I was talking with one of my students the other day about the mystery of the Roman Church. Has it ever struck you that we have here an institution that is older than Imperial Rome, yet it survives and thrives into the 21st century?
Wow! There is no other political, cultural or religious organization that has stood the test of time like this. Kingdoms and Empires come and go. Political ideologies last a few decades then wither. Psychological, scientific and philosophical theories flourish, then perish. Artistic and musical fashions fade. Even Christian sects and heresies come and go. They eventually die out. Don’t worry. Even Islam (which is a Christian heresy) will eventually die out. Like the grass, they all pass.
The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, stands firm. This simple fact of history turns history upside down. The secularists love to imagine that the church is ancient and failing. It’s an old lady in a nursing home gasping for her last. Then the world’s youth turn up for an old pope’s funeral and they are confounded. Turns out the Church is a young gal like Therese of Lisieux–proclaiming the gospel with the vigor, humor and revolutionary radical-ness of a teenager!
Here’s a community that is ever ancient, but also ever young. As B16 has said, “The Church is alive! The Church is young!”
Doesn’t that just make you want to kick up your heels? It does me, because if the Church is ever ancient and ever young, no matter how ancient I feel, (and have you seen my picture on this blog?) it means I’m ever young too because the church is in me and I am in the Church!
Geesh! That makes me excited! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
I have contemplated this also and wonder what people will make of the Church in the future. That not only it will remain, but will keep teaching the truth without admixture of whatever goes for modernity in the future.Though perhaps peoples reactions will be the same as now. We should already wonder at the Church’s existence for two thousand years and wonder how this would be possible for a “human institution.” The reaction now is mainly just to ignore and not explain this fact. Not to look too closely at this shining fact since the conclusions are obvious if thought upon.
If you want to see what the Church of the future looks like check out a great book by the scholar Philip Jenkins. It’s called ‘The New Christendom’His message is simple. In the developing world the church is young, hungery, vibrant and alive. In the West (apart from USA) it is old and dead. The typical Christian of the middle of the twentyfirst century will be a woman in her thirties living in a barrio in Brazil.By the middle of the century the term “Norwegian Christian will be as bizarre as to say Spanish Buddhist” today. Such a creature might exist, but it would take a stretch of the imagination.
The existence of the Church is indeed great evidence for the truth of the Faith.(Did you know that “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” was the actual phrase shouted by a military chaplain who was stationed on a battleship during the attack on Pearl Harbor? It was made into a hit song in WWII.)