What is Church?
A Reflection by Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Often I am asked why do we have to go to a church and what church is the right one or The One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.
Last evening, I experienced CHURCH in a very real way when I was invited to take part in an interfaith Taizé Prayer service at the Holy Paraclete Old Catholic Parish in Providence Rhode Island.
I felt that The Holy Spirit was alive and truly present in that building which is still in the construction stages of development to become a place of worship named after the Holy Spirit.
In what was once a mechanic shop a space is being created for the honor and glory of God and in it last evening clergy and people from different religious denominations gathered together to offer prayers, songs and to meditate on the Beatitudes.
To answer the question this reflection began with, I will tell you that CHURCH is not a building, a denomination but PEOPLE. People gathered together in the Name of God.
As we are told in Matthew 18:20; “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Over the last three weeks the Universal church has celebrated The Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity. Sunday we will honor the great gift God has left us of himself, The Eucharist when we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ).
Over the last 67 days we who accept Jesus Christ as the promised of the ages and dare tpo call ourselves Christians, have honored and celebrated the basic truths of Christianity found in the Profession of Faith, Christ was sent from God to be born in human form and live as a human. He suffered, died, rose, from the dead thereby conquering sin and death and allowing forgiveness of Sins. Christ then ascended back to the Father and the Holy Spirit only to send the Holy Spirit to be with us. We affirmed our belief that God is three divine persons distinctly coexisting in unity as co-equal, co-eternal, and consubstantial, which take faith to fully understand since it defies that which is human. Finally on Sunday we will celebrate the Gift of himself Christ gave us in what is often called “THE BREAD OF LIFE” The Eucharist.
Gathered together last evening My heart was overcome with not only the by the devout spirituality of those gathered but the full understanding of the words that we sung “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est” which means “Where charity and love are, God is there” and those that came into my heart and head “Veni Sancte Spiritus” which means “Come Holy Spirit”
In Taizé France is a faith community founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz who was not a Roman Catholic and was considered a Protestant, but who came to be revered and accepted by every major religious denomination because the monastic community He established had a deep commitment to peace and justice through prayer and meditation. Brother Roger was a full participant in every session of Vatican Two in spite of the fact he was not a Bishop, Cardinal or even a priest but a “Non Catholic”.
Brother Roger was revered by Mother Therese of Calcutta because they both were committed to living the Word in deed as well as word.
Church is People, gathering together to give honor, glory and praise to God and to seek and listen for God speaking to them and guiding them in their day to day lives. That is Church and no one faith can own that but it is owned only by those who live it and by God who created all things. AMEN