We Are the Church
While the word ‘church’ indicates a special building designated for worship, as in St. James Church, it also refers to an assembly, a congregation or a gathering together of people. The Second Vatican Council defines the Church as the People of God, who are constituted in Christ by the Holy Spirit. The Latin term for church ‘ecclesia’ derives from the Greek which means ‘to call out of”. It is a people set apart, a people called out of darkness into Christ’s wonderful light.
The Church as an organized society existing in our world and history is a visible reality. We call this the Church an institution, a hierarchy. The Church is also spiritual reality that transcends our world and our history. This is also referred to as the charismatic aspect of the Church. The Church is a mystery and a sacrament. It is a sign and instrument of a spiritual reality. The Church as a sacrament contains within itself as well as communicates God’s power and presence.
The purpose of the Church is to make holy the members of Christ’s body through the love given by Christ. By our baptism, we become part of the Church. We share in God’s grace through the Church which is built on the foundation of Christ who is our way, the truth and the life. We are the Church.
Speaking of the Church as a parish: Pope John Paul II reminds us: “It is necessary that in the light of faith, all rediscover the true meaning of the parish, that is, the place where the very ‘mystery’ of church is present and at work… The parish is not principally a structure, a territory or a building, but rather, ‘the family of God’, ‘a fellowship afire with a unifying spirit’, ‘a familial and welcoming home’, ‘a community of the faithful’. Plainly and simply, the parish is founded on a theological reality because it is Eucharistic community.”
As we prepare for a change of pastors, let us transform our efforts into wonderful opportunities to relate with one another in a personal way, to encounter one another on behalf of Christ who works in our midst and to strengthen the bonds that ties us together as one people, sharing the one bread in the Eucharist and worshiping the one Lord of all.