord and my God, open my eyes, my ears, and my heart, and grant that I may see, hear, and understand.