The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles' Creed we pray: “I believe in God, the Father ... in Jesus Christ, his only Son – in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” We must believe in the Church! The Apostles’ Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.
Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.
I am so grateful for this! I know that a some people who feel quite spiritual believe that they can find God in country walks, or sitting by the sea, better than they can in a church, but somehow the point is missing here.
Christ is “God-with-us”, Emmanuel, and the Church is the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.22ff) at whose centre is the Eucharist, where the Body of Christ becomes real and present among us. How can we not be fractured, lost, outside the Body of which we are a part? We cannot live alone; members of any living body, if severed, do not live a wild and fruitful life: they die and shrivel. We must remain in community even when it hurts, even when we cannot for the life of us think what we’re doing there—only as part of a Eucharistic community can the life-blood of Christ, bearing the oxygen of the Spirit, flow freely in our veins.
Thank God for the Church—for each of us, frail and fallible as we are, living in this messy and glorious community of ours, and for the eternal Church “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners…” (CS Lewis)—our home and our refuge, and our sign…