March 18, 2015

Thought for the Day: Truly Catholic

Any church that seeks to claim truly catholic standing, truly universal scope, but which bases its self-understanding in anything other than union with and unity in Jesus Christ through the sacrament of Baptism, celebrated and made present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, has embraced a paradoxical and ultimately false concept of catholicism and universality.

Whether the limiting factor is a set of doctrines to which one must ascribe belief, or a hierarchy one is bound to obey, this limit shifts the understanding of the entity away from the Body of Christ incarnate, to that set of doctrines or assembly of hierarchs.

Some might suggest the thought I'm expressing moves us away from a truly incarnational understanding; but my suggestion is that this confuses incarnation with institution. There are, of course, institutional realities in any church body, but my thought is that the truly universal and catholic church must be more than an institution, and must by its very nature include all those who have become members of that transcendent Body, regardless of their doctrinal or obedientiary particularities. That Body is wounded and impaired by the divisions and arguments that take place between its members, but there is also a real functionality to those members that may serve the larger purposes of the Body in ways we cannot yet fathom. Yet One Body it is, and we are all in this together.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

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