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Father Muench Says...

I love the Catholic Church

Sept. 4, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I love the Catholic Church. I would like to take some time today to write to you about my love for the Catholic Church. When I think of the Catholic Church, I am talking about people – the people of God. The Second Vatican Council wrote, among its documents, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The second chapter of that document is titled, “The People of God.” There, the Council fathers wrote this: “God has willed to make men and women holy and save them, not at individuals without any bond or link between them, rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge God and serve God in holiness.”

Our Church is more than Pope and Bishops. Our Church is people, all the people. I have been part of this Catholic Church all my life. As a teenager I loved the Catholic Church enough to decide to enter a seminary to prepare myself to become a Catholic priest.

During my seminary training, I investigated and studied in-depth all I could find about the Catholic Church. This also involved a deeper study of my faith in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church. This study increased my love for the Catholic Church. So, I continued my studies to prepare to become a Catholic priest.

My love for the Catholic Church was influenced by many theologians and professors who were involved in my preparation during this seminary training. I was also influenced in those days by wonderful priests, especially the priests of my own diocese, the Diocese of Ogdensburg, whom I met as a seminarian. I continue to be impressed by these priests today. I found then, as I do now, dedicated, committed, loving priests. This was a group I wanted to join as a seminarian.

Then, as a priest and pastor for many years, I have recognized the great good that each Catholic parish brings to this world through the people and families – the people of God, the church of Jesus Christ. This church of ours brings God’s love and peace to our communities, to our world. Spiritually, God brings to us all through the liturgy of the Blessed Eucharist the strength, the love and power to meet the challenges of life to the people of our parishes, making them truly the People of God. There is a readiness in our parishes to make the world a better place. The Catholic Church is a powerful influence on this world of ours. I love the Catholic Church.

I must add one more thing here. I recognize that our Church, this people of God, is not sinless. However, I believe in the gift of forgiveness and compassion that Jesus brought to our world. I believe that Jesus constantly works to lift us up from our sins, leading us to overcome our failings so we are ready to bring love and holiness to our efforts to make our communities and parish a better place. On the cross, Jesus knew well that there would be sin. His suffering for us was his readiness to lead us out of our own sins, making us truly ready to bring a new spirit to our church. The forgiveness of my Lord has touched my life through this church of ours. As a people of God, we will find the courage to conquer our sinfulness.

In this regard, I want to share with you an important message, which I learned from Catherine Doherty: “So, the whole picture of the Church is complete – I understand something else. The sin of one member of the Church was the sin of all, that is, if I sin, I affect the whole Church.” As Church, our Spirit must lead all to live in the holiness of Our God.

And so, I love the Catholic Church – at times, a broken Church. May the Spirit of Our Savior transform us and lead us to continue to make our world a better place. I believe this is possible for the People of God. I love the Catholic Church.

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