- Andre Lamartin
A Church Unmeant Only for a Few
People rarely appreciate how difficult it is for a man's words to survive the inclement passage of time and serve as a testament for future generations, possibly safeguarding them from making the same mistakes. How grateful one should be that the wisdom of the Bible survived millennia despite countless wars and questionable translations only to serve as an eternal testament of faith for current and future generations. As Saint Paul once said in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Serving as a constant reminder of the truth once lived in the past, the word of God was written down to eternally last. The timeless words of the Bible provide the spiritual guidance needed to understand the meaning of life, allowing the faithful to live in accordance with the Christian moral compass. If the first commandment of the law is to love your God with all your heart, mind and soul, there is a clearly delineated way in which this love should be expressed. The same can be said about the second commandment, loving your neighbor as yourself. Unless one has a pair of well discerning eyes, a sharp mind and a contrite heart open to evangelization, what is easily said may not always be so easily done. Many roads lead towards hypocrisy, but only one leads towards salvation.
The divinely inspired words of the Bible are meant to be lived, not merely read. Its verses are never to be dismissed with impunity as they form the basis upon which souls are judged. Those striving to walk in the light should live a pious, dignifying life in accordance with the Gospel, especially when contending with considerable darkness. A Christian who constantly refers to Scripture for spiritual guidance is always in search of the requisite wisdom to address the daily struggles of human existence. Only by applying the divinely inspired words of the Gospel to our lives can we find our proper place in this world, securing an eternity in Heaven. The true testament of our faith is comprised not only of words, but also of moral choices made throughout our lives. During this incredible journey no believer should ever feel utterly disheveled and alone, lest the Church fail to discharge its religious duty.
Defending God´s eternal truth should be the primary mission of the Catholic Church. Aside from providing the true fellowship of believers, the Church should offer spiritual guidance leading to a deep, religious understanding of life and the forgiveness of sins. What a pity the Church has been so lacking in this respect, at least in my personal experience. Despite yearning to find God from an early age, the entirety of my biblical understanding has been self-taught. Throughout my adult life, as I reached out for the Church, it never reciprocated in kind. Priests who heard my confessions never offered any meaningful spiritual advice aside from the usual penance through prayer. Mass has always been a lugubrious experience, never instilling much hope while failing to spread joy or safeguard spiritual peace. Ordinary church life never truly exalted Christ in any meaningful way. The times when I asked members of the clergy for bible study sessions, silence was the only answer provided.
Even the trustworthiness of biblical translations has come under fire. The Church has been unwilling to publish and disseminate its own official translations of the Bible for each respective language, allowing companies guided only by profit maximization to fill the void left behind. Simultaneously consulting at least four different biblical editions has become a customary way of accounting for flawed translations of Scripture that should otherwise be divinely inspired. How can the Church be of service to believers if refusing to publish and defend its own official translation of the Gospel? The fact that Catholics like myself are entirely self-taught reveals the extent to which individual believers have been forced to bear on their shoulders the myriad responsibilities otherwise ascribed to members of the clergy. In a church where communal silence seems to be the primary means of communication, a true fellowship of believers has yet to be encountered within its walls, at least this has been my unfortunate experience.
The conspicuous absence of a strong church in my life instilled in me a sense of self-reliance that seems almost protestant in nature. If church attendance has become an irrelevant issue, it was only because of the questionable quality of the religious services provided. When the promised love and dedication described within the many pages of the Bible cannot be found within the Church itself, perhaps only the inner circle of one´s family can temporarily fill the void, assuming this is not a practical impossibility as well. A church that fails to protect its own children is hardly in any position to offer adults any hope of spiritual salvation, especially when failing to guarantee and defend the reliability of biblical translations.
Despite all other relevant criticisms levelled at the Church regarding rampant corruption scandals, ubiquitous homosexuality, unacceptable pederasty amongst the clergy, devil worshipping and demonic idolatry, this is neither the time nor the place to discuss these fractious issues. Suffice to say that in a dark era, where so many wonder whether we are living in apocalyptic times, the search for a true Catholic Church should not be derisively dismissed as an intractable personal predicament entirely unrelated from the general experience. That the Church should fail to guarantee even the trustworthiness of biblical translations speaks volumes about its inability to properly defend God´s eternal truth as presented in the Gospel. In an age where true believers have no option but to embrace greater self-reliance, we can only hope that the Holy Spirit will inspire us along the way, allowing us to learn by ourselves what should otherwise be explained by the Church itself.
Always keep in mind that the word “Catholic” was originally derived from the Greek word “katholicos” meaning "universal", describing the ample scope of the religion. It is sadly ironic that a church professing to be truly universal in nature cannot even be described as merely local in living presence. The first order of business is now finding a church that truly lives up to its name, one unmeant only for a few. Despite the many challenges ahead, the Gospel provides every hope that the Church will course correct in time, standing its ground against the forces of decrepitude that so often conspire against its future. As a reminder that this is a realistic proposition, and not just another quixotic dream, we should only part ways after perusing a relevant biblical passage that comes to mind. As Jesus once said in Mathew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Amen.