Chris Ackerman

The Beauty of the Church

I love our Church! I really and sincerely do. I love everything about our Church. I love the sights of the buildings and the Liturgy, the sounds of the old Gregorian Chant music, the smells of the incense, the physicality (touch) of the priesthood, the taste of the Body and Blood of Jesus. I love it all!

I think a lot of people agree with me about the beauty of our Church, but I think where our Church gets so much scrutiny is the “rules” or teachings that the Church “imposes” on the faithful. I often hear complaints about how there are so many rules to follow. “The Church is too authoritarian. Why can’t I just do what  I want to do?” or “I love Jesus, why do I have to do what the Church says?”

All of these are fair questions, to which I would respond and paraphrase St. Paul in Eph. 5:25 “Love the Church as Christ loved the Church.” If Christ loved the Church so much that He died for Her, who are we to spurn what She proclaims as meaningless or inconsequential? If we truly love Christ, then we must love the Church, meaning that we must follow what She teaches, without trying to change it into our idea of Christianity. Was it me that Christ entrusted the Keys to the Kingdom or was it Peter (Mt. 16:16-18) that Christ entrusted? Did He give me authority or did He entrust it to the leaders of the Church? The Church! Jesus entrusted Himself to the Church.

Does that mean that I follow or believe everything blindly?

Absolutely not. Some of the teachings of the Church are extremely hard, like the reality of Jesus’ True Presence in the Eucharist. The disciples in chapter 6 of John’s Gospel in the Bread of Life Discourse are evident of this: ‘Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it. [60] As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. [66]”‘

Our response must be like the Apostles. ‘Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. [67-68]”‘

Many of the teachings and guidelines of the Church are hard, but if we reject the hard ones and only accept the ones that fit our idea of Christianity, then we totally miss the Beauty of our Church. When we do this, when we try to boil down all the teachings and guidelines of the Church and Christ into what we think it should be and reject the authority that Christ gave the Church, then it is no longer Christ’s Church or the Catholic Church but, rather, Chris’s Church or the Church of Me. It’s okay to question and struggle with the teachings of the Church. It’s okay to say I don’t know what this means. Not every part of our faith is a point to be solved and dissected under a microscope. If our God could be “solved” or “figured out,” then He wouldn’t be a very great God, would He?

Only too often do we try to do it on our own, and we completely miss the Beauty of the mystery of our faith and the Beauty of obedience to whom Christ entrusted the Church. Loving Christ means to love the Church, and that means loving all parts of Her.

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Chris Ackerman

About the Author

During my last year of college, I felt the Lord's call to be a missionary so that I could serve Him alone. I'm crazy about the Church, and I love the Eucharist. My other loves are mowing the grass, a hot cup of coffee, and cooking great food. If you'd like to contact me, email me at [email protected]