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Father Muench Says...

The Catholic Church is a family

Oct. 9, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Last Sunday, as I was celebrating Mass, I looked up at the congregation and thought of our being one Church. As a priest, this is my family – certainly for this moment, during this Mass. As a Church, we are a family. I am reminded by the prayers of the Eucharist to pray for all those there as Church, along with all my other intentions.

I often remember to encourage the people at Mass the importance of their praying for each other. I realize that each of us has many other intentions, but it is important that we remember in prayer those with whom we are celebrating the Mass. I believe that this is one of the important reasons that we join together for Sunday Mass.

It is because we need people to pray with, we need people to pray for us, and we need people that we can join with in prayer. This is what it means to be Church.

I have always been a member of the Catholic Church; the Catholic Church is my Church. I can tell you that I have never thought of joining a different faith. The Catholic Church has brought support and meaning to my life. I have been blessed with many friends of other faiths, and I have studied a great deal about these other religions, other churches. But I still find my peace and much support as a Catholic.

I believe our Church was planned and formed by God, who called together into one those who accepted the Gospels. The catechism tells us that Jesus fulfilled the divine plan for the Church through his saving death and Resurrection. The Holy Spirit manifested the Church as a mystery of salvation. Joined in the Church, we work together for our salvation.

St. Paul wrote to the early Church to think of being Church as the Body of Christ – Christians are united together with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – just as each part of a human body is joined as an essential part of the whole body for the health and life of the whole body. So, each person’s dedication and commitment to God and the Church is essential for the life of the Church as the Body of Christ – and the loving spirit that the Church brings to all.

Recently, I have been reading a book written by David Brooks, “The Second Mountain.” Near the end of the book, Brooks puts together his ideas about what makes a good society. He is talking here about a good human society not specifically a religious one. However, his idea struck home to me of its importance to our Church. He writes this about values within a good society: “You see not just individuals but a people, a community, a flourishing society where people help one another, magnify another’s talents, enjoy one another’s creativity and rest in another’s hospitality.” I like to think that the Catholic Church is alive in each parish demonstrating these qualities, enlivened by the Spirit of Our Savior.

These days, I visit various parishes to celebrate the Holy Mass. I must admit that I really don’t know a great deal about the life of each parish. Getting to know a few of the people, I like to think that there is a lively parish life in each place. I know well how dedicated their pastors and priests are. I recognize in the people of each congregation a readiness to demonstrate a love of God, a readiness to pray for each other and a commitment to a family spirit within the parish.

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