The Church is a Reflection of its Members

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Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, of course, you fail the test. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

The Catholic Church appears to be in a crisis. A crisis, recognized by the moral failure many of its leaders. A crisis that often to refuses to hold accountable those that have continually offended God and have committed crimes against man and nature. We have a crisis that is indicated by a lack of charity toward each other and a failure of fortitude to persevere when tempted to fall into despair.

If we are to be truthful, the hierarchy of the Church is reflective of the laity in general. Very few Catholics are answering the call of the Holy Spirit to become saints. We are often happy, myself included, with the mediocrity of our souls and are not willing to make the sacrifices it will take to become saints. This personal revelation is a self-indictment.

The majority of our children are cohabiting, living in a state of grave sin and the parents remain silent.

Far too many accept so called same-sex marriage.

Abortion is openly accepted by a large number of the laity.

Less than 35% believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The confession lines are empty in most parishes.

The poor are often considered a problem for the government to solve.

The average Catholic gives less than 3% of their income to charity.

The divorce rate among Catholics varies little from the general population.

Most Catholics reject the Church teaching on contraception, marriage and family life.

We have the leadership which we deserve.

None of these are valid excuses for the failures of the Church Hierarchy. However, if we want to sanctify the Church, we must ask God for the grace to become saints and then be willing to follow Him and all that the Church teaches.

We too can have a personal relationship with the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A relationship nurtured through the holy food of prayer, meditation and personal sacrifice. The peace and joy we will find in this relationship will change the Church and the world around us.

Teach me, LORD, your way

that I may walk in your truth,

single-hearted and revering your name.

I will praise you with all my heart,

glorify your name forever, Lord my God.

Your mercy to me is great;

you have rescued me from the depths of Sheol.

O God, the arrogant have risen against me;

a ruthless band has sought my life;

to you they pay no heed.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,

slow to anger, abounding in mercy and truth.

Turn to me, be gracious to me;

give your strength to your servant;

save the son of your handmaid.

Give me a sign of your favor:

make my enemies see, to their confusion,

that you, LORD, help and comfort me.

(Psalm 86:11-17)

God speaks to us in many ways, dreams, through others we meet, through the reflection of our hearts or simply by reading His word in scripture. I hope you will enjoy this brief mediation below.

Looking Beyond What We See

Summer has just passed into autumn, yet the climate has remained the same in the south. The temperature at night has not fallen below eighty degrees yet and the air conditioning in the man’s home runs throughout the night. The steady hum of the return air down the hall from his room distracts him from a deep sleep and on this particular night the man tosses and turns throughout the night. It is as if his subconscious knows he must not fall into a deep sleep.

Next to him his bride of many years sleeps peacefully. In his shallow sleep, he can hear her steady breathing calling him to a deeper slumber. Slowly, he falls into a deep, dark sleep.

From his sleep, he hears a knock at the front door. Startled, he jumps from his bed. Oddly, his wife continues to breath in an out as if nothing has occurred.

Wandering through the dark house, his bare feet feel the coolness of the wood floors. As he makes his way to the front door the steady knock on the door continues. The unusual knock rattles his nerves as it raps steadily against the heavy cypress door.

Tap, tap, tap, tap. The knock continues.

Through the clouded glass of the door he can see the figure of a man. Pausing, he ponders if he should open the door or walk away. Thinking to himself, ‘This has often been the story of my life. Open the door or walk away?’ His heart flutters momentarily for he knows that he has walked away far too often. Prompted some deeper by an inner call he opens the door.

A wave of warm heat, laden with the heavy aroma of the large, sweet olive bushes in the neighborhood, blows through his gray hair and past him into their home. The curtains rustle behind him in response to the humid breeze. A quite reminder that he is not alone.

The bright morning sun blinds his eyes that had become accustomed to the ebony depth of the darkness of sleep. In his mind, he thinks, ‘I must have overslept.’ Looking down at his watch for the time, ‘Uh, no watch? I must have taken it off.’

His eyes adjusting, he can see a man is standing before him. He recognizes him from somewhere, but he is not sure where. The deep brown eyes of his visitor spark a level of trust the man does not often give to strangers.

The visitor states, “Come follow me.”

Moving forward, the man asks, “To where?”

The visitor ignores the man’s question and states, “Your tree is dying.”

Taken aback, the man responds pridefully, “My tree? What are you talking about? That tree is perfect.”

Before them is a grand live oak that is on display in the center of the vibrant green front lawn. The tall, broad tree with its lush, dark green leaves and Spanish moss gently drifting in the heavy, fall breeze is magnificent.

“It is dying from the inside out.” The visitor repeats.

“I just don’t see it.” the older man repeats.

With a dishearten look in his eyes, the visitor agrees, “Yes, I know this is why I am here. Touch the tree and open your eyes.”

The man thinks to himself, ‘What an odd request. It is my tree, I think I would know if it is dying.’ Compelled to do so, he leans forward and places his right hand on the crusty grey bark of the old tree.

A warm sensation travels from his hand to his heart. He can feel the blood flowing through his veins. The once hard bark begins to crumble against his weight. The man tries to pull away only to have his hand reach deeper into his old friend that he has spent many years nurturing and resting under the protection of its limbs.

Looking up through the massive limbs of the tree, he can see the bark on its upper branches. The outer crust of the tree with its vein like appearance has given way and is oozing a deep brown sap that wreaks of a dead animal. Although, the branches around the tree appear healthy and sturdy, death wraps around the trunk weaving in and out in an even winding pattern.

In a panic now, dread overcomes the man as he struggles against the tree that threatens to pull his entire being inside its massive structure. Face pressed against the collapsing bark, his shoulder and neck resist entry into the dark hollow of the once magnificent tree.

Above him, small branches begin to drop to the ground with a thud. On all his sides, small dead twigs rattle the lawn like a rain shower. Inside the tree, at the end of his arm, his desperate fingers search for a strong grip inside the empty cavern. He can feel the life blood of the tree falling away and to the ground around him.

Succumbing to the fear in his soul and he yells out to the stranger, “Aren’t you going to help me?”

Calmly the stranger responds, “I am.”

The man, miffed repeats, “What? Help me!?”

The visitor, gently placing His hand on the man’s face, responds again, “I am!” continuing, “Will you help me?”

Leaning forward, the visitor reaches deep into the tree, wraps both arms around the man and frees him from his prison. The timeless old tree shutters above the man causing the earth to tremor below his feet.

Placing both hands on the man’s shoulders, the visitor pleads with the man, “I am with you, but time your is short. The time is now.”

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

JMJ, pray for us!

God is good,