There was an article in the paper recently, entitled “Jesus and the Modern Man” by James Carroll. He was making the case that Jesus is for the modern man but the church has got to change. It is the institution, not the message that is the problem. I wanted to share this letter, written to the editor:
Yes, the communion table is why we go to mass and why we remain practicing Catholics. For almost 2000 years Christians, in their varying ways, have gathered to say prayers, listen to the readings, and break bread, which for the Catholics is the body of Christ.
We don’t give ourselves up to martyrdom for the rosary, or devotion to a saint, or in defense of an encyclical condemning birth control.
We suffer everyday martyrdom of irritations with the hierarchy (not with “the church”, because we are the church) because we believe that at Mass we join in “communion” with the son of God and with one another. As James Carroll says, the rest is just “rubrics”.
Sometimes the church gets in the way of itself. History has shown a pretty ugly picture of how dark Christianity can get. Whether it’s the Spanish conquering the Americas and taking the people’s gold, leaving them their religion. The inquisition, the Holy Wars, the silence of the church during the Holocaust, and the abuse of young children are blatant examples of the abuse and misuse of power of the church.
Somehow we have to shed the baggage of the past, embrace the simplicity of the gospel and enmesh ourselves in the deeds of love and kindness so that the world would really know we are Christians by our love.